Breaking News: Now 6 Lenses for the XT Camera 

Today, Phase One announced 3 new lenses for the XT Camera System, the Rodenstock 50HR-W, the Rodenstock 90HR-SW, and a lens in the 100mm+ range (likely the 138 HR Float). This got me to thinking about the Phase One XT Camera System, and its standing and impact in the technical camera segment (or as Phase One wants to call it, the Field Camera). I’m going to compromise and call it Technical Field Camera. I imagined Phase One, Alpa, and Cambo meeting in a bar and wondered what that would be like.

Technical Field Cameras prefer to stand.

P1 XT: Alpa, are you looking down on me? Look at you! With your lens in the air, all precise and everything. You can take that precision and stick it where the …

Alpa: Yeah, P1? I’ve got 4 cameras that shift and every single one of them shifts more than you do. You think you’re so hot with your 12 itty bitty millimeters of shift.

Cambo: Hey, why is no one paying attention to me? I’m the prettiest one here! And if it wasn’t for me, Phase One, your XT camera wouldn’t even be here.

P1 XT: Ok, guys, look, I think we got off on the wrong foot. Listen, technical field cameras are amazing, they allow you to do things that ordinary cameras cannot do. And with the best lenses in the world. I think we all have a lot to offer photographers, and each one of us has some things that are pretty special. Whattya say we all work together, deal?

Alpa: Deal!

Cambo: Let’s seal this with another round of Jäger.

Playing Nice …. Sort Of.

I imagined this scenario, because technical field cameras do offer unique solutions of an unprecedented quality for photographers. And as a segment, it’s a differentiator for medium format digital, and an important one. And so these impressive companies, Phase One, Cambo, Alpa (and Arca Swiss!) should work together to cotinue to create a healthy ecosystem for the technical camera market. Unlike most digital camera companies, Phase One (and Hasselblad also) provide modular solutions, where you can remove the digital back from the camera body to use on another camera body. The biggest benefit is access to the entire Rodenstock lens lineup, with lenses from 23mm – 180mm (15mm – 116mm equivalent in 35mm format). And the bodies that these lenses mount to have built-in shift, and tilt, and so all these lenses then become tilt/shift lenses of the highest quality.

So while Phase One has entered this segment with a camera of their own, they did so with the help of Cambo. Phase One brought the X Shutter and the digital integration, and Cambo worked with them to produce the XT Camera. Where did this leave Alpa, for example? Oops. All the technical field camera companies need the X Shutter and Phase One collaboration. And the good news is, this is going to happen.

The XT Road Map for 2020 is Taking Shape

With the announcement of the new lenses for the XT, you now have 23HR/32HR/50HR/70H/90HR/138HR (I’m betting it is the 138), all available in X Shutter for the XT. And there comes more good news. Later in 2020, legacy lenses will be able to be modified to accept the X Shutter. And 3rd party companies that produce technical cameras will have access to the X Shutter to mount with Rodenstock lenses in their unique lenspanels. This year, there will be a cable that goes from X Shutter to IQ4, and that combination – Rodenstock HR lenses, X Shutters, and IQ4 digital backs – will be able to mount on Alpa cameras, Cambo cameras, Arca Swiss cameras, etc. So, a sense of democracy is invading the technical camera segment. And all photographers stand to benefit.

Alpa 3D Created Mathematically Optimized Custom Lens Shades on XT Lenses

I am thinking of the XT System now as a stand alone segment leading technical field camera. One that combines the smallest X/Y technical shift camera with the most advanced digital integration combined with the X shutters. Phase One is sharing the X Shutter with 3rd party companies, and 3rd party companies have some things to offer to Phase One. Many 3rd part accessories are compatible, even optimal for use with the XT Camera.

Cambo Electronic Controller Adapter for Canon EF & 11-24 Zoom

Alpa makes 3D mathematically optimized lens shades for the Rodenstock lenses that fit the XT lenses, Cambo makes a dynamite LCD loupe/shade device. Cambo makes lens adapters for Hasselblad V lenses, for Canon EF lenses (with electronic aperture control), and for Schneider Blue Ring Lenses.

Cambo Lens Adapter for Phase One/Schneider Blue Ring Lenses

Great Choices for Technical Camera Enthusiasts

And so, we now start to see that the Phase One XT Camera brings something new to the table. It is small, elegant, digitally advanced. Many of our XT orders have been from new users who have never owned a technical camera. For them, it feels like something they have been waiting for. For others, the Alpa/Cambo/Arca Swiss options are still compelling – these cameras offer more extensive shift and tilt movements. And with the coming X Shutter compatibility, these cameras will be able to take advantage of complete lens control from behind the camera.

We see each of these companies bringing important things to the table. And some will be happy with a Phase One product, others a Cambo or Alpa or Arca Swiss product. Or some can be happy with all of them.

Is this what democracy looks like? Alpa 3D Lens Hood/Phase One IQ4-XT/Cambo 3X Loupe-LCD Shade/Arca Swiss Cube.

Back at the bar, the evening is in full swing, and spirits are high. As usual, it’s hard to keep up with Phase One at the bar, but Alpa and Cambo are giving them a run for their money. Comaraderie ensues. It’s my hope that these good times will continue.

C’mon Alpa, drink up!