Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Phase One P45

P45 – Top commercial shooters can afford it, landscape photographers deserve it

A reader review Markus Zuber



As we got in contact about the P45 review, Uwe asked me for a short contribution on my experiences with the P45 in Switzerland. Being a biologist who switched to photography completely 5 years ago, I have chosen landscape, travel and nature photography as my main road. 20 years ago I started bw photography with a Toyo field 8x10” camera doing all development stuff on my own. My backpack was about 25 kg including the tripod.

Six years ago I started with digital photography as I ran out of time during my “normal” business for large format photography. One of the main motivations for doing so was the presence of PiezoTone inks developed by Jon Cone that helped me doing very nice bw work on rag paper. Soon after I discovered ImagePrint by ColorByteSoftware which helped a lot for perfect printing on the EPSON fineart printers up to nowadays in color and bw.

Today I am working with a Canon 1Ds MkII for travel, people and food photography and am very happy to own one of these new P45 backs attached to my Hasselblad H1.

Recent experiences

My backpack with the P45, the H1 and 3 lenses is about 10 kg plus the tripod. This is not bad – and even less than my Canon backpack;) With this equipment I can climb a mountain or cross a river! Up to now the P45 did a great job. In the beginning there were some color issues as the daylight profile was not quite ok. Now, having downloaded the latest profile patch, it is perfect – and much better than one I did myself using ProfileMaker Pro.

The P45 stores 44 shots on a 2 GB card and this in quite a short time. There is a delay between the shots of about 3 seconds, which is way too long for a sports photographer, but ok for those who take minutes changing the film after every capture. I am using SanDisk Extreme 3 cards and they are working without any problem.

Temperature is not an issue as I was able to capture at -10 °C. Sometimes the camera did not “see” the lens anymore but the back worked flawlessly. Humidity is much more of a problem as – mainly under cold conditions – your nose is close to the back and the humidity of respiration leaves its traces on the display – on the surface not in the back. Since I have had a humidity problem inside the back shooting under a waterfall, I always carry a “raincoat” for the H1/P45 with me. Interestingly enough humidity does not seem to be a real issue for the sensor as I was taking pictures in the botanic garden outside (3 °C, 40 % humidity) and inside (30 °C, 100 % humidity) and I only had problems cleaning the lenses – but no Hamilton effect on the sensor! If you look at the high price of the P45, openings and cable contacts are not very well protected and leave some doubts to me how far it will follow me into the wilderness. However my former P25 joined me for a three week trip to Madagascar and did not show any problem. The main reason for choosing the P25 and the P45 was and still is that there are no fan holes in the body that might be easy entries for dust and sand.

Dust is an issue the bigger the sensor gets. Fortunately brushes from the Visible Dust clean the sensor in a very elegant way. I do it at least every day before shooting. There is always dust around and there is a lot of place for it in an MF body…

Image Quality

The RAW files are developed using CaptureOne Pro without any sharpening, tone correction or artifact removal. In Photoshop I use the Raw Presharpener by Nik Software for initial unsharp masking. The files, which come out from Capture One, are very smooth and highly saturated with colors. The information in these files is really great – mainly after presharpening – and to my eyes far superior to what I know from 4x5”. Of course a 8x10” drum scan brings some more information but this is quite close now.


The original data used at 300 ppi gives me 24 x 18 inches (225 MB at 16-Bit). Normally, as I am always using a tripod, I use 50 ASA. 200 ASA is still very good, 400 ASA is a little bit noisy. Noise reduction (dark exposure compensation) works very well. I have tested the P45 during nighttime for full moon captures and it performed really well. If the moon would not have moved too fast, I would have been able to go much higher than 30 seconds, which I have successfully tested on the P25 in Venice.


The P45 gives me enough data for upsizing the prints using the width of my EPSON 9800 44 inch printer or the Epson Stylus Pro 9000 running on PiezoTone inks. Even if the 8x10” scans give me some more data; I would never ever change this new race horse against that format again. The P45/H1 combination gives me a lot more freedom in using these tools for landscape photography, close ups, telephoto, panoramas than I had in the “good old ages of large format photography”. I can highly recommend it but I also do hope that the price will drop to a level that landscape photographers can afford - as this kind of photography is not the field where you can earn a lot of money.


Markus Zuber is a professional photographer living in Switzerland. He is also head of the company FineArtPix Ltd. and



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