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11/12/15 Adobe Lightroom still has no support for the Phase One IQ150–my method of fixing this

When Phase One first announced their flagship CMOS digital back, the IQ250 over 2 years ago, many photographers felt that the price point of $39,995 was way too much for a 50MP 1:3 cropped sensor back.  This issue became even more inflamed when Hasselblad came out with the 50c later that year with a price tag in the $15,995 range, more than half the price of the IQ250.  However both cameras shared the same sensor, the Sony 50MP CMOS chip for medium format cameras.  Later on Pentax announced the 645z, and a third camera hit the market with the same Sony chip and it’s price was 8.4K.  With the Pentax announcement and pressure from Hasselblad, Phase One made the decision to sell a “cheaper” version of the IQ250, and announced the IQ150 @ $34,995.  For 5K less you did not get a 5 year value add warranty or wifi support.  Also 1 year past, with the announcement of the Phase One XF camera body, IQ1 cameras did not receive the full support for all the new features the XF would offer.  But Phase One did allow for Capture One support for the IQ150.

I first tried out the IQ150 in April of 2015.  I was very tempted to purchase it with a trade it of my IQ260.  However after giving it a lot of thought, I held on to the IQ260.  The IQ150 would be a great fit for a XF or DF+ (both Phase One camera bodies).  With the CMOS chip, you now have an excellent implementation of Live View so manual focus was much easier using the excellent IQ LCD.  Use with a tech camera was not so positive as there was considerable color shifting past 10mm or so of shift.  So I felt that using the IQ150 would allow for a easier route for software conversion, as now I could pick from Lightroom (LR) or Capture One (C1).  However when I tried to open the IQ150 raw files IN LR, I received this screen.

Screen shot of LR import for IQ150 files before exif change to IQ250

Screen shot of LR import for IQ150 files before exif change to IQ250

Basically, LR can’t see the files since they have a exif header of IQ150.  LR had long ago picked up support for the IQ250, but back in April 2015 when I was testing the IQ150, I could only use Capture One.  Sure Capture One should be the best software as it’s made by Phase One and the IQ150 is also.  However there are times, more often than not, that LR due to it’s newer panorama and HDR tools may be a better fit.  Both of these tools work better on raw files rather than imported tiffs.  I naturally assumed that Adobe would pick up IQ150 support later on in a update to LR, however as of November 2015, you still can’t import the IQ150 raw files.

I have seen this issue before when new cameras first roll out as it takes sometime for the raw converters to catch up.  However when I tried the IQ150 in April of 2015 it had already been announced for over 6 months so I was surprised then that LR did not support it.  Now finding 6 months even further out, there is still no support I guess it’s safe to say, “Adobe plans not to support the IQ150″.  I am not sure what that is all about as it’s a very simple change on their side.

The good news is that you can easily make one change to the exif information on the IQ150 file and LR will work fine and allow you to import the images.  Just change the head from IQ150 to IQ250.  It’s as simple as that.  As the IQ150 and IQ250 share the exact same chip and CFA screen from Phase One, any profile from Adobe for the IQ250 will work fine with the IQ150, THEY ARE THE SAME CHIP 100%.  So what is the best way to do this? You will need an exif editor software.  These come in many types, some are command line other have a GUI interface.  As I am not a programmer, I prefer GUI.  So I found a neat little freeware program call ‘EXIFTOOL”.  You can find it here:

When you go to the site search for the GUI part of the program.  You have to have the base code loaded to your PC first then the GUI runs on top.  Works great and will take care of stupid oversights like this one where Adobe overlooked the IQ150, or they don’t care about it.

The GUI will look like this when you open it:  click on the image to view it larger.

Part One using ExifTool

Part One using ExifTool

Notice you have the standard windows folder interface on the far left, and when you click on a folder the files in that folder will open up in the middle part of your screen.  When you click on an individual file, the far right panel will open, will all the exif details for that particular file. Notice in the far right panel, that the “model” line lists this file as from an IQ150.

All you have to do is click on that line, the model line which then selects that item to be worked with.  When you click on the model, it will load into the box at the bottom of the screen in the right hand panel.

2nd Screen shot from ExifTool

2nd Screen shot from ExifTool

Now just click on the IQ150, and change it to IQ250 and hit enter.

3rd Screen shot of ExifTool

3rd Screen shot of ExifTool

Once you do this, notice “model” line has now changed to IQ250.  All you have to do now is hit save and you are done.  Exiftool will do the rest.

That’s all it takes, you don’t have to do anything else to the file.  If you are good with command line coding, then you can drop a large number of IQ150 raw files into a folder and then run ExifTool on that folder.  It will change just the model type for each image, if you can figure out the correct command line code structure.  The only drawback to the Gui is that you can only select one image at a time.  So if you have an IQ150 and are wishing to use it a lot with LR, then you might want to press Adobe to fix this issue with a update later on in both camera raw and LR.

