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Phase One’s New A-Series Is Nothing We Haven’t Seen Before, But Combined It Is Exciting

By Anthony Thurston on November 13th 2014

The parts of Phase One’s new A-Series Mirrorless Medium Format system are nothing new. The digital backs are literally (as far as we can tell) just their latest IQ250, IQ260, and IQ280 with a slightly modified mount to connect with the ALPA frames. Same with the ALPA frames and Rodenstock lenses, all have been available for quite some time.


When you combine all of these ‘old news’ parts, the sum is actually something fairly exciting in the Medium Format world – a Mirrorless Camera. In fact, this system has no viewfinder of any kind, not even an EVF (not a traditional one anyways). If you want to see what you are shooting, you can pair your phone with the Phase One back and use it as a live view terminal to see through the lens. A neat, and welcome improvement to the ALPA system.

Now, this is not your Fujifilm or or Sony mirrorless camera, these are still being sold at ridiculously expensive Medium Format prices. But it could be the start of something. If these sell well, or catch the attention of the right people, this could be just the first of what could turn out to be a “mirrorless revolution” in the Medium Format space, similar to what is going on in the 35mm world now.


It could also be a one off, and a I should really stop trying to predict how trends will move forward. The funny thing is, we really don’t even have all of the details about this new A-Series from Phase One yet, so it would be prudent to wait until all the information is out before getting too excited or writing it off.

Until Phase One gets the full press release about these out, it’s just a game of wait-n-see. Stay tuned for an update when more details are available.

[via Fstoppers via Digital Transitions]

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Matthew Saville

    Dear lord I’d hate to hear what the battery life is on that thing! Definitely NOT coming with me into the wilderness on a multi-day backpacking trip… I’ll go with a D810’s 1000+ shot potential, TYVM…


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  2. adam sanford

    It’s *technically* mirrorless, but it completely misses the opportunity of reducing the overall size of the apparatus.

    I imagine most mirrorless fans want to see the smallest possible flange distance to the sensor and — the big kick in the butt — a portfolio of smaller, purpose-built lenses to work expressly with that new flange distance. The first thing is do-able for the cost of developing a new camera body and mount, but the second thing is a monstrous financial and development time commitment — and it’s why no one has tried this yet.

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    • Stan Rogers

      I don’t know if you actually *looked* at the camera (the Alpa 12 TC), but it’s just a thin slab of metal. The sensor sits at the front of the back. The lens, with its focusing unit sits on the front. The “flange distance” is probably smaller than the Sony E/EF. It’s small enough that with very wide-angle lenses, there is visible (and correctable) colour shifting at the edges of the frame because the light is coming through the Bayer array at such an oblique angle. The “smaller, purpose-built lenses” are already there; they have been for a very long time (they’re essentially medium-format view camera lenses built for bag bellows; they were never designed with a reflex mirror in mind); with a film back, there is no colour shift to deal with (and no screen, but you still need room for the spools and wind-on gear train unless you want to shoot sheet film). Almost all of the bulk of this camera setup is the PhaseOne back, with its electronics, screen, controls and battery.

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    • Stan Rogers

      This does just look like a bundle of existing components. The TC has been around for a while, the Rodenstocks with the Alpa helicoid have been around for as long, and the IQ2xx backs aren’t exactly new either (well, except for the 250 CMOS, which should make life a lot easier than the usual laser rangefinder focusing). The on-body phone mount is new to me, but it’s probably been available for quite a while too. I think it’s just a way to get a popular combination all in one place (Alpas aren’t easy to find).

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