Some interesting comments, and very diverse directions, posted so far on this topic.
I personally shot Hasselblad 503cw/CFI lenses and 4x5/Rodenstock/Schneider lenses with film and scanned on my Howtek Hi-Resolve 8,000 drum scanner. I developed my own film, Fuji Acros mainly, in my Photo-Therm processor that I had tweaked.
When the P45 came on the scene I tested it against the best film and the P45 matched, and in most cases exceeded the dynamic range of my film setup.
Well, that's all I needed - I purchased the P45 with a V mount for the 503cw and sold everything else.
Good solution - great results and the low cost of my 503cw/lenses was a real plus.
Then the H1 arrives on the scene and I jump for it when the P45+ came out. I ordered the Plus with the H mount and sold all of my 503cw gear. Found that the H2 was released shortly after my purchase and I upgraded to it as well.
Sold all about 2 months ago.
REFLECTIONS - If only I had known then what I know now:
For the best image, which is also the most cost effective solution, I should have stuck with the 503cw and the P45. I actually got sharper and better contrast images with the CFi lenses than with the H series lenses. The difference between the P45 and the P45+ are not enough to warrant the cost increase when purchasing new.
Today, I'm wrestling with a complete rebuild of my system. Todays selection criteria are, in order of importance:
1. Image quality - I've learned I need no more than 39MP, and could possible do fine with 33MP.
2. Weight - I'm 62 years young - back packing trails around the globe is not quite as easy as 10 years ago.
3. Cost - I think we are headed into a real nasty recession, at best, and want to conserve cash. As my photography obsession has never been a positive cash flow situation, and I doubt that it ever will be, the cost of entry and depreciation is very important.
4. Ideally - rise and tilt. Shift is optional and not really needed as I use the RRS Pan contraption for multi-row shots.
CANDIDATES, as of the moment:
SLR is out - no contest when compared to what I can do with MFD - I'm after Schneider/Rodenstock quality glass and the larger sensor sites of a MFDB.
Hasselblad 503cw - not out of the question to return to it, but I do miss rise and lens tilt. I've been there and would have thousand more still in the bank if I had just stayed there. I could have added a Tech camera for the times I want rise/tilt.
Contax - possible candidate but it's lacking in many of the aforesaid features I can get with a tech camera. It's advantage is it can double as my street camera, but big disadvantage is that it was discontinued 5 years ago. However, very cost effective due to that fact.
Phase/Mamiya - tested it - just did not feel right in my hand. I also found the corners/edges of the 28mm lens to be softer than I want. The 150 was outstanding and the 80 was adequate. But the 28 would be a lens I'd use frequently and it has to be perfect, and it just isn't. Also, the controls were not placed well for my size hand and the camera strap connectors required that the camera be carried in a horizontal axis rather than verticle. There are many times when I'm walking an easy trail and I just have the camera hanging on my shoulder, and the Phase just would not work. HOWEVER, it is very cost effective when link to a Phase back for purchase.
Technical/Pan Cameras - to get rise/tilt that I miss with the 503cw:
Camera body -
Alpa 12Max & TC - very nice equipment, precise movements (but more precise than I need for landscape work), EXPENSIVE to my pocket book. A bit heavier than I'd like and no lens tilt, but that's not a deal breaker, just would be nice to have as it's the one feature of my Ebony 4x5 that I miss the most.
Cambo WRS1000 - Far more cost effective than the Alpa for either body or their lenses. I've recently tested the WDS and found it very adequate but bulky and the movements were not very precise for the first 3mm of any axis. Frankly, that is not a particular problem for me, I can live with it considering how much less the unit cost than the Alpa - gotta give something up. I'm told that the initial precision of movements in the WRS is going to be better. (Once I got past the first few mm of movement, I found the WDS to be fine for accuracy.)
Linhof - I appreciate the comments of Wayne Fox. The Linhof M67cs is a seductive solution, as is the new Techno introduced at 'kina. Will be a lot to evaluate between these two configurations but the advantage is initially with the Techno due to it's substantially lighter weight.
Arca RM3d - I've been watching this camera for well over a year and that in itself has turned me off on Arca. Vapor it has been, info in the USA is poor at best, and I see no price incentive to further consider it.
I've looked at other technical cameras but the Alpa, Cambo and Linhof above are the candidates I've settled on for numerous reasons. Open to suggestions, but must have a logical and financial foundation to be considered.
Digital Back - Only two candidates in my FOV.
Phase One - I'm leaning toward the P45 purchase as a demo unit. As stated earlier, the cost increase of the P45+ is hard for me to visually justify, and I never need ultra long exposures. However, that will not keep me from trying to beat up a dealer into letting his P45+ demo go for just a couple grand more that the P45! :-) I've been pleased in particular with my Phase One dealer, Chris Snipes of Image Production, St. Petersburg, FL. He has been supportive beyond the norm and just great to work with. Thus Phase has the advantage at the moment.
Leaf - I'll be testing the Leaf linked to the AFi next week. Very anxious to see how the images compare in detail of foliage and dynamic range to the work I've done with the P45/P45+ in the past. Also curious to see if the AFi would be nimble enough to use as my "street" camera. However, I find it concerning that the Leaf's street price is thousands higher than the Phase and for substantially fewer pixels. I'm hoping there must be some strong basis for the price difference that can be seen in the digital file, but I'll not know that till the end of next week.
In closing, this is a study in progress and the function of this post is to share some of my opinions/finding with others that may be going through the same evaluations. I'll add to this my findings after testing the Leaf AFi next week for those interested.