If you’ve ever wondered how high the resolution of digital photography can go, wonder no more. The Phase One Alpa A280 Camera System is a new leader of the pack from Phase One, offering a massive 80 megapixel resolution to digital photographers. That’s nearly three times the resolution of a full frame DSLR, joining only a handful of medium format systems to hit 80MP territory. It’s elegant, it’s powerful, it’s flexible — and it’ll cost you about the same as a brand new luxury car.
The Phase One Alpa A280 exists as a modern three-part medium format camera. Its three parts are the lens, the body and the “digital back”, the sensor system that captures the incoming light. Compared to a full frame digital camera, like the Nikon D750 or Canon 5DMk III, the Phase One Alpa has three times the resolution on a sensor that is twice as large. The result is a new level of light sensitivity, image quality and file resolution. For a certain type of photographer, this offering can’t be beat.
What do I mean by “certain type of photographer”? Medium format cameras appeal to specific photographic specializations. They’re marketed as art cameras, appealing to those who shoot landscapes or still life for large, high-quality prints. They’re also used in commercial applications by architectural photographers, food and product photographers and the occasional portrait photographer. The resolution provides larger print opportunities than a full frame DSLR, but high-resolution medium format is about a lot more than just billboard-sized prints.
A medium format camera like the Phase One Alpa A280 provides a different look and feel than a standard 35mm digital camera. There’s a greater level of selective focus, providing more control over focus and blur than in a full frame system. The beauty of medium format images is subjective however, and there has been plenty of argument about it’s true appeal. Again, for specific photographers in high demand trades, a tool like the Phase One Alpa has a far higher ceiling than a full frame alternative.
The catch? The Phase One Alpa A280 is available for $55,000 USD. That’s nearly the same price as a brand new luxury car. It won’t arrive with clear coat or powertrain coverage, however, it’ll come with a body, a digital back and lens options between 23mm, 35mm and 70mm. For full frame shooters, that’s an equivalence to 15mm, 22mm and 45mm. Which is amazing for landscape and architecture, plus a little bit of normal coverage for everyday subjects. Not that you’re going to want to take this baby out for some street photography…
If the top-of-the-line A280 isn’t right for you, the Phase One Alpa is available for a slight discount in the A260 and A250 alternatives with lower resolution. But where’s the fun in that?