Phase One and ALPA officially announced their new A-Series medium format cameras

Phase One and ALPA (both companies announced a long-term strategic and cooperative alliance few months ago) officially released a new A-Series medium format cameras (I already briefly mentioned that news a month ago). Here are the details:

COPENHAGEN, December 17, 2014 -- Phase One today begins shipping the first A-series medium format camera systems. Blending the best of Phase One and ALPA technology through highly-integrated precision components, these cameras are designed to capture outstanding images with greater ease, convenience, and fun.

The three Phase One A-series models include the A250, A260 and A280. They are based on the ALPA 12TC mirrorless camera body, plus a Phase One medium format IQ2 A- series digital back -- the 50 megapixel CMOS-based IQ250; the long-exposure-capable 60 megapixel, full frame IQ260; or the highest-resolution 80 megapixel full frame IQ280. Each model comes with the 35mm Rodenstock Alpar lens. There are two optional lenses available, including the ultra-wide 23mm, and the all-round 70mm, ALPA HR Alpagon, both offering perfect edge-to-edge sharpness and the ability to resolve full frame medium format sensors.

Exclusive to the Phase One A-series are the models’ factory configured in-camera lens calibrations, making the need to create and apply color cast correction profiles (LCCs) optional. One can simply attach an A-series lens and start shooting.

A-series features:

-- The three A-series Rodenstock Alpagon/Alpar lens profiles are factory calibrated, configured and preloaded on the new IQ2 A-series digital backs to get the most out of each medium format sensor. Using the new firmware and A-series camera mode, photographers simply select the lens used and corrections are then automatically processed in camera and when importing to Capture One Pro 8.1.

-- A new version of Capture Pilot permits checking the selected A-lens directly from an iOS device. Once images are captured, they are wirelessly displayed in Capture Pilot, to validate focus, exposure and composition.

-- The A250 can stream Live View wirelessly to ease focusing and composition. With the ALPA smart device holder, one can mount both iPhones and iPads directly on the camera.

-- Each model is serviced as a complete system, with a 5-year warranty.

For optimal raw processing and image editing, the Phase One A-Series systems ship with Capture One Pro 8.1 as well as Capture Pilot 1.8 for remote viewing. Camera accessories include: release cables, lens shades, straps, covers, a special A-series transport case designed by F-Stop Gear, and an iPhone and iPad holder to attach devices in waist-level mode.

For camera specifications and more details, please see:

Availability and Pricing

The Phase One A-Series camera systems are available now exclusively through Phase One partners worldwide: To arrange a demo, please go to:

The Phase One A250 is priced at 36.000 EUR / 47,000 USD. The A260 is 38.000 EUR / 48,000 USD, and the A280 is 43.000 EUR / 55,000 USD.
Purchase price on the system includes a 5-year warranty.

Estimated pricing for optional Alpa lenses is: ALPA HR Alpagon 5.6/23 mm 7.110 EUR / 9,070,00 USD; ALPA HR Alpagon 5.6/70 mm 3.510 EUR; and 4,520 USD.

Additional information is available on Phase One's website.

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  • x4rd

    Pentax 645Z will still kick its’ ass

  • bjrichus

    “ALPA HR Alpagon 5.6/23 mm 7.110 EUR / 9,070,00 USD”

    $9,070,00 …. Shirley some mistake?

    • David

      No typo. Hand made in Switzerland and Germany, these guys are to medium format what Leica is to 35mm format.

      • It’s likely a rebadged Rodenstock.

        Also the Leica logic doesn’t apply… Leica can justify charging their prices because their lenses are faster and the smaller format also requires tighter tolerances and special attention to squeezing the maximum out of the glass. These “medium format” lenses are far slower and are much simpler than equivalent 35mm lenses. So the high price is likely a result of the smaller production runs.

        • Vlad T

          Either way, do people actually buy these?! :))

          • Oh yeah… search in flickr. Not many. Generally people who are too deep pocketed to care buy them.

        • David

          No rebadge actually, they don’t hide the fact it’s Rodenstock lenses. Schneider and Zeiss also provide glass for Alpa.

          I wouldn’t even start to suggest that their prices are justified… Leica or Alpa. I’m just saying Alpa’s place in the medium format market is similar to Leica: Expensive, rare and somewhat of a collectors object.

          • I guess i was using the term “rebadged” loosely. It’s quite common to the same lens and sometimes the same camera under a different brand and model name. Sometimes they do mention what the original lens is.

          • mikeswitz

            Stamps are easier to store.

      • You mean, overpriced for no practical reason? Oh wait, they have wood handles, sorry!

    • photoviking

      Don’t call me Shirley!

