We’ve begged Phase One to make a tech camera for years. The integration and simplification possibilities were obvious, and with so many clients using tech cameras designed by various third parties, it made perfect sense for Phase One to design one in-house.
When Phase One first invited us to the table, to provide feedback on prototypes of the XT, we found it met all the expectations we had: built-in movements, compatibility with a broad range of lenses, improved capture and post-process workflow, and a nice grip and shutter release for handheld shooting. But we were caught off guard by a few surprises.
1) Shipping Now
This isn’t a pre-announcement or a future date to mark on your calendar. The XT is here. Now.
DT already has several units at both our NY office (the official East Coast Phase One Demo Center) and at our LA Demo Center. We will also have the XT at our upcoming events in Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Diego, San Francisco and at the New York Photo Plus Expo. Check out our complete list of upcoming events. If you don’t see your city listed, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can consider making the trip!
We’re glad the XT is available to see at the same time it’s being announced. This is right out of the gate, and we know many customers will want to start using it immediately.
As with any new product, the queue is first-come, first-served, so if you’re considering an XT, contact us right away to reserve your place in line. We don’t require a deposit for your order, and it can be cancelled prior to shipment, if necessary.
2) It’s Small and Light
The XT is surprisingly small and light, though everything is relative. This is a larger and heavier camera than, say, a Sony A7 series camera with a pancake lens. It’s 700 times heavier than the above spy camera. But among full-frame 645 camera platforms, the XT is hand/wrist/back friendly, being compact enough to fit into a small camera satchel.
In fact, ready to shoot (with lens, storage, batteries etc) the XT is two pounds lighter than the XF, smaller and lighter than the GFX, and it’s even lighter than a Canon or Nikon with a high quality Zeiss or Art Series lens.
So exactly how small and light is it, and compared to what?
Check out our article “The Phase One XT is Smaller and Lighter Than You Think”.
3) Cross-Compatible Lenses
Because the XT is compatible with Cambo Wide RS lens panels, it was born compatible with a wide range of lenses. Any Cambo Wide lens panel or adapter can be used on the XT to accept lenses like those from Rodenstock and Schneider Digitar.
Note that the Cambo TS lens panels and the Cambo Canon lens adapter both block direct access to the XT panel release. This makes removal impractical with your fingers. (Those purchasing an XT from DT will receive a dedicated removal tool.)
You can use the XT lenses on any Cambo Wide body, including use and control of the new XT shutter (see below), via an IQ4.
4) Cross-Compatible Leaf Shutters
Goodbye, Copal. Hello, Phase One X-Shutter!
One of the bigger surprises is that a new Phase One shutter, called the X-Shutter, is launching alongside the XT body. That shutter is used in native XT lenses, but is also available to use on other third-party tech cameras. The X-Shutter draws power directly from the IQ4 back, through the pins on the body, when using the XT. When using it on a third-party tech camera, the X-Shutter plugs into the multiport of the IQ4.
Best of all, the X-Shutter has a native flash sync speed of 1/1,000th of a second, making it very easy to mix ambient with strobe, regardless of the platform you use.
With the death of Copal shutters, many photographers have switched to the sensor-based Electronic Shutter. We’ve written about using the sensor-based Electronic Shutter before – the one Achilles Heel is the (relatively) slow speed at which it sweeps, which limits flash sync and hand-holdability. So while it’s good for many kinds of photography, sensor-based Electronic Shutter is not particularly suited for street photography (where hand holding is important), or architectural photography (where flash sync is important). The X-Shutter addresses both issues, providing a low latency, high-sync speed shutter that just works.
5) Cross-Compatible Accessories
As a final nod to cross-compatibility, the XT features an Accessories Mount point that matches the Cambo Accessory standard, meaning that most Cambo accessories, such as the beautiful Compendium Shade, can be used natively. This is in addition to whatever accessories Phase One, or other makers, come up with in the future.
6) Smart Rotation
The profile of the XT includes an unusual circular curve, which hints at one of its unexpected features: rotation without removal. It is very reminiscent of the mechanism used in the Cambo RS1600, but because the tripod foot is mounted in a curve rather than trading between two edges, the process of flipping the camera is even smoother than on the RS1600.
7) New IQ4 Features (New Firmware)
In the world of Phase One, existing hardware often receives a firmware update every time new hardware is released, to guarantee compatibility. So while it’s no surprise there is new firmware for the IQ4 being released alongside the XT, it is surprising that the new firmware adds a bevy of exciting new features to the IQ4, rather than simply adding XT compatibility.
You can read about the new firmware here.
8) Adapter for Schneider LS Blue Ring Lenses
No tech camera currently offers an electronic adapter for Schneider LS Blue Ring lenses. The closest current option is a fully mechanical adapter, which means no aperture control and no metadata (and therefore no automatic lens corrections). So while it’s logical for Phase One to release such an adapter for the XT, there’s nothing to announce just yet.
9) Little Touches
These aren’t big deals, but they make it clear someone put time and thought into the design of this camera:
Torx/Alan screws: The XT is modular and several components are user-removable/swappable. This is not unexpected, since tech cameras are of a genre famed for their flexibility and modularity. However, traditional flat-head and Phillips screws are prone to wear out and strip over time, so the XT is designed to last for years and years by instead employing Torx and Allen screws. (When purchased with an IQ4, the XT carries a five-year warranty). Of course, the one downside to this choice is that such screwdrivers are not as likely to be in your garage (or the junk drawer in your kitchen). To save you the frustration of that hunt, DT will include two spare screwdrivers in every XT kit.
Integrated Dovetail: We love the Arca Swiss line of tripod heads, and the XT’s native tripod mount is an Arca Swiss-compatible dovetail that fits directly into great landscape/architecture heads, like the L60 and Cube. It also makes the XT directly compatible with the Really Right Stuff and Kirk Enterprise line of tripod heads, along with any other third party that uses the Arca Swiss dovetail standard.
Nested Logos: Removing the XT tripod mount involves removing a single screw and sliding off a triangular end cap. That end cap is where the XT logo is, so you might think when you slide it off, the XT logo goes with it. But, in a nice design touch, you’ll find a nested XT logo directly behind it.
Removable Focus Knuckle: The XT lenses come with a custom Phase One focus mount that provides smooth action, along with a focus knuckle for easier grip while focusing. However, whether or not you like this knuckle will be highly individualistic (e.g. the size of your hands, or whether you’re holding the camera vs. using a tripod), so Phase One made the knuckle easily removable: just two Allen screws and it’s off.
Hand-Holdable: There are several tech cameras on the market today that are somewhat hand-holdable: the Arca Swiss Factum and Cambo RC400 come to mind. However, since these cameras rely on either Copal shutters or sensor-based Electronic Shutters, their hand-holdability is fairly compromised in many situations. Between the native XT shutter and the integrated release on the hand grip, the XT is undoubtedly smoother in such situations. Plus, the rotating dovetail can be fully removed, which reduces the weight and improves handheld ergonomics.
Wake up Into Live View: The XT has a two-stage shutter release that can be customized for different functions. Our favorite, by far, is to set the shutter release to enter Live View when half pressed. It only saves a single tap, but that saves you from having to use your other hand.
This release is a game changer, and all the thoughtful little tweaks just make it that much more fun to use.
Can you tell we’re excited about the XT? Contact us to chat or to schedule a demo; we’re dying to show you the newest tricks!