The trend in medium-format right now might be the move from CCD to CMOS sensors, as Phase One has introduced the IQ250, dubbed the world’s first CMOS-based medium-format digital camera back. The new product follows Hasselblad’s unveil this week of the first medium-format DSLR with a CMOS sensor. For the professionals who rely on such cameras for their work, the news is exciting; for the rest of us, it may mean even better picture quality – especially in low light – the next time you get your glamor shots done at the portrait studio (provided they invested in one of these new cameras), but it’s out of our reach or needs.
Part of Phase One’s IQ2 series, the 50-megapixel digital camera back uses a 44 x 33mm Sony CMOS sensor (much larger than a full-frame sensor; 68 percent of what 35mm captures). Phase One has other backs with larger sensors and higher-megapixel counts, but those are of the CCD variety; the CMOS allows for better low-noise and low-light performance. Unlike the Hasselblad, the IQ250 isn’t a camera on its own, but a component that attaches to a system of consisting of lens, camera body (Phase One 645DF+), and digital back. It has a wide dynamic range (14 f-stops), exposure time between 1/10,000th of a second to one hour, and ISO range of 100 to 6,400 (the high ISO might be typical for standard consumer DSLRs, but it’s a new enhancement for medium-format, thanks to the CMOS sensor). Medium-format cameras are best for very high-resolution stills, like portrait photography; at 2 frames per second, the IQ250 isn’t really designed for fast action. The IQ2 series cameras have built-in Wi-Fi for remote viewing. Other features include improved Live View, 3.2-inch touchscreen, and USB 3.0.
The camera is on sale now, and is priced at more than an entry-level BMW 3-series: $34,990. Clearly it’s not for the general consumer, but for professionals who work in medium-format, this camera can deliver even more beautifully detailed images that medium-format photography is known for. For more on this pro camera and what the new tech has done for this niche camera sector, check out our friend Dan Havlik’s first-look at PDN, as well as sample images.