Speaking to the fine people at Phase for the past few years, it has become clear that they are not interested in appeasing the mean. No, Phase One’s bias for the utmost in quality is too entrenched for that, and it appears that when it comes to hardware they’ve decided they’d rather take that approach than one of volume in consumer sales. They do, however, still need to sell, and to satisfy that need they’ve developed the industrial division of the company that’s been doing exceedingly well.
While 99.9% of us will have neither the need nor the bank balance to have a Phase One system, the fact they push these boundaries is good for us all – a rising tide, floats all boats, so-to-speak. Case in point is the new 100MP iXM Metric camera designed for high-quality aerial imaging, surveying, and mapping. You nor I may directly benefit from it, but we likely will indirectly. This is a unit that’s built to be robust; weather sealed, small, vibration resistant, has 10G ethernet and USB-C ports, and uses XQD storage. And this is where things get interesting, even if it was already impressive. The sensor would appear to be Sony’s newest BSI (backside illuminated) medium format sensor, which is a first for this kind of unit, and with it comes all the beneficial trappings of the type, like better low light performance, probably better read-out speed, a bit more pliancy for lens design, and…smaller sized sensors, which is what this is. The sensor in the new iXM is a 33 x 44 millimeter sensor, which is not the same size as what you’d find in their XF systems, but it is the same size as the sensors you’d find in the Fujifilm GFX-50S and Hasselblad X1D (X1D Review here). So it is well within the realm of possibility that given the flexibility in lens design that this sensor affords, its lowlight capability, read out speed and so on, that it is very likely wee’ll see this sensor size in the next generation of GFX and or X1D, and maybe, just maybe, if we close out eyes real tight and cross our fingers, Phase One could offer a smaller, more hand-held, consumer-grade MF camera with this sensor as the foundation.
And if we won’t see a smaller Phase One unit, well then by creating something like this it’s giving Sony a reason to produce this type of sensor and make it available to others. That’s a little like planting a tree under whose shade you’ll never sit…
You can find more more about the iXM here.