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Phase One XT takes landscape photography to a new level

Take a look at some shots taken with this 151-megapixel camera system.

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Stephen Shankland
The Phase One XT camera system handled the colors and contrast of this sunset storm scene well -- but I scurried indoors as fast as possible when the lightning started.
1 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

New Mexico double rainbow

I spent more than a month testing the 151-megapixel Phase One XT camera system around the Southwest US. This eye-wateringly expensive camera -- entry price about $59,000 with one lens -- delivers the goods. Here, it handled the colors and contrast of this sunset storm scene well -- but I scurried indoors as fast as possible when the lightning started.

The Phase One XT camera system consists of a thin camera body sandwiched between a Rodenstock lens at left, which includes a shutter, and the IQ4 back at right, which houses the image sensor, screen, and electronics.
2 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

The Phase One XT camera system body is the thin layer

The Phase One XT camera system consists of a thin camera body sandwiched between a Rodenstock lens at left, which includes a shutter, and the IQ4 back at right, which houses the image sensor, screen and electronics.

The Phase One XT system, with a 151-megapixel IQ4 image sensor, captures extraordinary detail. Download the full-resolution JPEG of this photo of Rainbow Basin State Park to pixel peep.
3 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Rainbow Basin State Park

The Phase One XT system, with a 151-megapixel IQ4 image sensor, captures extraordinary detail. Download the full-resolution JPEG of this photo of Rainbow Basin State Park to pixel peep -- but warning, it's 40MB.

Dual Exposure+ on the Phase One XT caamera's IQ4 image sensor blends a long-exposure shot in with the ordinary shot, offering much more shadow detail. Before editing revealed the data actually captured, everything in the canyon showed as completely black.
4 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

New Mexico sunset

Dual Exposure+ on the Phase One XT camera's IQ4 image sensor blends a long-exposure shot in with the ordinary shot, offering much more shadow detail. Before editing revealed the data actually captured, everything in the canyon showed as completely black.

The ultrawide field of view from the Rodenstock 32mm lens is great for canyons -- and the 23mm lens goes even wider.
5 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Elkheart Cliffs, Utah

The ultrawide field of view from the Rodenstock 32mm lens is great for canyons -- and the 23mm lens goes even wider.

You compose shots with the screen on the back of Phase One XT camera system, a mirrorless setup with no viewfinder. It's fine in the shade like this, but can be hard to see in bright sunlight.
6 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Phase One XT camera system

You compose shots with the screen on the back of Phase One XT camera system, a mirrorless setup with no viewfinder. It's fine in the shade like this, but can be hard to see in bright sunlight. 

The Phase One XT offers superb dynamic range for shots like this, with both brilliant clouds and shadowed basalt rock in the canyon.
7 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

New Mexico sunset

The Phase One XT offers superb dynamic range for shots like this, with both brilliant clouds and shadowed basalt rock in the canyon.

The Phase One system handled this combination of shadowed creek and brilliant sky well at Upper Calf Creek, a wet-footed hike in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.
8 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Upper Calf Creek, Utah

The Phase One system handled this combination of shadowed creek and brilliant sky well at Upper Calf Creek, a wet-footed hike in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

The Phase One XT camera system has a beefy grip, but you'll need to mount it to a tripod to avoid vibrations that could spoil the ultrafine detail.
9 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Phase One XT camera system

The Phase One XT camera system has a beefy grip, but you'll need to mount it to a tripod to avoid vibrations that could spoil the ultrafine detail.

The built-in lens shift mechanism in the Phase One XT camera body lets you correct for some perspective distortion that otherwise would have made the towers on this church converge more dramatically.
10 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Ranchos de Taos church, New Mexico

The built-in lens shift mechanism in the Phase One XT camera body lets you correct for some perspective distortion that otherwise would have made the towers on this church converge more dramatically.

Upper Calf Creek winds through the slickrock at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.
11 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Upper Calf Creek winds through the slickrock at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

Pumice ejected from the Jemez Mountains volcano more than a million years ago now has eroded into bizarre tent rock formations.
12 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Tent rocks, New Mexico

Pumice ejected from the Jemez Mountains volcano more than a million years ago now has eroded into bizarre tent rock formations.

The subtle colors of the sky after sunset aren't as vivid as daytime hues, but I liked their contrast with the bright moon at Rainbow Basin State Park in California.
13 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Nighttime moonrise

The subtle colors of the sky after sunset aren't as vivid as daytime hues, but I liked their contrast with the bright moon at Rainbow Basin State Park in California.

I tried the Phase One XT with four Rodenstock lenses -- 23mm, 32mm, 50mm and 70mm. There's now also a 90mm model, and a longer telephoto is in the works.
14 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Phase One XT's Rodenstock lenses

I tried the Phase One XT with four Rodenstock lenses -- 23mm, 32mm, 50mm and 70mm. There's now also a 90mm model, and a longer telephoto is in the works.

A gnarled juniper at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico
15 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Gnarly juniper

A gnarled juniper at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico

The Phase One XT captures the details of the famously organic-looking church in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico.
16 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Ranchos de Taos church, New Mexico

The Phase One XT captures the details of the famously organic-looking church in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico.

Backpacking into this remote valley with the Phase One XT, three lenses and a tripod was work. But the XT is smaller and lighter than Phase One's medium-format DSLR body, the XF, and it's no worse than a conventional high-end camera and lenses from the likes of Canon, Nikon or Sony.
17 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Jemez Mountains valley

Backpacking into this remote valley with the Phase One XT, three lenses and a tripod was work. But the XT is smaller and lighter than Phase One's medium-format DSLR body, the XF, and it's no worse than a conventional high-end camera and lenses from the likes of Canon, Nikon or Sony.

The rising sun backlights some cactus and grass.
18 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

New Mexico sunrise

The rising sun backlights some cactus and grass.

Rainbow Basin State Park, photographed with the Phase One XT camera and IQ4 image sensor back.
19 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Rainbow Basin State Park

Rainbow Basin State Park, photographed with the Phase One XT camera and IQ4 image sensor back.

The 151-megapixel Phase One XT Camera System, geared for landscape photographers, is more compact that other medium-format cameras.
20 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Phase One XT Camera System

The 151-megapixel Phase One XT camera system, geared for landscape photographers, is more compact that other medium-format cameras.

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