This is not meant to be a review. I do not have the time for, nor the inclination for a thorough review.
However, I do have plenty of incentive to point out the aspects of the AFi which need to be improvement.
Before pointing out what needs to be fixed, I must first emphasise that in sum I do not regret buying into this system. Mainly because of the Schneider lenses which is extremely sharp/good quality and the Leaf Aptus 75s digital back, which as Leaf claim; "delivers the best image quality of current digital back regardless of resolution." I have to agree on that one. It's the thing in the middle that need improvement:
1. When using non- AFD lenses, the aperture setting on the camera does not match that of the lens. If I for instance set the camera to f/14, and push the cameras DOF preview button, the scale on the manual lens only shows f/11. (Firmware upgrade?)
2. The AE meter on the camera is very hit- and miss, mostly miss. This is probably du to (1) above. (Firmware update?) If it had not been for the histogram on the DB I would have been very lost with regards to correct exposure.
3. You should release a reference guide for the AFi. Currently there only exist a "Getting Started" guide, which frankly is not very good. It would be nice to be able to know how to change focusing screens, or that self timer cannot be used along with MLU. There seem to be automatic MLU when using self timer, at least judging by the sounds coming from the camera. A reference guide would be able to tell us these things. Also a overview of available focusing screens with their respective characteristics etc would be nice to have. When using the various extension tubes, which corresponding focusing ranges do the different lenses have? Etc..
4. The new AFD lenses: For some reason which I do not understand, F&H have chosen not to protect the focus scale on the lenses with glass, glass which you find on just about every other type of lens out there. In studio, this is no big problem, but if most of your photography takes place outside it could be a problem. If one drop of rain hits that scale and you then do some focusing, that moisture is dragged around into the lens and will stay there for quite some time. Also for some reason they have chosen to spray-paint the whole thing black, INCLUDING the parts of the lens which lock together with the camera. The lens mount should have been blank metal such as on the non- AFD lenses, or the Canon L- lenses etc. I already have paint peeling off the lens, and as you might expect these small pieces of black paint then travel into the camera, focusing screen, between lens elements etc..
Yes the AFD lenses are sharp, with excellent bokeh etc, but these same qualities can also be found in the non- AFD lenses. I notice little or no difference, except the speed of the AF. AF is faster and more responsive on the AFD, but then again the AF of the camera is not that great:
5. The AF on the AFi is very accurate under controlled circumstances, such as focusing on a model sitting more or less still. However, having used the Canon 1Ds MkII for many years I miss beeing able to select focusing points. If I only could select the middle focusing point I would be happy. Currently the only option seem to be full time "omni focus" where the camera focus on whatever is closest to the camera. (Firmware update?)
6. Then there's the neck- strap mount(!) Most studio photographers probably never attach this one to the camera. As you understand, I shoot mostly outdoors, and carry the camera with me - sometimes by the neck- strap. The thing is, the attaching points for the neck strap is not fixed, and this leads to most of the cameras weight being carried by the digital back, and not the camera. The attaching points rest against the DB, and imagine just how much weight is carried by the two upper attaching pins of the DB when carrying around a front heavy camera with a Schneider 180mm f/2,8 lens attached. In my view this is a serious design flaw which needs to be fixed.
7. Mirror vibration. It is the same or worse compared to the Mamiya 645. This is of course just my somewhat subjective opinion. A quote from your brochure: "The Leaf AFi’s mirror features an effective, specially-designed dampening mechanism that virtually eliminates camera shake, leading to sharper images." From this I would have expected the vibration to be much better/smaller, and not like the current "barn door" slap. For those of you being very worried by this: I do consistently produce better/sharper images from my current setup than from my previous Mamiya 645AFD/Aptus setup.
8. No AWB. When will you let the back interpret the data coming from the cameras built-in RGB- sensor?
9. It would be nice if the Leaf Capture software for PC would work with Windows Vista 64bit.
The good news is that most of the above issues probably can be fixed through firmware update.
I'll finish off with some positive aspects of the camera: It is compact for being a MF camera, the battery capacity/power management have improved, start-up is fast, the lenses are stellar, the back is the best in the marked (my personal evaluation), the 45 degree finder is excellent (although some of the viewfinder info is difficult to see), the camera handles really well/ ergonomics are good, nice analogue/digital options for handling the camera.
For those of you who might mount a RRS plate on the camera, I have found the MPR-73 plate to be the best match for the camera.
I hope some of the Leaf reps frequenting this forum can bring some of these points on to whoever does the software developing for the AFi camera. The mentioned hardware improvements would also be nice, but I guess these will be more difficult to improve, at least in the very near future.
Rune Werner Molneswww.runemolnes.com