You certainly are Edmund and I've often read and apreciated your expert advice in regards to colour. If I can give you a little general advice with regards to medium format digital, although it can be a pain for all of the obvious reasons there is no doubt in my mind, after using both a 22mp back and canon for quite a long time, the medium format files are, to me, superior. Although it can be quite hard to quantify the difference, the files are "thicker" and more imediate and textured. I think someone mentioned that the clients are fine with canon files, and they all seem to be, but of course whoever shoots thinking, I guess this is "good enough for the client" is on a long road to mediocrity. Only by pleasing yourself will you ultimately please the client and I think you'll find that you please yourself a whole lot more a back. Good luck with it, I have apreciated all the advice you have given us, I hope my advice is usefull to you.
I agree with your statement - the files I've seen from the backs just look better color-textured., although Leaf and Phase seem to have a very different personality. Also, what's the point of spending so much time teaching myself to see color and process color if I then take pictures with lousy color ?
Thing is, everybody here realizes that consumer cameras have spiffed-up color, but many don't seem to notice the ways in which the pro cameras are biased. With the original 1Ds, Canon made a device that could do studio work. Use tons of light and no overexposure, and it records lots of colors and texture in the midtones and beautiful medium skin tones and texture, with a signature flared-out look in the quarter tones and noisy shadows, and pretty harsh burnt out highlights which need strong retouching. The 1Ds has to be exposed on the nail, likes lots of light, and it works well with strong and controlled studio flash.
The 1DsII, 1DII and 5D seem to be different beasts - they can be used in good or bad light, short or long exposure, and with mobile flash in the marriage market, and the bride's dress won't get flashed out, but the fine texture in high-key skin tones is -in my hands-on experience- often unrecoverable, with a characteristic "clingfoil" look, and the shadows have texture and less noise, they are colorful but a bit harsh Also, the burnt out highlights need less work. I hate it for people, but it's wonderful for things - and I've sometimes used it with modelling lights alone or weak incandescents to good effect.
So far I've owned a Nikon D1x, a 1Ds, a 1DII and a 1DSII, and seen the results here first-hand. I've also assisted a commercial photographer using a 5D, who is a very good very detail-oriented guy, and I can see the new Canon "signature" in every file he sends me for comment - and this guy is good. Another portrait photographer could see the issues, he contacted me and showed me the way he fixed the files, he has worked really hard at it, and we played around with his tricks, going to the length of creating our own film curves from intuition, measured data and manufacturer's published data - but there are some files which just break when I try to do it.
What I fear is that as Hasselblad and others move back into the marriage/paparrazi market they will make similar adjustments to their own cameras to accomodate their evolving use base - better to have lots of clients getting usable imagery with approximate exposure than having a fussy camera that gives a few clients very good results. Think of it as color negative film succeeding Ektachrome succeeding Kodachrome, each easier to use and intended for a widening userbase. We've now reached the stage where the 35mm pro cameras are like Ektachrome, and I think the next batch will be like color negative film.
Basically each camera is like a new fim box - you have to try it so see whether you like it, and there are situations when using the wrong film will make one work very hard in post. At the moment I'm shopping for a new film.