Phase One 645DF. Image © Adam Woolfitt.
Phase One has announced the launch of its “Investment Protection” programme to reassure photographers that they are investing in an open and stable system. “Because we have very high confidence in our technology, we’re offering to our customers this new programme," Henrik Håkonsson, president and CEO of Phase One, tells BJP.
“We’d like to tell our customers what is our roadmap [for future product development] because you hear a lot of rumours online , and we would encourage the other medium format camera makers to do the same. We have to help customers make a choice, as medium format is a very big investment.”
He adds: “That means that anybody that buys a new Phase One digital back from now, will get 90% of that value back within the next 18 months if we release a new Phase One back.”
The programme, which functions similarly to a trade-in offer, is available for all Phase One’s products – from digital backs to camera bodies, lenses and software. “If we introduce a new back in January, the customer that has bought our current back between now and January will then have six months to make up his mind whether he wants to buy a new product or not. If he decides to upgrade, we will give him 90% of his old back.”
A similar offer is also available for Phase One’s camera body, says Håkonsson. “If we come out with a DF2, we’ll give him back 50% of the DF camera price,” he tells BJP. Customers wishing to buy a newly-released lens will also benefit from a 50% cash-back offer if they trade in any lens purchased in the past 18 months.
“If you are in doubt, buy Phase One, because we will always reward you for your purchase,” says Håkonsson.
The programme is reminiscent of a similar trade-in deal Hasselblad used to offer to its customers. However, Hasselblad first discontinued the programme in late 2008 in a bid to lower the price of its integrated medium format systems, before bringing back a new version of it last year.
The news comes as Håkonsson revealed that Phase One was actively working on a new design for its DF camera system, as well as new digital backs based on the 80-megapixel sensor unveiled last week by Leaf Photography, which is owned by Phase One.
“The 80-megapixel sensor concept was initiated by Phase One more than two years ago,” says Håkonsson. “Leaf has an ability to implement a 80-megapixel sensor into the Aptus platform. But, Phase One has a different idea. We’ll tell you more about it soon.”
Meanwhile, Håkonsson is confident that the medium format camera market is growing, despite rumours that companies such as Canon and Nikon could follow into Sigma’s steps with 35+ megapixels models. At this year’s Photokina, Sigma unveiled plans for the release of a 46-megapixel digital SLR.
“If I am a professional photographer and I look at what are the tools I can get from the 35mm market and the tools I can get from the medium format market, I’d use both,” says Håkonsson. “Even if Canon makes a monster CMOS sensor, there would be a lot of compromises compared to what Phase One can offer in medium format. I don’t think we have one single customer who doesn’t have both a 35mm camera and a medium format camera. We see more and more customers who used to have a range of 35mm cameras… They used to be a 1Ds shooter, but now they feel that the 5D Mark II is so successful that they only need that. We see them selling their 1Ds camera and buying a medium format camera system to complement their 5D. The 35mm guys will continue to come up in resolution, but so will we.”
To achieve this goal, Phase One has been investing millions on the development of new sensors and camera concepts, says Håkonsson. It has also been developing its relationships with other manufacturers such as Profoto and Schneider Kreuznach, which respectively released the V-Grip Air and a new 120mm tilt-and-shift lens.
“We think ProFoto is a great lighting company,” he adds. “We spend a lot of time talking with the end customers and ask them about the issues they encounter. Between the flash system and the capture system, there are still opportunities to make the job easier for photographers, and the V-Grip is the first solution we’ve come up with. But there will be other additions,” says Håkonsson. “Our R&D team and their R&D team are working together. At the same time, it’s very clear that if ProFoto wants to work with Hasselblad or Leica, they can. Likewise, we can work with any other lighting company.”
All-in-all Håkonsson is confident about Phase One’s prospects. “We’re up 50% this year,” he tells BJP. “We take that as a signal that medium format market is getting better.”
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