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Author Topic: Which medium format solution for me?  (Read 6218 times)
adam z
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« on: June 19, 2011, 10:16:39 AM »
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I have decided that I want to move from my Canon gear to digital medium format. Here are my reasons for wanting to make the change:

Firstly because I like the look that medium format produces for portraiture (my primary work) due to the larger sensor size.
I also like the smoother tonal transitions and better colour that most backs have
I want to have leaf shutters so I can sync flash outdoors to balance with relatively bright light, I do a lot of environmental portraiture
Larger Dynamic range, and (dependant on back) higher resolution for landscape work (I would like to print a minimum of 16x20 with fine detail in a shot, like a complex landscape etc)
Lastly, the camera itself differentiates me from the millions of DSLR users that my clients see all the time.

I like to work slowly and deliberately, so I do not care if the system is not capable of run and gun type shooting. I also tend to shoot at base ISO for almost all of my work (I have the Canon gear if I need to shoot in low light anyway).

I have no issues with buying second hand.

Hopefully that gives a feel of what my needs are, so what to buy? I do not want to spend more than $15,000 for a body and back and would prefer spending about $10,000. Obviously the cost of lenses is not factored in at this point.

Would I be correct in assuming that my only options for bodies (considering my need for leaf shutter lenses) are, Phase/Mamiya DF or Hasselblad H in auto focus? I assume Mamiya RZ and Hasselblad V are worth considering as manual focus options, but I have my concerns about focusing accuracy with digital backs (probably only a concern for portraits, not the landscape work). I also realize the RZ is lacking in the wide angle department when used with digital.

My initial thought is for a Phase DF body with 55 and 110 LS lenses, plus a wider non LS lens just for landscapes, and a 150 LS when it is available. Not sure which back to get. Phase, Leaf, exact model - obviously I would like the best resolution within my price range.

With the H Hasselblads, which models take 3rd party backs? What are the disadvantages of the older H series apart from lack of TruFocus compared with the H4D. I am aware that some can take film backs which does not interest me, is there anything else to be aware of?

I would love to get a IQ series back once the initial setup pays for itself (unless I get a Hasselblad H series I guess), so am wondering if these are available for Hasselblad V mount or older H series 'blads. Any experience with using Hasselblad V systems or Mamiya RZ (I would go with the Pro II D most likely for ease of use with digital) would be much appreciated.

Are there any other systems I could consider which I have missed?

Thanks in advance.
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adam z
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2011, 10:23:20 AM »
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Oh, any thoughts on these as well 6000/ Hy6/ AFi ?? Are they still worth considering, and if so what are the bodies worth used, and is back compatibility good?
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amsp
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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2011, 11:48:59 AM »
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My advice would be to try both the Mamiya/phase and Hasselblad system to see which one you prefer (including software), it's a very personal choice. Then I would buy the highest megapixel count full frame back you can afford, like the P25/P45/P65, personally I think sensor size is more important than megapixels, especially if you plan on using wide lenses.

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David Watson
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2011, 12:27:25 PM »
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For portrait work it is a no-brainer.  The truefocus capability of the Hasselblad combined with the large range of leaf shutter lenses makes this an ideal camera on location or in the studio.  The ergonomics and integration of the H4D camera are far superior to that of the Phase One system.  I guess the P1 backs have the edge in quality terms but we are talking a council of perfection here.  The Hasselblad lenses are superb particularly the 100mm for your work.  I would suggest that the H4D-40 would be a great choice and very good value for money.
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Graham Mitchell
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2011, 12:34:44 PM »
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Well you opened up a can of worms here Smiley

The leaf shutter options worth considering are:

- Phase/Mamiya body with Schneider LS lenses
- Hasselblad H series
- Hy6 (and possibly Rollei 6008AF)

The Phase/Mamiya option started off as a focal plane shutter system, with cheap used cameras and lenses being easy to find. This attracted a lot of the early adopters. However, if you want to use leaf shutters you will need to buy the latest Phamiya body and new LS lenses too. The choice of lenses is limited at this stage, and you will have to buy all new. You can use backs from various manufacturers on this camera. There are no viewfinder options, as far as I know.