Here is a screen shot from LR CC on the import screen.  You can see that LR now has no problems reading the images.  All it took was a SIMPLE HEADER CHANGE.  Not sure what either Phase One would not want Adobe to make this change as there will always be someone out there that is not going to use Capture One.  Since the issue has not been resolved now for over 1 year, I have to wonder what the acceptance rate of the IQ150 is inside the United States.  It can’t be that large or there would have been a fix for this by now, as it’s not that big a deal to fix in the first place.

LR import dialog after the IQ250 header change

LR import dialog after the IQ250 header change


Maybe this will be fixed sometime in the future, but for now this will get you the support you need in LR.  Also, don’t worry about this change for Capture One support.  Capture One will just use the profile for the IQ250 on the IQ150 files and all is fine as they are the same exact chip.  But more importantly they share the same CFA algorithm so all color profiles will work between the two with no problems.  NOTE, this is not as true with the Credo 50.  Here the CFA was developed by Leaf and there are some subtle differences in color profiles.



02/24/14 Silver Fleet purchases 60% of Phase One–what may happen

This is old news now and has been hashed back and forth in various discussion forums for the past 2 weeks.  The net of the announcement is that Silver Fleet a venture capture firm purchased the controlling share of Phase One.  Phase One based in Denmark, was a privately held corporation, with all the shares of stock being held as preferred or private stock.  In the past it had been Phase One that was busy buying up either entire companies or purchasing a part of a company.  Deals such as Phase One’s purchase of the Leaf corporation and their investment in Mamiya Corp (a Japanese based medium format company which manufactures Phase One camera bodies and lenses) and possibly Schneider Corporation.  This last example is only speculation on my part, but the relationship between Phase One and Schnieder in the past 2 years has become very close since Schneider manufactures all of the Leaf Shutter lenses that Phase One sells.

Here is the link to the announcement.

I read over this announcement and then talked to a few friends of mine that are much more knowledgeable about these maters and came away with a few talking points.

No company would do this unless pressured by some force, in this case more than likely financial.  By giving up 60% of the company, Phase One can no longer control it’s direction, instead only make suggestions.  There is no mention about any of the company leaders being given their walking papers.

Silver Fleet’s history is not to hold on to a company for a long period of time.  Phase One shows up as a company with between 55-99 total employees, so it’s not that large.  I am not sure if this number includes the Phase One office in New York City and their Mellville NY location where some repair services are done.

If one reads into the announcement, it does seem to appear that Phase One’s liquidity ratio was in trouble.  Here is a quote from one of the reviews about the purchase that caught my eye.

“If the report and the figures are correct then Phase One was valued at about $180 million USD / £110 million GBP, which seems incredibly low if all the previous profitability reports were to be believed. Based on figures from , though their net operating profit and return on assets looked good, the liquidity ratio** did not. If true, this could explain why Phase chose to sell out sooner rather than later.

** the liquidity ratio expresses the company’s ability to meet its short-term financial obligations, and is calculated as receivables plus cash as a percentage of short-term debt.”

From reading this, it appears that Phase One may have needed this influx of cash to help pay off short term debt.  Phase One’s recent roll out of the new IQ250, the first Medium Format Digital Back in existence may have created a larger debt position than Phase One was willing to accept.  This could be debt to Sony corporation, who makes the chip or costs from the development and production of the new camera.  However those costs should not have been that great since Phase One already had the camera back body, LCD screen, and other shared components in production with other backs.

What does this mean to a user of a Phase One camera system?  (That is the real question)

After looking over this announcement and other reviews, I do take a bit of concern over this and here are some reasons.

Phase One is no longer the same Phase One corporation that I have known since early 2008.  Phase One is now being run by a Venture Capital company, and their goal more than likely will not be customer driven.   They are focused on only one issue, make a profit and sell the company to retain that profit level.  I don’t think that Silver Fleet is interested in being a Medium Format Camera company long term.

1. What will happen to current Value Add contracts in place.  The Value Add warranty is one of Phase One’s selling advantages where they extend the base warranty from one year to 5 and offer a loaner back if yours has to be serviced.  In my location of Arkansas, there is no dealer closer to me than Atlanta GA, and they are not my current dealer.  So if my back goes down, (which every Phase One back I have owned has done) will I be able to get it serviced? and will this new company still honor the Value Add contracts that are in place currently.  Since Silver Fleet now runs Phase One, it’s anyone’s guess.

2. Will Phase One continue to develop on their current backs like the IQ260 and 280?  Also will they continue to develop towards a full frame CMOS back in the 60MP to 80MP range?  This will be a directive by Silver Fleet now as they own the controlling shares.

3. What about the new Phase One 645 camera?  The current DF+ is pretty long in the tooth and the cost of it at $4995.00 is pretty extreme when compared to the feature set it offers.

4.  How will Capture One, which is Phase One’s excellent raw software and tethering solution for both Phase One cameras and other brands be effected.  I feel that Capture One is one turn away from being a really excellent software platform, but the new companies direction may be to follow what most companies do and outsource the further development of the software.  Or even worse sell it off.

5.  Will Phase One keep it’s New York Office open, along with the Mellville service location?  It seems that Phase One’s sales volumes are growing, but growing how fast.  If you grew 1% over last year, you are growing, but possibly not keeping pace with your industry.  I believe that Phase One’s largest customer is the far East, Japan and China.  These are growing countries with a great amount of potential  Due to this, Silver Fleet–Phase One may decided to close their New York offices.

