I am actually quite happy with what I can do with my full frame 35mm equipment. I have owned a Hasselblad MFD system which I liked a lot but just didn't use enough. Some of my favourite photographs have been taken with compact cameras or relatively inexpensive DSLR's. What do they say - "the best camera is the one you have with you"? My MF equipment was usually in my office or studio. My M9 is always with me now.
"The best camera is the one you have with you" is Truth for photo journalists, street photographers, life-documentation/snapshots etc. But, e.g. a commercial fashion shooter is rarely going to pick a camera because it will fit in his/her pocket better. In my opinion this truism is just a shooting-style-specific version of the universal truth: "the best camera is the one best suited for your needs".
As to your question I think it's important to remember that a whole lot of factors go into the look/feel of the images created by a certain camera.
My generic purpose list of the image quality chain:
Lens Hood / Flare > Lens coating > lens > aperture/shutter > body's internal blackness > IR filter > microlenses > AA filter (or lack thereof) > > Bayer RGBG color filters > sensor size > sensor pixel type > readout speed > sensor-to-AD-convertor path, A/D convertor (both bit depth and quality) > heat sinking / cooling > raw file compression > black calibration > in camera raw data manipulation > characteristic curve > ICC profile > demosaic algorithm > deconvolution algorithm > noise reduction type > up-res or down-res algorithm > sharpening
As one specific example the IQ180 uses a new set of RGB filters in the Bayer pattern compared to the P65+. This leads to a slightly different color response and therefore leads to different ICC profiles and would therefore impact the raw data the software team would be referencing when tweaking various raw processing algorithms etc etc.
Trying to determine which factors lead to a particular difference is generally a futile effort. Best to simply evaluate a system as a system and, when possible, do so yourself in your own typical real-world shooting scenario.
But I would somewhat echo Michael's evaluation. I'm not prepared yet to name it (or agree with Michael's terminology) but from my initial review of IQ files there is a difference in the color handling on the IQ180 vs the P65+ and P40+. Subtle, yes, but real.
Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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