Sorry for taking so long to respond. And sorry for such a long response. On Caribbean vacation the past several weeks using and learning: AFi II 10 with 50, 80, 180 and 1.4x lenses and every extension tube and lens hood. Comments are based on a 40 year history with (among many others) Rollei SL66, 6008AF and 5 months with the AFi:
1) AFi camera:
IMHO there is no other MF camera as capable for flowers, tabletop and macro work. All complains about lack of live view for MF are noted, but the waistlevel finder is bright and – almost – grain free. Even has magnification if I flip up the magnifier. The ergonomics are spot on for handheld work: the lens rests on the forefinger and middle finger of the left hand. The body rests on the left palm, and the thumb is available for controlling focus mode, metering mode, aperture, shutter speed, etc. All changes made by the left thumb show in the finder, and in the display on the handgrip. The right hand holds the handgrip containing the battery, with the forefinger over the shutter button and front control wheel and the thumb able to activate the mirror lockup and depth of field and rear control wheel. All comments by web reviewers indicating the left hand control buttons move too easily have not been confirmed by me in practice. On dirt roads in the back of a Jeep, in the cabin of a high speed catamaran, on tour busses, with the camera placed with the controls in direct contact with my body and seats there was never ANY tendency for the controls to move. Camera specific variation perhaps? Can’t say, other than to note that for my purposes, the control layout is the best of any camera I have ever handled, including every model at Photo Plus in New York over the last several years, including S2 and Phamiya.
A few pluses and minuses: (1) The Auto Focus bracketing is something flower and tabletop shooters can not live without!! You might think manual adjustment of focus is no big deal, you could also go back to using OS8. Nine successive shots in nine seconds is not the same as nine shots in 20 or 30. Nine shots with EVENLY spaced focus planes is heaven. Downside alert: Nine files requires a lot of computing power in Helicon. (2) When pressing the left thumb button for exposure, the camera shifts to ISO setting with the right hand finger wheel. This was never implemented in the back, so the only way to set the ISO is with the back touchscreen. (3) The variable extension tube interferes with the hand grip rotating to the last position of travel. But now we’re really picking nits. (4) The recorded EXIF data does not reflect the use of the extender or extension tubes.
2) Leaf II-10 back:
I love this back!! I love this back!! Did I tell you how I feel about this back? Where to start? Around the time the P65+ came out there were internet articles cautioning everyone with a high pixel count back to carefully test their lenses and cameras for alignment. So the first thing I did when I received my new toy was to spend 2 months and ±500 shots pixel peeping. I peeped so often and so hard my nose was sore from rubbing up against the screen. 50mm, 80mm, 180mm (with and without the 1.4x) all at f2.8 through f22 with mirror up, mirror down, different ISOs, different shutter speeds, several tripods, two ball heads, with 4 extenders and a variable extender. Can you count the combinations and permutations? I even called Leaf Customer Service to verify how my camera would be tested and verified as within tolerance during manufacturing, and whether Leaf’s (actually Rollei’s) tolerances were within my expectations. The upshot of all this is that Rollei machined the front, top and back of the camera all during one pass on the NC mill. I was told that the lens, viewfinder and back seating planes are as accurately made as is currently possible. I was satisfied with that explanation, but only after examination of hundreds of files in Lightroom. Sharpness of all lenses improved from f2.8 to f5.6, and then held constant to around f16. In current shooting I try to keep within 5.6 to 11. There are no significant differences in sharpness between the three lenses, but I still have a nagging suspicion that the 180 is beyond superb, the 50 is exceptional and the 80 is very very good. My favorite lenses were the Schneider 90 and Zeiss 110, but these (and almost every other lens in the Rollei catalog) were sold three years ago when I gave up on Rollei producing a digital camera. C’est la vie is the saying? I do not like the lack of an apurture ring on the new AFD lenses, but I do not know what I would do with one if it were there. The apurture changes instantly with the rotation of the wheel controlled by the right hand. Change apurture, push stop down button to confirm depth of field, shoot. Its like someone actually thought about how to take a picture.
