I would agree that optimal conditions are needed to fully utilize larger formats.
There are some areas where I may have a somewhat different opinion:
1) Getting shallower DoF with larger apertures is indeed possible, but you also need to check out bokeh at those apertures. I have the impression that MF lenses tend to be quite OK at full aperture but large aperture lenses often have color bookeh (axial chroma).
2) I'm not really sure about rate of innovation. There is a lot of innovation going on in MF, consider all different technical cameras. Small firms can be innovative.
At this stage MF has some advantages. Objectively it is about resolution and to some extent shot noise, surface area on MF sensors is much larger than 135 formats. It is also about flexibility, you cannot put a DSLR on a technical camera if you want short lenses. There are also some subjective factors which may be hard to measure.
We could compare it a bit with watches. There is not much difference between a Casio and Rolex, both show the time and I doubt the Rolex does it better than the Casio. My guess is that those "radio controlled" watches syncing to an AM signal are probably most accurate and they tend to be on the cheap side. Me personally? I would never buy a Rolex, my present watch is a solar powered Citizen in titanium shell. It doesn't need batteries and wears well. I bought it when I needed a new watch in a hurry, the salesman made a good job and things made sense to me.
Still, the swiss watch industry is doing just fine, but I guess that it is more about life style than about utility. MF does offer some utility smaller formats don't have.
The MF market being small may be an advantage for a well established vendor. In a larger market other actors may enter who can offer similar benefits at lower prices. Hasselblad and Pentax do it to some extent, but I guess Hasselblad operates in a different market. Would be interesting to know how they are doing. Fred says they must be struggling, I simply don't know.
The way Phase works they need high margins, they sell trough a dealer chain, that is their echosystem. Hasselblad you can buy at B&H.
CI has a refurb
P45+ at reduced price for 12,990, at B&H you can buy a brand new
40MP Hasselblad back for 15,495, but that price also includes a camera, viewfinder and lens.
Not at all; if fact I think it is rather low on that list, since AFAIK, most MF photography is done at f-stops high enough that the same DOF is attainable with 35mm format (at a lower f-stop).
Instead, a lot of the image quality advantages of formats larger than 36x24mm are tied to using ISO speeds not far above the minimum, so that the sensor can then gather more light from any given part of the scene than is possible in a smaller format, allowing some combination of greater dynamic range and/or higher resolution. Thus, these larger formats are most often used either with good light or longish exposures: thinking studio lighting, flash and tripods. Unfortunately, the needs of motion recording rule out the longer exposure option.
Also, a warning about slippery slope arguments that ignore the degree of the differences between different formats and the need to balance pros and cons rather than declaring that a move in one direction is always an improvement. The reality is that when you move in either direction along the format size scale, bigger or smaller,
- the advantages grow by less at each subsequent step (e.g. resolution, dynamic range, shallow DOF and low light options, VF image quality)
- the disadvantages grow by more at each step (e.g cost, weight, shutter/mirror vibration, flash sync speeds with focal plane shutters, slower technical innovation due to smaller sales volume and revenues.)
Thus the best choices (and the one most likely to be pursued by camera and sensor makers) are usually not at either extreme of very large of very small formats.