The Hasselblad H system is quite mature now, with plenty of bodies and lenses available on the used market. It's the only platform with good global rental support, from what I've seen. The camera doesn't excite me personally but I imagine that a used H would be within your budget and deliver what you need, with quite a few choices of sensor available.

The Hy6 (a.k.a. AFi) camera is still being made, but only one current model back (Leaf Aptus II 12) is available for the platform, which is a sad state of affairs. You can also find the body and lenses on the used market, and the lens lineup is great (best in my opinion). If you go for a used camera and back, then there are still some choices but be warned that this platform might not have a lot of options in the future. The Rollei 6008AF uses the same lenses and is effectively the predecessor of the Hy6. However the back mount is different so you really need to find a Sinar eMotion back to go with it, and an adapter. This is the system I use, and gives great bang for the buck (probably the cheapest of all these options) but there is zero rental market support, very limited dealer support, a slightly annoying flash sync cable must be used to connect camera and back. Some pros of this platform are: full AE capability with all finders (might be the only camera that allows this), and being able to rotate just the back to switch between portrait and landscape modes (the only platform on this list that does this too).

At the end of the day, you need to hold these systems in your hands and decide which one feels right, which lenses you need, etc. Try them all if you can!
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geesbert
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« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2011, 01:02:24 PM »
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The ergonomics .... of the H4D camera are far superior to that of the Phase One system. 

sorry, that is not true. try handholding a H whatever with the big zoom in portrait orientation for a few hours and you'll need an osteopath. It is not only the lack of vertical grip, also the buttons don't match.
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Geoffreyg
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2011, 01:33:54 PM »
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Oh, any thoughts on these as well 6000/ Hy6/ AFi ?? Are they still worth considering, and if so what are the bodies worth used, and is back compatibility good?

Those of us who use this system love it, and are willing to deal with its very limited service network and very small, old world distribution system.

Others call it dead, no more, and irrelevant.

Each their own. Either the 6000 or the AFI (common mostly through the lenses) have limited options, but what there is is very good tho. Used AFI gear is practically non-existent or priced high. The 6000 series has a lot of availability, but very limited digital back options - the Sinar and the Hassy with an I mount. If you are considering this, you will get great optics, and lots of folks who will tell you that there are other more commercially viable ways to go. Some of us really like shooting with this camera tho and are quite happy, even if out of the norm for big business models.
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Geoff
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« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2011, 01:51:22 PM »
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sorry, that is not true. try handholding a H whatever with the big zoom in portrait orientation for a few hours and you'll need an osteopath. It is not only the lack of vertical grip, also the buttons don't match.

Phiii.... :-)
Try to fit into your perfect body DF, "lens" weighing 1650g. I'm sorry but ergonomic body DF is far behind the Hasselblad body. Verticalgrip you think is perfect? This means that you probably never have used. To be clear, since Hasselblad uses a native of Kodak's marketing-I do not like this company. But you should be honest, the camera is ergonomically perfect. Maybe outside the model H4D200;-)
« Last Edit: June 19, 2011, 01:53:11 PM by design_freak » Logged

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amsp
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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2011, 02:24:48 PM »
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I'll give you one more piece of advice. Don't listen to fanboys touting their preferred system as the best, one man's perfect is another man's aweful. It's a lot of money you are spending, so do yourself the favor and try them out to see what's perfect for you. In the end they are all competent devices, if you have the skill to use their potential, so it really comes down to your own personal preference and needs.

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David Watson
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« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2011, 04:28:11 PM »
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I'll give you one more piece of advice. Don't listen to fanboys touting their preferred system

Why do these "equipment" topics always invite this kind of insulting response?  Whilst not disagreeing with your suggestion that he try various systems out ADMZ asked, quite reasonably, for opinions on equipment choices and we are all quite politely (well most of us) simply trying to help.  If I was intending to spend the thick end of $20,000 even on a used I would appreciate all the advice and feedback I could get. Angry

FYI I do not currently use a Hasselblad but I have had several and have no objection to P1 backs - they are fine products as I am sure both Leica and Pentax are as well.  However ADMZ did say that he was primarily interested in portrait work and given that piece of information he really ought to try the Hasselblad with Truefocus first. 
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DeeJay
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« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2011, 04:52:41 PM »
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I've been a V System user for a long while. Recently I've been considering a change in platform with an upgrade to the IQ backs. I've been using a Hasselblad H to try it out and it's better and not so better in different areas.

