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What’s the current state of Phase One?

JamesJetel

New member
Did they abandon commercial photographers?

I don’t know what happened over there, but right around the time the 4150s were released, and C1 was spun off, it felt like a sea change.

The XF was a flop for me - beautiful object, middling camera that never realized any of the potential that was promised by “The Infinity Platform”. Cumbersome, dated autofocus performance, it gets left behind for the Fuji a lot.

Which leads me to the second point - The other camera companies caught up quick, and I’m not sure Phase is trying to compete. Of course that’s their prerogative. The Fuji 100s has gone unanswered.

In the tech camera world, the XT wasn’t a strong enough value prop for me to switch from my Arca. Nebulous release dates and lens availability, for what amounted to finally being able to sync strobes simply (please correct me if there’s more on offer there with the XT, would love to hear) I understand for a lot of people it was certainly a strong offering.

Which finally leads me to the IQ4150 itself. I’ve loved using it on my tech cam. When it came out - it finally felt uncompromising when compared to the prior generations. Good High ISO performance, ES, files are fantastic, live view works. Don’t feel the need to upgrade beyond it for tech cam purposes. Although strobe syncing would be nice, my subject matter can get away with continuous.

It’s starting to show its age though - connection drops, long start up times(were always there), battery draining, gets exceptionally hot, crashes, and my least favorite currently - LOTS of noise issues in longer exposures.

Which leads to the softer side of things - the support - what happened there? I feel like the dealers are some of the most responsive, supportive, and knowledgeable people around - but Phase bottlenecks them. It felt like Phase didn’t support the dealers, and were annoyed that customers had the audacity to have questions and needs. Just my impression from my support interactions.

Anyone know if they’re still innovating? Or did someone buy the name and they’re just riding the former reputation until Phase is dead?

Would love to know if there are any interesting stories to hear.

To be clear - this is a tool for me, not a lifestyle, I’m not worried for my identity here. More looking for a “hey, whatever happened to those guys?” style conversation.
 

ThdeDude

Active member
Yes, I agree. PhaseOne's IQ4, released about four years ago, is getting a bit long in the tooth. Some of P1 industrial 44x33mm offerings already have global shutter, hence it may be only a question of time until there will be a global shutter for the 645 type format.

Global shutter would be a good reason for P1 to release a IQ5. Many would upgrade for that.
 

Paul Spinnler

Active member
They are doing very fine and focusing on B2B - geospatial (drones for mapping / defense purposes), cultural heritage, etc. They are making quite a bit of money there.

It is easier to sell 8 repro stations as a senior sales guy at P1 to the Vatican for 600k EUR than to deal with all the "enthusiasts" and professionals which mostly complain about pricing. The business is ofc alive, but there is no big investment right now because from a RoE perspective there are just better projects atm.

Check the phase channel - they just launched a new high end drone platform.

There's no new sensor which fulfills the photographic needs (high res, big size, high DR) - there's only a new global shutter sensor which is smaller and has lower dynamic range. It is not fit for photo and is used in industrial applications (e.g. production line quality control, etc.). On top you have Hassy which will occupy the 100 megapixel territory next year.

They are basically focused on a high end approach whereby they don't care to grow the photo business, but keep it profitable by enforcing high margins.

The price of the P1 IQ4 150 rose during the pandemic - they don't care because they don't want to run after the complainers who turn to Fuji / Hassy due to lack of funds - they are just happy selling less and running a profitable unit - not many investments, not many people, high margin products, optimized supply chain. The warehouse fo XF lenses and accessories apparently now is in Japan, eg if you want a used lens - part of the cost saving measures.

I mean check the XT lens pricing - it is above all others and they don't care. There's a high end core customer base which can still swing it.

Did we see investment into tilt mounts for all lenses? Nope. A 55 MKII? Nope. The 80 MKII probably didn't sell well enough. A bigger XT? Nope. So you see - right now they are uncertain to get any investment returns in line with other opps for them in B2B so it basically just stays as is.

There will be a new IQ5 - but it will take a while given there's no real innovation possible atm except a new SoC which would make it faster but then again it is not necessary so they can still milk it for 2-3 more years in view of getting maybe also access to a new sensor.

So I think Phase just moved focus to B2B which is a good thing because essentially it means the company will stay alive and is doing fine, but for the photographic side given the current economic realities of photographers and even well-off enthusiasts the focus is on cash extraction rather than growth.

Prices will stay high and it is still the highest res system and the X shutter is unique - so this will be still the high end of photography and the highest price - if you are able to afford it: Fingers crossed for an IQ5 in 23/24! I am sure there will be trade in options then for 25kish if you have an IQ4 150.

