[Phase One P20] Unboxing P20 & comparision with Kodak 645 (Color comaparision added) : Updated 15, Mar



15, Mar


Regarding test result I posted 12, Mar, I thought it may not be a good idea to use ‘daylight’ as white level because the shots taken with lighting from

windows as seen in the picture. Window glass has tinted slightly in green/blue even though we normally not noticed as so. (If you look window glass

at side, you’ll see deep green/blue color which is almost opaque. But optical glass if you look, even ingot before any cutting and polishing, will not show

any color cast)



Picture below taken yesterday in outdoor, using P20 and 645M with both white level setting in Daylight.



   Left colume 4 pictures                                                                                                      Right colume 4 pictures

   Kodak DCS 645M, WB daylight, iso 100                                                                          Phase One P20, WB daylight, iso 100


645daylight vs P20daylight.jpg




I put together these 8 pictures simply comparing ‘color’ without any consideration of sharpen, or other pricture qualities.

P20 at right side shows magenta cast still…. got surprised, how come Daylight setting in daylight shows magenta cast???








White Balance in Capture One: Outdoor Daylight


Then I start to investigate ‘color temperature’ of Daylight in Capture One. For your information, Daylight in Film is 5500 K degree.

But what I found was 5240 K degree as daylight in Capture One. I double-check other photos which taken in daylight WB setting but all the same.







Really confused now. Does it mean Sunlight (color temperature) is different in Denmark (home of Phase One)?

Well, it may be because the lattitue of Denmark is much higher than in here, Taiwan. OK, then what degree Kodak DCS has as daylight?

PhotoDesk, Kodak’s JPG engine does not show color temperature for itself. If Kodak file opened in LightRoom or Photoshop, it will show

color temperature in number but color from Adobe is far far off from PhotoDesk’s.





Anyway, I start to work out white balancing (no other choice!).

As seen below, clicking spoid on grey card brings 5043 K degree which is about 200 K lower than original setting.

Magenta cast also disappered to bring clear blue, green which representing real sceanary respectively.


Googling more on ‘daylight’ reveals confusing matter, many data tells the daylight as 5000 K or 5500 K. It sounds like there’s no single

defintion / formular for daylight in these days. I am sure in Film days, everyone follows the rule ‘Daylight = 5500 K degree’ … Hmm














OK, now I re-do processing P20 with adjusted white balance (5043 K degree) as right side. Left side is the same Kodak file.



   Left colume 4 pictures                                                                                                      Right colume 4 pictures


   Kodak DCS 645M, WB daylight, iso 100                                                                          Phase One P20, WB adjusted, iso 100



645daylight vs P20 WB_adjust.jpg




P20 pictures in the right colume has now clear green without magenta cast. Not only that, I can even see slight magenta cast at the Kodak

(left side)… remember Kodak file is the same one with 1st example, (Does it mean Daylight color temperature of Kodak is higher than 5043 and

lower than 5240?) This slight magenta cast is what I remember as Kodak’s characteristics.


As conclusion, I confirmed in Digital Back white balance is upmost important no matter what factory settings are ready made.

I was pretty much embarrassed with magenta cast at the factory setting in P20, in a such high performance photographic tool. But at the end

Digital Back is a tool supposed user twicks knob for JPG during post processing, thus ensuring good white balance is also user’s primary tasks,

(at least Phase One marketing believe it to be users responsibility). Just make it habit to use grey card for important shooting.










With such a conclusion, I look back the test result in 12, Mar




Before White Balancing, color temperature = 5240 K degree as below.



P20 vs 645M color_WB_5240_4.JPG






After white balancing, color temperature = 4750 K degree



P20 vs 645M color_WB_4750_8.JPG










Here is the result I re-work with adjusted White Balance.


   Left colume                                                                                                                      Right colume

   Kodak DCS 645M, WB daylight, iso 100                                                                          Phase One P20, WB adjusted, iso 100


645daylight vs P20_WB_adjust.jpg




Magenta cast removed which bothered the test last time… LoL










* I reconstruct previous result (12, Mar) in vertical from horizental to make easier comparision view with new results 



   Kodak DCS 645M, WB daylight, iso 100                                                                          Phase One P20, WB daylight, iso 100


645daylight vs P20daylight_01.jpg











12, Mar


Here I add color comparision Phase One P20 with Kodak 645M.

Shots below made at the same condition, same exposure and the same white balance (Daylight WB), therefore it is (literrally) Apple-to-Apple

comparision. I added Grey card to the middle photo but I did not adjust color balance with it. Because I want to see any difference before post processing

including white balance adjustment, That way, we can see JPG derived from Raw with appropriate engine.


Top row Phase One P20, WB daylight, iso 100


Bottom row: Kodak DCS 645M, WB daylight, iso 100    








1) Color saturation: Phase One shows thicker color (more saturated). Because of it, Phase One photo looks more vivid and sharper than

                 Kodak’s neutral colored photo.

.2) Color shift: Phase One renders more reddish… especially comparing background outside of window clearly demonstrate red tinted color (upper row)

                vs greenish color (lower row). Real situation is more close to lower, slight green cast color. Main illumination was daylight through window.

