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Chillout TGIF: Photographs from the Phase One XF IQ4 150 and Schneider Kreuznach lenses

by Peter Chong on December 27, 2019
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Followup to our hands-on review of the Phase One XF IQ4 150 and Schneider Kreuznach 45mm and 120mm lenses, here is a photo gallery look with comments on more of the photographs taken with this amazing camera system.

For the review of the Phase One XF IQ4 150 camera and Schneider Kreuznach lenses, click here.

The images in this article are all photographed with the Phase One kit described in the review. Images are captured in IIQ16 bit raw, and raw conversion is done in Capture One. Adjustments are minimal, mainly for exposure where necessary. The camera AWB is used for all photographs and is spot on. For the macro photographs, where the aperture is closed smaller than f/11, the Diffraction Correction box is ticked, otherwise it is left unchecked, and only standard lens correction is applied. The file is exported as a small jpg, 5000 pixels wide for expediency, as the natural size is 14,200 pixels wide will be overkill for the net. A further small adjustment in curves is done in Photoshop 2020, and the image is resized for the internet.

Sample photographs of watch macros are found in the Atelier visits of Petermann Bedat, Akrivia, and the reviews of the Girard-Perregaux Absolute Rock and the Corum Golden Bridge Round 43 Art Deco.

Walkabouts: Singapore, Neuchatel and Geneva

Walking about with the Phase One XF IQ4 150 and the Schneider Kreznach 45mm lens is quite an endeavour. The combination is quite large and heavy, but with a bit of determination, it is possible.

A typical architecture shot. Normally this would be attempted with a shift lens, keeping the sensor plane parallel to the building, and shifting the lens up to maintain the parallel lines which do not converge at the top. But here, I just photographed the building from the 4th storey of the building across the road, and tilted the camera up to cover the top of the Beacon. This results in converging lines which are corrected in Capture One. The Perspective Control Keystone correction tool in Capture One is easy to use and intuitive – a matter of aligning two lines in the tool with the sides of the building and clicking “apply”. And the tool gets it done. Because the back has 150Mp, there almost no loss of detail.

The Beacon. Shot from across the street. Converging lines corrected in Capture One.

The same technique was done for this clock tower in Neuchâtel Switzerland. The converging lines to be corrected here was more slight, as the tower was not quite as tall as the 23 storey Beacon.

Neuchâtel in the light rain.

In Geneva, I walked around just after sunset, and at the new Breitling boutique in Place des bergues. This was photographed hand held, at ISO 1600, 1/125s. The tonal changes and light falloff from the ground floor to upstairs on the building is captured nicely. Details are well rendered – like the texture of the walls. As well as the back of a gentleman seen through the window on the second floor. The Norton motorcycle on the ground floor is also clearly resolved, including the brand name can be read.

The Breitling boutique in Geneva. Hand held.

Walking further on, a neon sign by the Geneva railway station. The noise handling of the dark areas is outstanding, with the black areas remainding absolutely black.

A neon display just beside the Geneva main station.

The image below was taken at ISO 6400, and hand held from the pews of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Geneva. 1/25s at f/3.5. The image is sharp, and detailed. At this high ISO, the noise is visible, especially in the darker areas, but the structure detail and colour fidelity is very high.

Inside the Notre Dame in Geneva. Shot hand held. Shutter speed is 1/20s. ISO6400.

Frame Averaging: Bvlgari Fireworks Tree and Serpenti

The amazing Frame Averaging tool on the XF was demonstrated in our Bvlgari Fireworks Tree and Serpenti article linked above, where I describe the usage of the tool in detail.

Portraits

As a portrait tool the XF is fully up to the task with the Schneider Kreuznach 120mm Macro lens. The image produced is very sharp with superb details captured. Tones, especially the critical skin tones are well presented and accurate to live. Here Rexhep Rexhepi is photographed with the Broncolor Siros L flash in his atelier.

For environmental style portraits, the Schneider Kreuznach 45mm is up the task. Here is a portrait of a master watchmaker at the Girard-Perregaux atelier showing off his work – which he just finished assembling – the Tri-Axial Minute Repeater Tourbillon. Photographed hand held, at ISO800, 1/200s f/5.6/

Concluding thoughts

Overall, the Phase One system is the absolute tops when it comes to image quality one can get from any camera in the world today. The combination of clever and practical engineering tools applied to the outstanding 150 Mpx BSI back, with the superb optics of the Schneider Kreuznach Blue Ring lenses and the wizardry of the Capture One software makes it the current state of the art today. The only downsides are the system is very large and heavy and the matter of the price.

A comment on the cost is perhaps in order. Sitting on top of the price pyramid in any endeavour, being expensive is par for the course. Any top of the top of the line system in any field is going to command a premium. In this world where a Ferrari, or Aston Martin or Rolls Royce, and the likes of Patek Philippe, Lange, Greubel Forsey and Richard Mille outpacing their competition by multiples in price, the Phase One’s asking price of the review package can perhaps be argued to be reasonable. This is, in my view, the world’s best camera system. And it can be had for S$82,000. The price on its own is within the budgets of many reading this now, though in fairness, I also note that this is close to be one of the most expensive camera system in the market today. I guess what I am saying is that best is always going to be expensive. And this system is by far the best I have had the pleasure to use.

The system is versatile, and expandable by adding other lenses. The back can be called to view camera duties when attached to an appropriate monorail camera, or Phase One’s own XT system (to gain access the usage of the remarkable Rodenstock lenses) to extend its usability. Having said that the Phase One is overkill for almost 90% of all photographers, professional or otherwise. But if one wants the best, this is the one to consider.

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