PhaseOne A-Series Mirrorless Cameras

Trade that luxury car for a luxury camera!

Rumors have been quickly spreading about Phase One’s new mirrorless camera systems. The company no doubt produces some of the finest pieces of photographic equipmet with a hefty price tag included. I have never felt the need to own one of their beastly camera systems, and even if I felt the need I wouldn't necessarily have the means.

These new batch of cameras are the first mirrorless medium format cameras to hit the market. They are said to come in 50MP, 60MP, and 80MP sensor configuration, ISO ranges from 35–800 on the higher models and 100–6400 for the 50MP model, ALPA 5.6 35mm lens, Capture One Pro 8, and accessoreis. All of that for the price of a luxury car between $47 K– $55 K. Compare that with Nikon’s or Canon’s top of the line 35mm DSLRs at around $5K. It’s worth noting that Nikon and Canon’s cameras are 35mm instead of 120mm and they only go up to 16–30MP but is the extra MP and resolution of the Phase One cameras worth it? In my humble opinion, YES for a few, NO for most.

I just cannot justify the cost of this camera. The megapixel count is huge but unless you are printing something the size of a wall you are going to be throwing away 95% of those pixels if you only show your images online. Yes, you can take a picture from far away and crop in while maintaining good detail thanks to all those pixels… or you can just walk closer. These are cameras that are not meant for action or walking around anyway.

The ISO ranges have always been the downfall of these sensors. The top tier only goes up to 800 ISO and in my experience noise is very noticeable at that range with these cameras. These cameras are meant to be used indoors with bright strobe lights or for landscapes but still having that hindrance means longer exposure times or shooting open. The resolution is undoubtedly better. The amount of details that the camera and lens can capture is outstanding but at that price range is hard to convince myself it would be a worthy investment.

At this moment in time there are so many choices in camera equipment I imagine it would be daunting for anyone getting into photography to know which camera to choose. There are great DSLRs that can record video as well as produce beautiful imagery, there are mirrorless cameras that are highly portable and have features not even the more professional DSLRs have yet, there is an “affordable” medium format camera (Pentax 645Z), there are film cameras, polaroid cameras, GoPro cameras, and of course phone cameras. All of them with their uses, benefits, and disadvantages but the most perplexing part is that you could buy ALL of the cameras listed for less than the Phase One A-Series.

Until these cameras come down in price or at least offer better ISOs, video mode, or any major innovation that revolutionizes the modus operandi they will remain only truly useful for those that need the size and resolution these cameras produce. The rest of us can still rent them and fiddle with it or use them to impress clients with our big, long, shiny, mirrorless camera.

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