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General Blog

Testing the Trichromatic Back

Yosemite National Park, California.
Phase One XF, IQ3 100MP Trichromatic Back, 240mm lens, 1.3 seconds @ f12, ISO 50


It’s not every day you run a camera bag with two 100MP backs, but on my recent photo tour to South West USA with Tony Hewitt last month, I borrowed a new Phase One IQ3 100MP Trichromatic back. I attached the loaner to my XF body and left my ‘straight’ 100MP on the A-Series for my wide-angle 23mm Alpagon, but I didn’t hang them both over my shoulder like a gun-slinger!


Our first shoot was in Yosemite National Park. There’s so much to discover in Yosemite from the ring road that travels around the bottom of the valley, that many people don’t get out onto the walking trails. I remember Kathie (my wife) and I walking up to the top of Yosemite Falls before breakfast (many years ago now) and me hardly making it back down as we hadn’t taken any water or food. It was only a short walk, or so I had incorrectly thought.


Earlier trips have shown me there are lots of things to photograph out on Yosemite’s trails, but if you’re only in the park for a couple of nights (as we were), there is more than enough to keep you occupied down on the flats. I guess the point I’m making is that the trails are great, but if you’re not so actively inclined, you’ll still find lots of material a short distance from your car. And Yosemite really has done a great job in hiding the roads throughout the valley.


So, back to the Trichromatic back. What’s the difference? Both share the 100-megapixel resolution, but the Trichromatic back has a cleaner, purer colour palette. I’m still struggling to identify exactly what the differences are, but having just processed three photos from our first evening in Yosemite, I am delighting in how the colour is turning out. It’s different.


For example, Phase One suggests that many modern sensor designs sacrifice absolute colour quality for higher ISO settings. The Trichromatic back has a native ISO of 32, but it can still shoot at 12,800 ISO and produce ‘good’ results, meaning there’s some luminance noise, but far less chroma (or colour) noise, thanks to its different design.


The colour response to the three colours is also truncated, by which I mean there is less ‘contamination’ of one colour into the next, which in turn makes editing the files better.


So, here are three images from my testing the new Trichromatic back from day one. I’ll show a few other files as I work my way through a wonderful 11 day shoot. If you’re interested in joining Tony and me next year, we’re planning on going a little later – February 2019. Let me know if you’d like to put a place aside!


Yosemite at Cathedral Beach.


Yosemite from Cathedral Beach.


And if you're interested in a photography workshop in the next 12 months or so, I have places left on trips going to Bhutan, South West USA, Antarctica and the Silk Road. Full details on the Better Photography website!

Peter Eastway Uses

Peter Uses

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