3) Contrast: Phase One show stronger contrast which makes photo sharper. On the other hand, Kodak’s rendition is more neutral and softer.

                 But if post prossing considered, neutral or slight weak contrast of Kodak is more flexible and easier to handle. 




In fact, it is not good idea comparing the colors of digital back, since no way to be accurate. I recommend that as reference only, and we should not

regard those difference as fundamental variation between 2 different digital backs.


P20 uses Capture One as Raw engine to produce JPG which has 4 different factory setting (I use in here Daylight Outdoor) & un-limited number of

user setting, while Kodak uses PhotoDesk as JPG engine with 8 different factory setting (I use Product Commercial look) which is called ‘looks’.

So which setting user select will changes color definitely even with the same Raw file. Simply saying it does not make sense to judge it is warmer or cooler

with 2 pictures out of 2 different process engine.


Subjective description

But I believe subjective description is meaningful and valueable to whom seeking for information of these backs (Information is not data. Information is

processed data to deliver value). Even though we can make Phase One cooler with manupulated setting and make Kodak warmer with post processing,

there is GENERAL characteristics from each digital back which can only be described qualitatively after experienced both of them.


Kodak photo is like ‘not yet post-processed’, what I mean is ‘soft’ and ‘mild’ color rendition. If I choose Portrait look instead of Product look it will be much

lower than this. Phase one brings ‘somewhat processed’ picture quality, e.g. slight sharpen, boosting color saturation  for standard output of factory setting.

Slight redish of P20 is not so bad actually. It may add ‘vividness’ to portrait I think.

But I am not comfortable with high contrast of Phase One which makes dark as black too quickly. You know, it is different that ‘maintaining slight details 

in dark area’ from ‘no details and strong black’ in picture quality a lot.

Perhaps this difference will make ultimate differentiaiton of Kodak and Phase One for ‘impression’ or ‘feeling’ of their picture.











Mamiya AFD + P20 





















02, Mar




P20 arrived finally in the box as below from UK.

When used long time, owners throw out or forget where he hided the box sometimes, thus wrap up with air-cap for 

serveral thousand bucks electronics for shipping…..Well, this time, P20 come in deserved protection package. 


650px 4M2R6189_.jpg





P20 itself, charger, manual, CDs and some other stuffs and paperworks.

Thick sponge is layed inside to protect the back during delivery process.


650px 4M2R6194_.jpg






It’s reasonably clean condition P20


650px 4M2R6196_.jpg




A good thing which is not obvious at first look is battery postion. Other backs, Kodak 645M & Leaf Aptus attached the battery at the bottom,

then it protruded when attached to Mamiya AFD. It does not make visually ugly, actually it is not bad at all, but protruded battery forces

mechanical interface (2 hooks at the camera body) upward if not paid attention during handling. Then it could generate intermittent contact issue.

Phase One’s side slot eliminate any risk regarding contact issue caused by deformed mechanical interface.


650px 4M2R6199_.jpg





CF card slot located at left side.

At first time, surprised due to CF slot cover not closed positively. It looks like laid on top of the slot instead of securely

closed. After couple of times outdoor shooting, I found the cover stay OK despite my worry.

Not sure whether it is designed like this or my back does not have spring load for secure door closing…..


650px 4M2R6198_.jpg





Front cover removed.

In picture, it looks like plastic but is heavy chunk of metal in fact. Another surprise…


650px 4M2R6200_.jpg






Sensor revealed

P20 uses the same Kodak M11 sensor (36.9 X 36.9 mm) as Kodak DCS 645


650px 4M2R6202_.jpg










OK, I pull out Kodak DCS 645M to make visual comparision.

Even though they use the same sensor, their apparant color is quite different.

Last time, when Kodak 645 compared with Leaf (Dalsa sensor), I can not make conclusion whether the difference comes from sensor itself

or IR filter. In here, no doubt it’s the filter.


Left side, green is Phase One, right side, magenta one is Kodak






Another comparision without lighting reflection









Indeed, Kodak IR filter has distinctive magenta color.








When I saw P20 in the picture, I could not figure out actual size so I believed P20 is the same or even bigger than Kodak 645.

Kodak is well fitted with AFD in terms of shape and size.


But comparing them side by side, it reveals P20 is quite smaller than Kodak. In addition, P20 has trenched side slot for battery

which will not increase volume even with battery attached, but Kodak will become bigger (taller) when a battery attached to the bottom.








3/4 view. Both are good design I would say. Of course Phase One is slick and slimmer.








I could not put Leaf Aptus side in this time, but I can describe it to be bigger square box.

Display is dominent by Aptus though since it has big touch screen display occuping almost entire backside without any button.

Phase One has 4 separate button, smaller size display (than Leaf) and pretty simple and basic software menu.

It is so simple to make user (me) questioned ‘Is that all?’ couple of times….










* Phase One is much smaller than I thought and easy to handle. 

   When competition is fierce and competitors have more or less the same performance, what would be a killer fact to be success or fail?

   Small, minute details or differences often change the whole game (there’s no other difference anyway…)

   Overall smaller size, side slot of battery, quite operation without fan, simple H/W menu flanked with sophistcated software, Capture One…

   These are ingredient and hidden recipe for Phase One’s success I believe.




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