You have to remember that Phase One is 90% or more dependent on their dealers for U.S. sales.  Yes, Phase One has an inside sales force but in the past I have never been too impressed with this group in either follow through or product knowledge.  The dealer channel in the U.S. is still pretty small but they can offer demo’s, rentals and support.  In fact, the dealer channel is the primary place to go for support on a Phase One back as attempting to contact Phase One in New York, is next to impossible.  This is true for either software or hardware support.  Hopefully Silver Fleet–Phase One will continue to understand this and offer the same level of contacts, support and communication to their current dealer channels.

Much is still be to brought out and I am sure that it will be shown over time just what Silver Fleet is planning to do with their controlling interest of Phase One.  I keep mentioning this as it’s very important to understand that Phase One is no longer Phase One, but now Silver Fleet–Phase One.  Having a 40% share of a company is about the same as having 1%, you don’t have control over any decision making.  Sure you can make recommendations, but that is all.  Of course the other thought that comes to mind is that the select group of owners of Phase One were ready to move one, and choose Silver Fleet to make this possible.  This thought continues to make me wonder what the future will bring.  The only financial details that seem to stand out is that the Phase One liquidity ratio was in trouble and that definitely would effect Phase One being able to borrow to continue to develop new and existing products. This large influx of cash should cover both the outstanding debt and possibly cover new development of products.

02/13/2014 The First Testing of the IQ250 on a tech camera–More details on my testing of Digital Transitions files

As posted on this site and many others, Phase One, about 2 weeks ago, announced the IQ250, the worlds first CMOS digital Medium format back.  The announcement also stunned quite a few folks out there when it was discovered that Sony was the chip being used, not a Dalsa.  Dalsa has been the main chip company that Phase One has used since the announcement of the P65+ about 4 years ago.  I saw the announcement and also noticed the mention of Sony and I had a suspision that the results when posted from the various dealers out there, would be pretty revealing.  I have used the Sony 36MP chip in the Nikon D800 since May of 2014 and believe me I saw the light early.  Enough that I sold pretty much all my Canon Digital gear save for 1 6D which I use  for night photography.

Digital Transitions, my Phase One dealer based out of NY, just released a huge test where they shot the IQ250 with a very good selection of current Tech camera lenses.  This was an indoor shoot in the Morgan Library in NYC so the subject matter was a bit different for me, but the results from the tests are very impressive.  I just finished downloading and comparing the IQ250 and IQ260 shots taken with the Rodenstock 32mm.  To be honest, after shooting the D800 for so long and seeing what it can do with 1 frame at base iso 100 in regards to total range, I was pretty sure what I would find.  However I did try my hardest to make the 260 images come close with all the tricks in Capture One that I have learned over the years, and the net is, you can’t!

You can download and read more about the testing that Digital Transitions did here:  DT Tech Camera tests IQ250 and other MF backs.

In my landscape work, I tend to focus on shifting 3 images to create a short panorama.  So for me, the rise and fall results were not that important, but if you interested DT (Digital Transitions) did post these as well.  I took the 3 shifted images from the IQ250 and IQ260 on the 32mm Rodenstock.  I don’t own this lens, but have the 28mm Rod and 40mm Rod.  The shifting characteristics of the 32mm and 40mm Rodenstocks are pretty close.  After completing work on the images in Capture One, I went ahead and combined the IQ260 stitches into one image, them went back to the IQ250 images to compare certain parts of the files to see how the 2 cameras reacted.  In the four images I have in the article, I will explain the areas that stand out the most to me.

Morgain library IQ250 and IQ260

Left corner comparison of IQ250 and IQ260 Morgan Library

NOTE web conversions really don’t do these files justice, if you are interested in my results, please visit the DT website and pull these files down to get the full effect.  Capture One is free for all digital back users you can pull the latest version which is 7.2 from the Phase One Website.

IQ 250 is on the right in this comparison. In this image you see a part of a large panel that runs vertically in the left most portion of each test.  At first when I looked at the panel with the IQ260 shots, I thought it was made from wood, however when I looked at the IQ250 shot, I realized that this panel was in fact covered by fabric and the IQ250 actually showed the detail of the fabric.  If you look to the right edge you can see that this panel is part of hinged setup and is covered which red (appears to be red) fabric.  The iq260 shot is too noisy to really tell very much.  The only thing that really translates between the two are the two scratches that show up.   The IQ260 was shot at a base iso 50 for 6 seconds and you will see that even at that ideal setting the darker parts of the image are pretty much pure noise and not worth recovering.  It should be be noted here that the shifts were made without a Center filter on the Rodenstock 32mm.  The center filter would have helped to balance  out the IQ260 shift exposure an possibly bring out less noise giving a better final result, but it would have also benefited the IQ250 also, so it would have been even cleaner!!

Also noticed the amount of aliasing form the Metal X bars over the front of the book cases.  You can clearly see red, blue, banding on these parts of the IQ260 file.  The IQ250 is clean from aliasing and I have to assume it’s an advantage of the smaller pixel pitch of 5.3 microns over the large 6.0 micron pitch of the IQ260.

