Trying to find new markets for its high-end photo gear, Phase One today announced camera systems for aerial photography and for reproducing artwork.
Both cameras use the company's big, expensive, medium-format image sensors, but the camera bodies are modified compared to what it sells to its more typical customers, photographers taking fashion and product photos. For one thing, they're made with rugged aluminum bodies to better withstand industrial conditions; for another, they drop the reflex mirror and viewfinder of ordinary cameras.
The iXR is geared for reproducing artwork or machine-vision needs; it can be controlled via live view using Phase One software. It'll go on sale in May at resolutions of 40, 60, and 80 megapixels with prices starting at $30,000.
The iXA is for aerial photography and can be linked into groups of multiple synchronized cameras. It'll also arrive in May, costing $60,000 for an 80-megapixel model and or $53,000 for a 60-megapixel version. It's also available in a version without an infrared filter.
Phase one has found a niche for its premium camera products among high-end photographers, but it has to work hard to keep that niche as more mainstream SLRs from Nikon and Canon encroach.
In particular, Nikon's new D800 takes 36-megapixel photos, costs a lot less than Phase One's products, and comes in a D800E version that like Phase One products drops the low-pass filter for better sharpness. Hasselblad has been competing for years, and Pentax and Leica also have joined the fight with large-sensor models.