Hidden behind the familiar name and familiar shape of the IQ4 series Digital Backs is actually a whole new system architecture. Phase One are calling it the "Infinity Platform" and behind the marketing speak, it really lays the groundwork for Phase One to expand the features built in to the system via software updates.
During our recent trip to Germany to meet with Phase One in September it is safe to say we got a little geeky about the IQ4!
One thing that is clear to us (and hopefully after this blog clearer to you) is that while the 150 megapixel BSI sensor of the new IQ4 digital back is groundbreaking and definitely amazing, probably the most exciting feature of IQ4 is actually this so called "Infinity Platform".
Infinity Platform encompasses the entire electronics architecture of the back including processors, interfaces and software, which means using an IQ4 digital back is somewhat akin to having the power of an iPad Pro with an imaging sensor attached. In effect it is the foundation of everything the digital back does:
- Controlling the sensor
- Reading and processing RAW sensor data
- Analysing, processing and rendering images
- Running the connectivity (tethering, storage, buffering)
- Moving data
- Running the User Interface
- Communicating with the XF Camera
In the past, software and hardware in medium format digital backs were two very seperate entities, but Phase One has undergone some internal changes over the last few years and now software and hardware are deeply integrated together. Phase One really understand that software is incredibly powerful when it can extract the full potential from their amazing hardware, and vice-versa.
We saw this materialise in an early form with the release of the XF Camera - since launch there has been 4 major software updates adding features like Focus Stacking, Autofocus Recompose, Vibration Delay drive mode, the Profoto Air remote flash control, and many more. What this means is owners of the XF have been constantly upgrading their capabilities over time without having to reinvest in new cameras.
This then, is what Infinity Platform means for IQ4 digital backs: the ability to continually improve the performance of the digital back, and even add features that weren't even considered possible during the original product development.
We have already seen the power of this approach; during our short time in Germany the software developers were making changes that dramatically reduced the time to transfer RAW files over WiFi. The speed and flexibility of this software development and deployment into the backs is mind-blowing, and while the features of the IQ4 at launch are phenomenal, we know that even better features will emerge as IQ4 develops.