Steve, I have seen from some posts that the 45mm T/S is shipping in Europe. Any idea when it will be available in the US? I am hoping it will be a marked improvement over the Hartblei.
I expect we will see it shortly (I'm sorry - I know that is a vague term). Some of what has been occurring is yes, improving these lenses in terms of coating, optical positioning, housing. I believe that it is difficult to look at a lens that has had a very average reputation that sold for $700 and now see - perceptively - the same lens selling for $3,999. But there is a process and a cost of improvement, there is testing and quality control that has had to have been set up internally at Phase One for these lenses (and that
just recently) and there is also the very high cost of waste and rejection. Not to mention the cost of arrangement - whatever it was - between Hartblei and Phase One. Without our involvement I don't know that these lenses would continue to be available and there was certainly a cost in that.
A year ago, perhaps you could order one of these and someone would pull one off the shelf and you received a lens that had been manufactured and...it worked. The quality may have been unpredictable and random, but since it worked, it qualified as a lens that could ship. The picture is quite different now, with the physical enhancements, but most importantly, shipping lenses that are closely scrutinized as meeting a spec and doing that consistently. This is a good thing, and I think it will mean that this lens will be a useful lens - even at its price - for purchasers. But it also means that there is a lot of waste and rejection employed in the process of getting a quantity of good yields, similar to sensor chip manufacturers. And unfortunately, that has a cost to it.
For those familiar with these lenses, my expectation is that the lenses we produce will be better than the best sample of a previous generation that was ever produced. It will not equal a Schneider or Rodenstock on a camera like an Alpa or Cambo Wide. But how many of your medium format lenses do that now? So my recommendation would be to get a demo from your Phase One dealer of a non-prototype 45mm T/S.