01/04/14 Some issues for IQ260 and IQ280 owners on the Wifi top cover
This only applies to photographers that purchased a IQ260 (possibly IQ280) early in the product life. I would say back to about July to October of 2013.
One of the features of the IQ2 backs is the built in Wifi capabilities. When you first get the back, you will notice that the top has a rather large plastic rectangular piece. You can clearly see this in the photo below:
With the older IQ140, 160 and 180, this part of the back was solid and there was no plastic top. However with the placement of the WiFi Card on the top, Phase had to apparently cut the top open to allow for signal strength. As you can see from the next picture that there was probably no way to place this card on the bottom of the back and it’s appears to be too large to go down the side.
So instead of the hard shell across the top you now have a ridge plastic piece that fits into the rounded cut out. This piece should be flush to the top and not have any raised edges.
I had noticed a post on the Luminous Landscape forum where someone had tried out a used IQ260 and noticed that the top piece was raised and it was possible to feel a gap between the edge of the frame of the back and this cover. It’s interesting to note that since I purchased my back in March of 2013 and took delivery in mid August of 2013, I have had it out in the field at least 20 times now. I have used it on hot days and cold ones and only in passing had noticed this plastic top on the back. However until I read the the post, I had never really checked to see if my plate was fitting flush to the top.
Curious I checked my back and noticed immediately that from the back where the LCD is, the entire right side of my top plate had indeed raised up a considerable amount. You can see the difference between the right and left sides in these two photos.
I attempted to push the plate back down, but in a minute or two the plate had pushed back up to the same position. The top plate had raised up enough that I could easily catch it with my fingernail and feel it trying to pull up. The plate was loose and what concerned me more was the fact that it might now somehow have compromised the integrity of the seals for the back. I have more to show on this in a different post, as I had been getting some fogging on the inside of my LCD for sometime now.
With a simple push you can get the top plate to go back down, but as mentioned before it’s not going to stay there. I don’t know exactly how long my back had been doing this and this surprises me as I am usually pretty quick to see such things. If I had been using a Phase One DF+ body with the back, I could easily have missed this since the viewfinder of the DF+ comes right over the top of the back, but with the Arca rm3di that I use the back sits out at a 90 degree angle to the camera and nothing covers this piece.
As you can see in this shot, with simple pressure you can get the plate to go back to the original position but of course you can’t keep pressure on it and I was a bit worried that pressure might not be the best idea since you might be pushing down on the wifi card also. From the pictures of the card on the Phase One website it appears that the wifi controller card is directly below the plate. The other issue is that the plate is surrounded by the hard metal of the back so if anything does push on this part of the back, the plate will give in long before the back frame does. NET: Don’t drop this back on it’s top. I have a few ideas for mine since I am always in the field and protection is important.
I have one other concern that I have not heard back from my dealer or Phase One yet. What is the amount of weather sealing that this plate is given? I am a outdoor photographer, not indoor and my older P45+ or IQ160 was pretty much bombproof. I had 2 close calls with my P45+ and neither time did have any damage. If anything the 160 was even stronger than the P45+, the only areas that really need protection being the LCD and the sensor. Working outdoors, it’s always possible for a errant drop of moisture to hit the top of the back. In fact it’s more possible than not. Have you ever worked in the woods directly after a rain? Drops are constantly coming down and they are going to hit the flat top of this back really quickly. The older IQ160 does not have an issue here since there is no opening, just the metal frame. Now you have a huge opening almost all the way around the top of the back and the opening has a small gap (even when the plate is where it should be). Water will always seek and find the weakest part of a seal and it will also get down into the gap no matter what you do. I can only hope that there is very tight (well mine was not very tight) weather seal on this plate. This would be one way to fix it, but it’s rather ugly and I am hoping to hear back from Phase One that the correctly mounted plate can handle a few drops of water.
This whole issue caused me to email my Digital Transitions (DT )Rep, who quickly put me in contact with one of the dedicated technical support staff with DT. Scott, one of the techs at DT, took my information and opened a case with Phase One. About the same time I found another forum post where Phase One had responded to another user informing them that the first round of backs released to the field (mine was one of them) had a different method of attaching the WiFi plate and if you saw gaping, the back needed to go back to Phase One to have the plate replaced with the newer style or method of gluing it down in place.
NOTE: If you are considering purchase of a Phase One back, I strongly recommend you work with a dealer like DT. They can sell used or new and have a direct line to Phase One. As a end user, it is very hard to reach Phase One in Denmark. They have no phone support. They do have a location in Mellville NY, but it’s more of a marketing support arm and I don’t believe that any repairs like the ones I needed will be done in the U.S. If you purchase a back over the web and it has a Value add warranty, then that warranty will be supported by dealer, however you will need to develop a relationship with that dealer. If you purchase a used back with no warranty, then you just spent a lot of money and you may end up with no recourse at all. Save a bit up front and pay a lot in the rear. The dealer can get through to Phase One much faster and they can also contact Phase One in Denmark. The only way I know to reach Phase One in a situation like this is open a trouble ticket with Phase One via the main Phase One website. You will get a response but it will take a while and you will not get any phone calls. I prefer a phone call in situation like this.
I purchased a Value Add warranty with my upgraded IQ260 so Phase One has sent me a loaner back, in this case a IQ280. I did check the top plate on the replacement back and it’s definitely more secure than my back was. I will update this post when my back returns and when I hear back about the weather seals on the plate when it’s mounted correctly.
Hopefully this is just a slight hiccup with my IQ260. So far I have only had this issue and fogging inside the screen and I am wondering if the fact that the seal for this plate being loose had allowed some moisture inside? I had DT also add this issue to my case.