That's a somewhat short sighted opinion on the cost of gear. I shoot profesionally and have a Mamiya AFD, 4 AF lenses, 3 ext tubes, 2 film backs, and a few small accessories all for about $3200 from ebay. Add that to what I paid for my Aptus 22 new (which I will kindly tell you offline) and I have a full MFDB kit for the cost of a 1DsIII and maybe 3 to 4 L lenses.
Funny thing with getting gear is that it requires almost as much creativity of managing expenditures as does great photography.
In no way do you have to spend $30K-50K for a kit.
You're right. I'm exaggerating the cost. It seems at long last that Mamiya has produced an adapter which allows the old, mechanical RB67 Pro S and Pro SD to be used with the ZD back. I'm not sure if that means it can also be used with a Leaf Aptus 22 back.
I think I saw a price of $500 for the HX702 adapter, so it seems I already have the means to get into MFDB for around the cost of a 1Ds3 without any further expenditure, and even less if I could find a second hand back.
However, before people start trying to offer their old backs to me at an irresistable price, I'm simply not convinced that old Mamiya lenses designed for 6x7cm format are going to be adequate.
From the MTF tests that Photodo made a few years ago, I noticed that some of the better lenses for 645 format were as good as some of the 35mm lenses tested; not quite as good as the best 35mm lenses, but pretty close. However, the lenses they tested for the next size up, 6x6 and 6x7, were all pretty average compared with 35mm. The Hassy 80/2.8 Planar, for example, rated worse than the Tamron SP 90/2.8 costing just a fraction of the price of the Hassy.
The only occasions I feel the need to test equipment is when I don't have the information to make a reasonable deduction as to its relative performance.
For example, I was very doubtful about the noise claims for the Nikon D3 at high ISO, so whilst in Bangkok recently collecting my 5D, which had just been repaired, I popped into the central Nikon shop which happened to be close to the Canon Repair Centre, and took a few comparison shots using the store's demo D3.
As I suspected, reports of the high ISO noise claims for the D3 are exaggerated. If we had standardised specs for noise and DR at each ISO setting, then such tests would not be necessary.
Another issue for me, is I'm an amateur who takes photographs primarily for interest. I'm certainly interested in playing around with equipment which produces better quality images than any camera I currently own, but I'm wary of falling into the trap of buying expensive equipment and then finding that I don't use it much because of other disadvantages such as portability and ease of use.
Any increase in image quality has to be set against other disadvantages. I bought the RB67 camera and lenses (second hand) because I was confident the image quality would be better than 35mm film. I didn't feel any need to carry out comparison testing first.
I'm also confident the RB67 with ZD or Aptus 22 back would produce at least marginally better quality images than my 5D, at ISO 100 at least. But my 5D is only a temporary benchmark. I already have a few Minolta-fit lenses and that new Sony 24mp sensor is looking very attractive.
As we all know, in the final analysis the camera doesn't really matter much. It's what you do with it that counts .