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Christmas Gift Guide

Phase One XF and IQ3

Phase One eye closeup

Phase One IQ3 and 35mm lens

Phase One XF and IQ3

Phase One XF and IQ3

Phase One XF and IQ3 tones

Phase One XF and IQ3

Phase One XF and IQ3

Phase One architecture

Phase One XF and IQ3

Phase One 35mm solar panel

Phase One XF and IQ3

Phase One XF and IQ3 autofocus

Phase One IQ3 macro shot

I was pleased with the Phase One IQ3's color, sharpness and tone -- as I should have been given that the camera and image sensor cost nearly $50,000 and lenses cost thousands more. This shot was at 1/640 sec. at f8 and ISO 50 with the Schneider Kreuznach 120mm f4 macro lens. Click here for a full-resolution version (warning: very large download).

The detail is sharp enough that you can see radio towers 23 miles away (crop) and power lines (crop) that I'd never noticed in real life despite having seen this view thousands of times.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

Phase One's 80-megapixel IQ3 captures subtle colors and sharp details. This shot was taken with Schneider Kreuznach's 120mm f4 macro lens at 1/50 sec. at f9 and ISO 200. Click here to download a full-resolution version.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

Schneider Kreuznach's 35mm f3.5 lens (22mm equivalent on a full-frame camera) can capture images with stellar sharpness. That's good for architectural photographers. This shot was taken at 1.6 sec, f11, ISO 50. To read some of the book titles visible in a 100-percent crop, click here. For the full-resolution version, click here.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

If you want to print large posters, the 80-megapixel Phase One IQ3 will oblige with abundant detail. This photo was taken with Schneider Kreuznach's 35mm f3.5 lens, 1/50 sec. at f14 and ISO 50. Click here to download a full-resolution version.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

The Phase One IQ3 captures vivid colors without inflicting garish oversaturation. Click here to download a full-resolution version.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

The IQ3 can record subtle tonal differences, as in this billowing stormcloud over the Sangre de Cristo mountains. With lesser cameras, much of the detail wash out into blank white patches. Click here to download the full-resolution version.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

Phase One's camera also handles skin tones well. Schneider Kreuznach's 120mm f4 macro lens is wonderfully sharp, with plenty of detail for portrait photographers. Check the next photo for a 100 percent crop, and click here for the full-resolution version (warning: large download). This shot was taken at 1/50 sec. at f9 and ISO200.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

The Schneider Kreuznach 120mm f4 macro lens reproduces every crack in the aging paint of this antique pot. The bokeh -- out-of-focus background region -- is nicely blurred, too. However, when the lens is stopped down, the bokeh can suffer from distracting pentagonal artifacts. Click here to download full-resolution version.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

The IQ3 is good for capturing all the details of architecture photography -- as long as there's plenty of light. In dimmer conditions when tripods and long exposures are required, blowing leaves and walking people can be distractingly blurry in photos, because the 80-megapixel IQ3 doesn't handle high ISO sensitivity settings well. Its 50-megapixel cousin, which uses a smaller sensor built with CMOS chip technology, performs better at high ISO and offers better dynamic range, too. Click here to download full-resolution version.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

The 80-megapixel IQ3 does well with subtle tones in shadow or sunlight. This photo was taken with Schneider Kreuznach's 35mm f3.5 lens, 1/30 sec. at f12 and ISO 50. Click here to download a full-resolution version.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

Even at 80 megapixels, the Schneider Kreuznach 35mm f3.5 lens shows no chromatic aberration, which can produce unpleasant purple fringes in high-contrast areas like the upper-right corner of this solar panel. Click here to download a full-resolution version.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

As long as the clouds don't get too bright, the 80-megapixel Phase One IQ3 can handle a broad dynamic range of dark and light tones. This shot was taken with Schneider Kreuznach's 35mm f3.5 lens at 1/100 sec., f12 and ISO 50. Click here to download a full-resolution version.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

The Phase One's autofocus works pretty well -- but only when you're focusing on subjects in the center of the frame. This 1,333-pixel crop shows a near miss in difficult circumstances, a coyote in the center of the frame with foreground and background subjects at different distances. Viewed at 100 percent, the coyote is slightly soft, but the tree to its right is instead in sharper focus.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price

The Phase One IQ3's large sensor lets you take photos at a narrower aperture for a larger depth of field before the optical problem of diffraction limits set in. This sharp shot of a cholla cactus was taken at f18, 0.6 sec, ISO 50 with the Schneider Kreuznach 120mm f4 macro lens. Click here to download the full-resolution version.

Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
£38,990.00 Typical Price
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