You can notice that the books definitely are different colors, and I could only guess at the correct WB in this room.  The IQ250 seemed to want to go more to a red favored tint and I had warmed up the IQ260 image in Capture One.  WB is selective and is something that can easily be adjusted once the correct value is known.

comparison of IQ250 and IQ260 moderate light

Comparison No 2 of IQ250 and IQ260 in moderate light

What is most striking here is the depth of the details the IQ250 pulled out of the balcony railing supports.  IQ250 is on the right. Zooming in you can make out the details on the base of the railing support much more clearly on the IQ250 shot, also notice the wood grain and patina on the edge of the balcony.  (I am not sure if this wood or metal, I am assuming metal since the finish matches the railing and railing supports).  There is a red hue to the IQ250 shot and that was also in the IQ260 shot, but I took it out with a local adjustment in Capture One.

Other areas of interest are the 2 rows of beaded material on the outer face of the balcony.  You can see the individual details of each bead much clearly with the IQ250 shot.  But most telling is the detail underneath the balcony.  Zooming into 100% you can see all the grain of the material on the bottom and the details are still very clear.

On this shot what caught my eye over and over was just how much of the notching around the based of the railing support standout as well as the head of the two bolts holding the plate in place.

Comparison of IQ250 and IQ260 in low light

Comparison No 3 IQ250 and IQ260 back center of center image

In this comparison the IQ250 is on the right.  This is a crop taken from the back center of the center frame of the three stitches.  This image should have the best exposure opportunity from both cameras as not shifting was done.  Quickly, notice the curved portion of the balcony, again the material’s patina is just so much more clear on the IQ250, where as with the IQ260 it’s pretty featureless.  But what really stands out is the the very back underneath the balcony.  They are watching you!!.  Yes there is a small camera mounted next to the white box on the right.  This camera did not catch my eye on the IQ260 shot, but when looking at the IQ250 image I saw it immediately.  Notice here again the amount of details under the bottom of the balcony, again you can clearly make out the lighter material of the light shades and black piece on the middle balcony support.  You can also make out the grain in the material of this same piece of material.  The base of the railings also look much much better to me.  Yes the IQ250 is still showing a red tint, but again that is because I saw no need to take it out since I was looking for DR range improvement.  WB/color casts on this image are very hard to know without a true grey card shot to assist in WB.

Comparison IQ250 and IQ260 right shift

Comparison No 4 IQ250 and IQ260 lower right corner

In this comparison the IQ250 image is on the right.  This is a crop from the lower right corner.  You can see two things quite clearly here, the base of a glass box stand and the back wood wall.  Here again the shifted IQ260 has suffered quite a bit, not as bad as on the full left shift, but still the details just fall apart.  The two things that are most telling are the insert of darker material on the box and wood grain of the outer section of the box.  Working up the IQ250 image you can make out grain in the wood with no problem but on the IQ260 shot you are losing the wood grain by the time you add enough noise reduction to get the image workable.

Here you can also see a lot of stuck pixels in the IQ260 image.  In looking at all of the test shots from the IQ260 stuck pixels show up in any of the more underexposed parts of the files.  This was very surprising to me as I would have expected the mandatory dark frame to handle this.  The dark frame is taken immediately after the regular exposure.  In my experience with CCD cameras and long exposure, I owned for about 3 years a Phase One P45+.  This camera was also rated to 1 hour exposures and I did use it for quite a few.  I can state that I never saw this many uncorrected stuck pixels in a 45 minute exposure as I am seeing in a 6 second exposure with the IQ260.  As the owner of a IQ260 I find this alarming.  You can remove some more of the stuck pixels by using the “single pixel noise” reduction slider to 100% in Capture One, but normally this is not needed unless a dark frame was not taken immediately after the long exposure.   With a Nikon D800 which I regular use for up to 5 minute exposures for stacking in my night photography actions, you will see some stuck pixels, but no where as many as seen in the IQ260 shot.  With the Nikon I am not using long exposure noise reduction in camera since it would not allow me to operate the camera for a corresponding amount of time, in this case 5 minutes.  However using Capture One in post processing I can always get a clean file by using the single pixel noise reduction slider.  In the case of the IQ260,  a dark frame was taken as you have no options with Phase One, so the vast majority of the stuck pixels should have been removed.

The back wall however is even more telling  Here you can see the details in the engraving of the back wall much better on the IQ250 shot and the base board is full of rich details.  The crop I took also shows the floor clearly has more details in both the tile around the fireplace and the actual wood floor.  The IQ250 file is so clean it almost looks like I needed to add a bit of grain, as the bottom of the stand is very smooth, but that may be how it is in real life also.

