Whenever a new product is released it is our job to test it, push it, to know where it succeeds, and know where it fails.  How would it be possible to talk intelligently and honestly to our customers if we don’t know this product inside and out?  And this isn’t just exclusively our tech department, our full team pitches in and completes these tests.  We pride ourselves in a full team effort at Capture Integration where each team member understands the latest in technology and how it affects our support for our customers.

With the release of the new Phase One IQ4 150mp BSI sensor this month, many of our customers have expressed their questions as to how this new technical sensor design will perform against their existing system.  Hence, a a logical series of ISO stacks vs the current 100mp sensor made perfect sense.

Set Up

  • Use a contrasty scene with blown out highlights and deep shadows
  • Phase One IQ4 150mp Digital Back and Phase One IQ3 100 Trichromatic Digital back
  • The same exposure per ISO for each system, with the exception of the base ISO of the Trichromatic at 35
  • Phase One XF Camera body and 55mm Schneider Kreuznach 55mm Lens
  • a 2 second vibration delayed exposure set in the XF and a fixed aperture of f/8
  • Exposure of 1/200th of a second through 3 seconds
  • Dark Frame Creation turned off on IQ4 150mp
  • IQ L 16 bit captures

The Scene – Dave’s Man Cave Bar

Phase One IQ4 150mp ISO Test vs IQ3 100 Trichromatic

Equal exposures and settings in Capture One

ISO 3200 on both backs

The resolution improvements were evident right away.  As you can see above, small typeface was resolved much better with the IQ4 150mp.  This was to be expected.  But with the new ability to turn black frame creation off, we had no idea if there would be equal noise with the new sensor.   The image above is at 3200 ISO.  Very quickly we found the IQ4 again to be superior with noise at equal exposures and ISO.

Both Backs at ISO 6400

There just wasn’t a comparison at equal ISO levels. The image above shows ISO 6400 bot both systems.

Opened up 2 stops in the shadows

So let’s push it.  Let’s open up 2 stops in the shadows on both images.  Above illustrates a capture one exposure push of 2 full stops.  By pixel peeping in the shadows with a 2 stop push, we can really see how each back performs.

Phase One IQ3 100 Tri @ 3200 and IQ4 150mp at 6400

So let’s compare the IQ4 at one ISO above the IQ3.  The image above shows just that, with very similar noise patterns at one stop faster.  Yes, the detail and resolution jumps out at us again, but the noise signal is very very close at a 1 stop change.

IQ3 100 Tri @ 3200 and IQ4 150mp @ 6400

Now let’s keep the pixel peeping going.  Let’s look at the the two different ISO’s at 300% zoom.   Yes, this is ridiculous but since we can, why not?  So it’s clear that there is a full stop of noise improvement with the new sensor even with dark calibration creation turned off.

Both Backs at ISO 12,800

Now let’s look at both backs at the highest ISO on the IQ3.  Clearly ISO 12,800 is pretty much unusable on a Phase One IQ3 100 Trichromatic.  However, I would not say that about the new IQ4 150mp. It is a lot cleaner in color and noise.  And if needed, can be of use to the photographer. Remember this image is at a 300% zoom.

Highlights in both cameras pulled 4 stops

As you can see in all the comparisons, the color rendition is different from the IQ3 Trichromatic to the new IQ4.  This was to be expected with the completely different bayer filter set.  And this is the reason that Phase is still making the Trichromatic in the new IQ4 mount.  But what other differences were there?  The only difference that we could see was spectral highlight rendition.  The images above have a negative 4 stop exposure reduction to show how the special highlights differ.  Its not dramatic but there is a slight difference.

The rest is up to you.  If you would like to download this test for yourself, zoom in, pixel peep, and just run reckless with the files, please fill out the form below and we will send you the full download.  But be aware, these raw files are upwards of 250mb each.  Send us your e-mail and then let us know what you think!


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