What Would You Do With 80 Million Pixels?

by Jon Snyder

Cameras are like paintbrushes — they’re just creative tools with no inherent magical powers. No amount of megapixels or sexy German lenses will make you a better photographer.

But you can certainly make some pretty badass pictures with a $50,000 paintbrush.

Meet the IQ180, the new digital back from Phase One, a Danish company known for making high-end medium format camera systems for professional photographers. This most recent addition to the Phase One fleet boasts an 80-megapixel sensor, the highest resolution sensor the company has ever offered.

We got the chance to test it for a week. It’s remarkably easy to use, and it’s capable of capturing more image detail than you’ll likely ever need. Quite simply, it’s one of the sickest camera systems you can buy for any money — and we’re talking about some serious coin here. For $47,990, you get the back, the body, and a Schneider Kreuznach 80 mm LS f/2.8 lens.

What you’re left holding is the photographic equivalent of a Bentley-Ferrari pickup truck — it’s sexy and elegant and expensive and you’re kind of afraid you’re going to run it into a tree, but its virtually limitless utility makes it capable of handling almost any job.

The images produced by the 80-megapixel digital back are massive — upwards of 500MB each. If you were to pull a file straight out of the camera and print it out at full print resolution, your image would be about 34 inches wide. That amount of depth adds a level of clarity and definition to your images that’s truly stunning.

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Capture One Pro on the Mac. Click for larger size

Photos: Jon Snyder/Wired.com

  • Phase One IQ180
  • · $47,990 base, $55,470 as tested
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