Thursday, August 30, 2018

Phase One: The Camera for Photographers who don't give a shit about Photography

So Phase One, for those of you who don't follow the press on these matters, introduced a new camera back series for their XF system, which peaks out at 150 megapixels. It also has their super amazing new Trichomatic color science, and a bunch of other bullshit.

No photographer has a need for this. The number of professionals standing around saying "gosh, I sure could use like three times as many pixels, slightly better color science, and a hell of a lot less depth of field" is very very close to zero, if not actually zero. We have reached the point where the specifications on this thing are well past what anyone can actually use for, well, for anything. This thing is a device you use to take pictures which show off the capabilities of the device. It is the exact equivalent of the $50,000 turntable with a 500 pound marble platter that really needs 30 minutes to spin up to a stable speed.

But then, my god, the completely imaginary acoustic properties really spring to life!

I could explain in detail why none of the specs are anything that anyone, yes even a professional, would care about, but that would be boring and any readers that care can work it out themselves, I expect.

This thing isn't a camera, it's a fucking confession:

Octogenarian Trump-Voter: Bless me, Padre,
   for I don't give a shit about photography.
Priest: Say 10 Hail Marys and pay me $60,000


While we have the hood up on this hot mess, let's take a look at the thing:



Look, if I'm paying north of 50 grand for something purely to stroke my ego, I don't think it's out of line to insist that it either have tits or a discernible design language. This thing appears to have been drawn from a design brief thus:

A metaphor for amnesia. A box intended to hold only unfiltered Baltic air tinged with grief. A child's toy.


It's vaguely modernist. Sort of Bauhaus, but stupid. Call it Bauhuh? The result looks like an industrial robot for middle management.

I assume that they're basically just copying the RB/RZ cameras from Mamiya, which is where they started. Those were built as boxy-but-cheaper Hasselblad alternatives. They were priced for the budget conscious professional who wanted an excellent medium format studio camera, but didn't want to pay the Hasselblad tax. And was willing to hit the gym, buff up a bit, to carry the fucker around. There wasn't supposed to be much of a design language. And I swear my RZ67 still looks like a Ferrari next to these atrocities from Phase One.

They seem to be doing OK, though. Octogenarian Trump Voters have more money than brains, and some of them are OK with ugly-ass boxes as long as they have enough specs. I assume the name of the game is to have more expensive kit than the asshole next to you on your next Antarctic Photo Cruise, so all that matters is that it say IQ4 on yours while his just says IQ3 like some god damned peasant camera.

It's only a matter of time before you'll be able to buy them in pairs, one to shoot with, the other to smash to pieces on the deck of the ship. Maybe camera smashes could become a thing. And then we'll all make hot toddies with 300 year old scotch using pokers heated in the flames of a pile of $100 bills. Because, why the hell not?

26 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I was pretty happy with Bauhuh? as a design aesthetic.

      Delete
  2. Yeah, but - does it have two card slots?

    ReplyDelete
  3. What? Two card slots? It has to be professional. But.....does it?

    (Dammit, wind stolen from sails; Rink got here first....sigh).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, but it wil only accept Platinum Visa cards with at least $100,000.00 credit limit.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think you've pretty much summed up 95% of all the cameras made in the last 7-10 years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fair point, fair point. As long as we can agree that by the time 150 megapixels comes along, the line has been crossed, we're good!

      Delete
    2. Your right. This isn't photography it's greed, and and I don't know. I've retired now after 40 years as a event/photojournalist. I'm very fortunate as I got out in time before everything went to crap. MG and price was crossed long ago for me. I'm back to film. I have zero interest in the latest and greatest toys. I'm sad to see it come to this.
      Roger

      Delete
  6. Hey, the octogenarian Trump voter can afford it with his tax cut, so what's the prob?

    ReplyDelete
  7. My sensor is bigger than yours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have a sensor.................I have film

      Roger

      Delete
  8. I'm totally down with the hot toddies with 300 year old scotch using pokers heated in the flames of a pile of $100 bills. What the hell are we waiting for? Oh, right...enough $100 bills to make the pile with in the first place?

    Hmmm...okay. I'm on it. I'll see what I can come up with...in the interim period, some 30 year old scotch heated up on a Coleman campstove would do me just fine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm just mad at all the richies because I ain't one of 'em!

      Delete
  9. They really missed the boat on this one .... $60 large and all I get is a BLACK BOX???? WHERE'S THE OPEN PORE WOODGRAIN FINISH???? AND NO SNAKESKIN OPTION???? Excuse me while I go cuddle my Hasselblad Lunar and calm down.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you. This was fun to read.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You could buy 2 Nissan Cubes for that money.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Luckily, I had just finished my coffee when I read this. I laughed until I had a coughing fit. Effing brilliant.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Company based in country with socialized medicine, liberal government, producing worlds most expensive cameras (excluding Leica special editions wrapped in Ostrich skin and the like, a Veblen good if ever there was one...) and apparently thriving? If I understand Phase One at all, and I'm not saying that I do, their primary market is not Dentists or octogenarians (the new 60 by the way...) but businesses where $60k is a routine capital expenditure for a durable good dwarfed by other costs of business. Clearly, somebody is buying their camera backs, and they can't all be fools.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have opnined in the past, and I see no reason to change this opinion, that P1 is an aerial camera company. More pixels translates directly into less flying time. At $1000 an hour to fly a plane, or thereabouts, the camera costs really are negligible, and paying $50,000 for 3x the pixels is an easy "yes"

      I think the amateur cameras are a relatively inexpensive add-on project.

      I think that virtually everyone who buys an XF system is a fool, yes, in some sense. It is pure social signaling within a very exclusive group of very wealthy people, like a Rolex watch.

      They do sell a few cameras to rental shops, I think. And they will sell a few to a very very small handful of high end professionals who are not very good at managing cash flow. That accounts for probably a few dozen systems.

      Delete
    2. Sure enough; Recently saw a nature documentary with a plane skirting a volcano in the Kamchatka area: Phase One camera doing something that looked like thermal imaging.

      Probably from some university research department that uses it for extra credibility in peer reviews.

      Delete
  14. "The Camera for Photographers who don't give a shit about Photography" Actually, that describes just about any camera that the commenter crowd really likes on the infamous Dpreview. But if you are serious about taking pictures, look at whatever that gang of "experts" hates, and buy that model.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Out of curiosity, which offends you more: That the sensor has 151 MP or the back has a $50,000 price tag?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The pair! Neither alone would rouse me, but the idea of spending that much money for a camera like that reveals much about the buyer.

      It was when I realized that if you are close enough to perceive the details revealed by all those megapixels, you are literally too close to see the entire print that I saw the true absurdity of the thing.

      Looking at one of these prints becomes an exercise in zooming in and out, like one of those stupid interactive gigapan things you see, where the picture itself is just some boring cityscape, but you can zoom way in and try to find naked people in the windows.

      It ceases to be anything I understand as a "photograph" and becomes something else, generally an exercise in showing off the gear.

      Delete
  16. There's an old joke, attributed to Milton Friedman's son, David.

    "Two economists walked past a Porsche showroom. One of them pointed at a shiny car in the window and said, "I want that." "Obviously not," the other replied."

    ReplyDelete
  17. If I had 50.000$ on my bank account I wouldn't buy any camera. I could invest in projects and prints for the next 10 years ! :-). F***K !!!! Fifty Thousands Dollars ! Speechless.

    ReplyDelete