Hands on with the Phase One XF

Recently we got to get a closer look at the new Phase One XF system, as a user of the 645DF+ and IQ250 back it was great to see a new development in the Phase systems and to see what advancements have been made. This post will look at some of the smaller points of the system that may not have been noticed at first glance.

Going to start from a strange point but I feel it needs to be said – it’s much prettier in the flesh. From the images that had been springing up online the system looks a little harsh when compared to the smooth lines of the 645DF+ but seeing it and handling it the design choice makes a lot of sense. There’s a utilitarian ruggedness and strength to the look, this matched with the weight and sturdiness of its construction gives you a lot of confidence when handling the camera.

There are many changes to the system and it has evolved to deal with a lot of small ‘issues’ that combined lead to a great leap forward with the technology. The modular nature of the system has opened up a lot of doors and will surely lead to many more leaps in the future. The new viewfinder system finally offers a useable waist level viewfinder – something that has been sought after for a while as on many shoots we have found the camera jammed up against a wall to get the right shot. (This has been ok due to the much higher quality live view features on the IQ250 but it will be much better to see this framing in camera.)

Photo 18-06-2015 13 34 09

The sturdiness mentioned earlier is apparent throughout the system, the shutter actuation feels noticeably steadier with that large mirror causing less shake throughout the camera. The steady actuation can be credited to the advancements in the phase one industrial aerial camera line and the designers pulling some of that design through to this system. The problem of in camera shake can be dealt with even further with the help of a built in seismometer/accelerometer that monitors the vibrations running through the camera system and delay the shutter release until it is perfectly still resulting in the sharpest images possible.

An add on that I hadn’t read about but was surprised and happy to discover was the inclusion of a built in Profoto Air trigger, it’s a nice addition and redundancy to the workflow. While we already have an air remote its nice to have a back up or the option to not have it on top of the system and use the built in one. There is a thing that would be nice to find out about the remote though – it wasn’t completely clear whether this remote has the option of a ‘fast’ mode, which is often used in the movement work undertaken.

The multi touch screen interface is leaps and bounds better than the previous offering of the 645, there was much frustration at the adjustment of custom functions for the body in the past – only by referring to a written list of the functions was is possible to remember what each function was. Now the menus are clear and intuitive with a wealth of information to display making it much easier and simpler to configure the back and body to your precise requirements.

Photo 18-06-2015 11 59 28

The autofocus system is better with less hunting and an improved AF assist light to help find the correct focus point, this was previously one of the weaker point of the 645 system so it is good to see that attention has been given to this. It could still be improved as it is nothing like the multi point systems found within Canon and Nikon but they are different beasts and I wouldn’t want to compare apples and oranges.

All in all it’s a much more refined system with heaps of potential for even more advancement in the future. The adjustments for the most part are small but numerous and combined with the ever more powerful Capture One software it continues to be a versatile system at the top tier of professional photography.