Conclusions from these side by side tests:

  1. The CCD chip of the IQ260 was pressed harder than it could deliver on this test series of exposures and the results show both excessive noise (especially on shifts) and any area of the image not being stuck by artificial illumination.
  2. The 6 second exposure of the IQ260 contains a lot of stuck pixels, mainly blue, that were not removed by the dark frame exposure that would have followed the exposure on the back.  The IQ250 is clean of all stuck pixels with the Capture One defaults of noise reduction loaded.  I had to increase the “single pixel noise reduction” slider to 100% on the IQ260 image and it still did not get all of the stuck pixels out.
  3. Clearly the IQ250 image has much more room in the shadows.  This is shown over and over by looking at pieces and parts of this test.  The IQ260 in the darkest parts of the image (mainly the left shift) became too noisy to really use in a print larger than say 13 x 19.  The IQ250 has a much cleaner transition between the light and dark parts of the image allowing things like patina and wood grain to stand out much more clearly
  4. The IQ260 suffered from very harsh aliasing, mainly on the metal X bars that cover the books.  I was able to remove the worst of it with a local adjustment layer in Capture One on the IQ260, but on the IQ250 there is really none to start with.
  5. Yes the 1:3 crop factor size is important.  Just from looking at the sides of the completed stitches you can see that the IQ260 pulled in about 3 more feet of image on both sides.  This image is also pretty badly distorted by the time the IQ260 makes the extreme shift (as would be expect on a ultra wide shift).  As the owner of a full frame digital back, I am a huge fan of the full frame size chips as I tend to work in close in Arkansas landscape shooting and the crop factor will make a composition/framing consideration.

As the owner of a IQ260, I was impressed by these results.  I already knew the Live View worked and it even works well in low light as test by Alpa and now DT.  I had hoped with my investment in a IQ260 that Phase One could somehow work magjc on the the CCD one more time since the IQ260 had a totally new chip.  However based on these tests at iso 50 and some I have seen at iso 140 (the being of the long exposure noise for the IQ260, I am not seeing any improvements between the IQ160 and IQ260.  I was hoping that the IQ260 would allow for a useable image at iso 400 in the long exposure mode so I would not have to drop down to sensor plus, but so far I have not see that result in my work.  The shadows when pushed on a IQ260 pretty much appear to have about the same amount of range as my IQ160 had.

Seeing these results from the IQ250 and knowing just how good the Sony 36MP chip is in the D800, I have to make a decision to stay with the IQ260 or attempt a downgrade to IQ250.  I don’t see Sony coming out with another full frame medium format chip anytime this year or early next year.  They seem to be working on a 54MP chip for the 35mm camera world as they have announced it and are planning to bring it to the market in 2015.  This leaves Dalsa who is Phase One’s main chip supplier, and boy I hope they are looking at these results.   If any company is going to bring a full sized CMOS chip to market in 2014 or early  2015, I figure it will Dalsa.  But they are also unproven in this space, only have CCDs.  Sony has been working on the Exmor processor and their high dynamic range CMOS chips since around 2012 now have a fab process setup so that they can replicate this technology across many fronts.

02/12/14 My testing of some Phase One IQ250 raw files on a tech camera–Most impressive

IQ250 dynamic range increase

Comparison of IQ250 and IQ260 showing the dramatic increase in dynamic range of the IQ250

Over the past week Digital Transitions , my Phase One dealer based out of New York, NY, has been doing some series comparison testing of the IQ250 and IQ260 with various tech camera lenses.  The scene was the Morgan Library Room in New York City.  This was an indoor test with very difficult lighting and no flash or strobes were used.  Digital Transitions (DT) used a series of different tech camera lenses on both the IQ250 and IQ260, at 50MP and 60MP respectively.  These tests included shifting at 0 rise and then shifting with various degrees of rise.  I only looked at the images that were shifted at zero rise as I felt that was closest to the work I do.  Here is link to the DT blog where their testing was reported: DT Tech Camera Testing

The results were very impressive when comparing just the IQ260 and IQ250 and I have published an article on my website which goes into much more detail and my observations from looking at just the images from the 32mm Rodenstock, it’s very apparent that the IQ250 is going to have much greater dynamic range than the IQ260, even though the IQ260 is a larger chip, with larger photocells.  The IQ250 is a 5.3 micron back and the IQ260 is 6.0 micron, and I had hoped to see a bit more room coming from the IQ260.  You can read more details here:   Impressive results from IQ250 low light testing.

On shifts it quickly became obvious that the IQ260 just could handle the shifts without excessive noise.  The noise was so great in fact on the left shift that most of image captured was destroyed by noise.  Whereas the IQ250 image showed fine details of fabric on the large room partition that is a large majority of the left shift image.  But it’s not just shifts as you can clearly see much more detail extending into the shadows on the center image also.  Features like wood grain and patina of metal just really start to stand out better on the IQ250.  The IQ260 also had a much bigger issue with aliasing and I point to areas of this in my article.

As the owner of a IQ260, I was impressed by these results.  I already knew the Live View worked and it even works well in low light as test by Alpa and now DT.  I had hoped with my investment in a IQ260 that Phase One could somehow work magjc on the the CCD one more time since the IQ260 had a totally new chip.  However based on these tests at iso 50 and some I have seen at iso 140 (the being of the long exposure noise for the IQ260, I am not seeing any improvements between the IQ160 and IQ260.  I was hoping that the IQ260 would allow for a useable image at iso 400 in the long exposure mode so I would not have to drop down to sensor plus, but so far I have not see that result in my work.  The shadows when pushed on a IQ260 pretty much appear to have about the same amount of range as my IQ160 had.

