How to trigger a Phase One IQ4 digital back when using a technical camera

Posted on April 04, 2019 by Rory Shinners

There are several ways to synchronise a shutter on a technical camera with a Phase One IQ4 digital back, so how do you know which is appropriate for you?

Background

A key technical feature of Phase One digital backs is that the sensor is “asleep” until a fraction of a second before a shot is taken to prevent the build-up of heat in the sensor. This is good because heat on the sensor can be a cause of digital noise in images.

When using a DSLR style camera with electronics like the XF camera, the sensor is automatically woken up immediately before the exposure, then the image is exposed to the sensor, and after that the sensor goes back to “sleep” again.

When using a technical camera (being a mechanical camera system) there is no integrated electronics with the digital back, so we require a method to “wake-up” the sensor before we intend to create a picture.

There are three main ways to correctly trigger a technical camera:
  1. Triggering with the mechanical shutter and using a Wake-up Cable and Multiport Cable to connect the back
  2. Triggering with the mechanical shutter and using a Multiport to PC-Sync Cable to connect the back
  3. Triggering with the Electronic Shutter in the digital back

Each of these methods has different advantages and a different process required to ensure the back is "awake", so read on to discover which is best for your work.


Option 1.
Trigger with the mechanical shutter and use a Wake Up Cable and Multiport Cable

Pno 50300306 50300131 C Copy
Required cables:

Phase One Wake Up Cable - 50300131
Phase One 12-pin Multi Connector to Minijack Adapter Cable - 50300306

The Wake Up Cable is connected to the lens sync on the lens, it has a mini-jack connector pin that the plugs into the female socket of the Mini jack Female of the 12-Pin Multi connector to Mini jack Female cable. The 12-Pin Multi connector plugs into the 12-pin socket on the side of the IQ4 digital back.

The Wake-up cable has a small button which is used to “wake” the back up in the shot process.

To create an image / take a shot

  1. Set the required shutter speed and aperture on the lens, focus and then cock the lens shutter
  2. Press the button on the Wake Up Cable; you have 5 seconds to take a shot before the digital back shows an error message
  3. Trigger the shutter on the lens (normally via a shutter release cable)

Option 2.
Trigger with the mechanical shutter and use a Multiport to PC-Sync Cable

Pno 50300298 C Copy
Required cables:

Phase One 12-pin Multiport to PC-Sync Cable - 50300298

As a new feature on the IQ4, you can now do the wake-up step directly from the IQ4 touch screen without the need for a Wake Up Cable.

The Multiport to PC-Sync Cable is connected to the 12-pin socket on the side of the IQ4 digital back, the PC-Sync is connected to the lens sync.

To create an image / take a shot

  1. Set the required shutter speed and aperture on the lens, focus and then cock the lens shutter
  2. Select the Camera Controls on the IQ4, then press on the Capture button on the IQ4 screen to wake up the back
  3. Trigger the shutter on the lens (normally via a shutter release cable)

Option 3.
Using Electronic Shutter in the Phase One IQ4 digital back

Cambo And Iq Back B Copy
Required cables:

None!

The sensor-based Electronic Shutter in the IQ4 (and IQ3 100MP) digital backs means that in some cases we can dispense with using the mechanical shutter altogether. The Electronic Shutter is like a quick scan where the image is created from each row of pixels of the sensor from top to bottom.

To create an image / take a shot

  1. Set the required aperture on the lens, check focus, and leave the lens open
  2. In the IQ4 menu select Camera > Electronic Shutter
  3. Set the correct aperture metadata information (optional)
  4. Set the desired shutter speed
  5. Press the shutter button on the screen (there is no shutter noise)

So which method is the right one?

Triggering with the built-in Electronic Shutter in the Phase One IQ4 is a great option when there is no movement in your scene, as it requires the least amount of button pushing and no cables to work with. Because an electronic shutter is effectively a rolling shutter, if there is movement in your scene you will get strange distortion effects. If thats the case, you will need to pick from the other two methods.

If you like a completely mechanical workflow when using a technical camera, option 1 is probably the fastest workflow; click the wake-up cable, then click your shutter release... done.

It is great to know that option 2 exists however, and having the Phase One 12-pin Multiport to PC-Sync Cable in your bag as a backup in case you lose your Wake Up cable is probably a good thing!


Have a question about technical cameras or medium format? Give our Melbourne or Sydney showroom a call or pop in for a visit.

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