Vistek and Phase One recently got together to host a few hours at the Ashbridges Bay skatepark and let some local photographers get their hands on some high-end equipment that you don’t get to see in the wild every day. Promises of 80 megapixels and skateboards were enough to get me to sign up.

We were testing the Phase One / Mamiya 645DF with the Phase One IQ180, IQ160 and 1Q140 backs. The main shooting spot had an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra with A Head on full power, triggered with a skyport.

After some quick intros by Gary and Graham from Vistek, Ariel and Scott were riding the 7 stair and handrail combo. I grabbed the IQ180 while most were shooting on the flashes to try some natural light shots. Vistek did have a used Mamiya 24mm fisheye on hand that I really had my sights set on, but it managed to jam up the body it was on as Graham was testing it out. Man down. That lens got retired quick. The bodies themselves are heavy, but you expect that. The viewfinder, massive! The LCD screen on the back is actually a capacitive touchscreen, very iOS-like which I’m used to. Pinch to zoom would put it over the top, but that might infringe on some trademarks. The colours were certainly accurate and the menus fairly easy to get through.

It turns out with the older, non-leaf shutter lenses, the Phase One has a 1/125 sync speed. For the action I usually shoot, not a chance. I’m always at 1/250 minimum, 1/1000 if I can get it.

Didn’t have much trouble with the IQ180 wandering around grabbing a few test shots. Eventually my turn rolled around for the IQ160 on flashes. Asked Ariel for a bluntslide, and Scott for a heelflip. The 160 managed to jam up on me with a “batt db” error. Sweet, need fresh batteries. Jammed up after getting fresh batteries with a “busy db” error. Gary eventually smoothed it over and I got a couple shots off. After Scott’s heelflip I pulled my card out… only to return home and realize I pulled it out too soon. Corrupt file. Shit.

I hope it was just bad luck on the day and that the cameras usually perform without issue.

Nikon D700 | 50mm 1.8 | Scott

Nikon D700 | 50mm 1.8 | Ariel Stagni

Phase One IQ180 | 35mm f4 | Ariel Stagni
Phase One IQ180 | 35mm f4 | Lens Flare Test

Phase One IQ160 | 45mm f4 | CSI - Enhance! Certainly holds up well to cropping.
Phase One IQ160 | 45mm f4 | Ariel Stagni - Bluntslide
You can see the slow shutter sync where the flash didn't hit Ariel causing ghosting.

Back to the D700 here.

Kelvin Young on the left shooting a portrait with the IQ180. I'll link to it when I find out where he posted it online.

An awesome event put on by Vistek and Phase One and a big thanks to those who brought it together. I know I’ll be going out to future events they put on. It’s invaluable to get some hands on experience with new equipment as you can easily be prepared to hit the ground running for the next job you need to rent it on… because for $60,000 I won’t be pulling it from my own camera bag this week.


Still use my d70s hah, would love to try one of those cameras

Hey Ry,
You are right that the D700 might be better suited to action in the traditional sense, however if we were only talking about flash sync, maybe not so much. I usually only shoot a single photo at the right moment, as the flashes take a few seconds to recharge anyways.

If you take a look at the work from guys like Tim Kemple (shoots for the North Face, a lot of work on the H4D) or Daniel Blom (shoots for Quiksilver, theres a video where he talks about the Phase One on Vimeo), being able to mix high image quality with leaf-shutters allows you to keep some dark blue skies with the riders lit up and frozen by the flash.

With more time on a solo test drive, I’d certainly see myself with this camera out shooting some snowboard action.

I certainly remember the days of my 6MP D70 and 4MP D2H. Seems so long ago.

The file sizes and write-speeds the large format digi cams capture at never made me think they’d be good for capturing outdoor action or sports. Your D700, on the other hand, was built for those situations from the ground up. The ghosting might’ve been a bit more tolerable if it was set to a rear sync.

Also, shooting on a half pipe (not available at that location, sadly) might have yielded less motion when shooting at the apex of a trick or if the skater was doing a hand stand on the side rail.

Take that exact same event, but have it on at night at a well lit outdoor park (or an indoor skate park), and then those 80 mega pixels might be of better use to you with the strobes being your only light source. As it is, your 12mp D700 or the 16mp D7000 would’ve been considered medium format only a few short years ago 😀

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