Seeing these results from the IQ250 and knowing just how good the Sony 36MP chip is in the D800, I have to make a decision to stay with the IQ260 or attempt a downgrade to IQ250.  I don’t see Sony coming out with another full frame medium format chip anytime this year or early next year.  They seem to be working on a 54MP chip for the 35mm camera world as they have announced it and are planning to bring it to the market in 2015.  This leaves Dalsa who is Phase One’s main chip supplier, and boy I hope they are looking at these results.   If any company is going to bring a full sized CMOS chip to market in 2014 or early  2015, I figure it will Dalsa.  But they are also unproven in this space, only have CCDs.  Sony has been working on the Exmor processor and their high dynamic range CMOS chips since around 2012 now have a fab process setup so that they can replicate this technology across many fronts.


02/05/14 Capture One 7.2 is released to the field

Capture One 7.2 is out

The newest version of Capture One is 7.2

If you are using Capture 7.x, look for the latest version of the software which is 7.2.  Capture One has finally released this newest version to the general population, about 1 week after they announced their latest digital back, the IQ250.  It looks like no new tools were added, sigh!!.  I keep hoping to see the ability to have noise reduction in a local adjustment along with the ability over lapping color adjustment levels that don’t cancel each other out.

Here are the main improvements in 7.2, besides support for the new IQ250 are:

  • Improved live view frame rate on Mac.
  • Improved live view alignment between Mac and Windows.
  • Fixed a number of live view issues.
  • Improved tethered stability on Mac.
  • Fixed some XMP syncing issues.
  • Improved importer performance on Mac.
  • Fixed a stability issue related to collapsing of stacks on Mac.
  • Fixed a stability issue related to reordering jobs in the batch queue on Mac.
  • Fixed some LCC issues.
  • A number of other bug fixes.

In my workflow, I don’t see too many things that make me want to upgrade my main production machine to 7.2.  I am going to check out 7.2 on my MAC and see if any new tool sets were added or if anything else was modified.  Obviously, if you purchase a new IQ250, you will have to have this version as there will be no support in prior versions of Capture One.

From looking over this list, it seems that most of the bug fixes were around Live View, but this must all be about Live View on the PC or MAC while tethered, again not anything that will help me in my outdoor workflow.

However there is mention of “fixed some LCC issues”, I am wondering if this might have fixed an issue I had with 7.16 where somehow my LCC processing was corrupted.

I work in session mode. After I started to working with 7.16 during some processing of IQ260 and IQ280 files a strange issue occurred.  When you process an LCC in Capture One, you process the LCC image, and then Capture One allows you to save the processed LCC as a preset.  Once the LCC is processed, you will see the check boxes of 1, color cast, 2. Dust removal, 3. light falloff selected by default.  I noticed that all of a sudden even though the saved LCC showed these defaults selected, when I applied the LCC to the image, nothing happened.  So the color casts and light falloff that was visible in the image did not change.  I could go back to the saved LCC and all three check boxes were now unchecked, and greyed out.  I could not select anything.

To fix this I tried first to delete the current LCC, and re-create it.  This worked as it should but as soon as I tried to apply the LCC, the check boxes greyed out again.  I closed Capture One and re-opened it which fixed nothing and then I rebooted my PC, and still it was broken.  Not a good deal as all my images are from tech camera.

What was interesting was I could could go to another folder of images and the LCC’s worked like they should.  It only seemed to apply to this one folder of images.  The only thing I had done differently was move some IQ280 raw files into the same folder as my IQ260 raw files as I was working up a comparison.

The only way I could fix the problem was to delete 7.16 from my PC and reinstall 7.15.  Then all thing worked correctly.

Hopefully this fix mentioned in 7.2 addresses this problem.  But I will wait a bit longer to load 7.2 on my production machines.






01/25/14 Phase One IQ250 Arrives and Changes the game in a big way

CMOS Medium format Phase One

The new addition to the Phase Digital Back Line–IQ250 CMOS

It was hard to miss that this announcement was coming sooner than later, and photo rumors tagged this correctly.  On Friday the 24th of January 2014 with the IQ250, Phase One has set the wheels in motion that will change Medium Format Digital forever with the introduction of a CMOS Medium format back.

There are several good reviews up, but most of these are sponsored by the Phase One corporation and they rightly so are keeping this back close to home.  I am sure they have made a huge investment in bringing this technology to market, and also by having the back available to ship on Monday the 27th of January.  This is unheard of with any previous Phase One back announcements.

One of the best overviews I have seen so far is the blog post by Digital Transitions which shares the 11 most important things you need to know about the IQ250 which can be found here: Phase One IQ250.

As a photographer who has owned several Phase One backs since 2008, I have to agree this is probably one of the most important announcements that Phase One has made in that time frame.   The reason is that with this announcement, Phase One is beginning to shift to CMOS for their chips.  In this case the chip partner is Sony not Dalsa.  However I would not rule out Dalsa in the future from coming out with a new medium format CMOS chip line.  Dalsa gave Phase One a bridge to this point with the new chip that was developed for the IQ260 and brought to the market in mid 2013.  However this chipset (which brought back the ability to have 1 hour exposures again) still has some of the basic limitations of all CCD technology.  Example of this are severe Live View limitations and lack of high iso support in full resolution.

