R.I.P. – my Phase One DF’s shutter is dead

So, a few days ago, the moment finally came and my Phase One’s shutter busted during a shoot in my studio. Initially I was very surprised. When you pay a little more than a car on a camera you would expect the shutter to last forever and not be dead after 50 000 shots. But upon my visit to my dealer (Photoservice Montreal, which I recommend from the bottom of my heart as the best service and life savers) I learn that 50k actuation is normal lifespan for the shutter in the Phase/Mamiya 645 body. This is rather sad – it seems though they improved this in the new Phase One XF body.

The repais of the shutter will cost a bit more than an average prosumer new camera form Nikon/Canon, so whoever is wondering why medium format shooting photographers charge a bit more than the Rebel-owner, there you go. I also learned that the 5yrs warranty I purchased from Phase One refers only to the digital back while the body itself is 1yr/100k actuations only.

For people not familiar with Medium format and especially Phase One/Mamiya systems, these cameras have 2 shutters – a focal plane shutter as any other camera and a bladed Leaf Shutter in the lens which becomes active for high syncing with flash or can be set manually (please see the above image).

Obviously this issue created a major workflow problem since I have at least 1 photo shoot a day. A loaner from Phase One patched the situation but I am decided to be more prepared next time for a possible accident and employ a disaster strategy. Maybe it’s time for a new XF body :)? Another DF body as back-up? I will keep you posted about the decision…




  1. Same thing happened to my DF+. At Photoservice I learned that XF has exactly same shutter mechanism (to my huge disappointment). Phase One had a decent opportunity to create a reliable body and failed. Looks like we are stuck with crappy bodies for a while.

    • costin@costin.ca

      I do have the XF body and I confirm I had the same problem as DF/DF+ at about 50 000 actuations. I am looking very seriously towards a technical camera like Alpa but guess what shutter mechanism Alpa 12FPS has :(?

      • Im looking at using a Phase One on my old Horseman… do you know if it is viable?

        • costin@costin.ca

          You could. As long as you can find an appropriate back plate that connects the camera with the back. Generally, for the large format cameras, all the connections (cables) between the lens and the back are external and the same regardless the camera itself. Basically, the camera is just a variable length black box.

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