I recently sent the following email to a friend, who is also a very experienced and knowledgeable photographer.
I recently received a copy of the Zeiss Otus 85 mm lens. I haven’t done much with it, but it appears to be, in its own way, even more amazing than the 55 mm. Hold that thought.
The Nikon D810 seems to have solved all of the live view focusing deficiencies of the D800. The only thing missing, in my mind, is an articulated LCD screen. Hold that thought, too.
The 33 x 44 mm Sony sensor available in four or five different medium format cameras looks to have solved the live view problems that all of the CCD sensors had. However, is not that much bigger than 24 x 36 mm, and it offers only a modest increase in resolution over the 36 megapixel full frame sensors.
I have lots of Hasselblad H series lenses, and I am considering upgrading to – at least I hope it would be an upgrade – a camera which would allow me to use these lenses with the Sony 33 x 44 mm sensor. The obvious, path-of-least-resistance, move would be to Hasselblad H5D-50c. However, I have a real aversion to FireWire, that’s the only interface available. I remember when Imacon went from SCSI to FireWire. They offered an upgrade to their SCSI scanners. I bit. The upgrade turned out to be new firmware, and a really schlocky third-party SCSI to FireWire converter. The unkindest cut of all came later, when they came out with a new family of scanner driver software. It didn’t work with SCSI. Well, I thought, that’s kind of mean, but I’ll be okay since I bought that upgrade. Turns out the new software didn’t work with scanners that had started out to be SCSI, even if they been converted with the factory upgrade kit to FireWire. I was left with an orphan scanner. I felt ill treated for my $20,000 outlay.
I can imagine Hasselblad doing this again, when it becomes obvious to them, as it is already obvious to the rest of the world, that FireWire is obsolete. Then my $30,000 camera will become an anachronism.
This all argues for going with the Leaf or Phase One backs on a new Hasselblad body. That will be more expensive solution, but probably less perilous from the standpoint of obsolescence.
But in the back of my mind, I wonder if, with a small increase in area of the 44 x 33 mm sensor, and the similarly small increase in resolution, that I wouldn’t be just about as well off staying with full frame cameras like the D810 and using really high quality glass on them like the Otus series.
You are in a position to help me make a decision, since you use the Phase One 33 x 44 mm back on a technical camera, with presumably really great glass. I don’t know if you have either Otus, but I suspect you have at least one of them. Can you give me some idea of how the Sony 33 x 44 mm sensor does with good glass, and how that compares with, say, the D810/Otus?
I could go into a lot more detail, but I think you get the idea. Staying with full frame cameras and abandoning my Hasselblad glass has great advantages: not only the price difference, but size, weight, and ergonomics.
Any advice that you can offer would be most welcome.
I’ll post his answer tomorrow.