Phase One promises "extraordinary" announcement – 200MP medium format?

Phase One promises "extraordinary" announcement – 200MP medium format?
(Image credit: Phase One)

Medium format specialist Phase One is teasing an announcement for next week – one that it says will be for something "extraordinary".

A teaser website was launched by the company with a countdown to Tuesday 10 September – already a packed day for product launches, including the iPhone 11 (opens in new tab) – and also released an enigmatic 14-second video - see below. 

There is precious little information on the teaser website (opens in new tab), other than the tagline "seek extraordinary", or in the video, which consists of fleeting, heavily shadowed glimpses of a blue shutter button and a nondescript lens. 

Given the dearth of information, we can only speculate as to what the announcement might be – though we can probably exclude anything really out there, like the idea that Phase One will release an APS-C camera. 

As a purveyor of professional medium format cameras, such as the $50,000, 150-megapixel Phase One XF IQ4 150MP (opens in new tab), it's safe to assume that the announcement will relate to a medium format product. Phase One already leads our guide to the 10 highest-resolution cameras you can buy today (opens in new tab)

Furthermore, Phase One produces full-frame medium format cameras. These possess sensors that are larger than the cropped medium format sensors found in the Hasselblad X1D 50C (opens in new tab) (though Hasselblad does produce a full-frame medium format DSLR) and Fujifilm G cameras including the Fujifilm GFX 100 (opens in new tab).

This diagram by FujiAddict explains the difference in medium format (and other) sensor sizes

This diagram by FujiAddict (opens in new tab) explains the difference in medium format (and other) sensor sizes (Image credit: FujiAddict)

We therefore see a couple of likely possibilities. The first is that Phase One releases a smaller, cropped medium format body, with a cheaper price point – a more mainstream product that can compete with the emerging affordable medium format models such as the Fujifilm GFX 50R (opens in new tab)

This, however, seems a distinctly un-Phase One-like move. Something more plausible – especially given that it is promising something "extraordinary" – is that the company embraces its high-end, full-frame medium format strengths and unleashes a brand new image sensor. 

Since Phase One already produces cameras with 150 megapixels, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that it could break the barrier with a 175 or even 200MP image sensor. This would be truly unique in the marketplace and, indeed, extraordinary.

A 200MP image sensor would certainly be extraordinary…

A 200MP image sensor would certainly be extraordinary… (Image credit: Phase One)

Of course, the last time a medium format camera manufacturer promised "the next chapter of our legacy", Hasselblad simply gave us a $5,750 refresh (opens in new tab) of its existing 50MP camera. 

We don't expect Phase One to deliver anything quite as underwhelming, but something as extraordinary as a 200MP sensor is a big ask, so we'll rein in our excitement until Tuesday rolls around…

Read more: 

Phase One XF IQ4 150MP review (opens in new tab)
Phase One announces new 150MP medium format system with $50,000 price tag (opens in new tab)
The best medium format camera (opens in new tab) in 2019: large sensor cameras for experts and pros

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.