  • Ryan Ong

    The A260 is 38.000 EUR / 48,000 USD……
    I’ll guess I’ll just pick up a Pantax 645 and a Dodge Challenger and go for a road trip……

  • tim

    Sensor size?

    • doge

      medium format

      • That’s almost like saying tyre size is “rubber” 🙂

        • doge

          It’s spelled tire.

      • tim

        i meant in mm!!

  • 12TC and all similar “bodies” are over priced crap. Teach yourself how to use a lathe and you can make your own too.

    • photoviking

      If you give 100 monkeys typewriters eventually one will type a masterpiece?

      • Monkeys are too visual to write well. But with the right Topaz plug-in I’m sure they could knock out some damned fine photographs.

        • Zos Xavius

          Topaz plugins and damned fine photographs are words that do not go together in the same sentence.

          • Say that with respect when you speak of Detail 3 and Clarity, both of which almost make up for some of the other stuff.

    • I’ve made my own 9×12 camera on a milling machine. I learned quite a bit about what I really wanted in a camera. After teaching myself 3D software, I’m now on the third prototype. While a machinist may consider the process to be simple, I found actually doing all this was very time consuming. The next steps involve 3D printing another prototype.

      That’s not to say the price is “justified”, whatever that may mean to each individual. It’s easy enough to buy something made in China that appears to be similar to an ALPA. Precision and quality are a different matter, and open to individual perception. Often things sell for the price that the market will bear, or as a reflection of the difficulty of development.

      Sometimes things that look simple, or function simply, did not develop as part of a simple process. That can be said of many things. Timex or IWC; Honda or Ducati; Toyota or Mercedes; are choices that don’t always seem practical.

      • Made in China and cheaper doesn’t automatically mean it’s worse. And don’t forget.. ALPA didn’t invent the process of light bending in glass and creating an image on a sensitised plane either 😉

        By all means these bodies are overpriced crap… can they be worthwhile? Sure… if you’re in a hurry and you need to shoot soon.

        As for your project… a part of the problem is in your choice of using roll film. I’ve made, played with and disassembled plenty of unique cameras that use sheet film. Not for resale but to take photos.

        • Quite simply, we don’t agree on this, and I have no interest in changing your mind. I’ve seen several examples of Chinese large and medium format, and I even own a Shen Hao (which I like using). I also briefly owned a Chinese made milling machine.

          My first prototype took sheet film, though the opening through the camera was 9x12cm, since the first one used some Polaroid 900 body parts to allow rangefinder focus. The second prototype allowed full 4×5 and could mount rollfilm holders that took up to 6x12cm. The third prototype is a modular design that can fit medium format digital backs, or up to 4×5 sheet film holders. I got involved in making my own camera, after restoring a variety of cameras over the last decade. I always used each camera, though only a few ever got used on a commercial project. The oldest lens I own is an 1855 Holmes, Booth & Haydens. The oldest camera I restored and used was an 1911 Voigtländer large format folding camera with a Rodenstock lens. At the moment, the biggest “problem” I have with my project is finding the time to work on it. 😉

          • Sounds nice and I know the issue with time. Please see the ‘large format’ section in the following page for what i have (*) and had before (^):

            Of course, it doesn’t list the things I’ve made. I try to keep my collection streamlined (I’m sure you have more) although I have multiples of some lenses which i should sell 🙂

            Happy shooting!

          • I never really made a list, and I did sell many items a few years ago. I tried to stick to things I used more often. I have a few that work, and are nice props too, though most of those are old rangefinders and folder cameras.

            The Arca Swiss RM-3D line is inspiring, as is the Misura. Mostly cameras just need to get out of my way, in order to be a good camera for me to use. I find elegance in simplicity.

            Outside of 16 bit, there is limited value I see in medium format digital backs. It’s too difficult for the average person to see the difference in the final results. We’re spoiled by the technology today, yet struggle to surpass the achievements of the greats of decades ago. They used what many of us would call completely obsolete. 😉

          • A Brownie also qualifies for “elegance in simplicity” ; )

            The 16-bis in modern digital backs is of no use… it mattered back in the day of large pixels. Since the P65+, pixels have been as small as the pixels on 35mn DSLRs. And we know how even the difference between 12 and 14 bits is difficult to notice under extreme conditions.

          • Perhaps a surprise, I have used a few box cameras. About the only camera I have not used is a pinhole camera. 😉

            I now have around 20 years of Photoshop and image editing experience, including pre-press preparation. It would take too long to explain why I don’t agree with you, but keep in mind that the eyes of individuals vary a bit. I will acknowledge that many will not see the difference, and others will not care, but for those of us whom the difference is important, we do care. However, many people today are happy with “good enough”, so it does beg the question of why bother going a bit further to get small improvements in the end results. Nether of us will get anywhere trying to convince the other to see this differently. I do wonder why you own a Leica S2 (on your gear list), but no need to provide any explanation of that.

