The New Phase One Tilt-Shift Lens Will Cost You $11,990

If you look at the new Phase One announcement in one light, it’s nice to know they’re producing a tilt-shift lens. But, it’s for a camera system no one really thinks about or mentions these days. Alas, the new XT-Rodenstock HR Digaron-W 4.0/40mm Tilt lens is probably a piece of gear lots of folks will read about, but probably won’t purchase. At nearly $12,000 I don’t think many folks will purchase it. And for the record, we’ve got readers purchasing some expensive Leica gear. 

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What to Know About the New Announcement

Here’s what you should know that we’ve gathered from the press release:

  • That new Phase One tilt-shift lens is called the XT-Rodenstock HR Digaron-W 4.0/40mm Tilt lens.
  • It’s targeted to landscape photographers who use the Phase One XT IQ 4 camera. Phase One likes to say this is their mirrorless camera system, but that’s a bit of a stretch.
  • There’s also the new X Shutter. According to the release, they’re announcing the Phase One X-Shutter is now available for the Rodenstock HR Digaron 138mm f6.5 lens. Previously, this lens didn’t have a physical shutter. So now, camera owners can control the shutter speed and aperture directly from the lens instead of the IQ4 digital back. 
  • There’s an update to their app. Here’s the text for that: “In the coming weeks, an update for Cascable AB (iOS App) will be made available. The update will provide performance improvements and enhanced mobile integration specific for the IQ4. Special attention has been made to enhance image quality workflows, achieve faster live view frame rates, improve wifi connectivity, and access images stored directly on the IQ4. A significant workflow improvement allows for viewing images saved to the IQ4 and selective transfer of images to the iOS device. This new storage access feature process saves time and bandwidth for users of the Phase One IQ4 platform.”

But Why?

You, like me, are probably perplexed by this. We haven’t heard a peep from Phase One in a while. So let’s think about a few things with this new Phase One tilt-shift lens.

  • It’s designed for landscape and architecture photographers specifically using the Phase One IQ4 camera system. This uses their DSLR lenses and mounts them directly to the medium format back using a flat camera body.
  • DPReview states that the IQ4 is currently the largest medium format sensor on the market.
  • According to MMCalc, this new 40mm f4 lens is like a 29mm f2.5 in full frame equivalence.
  • It costs nearly $12,000 and delivery is expected in September.
  • Arguably, they’re late to the market and have also been insanely quiet.
  • We’re not exactly sure why a landscape photographer would purchase one of these. Landscape photographers I know who sell expensive prints use either Canon, Sony, or Fujifilm.

Phase One Is Way Too Late to the Game

First off, I think it’s wonderful that the industry is seeing the release of a new Phase One Tilt-shift lens. That means their system has enough of an interest with photographers that they decided to make a new lens. And specifically, they priced it at a point where they think photographers will buy it. This is fascinating to me. I looked through our archives to see how many photographers we’ve interviewed in the past few years who use Phase One. Michael Winter does portraiture with the system while Joel Tjintjelaar does landscapes and cityscapes. But even so, I’m still not sure I understand why you’d use this over the fantastic offerings Fujifilm has. 

Sure, a tilt-shift lens sounds wonderful. However, that can be done pretty easily and successfully with Fujifilm’s GFX system.

It’s also worth talking about that, even with the Fujifilm GFX series being as good as it is, they still don’t outdo full-frame cameras on a variety of things. 

So, in summary, this new Phase One tilt-shift lens is good for system owners. As a luxury purchase, I’m not sure I’d buy it. If I were purchasing something for the luxury of it, I’d want a collector’s item that lasts and will hold its value. Even second hand, Phase One’s prices are all over the place.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.