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Phase One P21+ Is it really as good as I think ?


New member
Over the years I have used way too many cameras always searching for some magic in sharpness,ISO-I'm sure you all know the drill. Just this morning I dug out my old Phase One P21+. Not the best for iso,pixels,or other parameters compared to newer cameras. However, the color has a richness that I don't see with other cameras. It seems that it is similar to my old Kodak backs that I long since abandoned.
Am I confused ? Is this just my opinion or does anyone else agree?
Can this look be achieved with the newer ,faster,mirror less,DSLR,or MF cameras ?
Better yet can it be reproduced with some setting when developing ?


Workshop Member
I maintain a Phase One H25 from 2003, processed in Capture One, produces consistently richer color, better detailed, smoother transitions, and more pleasing grain than today's Canon 5D3. It has all sorts of limitations (no LCD, no long exposures, ISO above 100 is awful, no on-board storage, slow frame-rate etc etc) but the quality of color and tonality in medium format has been excellent for much more than a decade.

In my opinion the heritage of medium format image quality has been successfully passed down across the years such that the current models still have that richness of color. In fact the same gentlemen (Niels the "Image Professor") who made the color profiles for your P21+ is the one who made the color profiles for the IQ250.

But only you can be the judge for yourself. I'd be glad to send you some raws (email me) from more modern digital backs like the P65+, IQ140, IQ250 etc and you can tell us what you see in comparison to your P21+.

As for other types of cameras, my first thought is always that people can become overly connected to one part of a system and forget that you don't create a photo with a sensor, or a lens, or a piece of software - you create a photo with an entire system. The look of any given image is always primarily a result of the lighting/subject/composition, and secondarily from the lens/sensor/software.

The most interesting component of this, to me, is how the camera part of the equation often influences the lighting/subject/composition part of the equation. Even if logically there is no reason why you can't shoot exactly the same way with two different systems, in reality many report that their shooting style is influenced moderately or significantly by their equipment - human beings are not creates of pure logic.


New member
I am quite a fan of my P45+ for similar reasons. The Kodak chip makes amazing colors for skin tones as well as landscapes, that I have not seen replicated even with the advent of the IQ250. There's some sort of unexplainable 'magic' that the back has despite it's terrible screen. At least it does long exposures :p


New member
The P21+ is an outstanding back, and it's every bit as good as you think. I miss mine, and the lovely noise free color in long exposures, like this one:

I can't afford to have more than one back, and sadly this one is no longer in my possession.