Phase One has given professional photographers something to lust after with the launch of the new high-end medium format XF Camera System. The new system sees an XF camera body launched alongside a new line of IQ3 digital backs offering resolutions up to 80-megapixels, and new modular viewfinders. The system also boasts a major redesign, a new autofocus platform, and an upgradable OS with a new OneTouch User Interface.

The XF Camera System has clearly been designed to prove that big sensor medium format cameras are still relevant at a time when full-frame DSLRs like the Canon EOS 5DS and Nikon D810 offer high megapixel counts. Phase One is billing the XF system as the future of high-end photography with features like aerial-grade mechanics and advanced electronics, so it's clear the modular camera body, digital backs, viewfinders and lenses are not going to come cheap.

One of the headline-grabbing new features of the XF Camera System is its new Honeybee Autofocus Platform (HAP-1) which has been created in-house by Phase One. The platform uses a new custom processor and high-resolution CMOS AF sensor which combines a floating-point architecture and fully programmable interface. This is not only said to be faster and more precise than previous systems, but it will be able to be expanded with software updates to better meet the needs of users.

The XF camera body itself is a modern boxy-but-stylish affair which uses a new OneTouch User Interface (UI) combining dials, keys and touch screen interactions, and is reported to be based on Scandinavian design principles. The system makes use of two touch screens with a 1.6-inch one on the grip of the camera body, and another a 3.2-inch display on the rear of the digital backs. This, along with the new XF Camera OS again means that upgrades can be rolled out to deliver new features and customization, which Phase One says it will do based on users' feedback.

Though the XF camera body can be used with older digital backs – IQ2 backs get almost full access to new features, while the IQ1 range work as they do on current systems, but with the XF offering benefits such as improved speed, reliability, sensors and autofocus – three new IQ3 digital backs have also been announced. These come as either 80-megapixel 53.7 x 40.4 mm, or 60-megapixel 53.9 x 40.4 mm CCD sensors, which have an ISO range of 50 to 800 and offer 13 stops of dynamic range, or a 50-megapixel, 44 x 33 mm CMOS version with a 100-6400 ISO range and 14 stops of dynamic range.

The new IQ3 digital backs all feature high resolution 3.2-inch touchscreens which let users tap to zoom, pan and browse through images or menus. They can take 60 minute exposures, and feature a high-bandwidth interface which enables advanced tools in the new OneTouch UI, including power-sharing capabilities. They also all have built-in Wi-Fi allowing remote triggering from Capture Pilot running on any compatible iOS device.

All XF camera systems will come with a new 90 degree Prism viewfinder as standard, which is said to be the brightest of its kind. However, also launched with the system is a new waist-level viewfinder. Thanks to the HAP-1 autofocus platform, light metering, which is typically done through a cameras Prism viewfinder, is possible with the classic-style waist-level viewfinder.

While the XF cameras are compatible with an array of current optics including a dedicated Leaf Shutter range, a Focal Plane range, specialty and zooms, two new Phase One Schneider Kreuznach Leaf Shutter lenses have also been announced with the XF system. These consist of a 120-mm F4 and a 35-mm F3.5 which are said to be "ready for 100-MP and beyond", again demonstrating that the XF system isn't just being designed for now, but also for the future.

The new cameras will come with Capture One Pro 8.3 software for optimal RAW image processing and image editing, which also offers the option to customize XF camera controls and delivers up to 30 percent faster tethered shooting.

The new system is available now, and configurations including an XF camera body, IQ3 Digital Back, Prism Viewfinder & Schneider Kreuznach 80mm LS lens will set you back US$49,000, $42,000, or $41,000 depending on whether you opt for the 80, 60 or 50-megapixel version. The new 35-mm and 120-mm lenses will each cost $6,500.

You can check out the Phase One XF Camera System in the promo video below.

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