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Phase One is the resolution king at 100 megapixels

Create: 01/04/2016 - 21:43
Phase One XF 100MP


  • First digital medium format camera with a CMOS sensor
  • 100-MP sensor with an ISO range from 50-12,800
  • Outputs a true 16-bit image from the sensor


Phase One has announced what is the ultimate digital camera – for now, regardless of the format.

The Phase One XF 100MP comes in several configurations with the top model using the IQ3 100-MP back, which is equipped with a 100-MP CMOS sensor. The back has an integrated 3.2-inch LCD display that Phase One says can be viewed outdoors.

In addition to its massive resolution, the 53.7 x 40.4mm sensor has an ISO range of 50-12,800. The longest exposure is 60 minutes, and Phase One claims a 15-stop dynamic range.

The camera has both waist-level and optical prism viewfinders, as well as Live View. Unlike other digital medium format systems, the XF 100MP can record an image while using Live View.

The standard kit is impressive. It includes the body, IQ3 100-MP back, a Schneider-Kreuznach f/2.9 80mm LS lens, four 3,400 mAh rechargeable batteries and charger, neck strap, Capture One Pro 9 software, 16GB Compact Flash memory card, gray cards and color-calibration kit, sensor cleaning kit and USB 3.0 and Firewire cables.

I would expect that the photographer will want a much larger memory card that can store the massive files that are created by a 100-MP sensor.

At the moment, there are 19 Schneider-Kreuznach lenses, of which nine are autofocus, as well as a 2x teleconverter. The lenses run from 28mm on the wide end to 240mm on the long end. There also are two zooms – both manual focus – 40-80mm and 75-150mm. If that isn't enough, there also is a 120mm tilt-shift lens. The LS lenses contain leaf shutters, while the others do not contain a shutter assembly. There is no sensor crop with any of the lenses.

The XF 100MP offers backward compatibility with Phase One's older line of digital backs, including the previous IQ3 that had a 50-MP sensor.

Because this camera likely will be bought by a pro photographer, Phase One provides a five-year warranty, five-year guaranteed "uptime" and on-site response time of eight hours, regardless of the photographer's location on the planet. Presumably, it doesn't include space missions. Phase One humorously says the eight-hour response time usually is "seven hours more than we need."

The price for this system isn't yet known, but with a 100MP CMOS sensor and German lenses, it's safe to say that it will be out of reach for most photographers. For reference, when Phase One introduced the previous model in June 2015, the cost for the basic kit was about US$49,000.

You can download two full-resolution TIFF files from the Phase One site. Warning: The ZIP file contains two images and is 718MB.

Download the Phase One brochure for the XF 100MP.

Watch Phase One's product video:

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.