          • I’m a computer scientist. I have done numerical analysis on raw data. That’s better than anyone’s eyes… no matter how old 😉

          • Good monitors were rare when I began working on image files, so it was all by the numbers. Now with really great monitors available, I still go by the numbers, because that’s how I learned it. When the final output comes off the press, it’s the perception of the end viewer that matters, though I cannot say I ever created anything for the viewing pleasure of scientists. 😉

            You have an unusual viewpoint on camera gear. I suppose that’s why you are here. It’s been an entertaining discussion, though it’s outlived it’s usefulness. Thanks, and see you on the next topic discussion.

          • PS: You might want to read closely… * indicates what i currently own.

      • raziel28

        Do you really think that the Chinese can not make the same quality product? This is just overrated, overmarketed hype, and this is also a “rich snobs” type camera.
        PS Honda dominates in motogp for years.
        Mercedes is just more expensive confection. You should specify Jaguar, Maserati, etc

        Best Regards

        • Hi raziel28,

          Actually, I do think the Chinese can eventually make a similar product. I’ve seen a couple of the Fotoman cameras, and a Gaoersi, along with some large format cameras. They’re not too far off, but not quite made with the same precision. I’m sure some are quite happy with a similar Chinese design.

          Some golfers appear to have been happy using Chinese made Callaway golf clubs too. 😉 Eventually Chinese made products will be as highly considered as products from other parts of the world, and we may see more original designs too. I like using my Shen Hao, though when I compared it to an Ebony, I could see the differences fairly clearly.

          I’ve raced a Rotax and a Suzuki, and worked on quite a few racing machines that other riders raced. Restoring motorcycles and working on racing machines helped me pay for college. One machine that was quite well designed was the Honda RS125, and it was enjoyable to work on it in the late 1990s. It’s a shame that what Honda does with their race machines doesn’t make it to their road machines.

          Anyway, I realize everyone has different views on value and prices, or even on workmanship. Cheap as possible is very much the primary appeal to most people. I own a Ducati because I like it, and not to impress other people. The cameras I use for work were chosen because they accomplish what I need them to (and no, I don’t own an ALPA). I never bught a medium format digital back, because it was tough to monetize, though I’ve rented them for some projects. Prices are not always a reflection of the cost of materials, nor even the labor involved, though applies to work and to products.

          Whatever you do for a living, I hope that people value what you do. Whatever you buy, do it for you, and not to impress someone. These are the things in life I try to emulate. All the best to you.

          • raziel28

            I apologize if I sounded a little nervous, I really was not. The reasons why I wrote it are few LL articles, which some have nothing to do with photography… I just do not like arrogant people (btw I don’t hate anyone), and it seemed to me from some posts here, that there are such people here.
            I’m even considering buying DMF, but I think that the prices are still quite unrealistically high. Recently in Russia I saw Hasselblad H5D 50 for about 13000€ (even that should be more down) That’s OK. But it’s not to sell pieces of electronics for the price with which you can buy an apartment or a luxury car.
            I hope that Sony will soon launch a new MF sensors, and why not digital back within a reasonable price range?
            I’m glad that you were into racing!

            All The Best

          • No worries. It’s not like you would know much about me through posts here.

            Medium format digital has made a bit more sense to rent, then to purchase, since they were introduced. I think we will see prices come down a bit, though they’re still quite high compared to top line Nikon and Canon.

            We may see lower prices eventually, though I think shooting medium format film is probably the most accessible. It’s possible to get some very good scanning gear for far less that a digital back. However, I do think we will see some lower priced medium format digital backs in a couple years.

  • Duarte Castelo Branco

    can someone explain me what this means in practical terms? what is the use of this camera? what makes it different from other medium format cameras?

    • These will make you look oh-so-cool in the “making-of” video of you shooting whatever you shoot. Seriously, these cameras make any Pentax look like it came out of the thrift store. Try not to appear pissed off as shots get away from you while you cock the antique shutter mechanisms, and practice guesstimating focus distances beforehand.

      OTOH, these might be pretty useful for aerials.

    • Mostly architecture. I have a professional photographer friend of mine who uses an ALPA 12 XY with a Phase One back on high end architecture projects. In my opinion, an Arca Swiss, Cambo, Sinar, or Linhof could accomplish similar results.

  • raziel28

    Gentlemen from luminous landscape, arrogant hobbyist photographers, and superiority complex people are now in a trance. Imagine, now they have enough expensive camera, which will not be possess by Uncle Joe and other mortals. More importantly, now They may proudly use their iPhone6+ with one of these.

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