Focusing is far easier on the H. Much brighter, cleaner viewing screen. I don't bother with the AF you miss to many shots with it hunting and having to recompose constantly if you're shooting fast action stuff like fashion is relentlessly annoying. The AF is OK otherwise.

I prefer the V Lenses in most ways. The H lenses are far too big. If you shoot vertically with a 120 macro or a 210, and leave it on the camera for any period of time the weight of the lens and its ridiculous centre of gravity makes it work it's way loose and swivel forward on the tripod plate so it's pointing down. I don't feel great about that with a P65 or IQ180 back sat on it. And it's annoying to have to get the assistant to hold the lens any time you step away from the camera. The lenses are plenty sharp but the contrast and tone doesn't sit as well with me. But the older V lenses are starting to show their limits with these high end backs and diffraction in particular becomes a problem if your stopping down. I much prefer the tones of Zeiss lenses.

The H camera locks up frequently meaning you can't sync the flash. It means taking the battery out and plugging it back in. Not so bad but frustrating.

I actually like the grip on the H camera. But it feels more plasticy the older it gets. As it loses it's strength from the pressure put on it by holding the these massive lenses up it starts to creak and move around a bit. Also the paint almost always wears off it with alot of use where the thumb sits. My V System still looks almost as good as when I bought it.

Ergonmics of the H are certainly better than the V but I've used the V for so long so it doesn't bother me. I could definitely live without the taking the back off the V and turning it around to shoot vertical though. The button layout on the H is good. But still I love the simplicity of the V and don't need the other stuff on the H.

The overall feel of the H is plasticy and it feels uninspiring to me.

I handhold alot and the weight of it is fine to me, but the balance really isn't. It's those darn lenses. Just too bulky. The Zeiss equivilants are far smaller. It's easy handholding a V. It just sits in the hand and the whole package is more compact.

I've said it beofre but I just wish they invested in the old system and didn't go down the fuji path.

I have a very old Blad which was my first ever MF camera from college days. It was well and truly second hand then but mint. It still looks as good as it did when I bought it. It still works as well also. I can guarantee that after 10 years of pro use the H Blad will look and feel terrible. And in 60, which is about how old by old Blad is I'm guessing the camera won't even be working. Fine if you're working professionally as you constantly upgrade for tax write off but the point remains these things don't have the permanency and timeless design of the V's.

But then the limit at the moment is that you're stuck with the H2. I have heard from a few people that Hasselblad may open up again. And in my eyes I can see that happening. The rental companies aren't really stocking the Blad Backs over here. Phase has really got the foot hold and I think that's a pretty good indiction of the state of their closed system. I really do hope they open it up again, wether or not it happens is of corse doubtful. Also doubtful is me moving to a Blad back at this stage.

The main positive is the ease of focussing, but I've always been fine with the V, it's just a bit more involved and something you need to concentrate on. The rest, I'm not so sure about. it is an easier camera to use but it has it's draw backs. If the lenses were the same size and tone/contrast of the Zeiss it would be a far easier decision.

To conclde, the system is really good but it's drawbacks leave me still unsure. I'm going to try out the Phamiya and Hy6 systems too.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2011, 08:23:24 PM by DeeJay » Logged
adam z
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« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2011, 02:28:36 AM »
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thanks for all the replies so far. Temporarily forgetting all of the other options mentioned so far, I was wondering about digital backs for a manual focus Rollei 6008 Professional SRC 1000 which I held in my hands about half an hour ago? Are there any digital options for this camera. The particular one I just played with is for sale as follows:

Body as named above
Waist level and 90 degree prism finder
2 batteries
Film back
3 Zeiss lenses (50mm, 80mm and 150mm)

Apparently they are the last and best of the manual focus Zeiss for Rollei.

