Phase One has announced the latest addition to its line of IQ3 digital medium format camera backs, a 101-megapixel offering which only shoots in black and white. The IQ3 100MP Achromatic is described as being the world's first 101-megapixel achromatic digital back, and boasts features including a top ISO setting of 51,200.
Unlike DSLRs or mirrorless cameras where you have the camera body and a lens, medium format cameras generally consist of three parts, the (interchangeable) lens, the camera body, and the back, which is where the image sensor is housed. As such, manufacturers typically have a range of backs available which can be paired with camera bodies to offer different combinations of resolution and features. For example, Phase One produces a number of different digital backs for use with medium format cameras like its XF system, such as the 101-megapixel IQ3 100MP it introduced last year.
But the new IQ3 100MP Achromatic is a very different beast because, like previous Phase One Achromatic models and the Leica M Monochrom, it only shoots in black and white. While a modern camera which can't shoot color might sound strange to some, many photographers are committed to black and white, and a dedicated camera means they are not hindered by a color filter which impacts the amount of light which reaches the sensor.
As such, the large 101-megapixel medium format (53.4 x 40.1 mm) CMOS sensor in the IQ3 100MP Achromatic has been designed without a Bayer color filter. This allows all available light to be captured unaltered and unobstructed, compared to a traditional sensor with a color filter. The result is increased light-gathering potential, and the ability to produce more detailed and nuanced images.
The ISO ranges from 200 to 51,200 (considerably higher than the 12,800 of the standard color IQ3 100MP, let alone the 3,200 of the IQ2 Achromatic). This again highlights the sensitivity of the IQ3 100MP Achromatic, and the benefit of only capturing in black and white in lower light situations. Phase One claims images produced with the camera have an analog-like smoothness which is similar to film grains on black and white film.
The IQ3 100MP Achromatic also lacks an Infrared (IR) cut-off filter, meaning the camera can capture light outside the visible spectrum. This could be useful for fine art and landscape photographers, or those focused on architecture or even scientific applications.
On the back of the unit there's a 3.2-inch touchscreen which features Live View thanks to the CMOS sensor, which can even display light normally invisible to the naked eye. In line with other IQ3 models from Phase One, the 100MP Achromatic offers an electronic shutter, long exposures of up to 60 minutes, and Wi-Fi connectivity for wireless communication or control.
The IQ3 100MP Achromatic Digital Back is available to pre-order now, with shipping planned for early August. However, as with previous models it won't come cheap, and will set you back US$49,990 if you just want the digital back, or $54,990 with a XF Camera body and a lens from the Schneider Kreuznach Blue Ring prime lens range.
Product page: IQ3 100MP Achromatic