But is Phase/Mamiya kidding here: "The Phase One 645DF camera body starts at $5990"
What do the 645 AF alternatives cost? In fact, just one current alternative, a Hasselblad H3D body with VF. Not sold alone AFAIK, but that combo. does seem to add about $7,000 to the back price.
Yes, MF body prices are scarily higher than in the film era: welcome to the dark side of economies of scale, when R&D costs have to be shared over about ten thousand customers while mainstream DSLR makers can share their costs between millions of customers, so that ten times the R&D expense costs one tenth as much per customer. "Faster, better, cheaper" as NASA used to say.
In fact, the recent debate about the new Hasselblad AF system shows that even full 35mm format DSLRs can suffer in this way compared to far higher volume mainstream formats like DX, EF-S and 4/3:
- Mainstream DLSR formats, along with the Canon 1D, get multi-point AF modules optimized for those formats.
- 35mm format DSLRs often have to use the above AF modules as hand-me-downs, putting up with too tightly clustered AF points.
- DMF has to make the best of a single AF point, because the far lower sales volume and lower revenues cannot support the cost of keeping up with the sophistication of the AF offered in even some $500 DSLR's (e.g the new Pentax K-x.)
Compared to this, complaining about the LCD's on DMF backs seems petty.