Don't forget that even if we see a new Sony sensor - let's say a 200 megapixel 54x40 with high DR - it will take them a year or so to get it out of the door in an optimized package. We are not even at the point that there's a new sensor ...
 
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Steve Hendrix

Well-known member
Which finally leads me to the IQ4150 itself. I’ve loved using it on my tech cam. When it came out - it finally felt uncompromising when compared to the prior generations. Good High ISO performance, ES, files are fantastic, live view works. Don’t feel the need to upgrade beyond it for tech cam purposes. Although strobe syncing would be nice, my subject matter can get away with continuous.

It’s starting to show its age though - connection drops, long start up times(were always there), battery draining, gets exceptionally hot, crashes, and my least favorite currently - LOTS of noise issues in longer exposures.

Which leads to the softer side of things - the support - what happened there? I feel like the dealers are some of the most responsive, supportive, and knowledgeable people around - but Phase bottlenecks them. It felt like Phase didn’t support the dealers, and were annoyed that customers had the audacity to have questions and needs. Just my impression from my support interactions.
Hi James, welcome to the forum. You did not purchase your IQ4 through Capture Integration, far as I can tell, so I'm not sure what you mean by dealers being "bottlenecked". We've had the same relationship, even more so, with Phase One support and support staff that we've always had, which I would only say, while it is not perfect, we wish this level of dealer support existed with all manufacturers.

The issues you indicate with your IQ4, lots of noise, dropped connections, crashing, those are not normal and you should pursue the resolution of them with your dealer.

Steve Hendrix/CI
 

anyone

Well-known member
Which leads to the softer side of things - the support - what happened there?
Cannont comment much on the IQ4150, but I contacted Phase One about a problem with an older digital back. The service was quick, responsive, and very knowledgeable. Probably my best service experience ever in the camera world, a lot better than Canon professional service and the like.
 

stngoldberg

Well-known member
I’m in the category of an amateur photographer who is thrilled with the IQ4150 and the service I receive from my dealer who happens to be Capture Integration.
Yes, the camera has a few issues, in my case it’s the weight, but the images obtained from this back are nothing short of amazing and I have no issues with the focus which is more than satisfactory for the captures that this camera is designed to take.
The occasional software updates such as frame averaging and dual exposure are unique and set this back apart from from anything offered by Fuji and Hasselblad.
Athough I am an amateur, I spend an exorbitant amount of time photographing and looking at the photographs others take and generally learning about imaging.
In my retirement, this back camera has has provided me a considerable amount of pleasure and for that reason alone was a great investment.
stanley
 

Ray Harrison

Well-known member
I'm very happy with my IQ4 150 and older IQ3 100 Achromatic. I've been super happy with my dealer (Capture Integration) and whenever I've dealt with Phase support it has been fast, professional and and helpful. For me, the flexibility of the system is paramount and of course the lenses (whether tech camera or XF) and the files produced by the back(s) are nothing short of amazing. Nothing against Fuji and the new Hasselblad cameras - they produce stellar images and also have great lenses - but I guess it all depends on what you're after. Multi-point AF isn't a high priority for me and I really appreciate the customizability and features of the XF. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't turn down better AF or a lighter XF or "mirrorless", but it's not at the top of my list. But the fact that Phase can add significant features with firmware and that those features are high value (Dual exposure+, Frame averaging, even autoETTR has promise, etc) shows me they're still thinking about image making. I also like that they make dedicated achromatic backs. Leica is the only other vendor in the commercial space that I am aware of that does that. As others have mentioned, they continue to drive innovation on the industrial side of things and those can make their way into the "bespoke" space (e.g. the global shutter is pushing innovation (we'll see where that heads), and to some degree so was the X-shutter). I enjoy my Cambo setup but the XT is a pretty clever bit of kit if you're into that sort of thing.

Phase ceded 44x33 to Fuji and Hasselblad who've done great things with the format. They continue to push the bar in that space as OP has noted. For my needs: flexibility across cameras (XF/Tech), lenses, highly malleable files, flexibility in workflow, I wouldn't discount Phase just yet :). I'm happy I put my money with them and will continue to do so. But at the end of the day, it's about what we all want and what works for us. The great news is that we're in a golden age of digital cameras and if you can't find something that meets your needs, just keep looking :).

