I dunno, Steve. You still have to look extraordinarily closely to see differences between the PhaseOne AF and DF. I know that internally the autofocus etc. is supposed to be much improved. But externally, it's just as "minor incremental" as the AFD-II-III transitions. There is no "wow! big change" factor to it. For example, removable finders - now that would have been a big change in the right direction! In fact, I think that dropping support for film backs was a change in the wrong direction. Even if it rarely gets used, it removes one of the versatility attractions of MF SLRs over their smaller format brethren. All this talk from Phase One about "open systems" - I can't take it seriously when they actually closed off their camera system to film use.
I agree Ray, it's unfortunate about not being able to use film. Neither does the H3DII/H4D, for that matter. I'm certain there was a lot of debate over it and I am sure it centered over the likelihood that keeping film compatibility would restrict other aspects. I won't say this as fact, but I have been told, in so many terms, this was the case.
Also, 100%, would love a waist level finder. To me, the viewfinder is the element I would like to see the most change with on the Phase One camera.
However, my "Ah, yes" moment, which is not quite the same as "wow!" (It takes a lot for me to enthusiastically say "wow" to a product) was written with regard to the overall improvements, not only focused on the external changes. So, I stand by my blog statement of the DF being an "Ah, yes", rather than a "well, it's a little bit better". And this is my personal user opinion, not just a sales opinion. If you take a camera and upgrade the auto focus performance to the point where - for me
- it is largely unusable in the way I photograph, to a state where it is very usable, that is not incremental.
And handling to many photographers is a key component to capturing an image. The AFD-II-III cameras have always had a low reputation for fit/finish/handling. To me, in my opinion, the DF was a significant improvement. In a subtle yet important way, it felt like a different camera to me. As you say, a waist level finder would indeed be a dramatic change and worthy of a "wow, they did it" reaction, perhaps. And viewfinders are certainly one of the most important elements of a camera, absolutely. If they had added a waist level finder capability to the DF, in addition to the improved fit/finish/handling, I may very well have been forced to elicit a "Wow!".
But I think my wording and description is accurate and appropriate. Our clients who used AFD-II-III that have upgraded to DF are more effusive and enthusiastic than I am, the guy who is selling it to them. I think that is relevant. I believe the improved grip/handling (and overall improvements) is definitely a bigger jump than in past upgrades. Last week one of our consistent rental clients came in and tested the DF. He typically rents P45+/P65+ on H1/H2 cameras from us. In his words, he now prefers the feel and handling of the DF to the H camera and said, "Just get a few more Schneider Leaf Shutter lenses in there and I'll switch." None of my clients ever said that to me about the AFD-II-III series.