Sony shocked the world in January of 2012 with their announcement of the Nikon D800 at 36MP.   The results of this chip in a 35mm camera were most impressive.  Simply stated, you now had the ability to push a photo taken a base of 100 as much as 2.75 stops and at times 3.25.  This advantage was made clear to me once I worked with a few Nikon files.  The range that these files have is impressive and when pulling up shadows for the first time you don’t see the color noise and banding that was common with earlier CMOS chips from both Canon and Nikon.  The ability to do this is a combination of the 36MP chip and Sony’s exmoor  processor.

Now Phase One has taken this up a notch and brought this same technology to the world of Medium Format.

Phase One IQ250 sensor size comparison

Size comparison between the Phase One IQ250 and a normal full frame 35mm digital sensor

Notice the difference in overall dimensions between a 35mm full frame chip and the IQ250.  You are gaining over 1/3 more image area.  In this case the largest 35mm digital sensor currently is the Nikon 36MP chip and now Phase One has produced a back with 50MP and with CMOS.

What are some of the benefits that are immediately apparent?

  1. Live View will work as it does on all 35mm cameras.  Phase One claims 24fps on theirs and this should be enough to allow the user to zoom into 100% to check focus.  I only hope that Phase One implements their version of Live View so that your get a stop at 100% magnification.  Nikon’s Live View Magnification zooms seems to zoom past 100% and makes the user have to back it off a bit before it’s possible to really see anything of usefulness.
  2. High ISO capability should now be vastly improved.  Phase One limits this back to 6400 ISO, which for me is plenty.  I have yet to see any file from any camera rated higher that is really worth that much.  In the past Phase One allowed a very good ISO 1600 and decent ISO 3200 on their CCD backs by using sensor plus which utilized pixel binning.  The result gave a much cleaner file but also cost the photographer 3/4 of the overall resolution.  Thus a 60MP back output became 15MP.  The only back where I saw this as a true advantage was on the IQ280.
  3. 14 stops of dynamic range.  Most impressive and 1 full stop better than what Phase One claims for both the 60MP and 80MP backs.
  4. A faster frame rate and 2GB of on board memory to assist with processing and Live View generation
  5. Long exposures of up to 1 hour are available at any rated ISO.  However I would also assume that as you approach ISO speeds past 400, noise will start to degrade the image just as it does with 35mm digital.  A 1 corresponding dark frame is still required.
  6. Ability to work with all the current line of Phase One/Mamiya Medium format 645 lenses, including the more advanced LS (leaf shutter) Schneider lenses sold exclusively by Phase One.

As is shown in this image, the overall size of the new IQ250 is smaller than the older 60MP and 80MP backs, by about 30%, but it should still offer some great new opportunities for photographers in the near future.  When Phase One brings out their replacement for the DF+ camera body things will really start to get interesting for sure.

Phase One sensor sizes

Phase One diagram showing the 3 IQ2 backs and respective sensor sizes.

More information about the new IQ250 can be found in either of the links below:

Phase One Corporation

Digital Transitions







01/22/14 Phase One to announce IQ250 with 50MP CMOS Date Uncertain

Phase One IQ260 in Box

Phase One IQ260 in Box

01/23/14–Just a bit more information.

Phase one obviously has a camera done as briefly yesterday they has some image posted on the main Denmark website from the IQ250.  So at least the name is certain.

It will be interesting to see if this back is full frame or 1:1 like the old P45+ or even 1:3 like the IQ140.  Hopefully Phase will be able to continue some development to the IQ260.

The latest rumor is that the Phase One sensor may be made by Canon.  To me this would be even more shocking by far as Canon has yet to bring anything new to their 35mm lineup in about 4 years.  I don’t count the 5dMKII as that was just a refreshed 21MP sensor that is also in the 5D MKII and 6D.  Canon has yet to cross the 24MP barrier and as it’s taken them so long it’s very possible that they do it in great style by bringing a larger 35mm sensor out at the same time Phase One brings the IQ250 (name is a guess and more than likely it won’t be called this since photo rumors already leaked this).  I would love to see Canon pull out such a rabbit from their hat and thus allow themselves to become a leader again.  My only concern would be that Canon has made some form of revolutionary chip development that allows them to get the same DR at base ISO as Sony did for Nikon’s D800.  The Nikon D800 at base ISO of 100 was a major game changer for me.

Original Post Begins Here:

If you believe in large scale rumors, and in reality most rumors are from leaked from fact, then Phase One is set to announce a 50MP CMOS back, the IQ250 soon.  Hasselblad may have beaten them to the punch so Phase One may hold off the announcement for a while so that they won’t be seen as a “me too”.

Here is the Link to Photo Rumors.

