At Photokina 2012 Phase One has announced a new camera. No, not the uber-camera that some have been waiting for, but rather an upgrade to their popular DF series. This new body, shipping in October, is called the 645DF+.
Let’s be frank. The Phase One 645DF series cameras are based on the Mamiya AF cameras, which have been around quite a while. (Phase One acquired Mamiya several years ago). Though fairly rugged and reliable this camera has been through quite a number of iterations, and is required to work with the latest generation of medium format backs as well as leaf shutter lenses.
With the 645DF+ Phase One has taken the camera and put it though the wringer to improve reliability and functionality. Among the improvements claimed are…
Redesign & Extreme Durability Testing of Focal Plane Shutter. A minimum 100,000 accuations
- Redesign of Winding Mechanism
- Durability on buttons and electronics
- New Electronic hazard protection
- Comprehensive debugging
- Completely new Auto Focus with 2 priority mode selectors (speed/precision)
- Auto Focus Fine Tune feature (to better align with different Digital Backs)
- Claimed faster AF than any other MF camera.
- Claimed more precise AF than any other MF camera
- USB 3 for faster tethered shooting
- No more AA Batteries…7.2V Lithium-Ion battery package; up to 10000 captures / charge with full charge taking 2-3 hours
The Phase One 645DF+ will be priced the same as the current 645DF at $5990 or $6490 with 80mmLS lens. The camera will ship in October.
During the week prior to Photokina I had an opportunity to also spend time with two of the new lenses that were recently announced. Below are some specs and initial observations.
Schneider Kreuznach 28mm LS Aspherical
This is the widest leaf shutter lens in Phase One’s line-up. Like their other leaf lenses it is a co-design with Schenider Kreuznach, who in my book are right up there in the same pantheon with Zeiss and Schneider when it comes to quality medium format optics. Minimum focusing distance is 30cm and flash sync is up to 1/1600 sec. The lens costs USD $5,490 and is shipping in October.
There is a new filter kit from Lee designed for the Phase / Schneider 28mm LS. It fits both the new 28mm LS and also the older Phase One 28mm. It comes with one #6 Soft Grad and is available this month for USD $490.
Schneider Kreuznach f/4.5 240mm LS (IF)
This is a typical Schneider / Phase One collaboration lens. Very high build and optical quality combined with a price to match. The lens will ship in Q4 for USD $5,790.
I was pleased to see a built-in lens hood, which slides outwards and locks in both collapsed and extended positions. It is an internal focusing design, so the lens will not extend when focused.
This is also, of course, a leaf shutter lens, making it the longest such in the current Phase One arsenal. Flash sync is up to 1/1000 sec with either the IQ160 or IQ180 back. The lens is shorter and slower than the 300mm f/4 Mamiya / Phase lens, but because it’s a leaf shutter lens vibration should be much less of an issue. I have always enjoyed the reach of the 300mm on 645, but am always nervous about getting really sharp images. Shutter vibration is perennially an issue at medium to slowish shutter speeds, regardless of technique or tripod solidity.
As regular readers know, I own and use Phase One Equipment for my personal photography. But in the case of Phase One they are also an advertiser on this site, and I occasional teachPODAS workshopsfor them. To top it off, Kevin Raber, a Vice President of the company, is a long time personal friend and regular shooting companion.
Does this make me biased in favour of Phase One? Possibly. But then I own and use a lot of other brands including Sony, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, Sigma, and others, and have a lot of friends and acquaintances in the industry. So if I have any biases, I guess I consider myself an equal opportunity biaser. You’ll simply have to draw your own conclusions.