And definitely, Phase is far from perfect, and there are certainly folks who will have different view points and experiences that are perhaps similar to yours. Their speed of delivery of new features or promised capabilities have driven people nuts or even away, but for me, the benefits I get outweigh any of the frustrations. Key is "for me", of course.
 

buildbot

Active member
Cannont comment much on the IQ4150, but I contacted Phase One about a problem with an older digital back. The service was quick, responsive, and very knowledgeable. Probably my best service experience ever in the camera world, a lot better than Canon professional service and the like.
+1 to Phase one support be incredibly awesome. They also have really great docs for stuff as far back as their first digital backs!
Fuji on the other hand, lied to my face, it was like dealing with the mob. Complete with aggressive New York accents haha.
 

drevil

Well-known member
Staff member
that contax mount achromatic + that was listed in the F/S section has to be up there
Glad i got that one :)

on the general topic
I think the main reason we havent heard much news on the digital back front is simply there is no new sensor available

i also can say, when contacting phase one directly the support usually reacts within day, cant say the same thing for the support of capture one.

and yes, to see phase one having the backs assambled in japan now is quite interesting, the first IQ4 backs said its being made in denmark while now there was an IQ4 for sale which said "designed in denmark, made in japan"
god why do they always have to copy apple? ^^
 

Bill Caulfeild-Browne

Well-known member
I find it interesting that some feel Phase is a bit stagnant. I don't - the infinity platform has allowed them to be anything but. There have been eight feature upgrades (at no additional cost) since I bought mine
Previously there was criticism that you had to keep buying a new back every year or two - now that's no longer true, they're condemned for NOT having a new one every year or two!

But at the end of the day the only thing that matters to me is image quality. The weight, the cost etc are the price one pays for the best that I have experienced.
 

JamesJetel

New member
They are doing very fine and focusing on B2B - geospatial (drones for mapping / defense purposes), cultural heritage, etc. They are making quite a bit of money there.

It is easier to sell 8 repro stations as a senior sales guy at P1 to the Vatican for 600k EUR than to deal with all the "enthusiasts" and professionals which mostly complain about pricing. The business is ofc alive, but there is no big investment right now because from a RoE perspective there are just better projects atm.

Check the phase channel - they just launched a new high end drone platform.

There's no new sensor which fulfills the photographic needs (high res, big size, high DR) - there's only a new global shutter sensor which is smaller and has lower dynamic range. It is not fit for photo and is used in industrial applications (e.g. production line quality control, etc.). On top you have Hassy which will occupy the 100 megapixel territory next year.

They are basically focused on a high end approach whereby they don't care to grow the photo business, but keep it profitable by enforcing high margins.

The price of the P1 IQ4 150 rose during the pandemic - they don't care because they don't want to run after the complainers who turn to Fuji / Hassy due to lack of funds - they are just happy selling less and running a profitable unit - not many investments, not many people, high margin products, optimized supply chain. The warehouse fo XF lenses and accessories apparently now is in Japan, eg if you want a used lens - part of the cost saving measures.

I mean check the XT lens pricing - it is above all others and they don't care. There's a high end core customer base which can still swing it.

Did we see investment into tilt mounts for all lenses? Nope. A 55 MKII? Nope. The 80 MKII probably didn't sell well enough. A bigger XT? Nope. So you see - right now they are uncertain to get any investment returns in line with other opps for them in B2B so it basically just stays as is.

There will be a new IQ5 - but it will take a while given there's no real innovation possible atm except a new SoC which would make it faster but then again it is not necessary so they can still milk it for 2-3 more years in view of getting maybe also access to a new sensor.

So I think Phase just moved focus to B2B which is a good thing because essentially it means the company will stay alive and is doing fine, but for the photographic side given the current economic realities of photographers and even well-off enthusiasts the focus is on cash extraction rather than growth.

Prices will stay high and it is still the highest res system and the X shutter is unique - so this will be still the high end of photography and the highest price - if you are able to afford it: Fingers crossed for an IQ5 in 23/24! I am sure there will be trade in options then for 25kish if you have an IQ4 150.

Don't forget that even if we see a new Sony sensor - let's say a 200 megapixel 54x40 with high DR - it will take them a year or so to get it out of the door in an optimized package. We are not even at the point that there's a new sensor ...
Thanks for the thoughtful response, Phase’s own website supports your assertions about the B2B. We’re just a slice of the business. That’s good to hear they’re doing well in those arenas.

Price doesn’t bother me as long as they stay ahead and innovate - the cost is the cost - it’s a specialized piece of kit. An Alexa35 is gonna run you 90k, so it’s not like these numbers are shocking for commercial work.

And now that I think of it - it was a hard pandemic for corporations and people alike - so a few years of slowed progress isn’t so unusual.

We’ll see what happens, I’m certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to available systems. Right tools for the right job and all that.

Can’t say I’m not a little disappointed with what’s been served up by Phase in the past few years though.
 

JamesJetel

New member
I find it interesting that some feel Phase is a bit stagnant. I don't - the infinity platform has allowed them to be anything but. There have been eight feature upgrades (at no additional cost) since I bought mine
Previously there was criticism that you had to keep buying a new back every year or two - now that's no longer true, they're condemned for NOT having a new one every year or two!