It was always pretty clear that Phase One was headed this way and I had assumed since around late 2011 that a CMOS back was coming from Phase One, but I also did expect to see 50MP in a medium format chip for another year.  Sony has been rumored for months now to be creating a 54MP 35mm chip for a new Sony DSLR and a version of this chip was going to the Nikon D4x.  Neither of these have showed anything more than a distant rumor, but now with the Hasselblad, then Phase One news, it’s pretty clear the Sony has been busy.

As the owner of an IQ260, this news from Phase One is a bit disconcerting in that it followed so close on the heels of the IQ260.  The main advantage the to the IQ260 was the fact that it would allow for exposures up to 1 hours in length, same as the older P45+.  Still the only CCD Medium format backs that allow this.  Most other backs in this range will only go to 60 seconds, IQ160 and 1:45 seconds IQ280.  Now with a CMOS chip, Phase One or any camera company should be able to have 1 hours exposures or even longer than 1 hour exposures due to the nature of a CMOS chip.

Anyway, the IQ260 possibly  took a considerable hit.  It may turn out to the be the shortest lived back on the market, as if you have a Sony chip in the this upcoming Phase, then it’s fair to expect:

  1. Amazing DR at base ISO.  This should be the same as the DR of the Sony 36MP chips out currently in the A7r and Nikon D800 family.  These chips show an impressive range of DR at their base iso of 50 (Sony) and 100 (Nikon), which allows the photographer to have as much 2.75 stops of exposure.  Shadows details that are the most impressive I have seen when pulled up 2 stops and the ability to handle highlights much better. 
  2. Long exposures at 1 hour or longer at the user’s whim, no need to dial in a special ISO 140 like on the IQ260
  3. Potentially no longer a need for sensor plus which is Phase One’s pixel binning technology on the 60MP and 80MP backs to allow for higher iso shooting.  Instead if you extrapolate up from the current 36MP Sony chips on the market today, it would be fair to assume ISO 1600 and maybe even 3200 at full resolution of 50MP with a useable file instead of having to drop down to 1/4 of the total resolution which is how it works with sensor plus.
  4. Color rendering differences between a CCD and CMOS.  This seems to be one of the only remaining advantages that CCD’s have over a CMOS chip.  Many photographers seem to feel that the CCD can render tones better i.e. skin tones or green hues.  I actually have not personally seen any measurable differences between the Nikon 36MP CMOS and IQ160 or 260 in my work.  I also feel that most of not all of the “implied differences” are going to be lost when the image is printed or even worse placed on the web.  To me this is a moot issue.
  5. The perceived gap between 50MP and 60MP will not be that great especially since the newer CMOS back most likely will have a workable live view from the back’s LCD, which on an IQ back is stellar.
  6. Will Phase One continue to improve the image quality of the IQ260?  This was one of the main reasons I moved to the 260 vs staying on the 160

As the owner of a IQ260 purchased in August of 2013, am I concerned by this announcement?  In two words, YOU BET!.

Financially, the value of the IQ260 just took a hit.  If a 50MP CMOS back with the same features that all current IQ backs have is brought to the market, I dare say it will be the end of the IQ260.  If this same technology had been brought out in a 40 to 45MP size, then that may to be as true.  CMOS should actually work better for both types of shooters, tech camera and Phase One DSLR bodies in that you should expect to see these types of improvements:

  1. Faster frame rates, so the user of a DF+ body or follow on body would enjoy the ability to possibly shoot some action photography
  2. Real Live View from the back’s LCD, if you are the user of a Tech camera like I am, then you already know just how important this will be
  3. Much better AF since most new CMOS chips are starting to incorporate a phase detect AF system on the actual chip so both fast and more accurate AF may be possible
  4. Considerably cleaner files at base ISO and I can’t state just how important it would be to have a medium format back with the shadow range of the Nikon D800
  5. Possibly faster activation times on the back i.e. on/off, loading of images on the screen, faster write times to the card
  6. Better overall use in colder weather

I can’t blame Phase One for this announcement as a company they have to stay competitive.  However I do tend to fault the lack of overall information that seems to be passed down to the average user.  This can be pointed to both Phase One and the dealer channel.

I don’t understand why both Phase One and dealers can’t use a non-disclosure type of agreement, and they might but it seems only in limited offerings.  This type of decision is a huge one for a company of my size and knowing that such a product would announced inside of 9 months from the delivery of my IQ260 would have been most helpful.

But more importantly what does this say for any more development to the IQ260 and image quality.  In the past with the P45+ and P65/IQ160,  Phase One made many firmware updates that provided better image quality from the first ship date.  In fact Phase One has been one of the only camera companies I have seen that has continued to improve on a back/camera after the first ship.  Nikon and Sony both are pretty much done at ship, I have never seen any firmware updates from them that improve image quality, where as Canon has made some impressive updates, notably on the 5D MKII, 7D, and 6D.

I bet with my purchase that Phase One would give at least one more firmware update to the IQ260 that allowed for a bit cleaner files at base ISO.   So far nothing like this has occurred and now with the launch of the IQ250, it may never happen.  Phase is a small company with limited resources and a new CMOS back will take a lot of their focus.

I would expect to see this 50MP CMOS out sooner than later as Hasselblad has taken a lead and there are only so many qualified customers at this price point.