For me, usable ISO is 80 to 200. Quality is probably fine at 800, but I accept absolutely no noise in my files. I prefer to use 100 whenever possible.
The rotating sensor is the reason I held out for the Mark two version of the back (as well as the pixel count). It takes 1.57 seconds to go from horizontal to vertical by means of a large dial on the bottom or right side just behind the body. It takes another 1.57 seconds to look in the viewfinder or the left side of the camera to confirm orientation. This initially sounded superior to removing the back to rotate it. Cleaner, less chance for damage to the sensor, etc. While the reasons for not wanting to remove the back remain, it takes 1.57 seconds to remove the back, and another 1.57 seconds to replace it. So physically rotating the back does not appear to be as much of a time saver as I thought it would be. Removing the back requires sliding one button on the left side about two tenths of an inch. Woe to those pushing this button instead of the rotation wheel. It only happened once. I will be installing some kind of lock to be certain it does not happen again.
The flip up screen on the Mark II back is more convenient than a fixed screen. Absolutely useless in Caribbean bright sunshine, but then all settings (ISO, folder where files are to be saved, etc) are made in the shade before the shoot. The shot parameters to be used are displayed on the LCD on the handle, and a histogram is shown after each shot. The LCD is readable under any lighting conditions. Turn up the backlight if in the dark. The ability to flip the screen is used (by me) to keep the camera mounted and focused on the tripod without having to tilt the camera. Convenient, not essential.
The fan and vent system are a non-issue. They do not seem to affect battery life, are reasonably quiet, and are not subject to fouling with dust. A rocket air blast every now and again is all it takes – same as the rest of the body.
412 shots (55 mb compressed) can be taken with one Sandisk III 32 gb card. It seems that about 300 to 350 shots can be taken with one battery. Focusing the lightweight 80mm lens uses a lot less power than the heavy 180mm.
Focusing speed and accuracy is way beyond my expectations. I only use single focus mode. Continuous mode seems to hunt more than I like. If there is a target anywhere within the defined central area the camera finds it. Discussions on the web laud the Leica S2 for its focusing ability. In handling the S2 at Fotocare in NYC it behaved similarly to the AFi. Direct comparisons are, of course, not possible. I expected to be manually focusing, but I have never manually focused in over 1,000 shots, except with extension tubes and a paper thin depth of field.
Have I not mentioned superb resolution, great color, dynamic range, etc.? Take it for granted.
3) Software (I use Windows at home/vacation and Apple at work):
I am not a fan of Leaf Capture. I do not like the workflow. I do not like the limited controls. I do appreciate the new version for Windows. I do appreciate Leaf/Phase One maintaining the software. I do not shoot tethered, but the last versions of LC seemed to work fine in this regard.
I like Capture One. I have downloaded and used the windows version over the past two weeks. C1 provides significantly more resolution than LC (windows) or lightroom, and is able to “save” an under or over exposed file by at least one stop more than LC. Both LC and C1 have an extensive database of profiles (both appear to be the same, so C1 probably uses the profiles already created by Leaf). C1 is able to read the compressed .mos format, and saves an associated file for each shot as does Lightroom. It does not appear that I have to uncompress my files unless I want to import them into lightroom. This doubles the number of shots before having to buy another hard drive. More importantly, by not processing the shot I get to revisit it at a later date and improve it as experience allows.
Lightroom has been my software of choice since before it was lightroom. By expanding the compressed .mos file with Leaf Raw Converter all files can be imported. There does not seem to be the need to do this. Although slightly better than LC for resolution, LC seems to have the better color rendition. Its suble. Its dependent upon operator skill and the individual file. Except for cataloging purposes I think Lightroom (B3) will see less use.
Whichever back you choose the AFi/HY6 is a great camera. I recently saw a demo AFi II 7 on Ebay for a ridiculous price. That's the way I would go.