But at the end of the day the only thing that matters to me is image quality. The weight, the cost etc are the price one pays for the best that I have experienced.
I certainly appreciate that we aren’t having to upgrade every year or two. Glad to not be Apple’d to death. The feature upgrades have felt more like the things that should’ve been there at launch, but that’s a small gripe.

Phase definitely still puts out the best files for the style. The competition is really gaining ground in Quality of Life, such that the “price one pays for the best” looks a little less worth it with each passing year. Either way, it works out, there are so many amazing cameras available.
 

JamesJetel

New member
Hi James, welcome to the forum. You did not purchase your IQ4 through Capture Integration, far as I can tell, so I'm not sure what you mean by dealers being "bottlenecked". We've had the same relationship, even more so, with Phase One support and support staff that we've always had, which I would only say, while it is not perfect, we wish this level of dealer support existed with all manufacturers.

The issues you indicate with your IQ4, lots of noise, dropped connections, crashing, those are not normal and you should pursue the resolution of them with your dealer.

Steve Hendrix/CI
That is correct, I did not purchase through CI - I wanted to support the dealer local to where I was at the time.
I suppose my bottlenecking comment was completely subjective and related to lackluster support I received when inquiring about the increasing amount of hot pixels in my files. No need to rehash that here. Glad to hear you’re not having any support issues - thanks for the suggestion, I’ll get my back sent in.
 

JeffK

Well-known member
I bought into an achromatic system. Started with an IQ2160A and now an IQ3100A. Thought seriously about the IQ4 achromatic. Just could never justify the additional investment when the IQ3100A checked all the boxes for me. Hopefully I'll be getting a decade of use out of it along with my modded epson 7800 for my piezography styled printing.

I'm fine with Phase not releasing new backs. And I appreciate the firmware upgrades to the XF as long as it maintains the integrity with the IQ3100A.
 

Phase V

Member
So the backs are now assembled in Japan, what about repair and maintenance?
Still in Kopenhagen or did they get rid of that also?
 

Paul Spinnler

Active member
So the backs are now assembled in Japan, what about repair and maintenance?
Still in Kopenhagen or did they get rid of that also?
I didn't say backs are assembled in Japan - I think this is still done in Copenhagen. XF optics are produced in Japan and before the pandemic they had a European warehouse and after the new private equity owners came in an optimization and re-focusing of the business was conducted:

1) Enforcing high margins across photo and optimizing cost base - after intro of XT no more budget for uncertain RoE projects in photo. No more investment into XF ...
2) Spin-off of C1 to make it independently manageable and so they can pursue the Lightroom customer base - they are growing strongly and setup a new R&D HQ in Athens!
3) Money into diversification where there's growth, ie B2B - drones, repro, etc. - they essentially copied DT's cultural heritage business an expanded through Europe before DT could; I think Phase reps visited DT and then bluntly copied it - ie making an own business, comissioning own repro station hardware, etc. then there's the whole aerial business which is a whole different price point

Given that this is private equity, they will manage this quite well with a focus on growth in B2B and profitability.

High end photo hardware is run as a cash cow - meaning milking for cash with no big reinvestments except what's absolutely necessary to keep the status quo and current customers happy.

IQ5 will come, but not immediately. More like 2-3 years. There's also the topic of component shortage. All businesses in hardware production and engineering prioritize high RoE projects with ideally upfront payments - a chip manufacturer will first produce all designs for which there will be a lot of clear demand before designing a 200 megapixel 54x40 sensor for which there are not so many applications outside high end photo and ultra high end aerial.

To give you further context: the 138 HR project was kicked off at Qioptic back in 2013! During a recessionary time where they had extra time! And always interrupted due to other higher RoE projects. They have other optics on the roadmap, bur they won't be developed as Quioptic has endless demand from the B2B side and couldn't currently care to develop new HR lenses. Ie - better to build custom stuff for the military than a new wide-angle ...

In the end it means that if you can afford it be happy with what there is and then look forward to in a few years uograde to the next best thing.

For the time being the IQ is arguably still the best digital back with many unique features and there is still a high end clientele globally which will buy this and use it commercially. It was always the case that amateurs fuel innovation for the Pro’s and now cycles just take longer due to us having reached an optimal system - for many, myself included, the P1 is the best you can get producing the best image quality out there and I will upgrade the minute the IQ5 is announced.
 
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ThdeDude

Active member
Will be interesting to see if/when P1 releases a IQ5 how pricing of it will reflect the market entry of Fujifilm's GFX and Hasselblad's X System.

For many who would have considered P1 in the past or current P1 users considering upgrading, Fujifilm's and Hasselblad's 100MB offerings will be "good enough" as to be a cost-efficient alternative to P1.
 
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