Very nice, just want to know if it is an option/which backs might work on it, and if it would be difficult

Thanks again
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EricWHiss
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« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2011, 03:58:11 AM »
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You can fit some sinar digital backs and some hasselblad/imacon backs to the 6008pro.  I know you can use the ixpress 96, 132c, 384c, and 528c backs plus the hasselblad CF-22 and CF-39 backs with the right cable from camera to back.   Probably Graham or someone else can give you more specifics on the sinar backs.
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« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2011, 05:16:16 AM »
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Not clear from your initial statement but if your portraits include a fair amount of vertical frames, then you should consider a camera that is suitable for that.

For example on an RZ you can get an adapter (from Mamiya, Leaf or Phase One, maybe some others as well) that lets you rotate the back without removing it

On a V 'Blad you can fit the back (Phase or Leaf) in either vertical or horizontal position and if you go with one of the Aptus-II R models you can turn the sensor without removing the back

The above two can also utilise a waist level finder which gives a unique way of working.

On a Phase One/ Mamiya 645DF you can use the V-Grip which is good if you hand hold the camera a lot

etc etc
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adam z
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« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2011, 07:28:03 AM »
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Thanks EricWHiss. That is a good start. Would definitely be interested to know about suitable sinar backs that would fit.

Yaya, yes, I will most likely shoot a lot of vertical frames, so that is something definitely worth considering. I own an old Mamiya RB67 (which I don't use becacuse I cant be bothered buying and paying to process film). I definitely like the rotating back idea. My concern with getting an RZ is the wide angle lenses are fairly limited when using a back. Might look into the aptus II R idea as well.

The V-Grip for the Phase would definitely be a good idea if I end up going with the 645DF. I do hand hold a lot now, but am starting to work on tighter more precise framing, and can see myself working much more from a tripod. I will definitely shoot some of my work hand held though.

I would also like to point out that when I mentioned earlier about my concerns with manual focus that the reason for this concern as I have read numerous times that you can see a perfectly focused image in the finder, but due to the backs positioning being a fraction of an inch off, the actual exposure can be slightly out of focus (hope that makes sense). Should I be concerned with that, or is that not a common occurrence?
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Paul Barker
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« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2011, 07:45:49 AM »
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I used to use 6006/8s back in the days of yore, having used 500 series Hasselblads for years before that. Nice camera, with the built in metering modes/drives etc. Similar Zeiss lens line up to the Hasselblads plus the option of  Schneider and even faster flash sync. I would have stayed with them if I could have mounted a P1 Lightphase back to it, but in the end did a system change and went back to Hasselblad. That was about 11/12 years ago I guess.

Although the Rollei was a nice camera, I really enjoyed going back to the 500 series. The ones I'd used earlier with not so good with dull screens, finicky hoods and old C lenses etc. But with later ones, they had ironed out all these annoying issues. I really enjoy the simplicity of them along with the relatively compact form factor and light weight. At shows over the years I look at other bodies, think of changing etc. but nothing really appeals, apart from maybe the HY6. The modern Hasselbald does nothing for me. I don't like rotating the camera, much prefer rotating the back (although a rotating sensor like Leaf would be better still). No practical WLF in vertical mode, I don't like the glass, I don't like the software and there's something about the companies attitude that I'm not so keen on either.

Although some people have had problems with focus, due to back spacing, focus screen adjustment etc. I don't have problems or issues with focus using a P25, it's spot on, although I have just put diopters in the WLF and on the prism to help my ageing eyes. I also have the flip down magnifier for the prism, which is great for critical focus. If I need AF for a run and gun type job, I just pick up Nikon or Canon kit. Horses for courses and all that. Even then, if I don't need AF, I often put Leica R glass on the Canon. I guess I just prefer German glass to Japanese, but YMMV.

The RZ is another option with rotating backs, WLF etc, but They have a lot more bulk to them compared to V series Hasselblad. The other advantage of the V series is there is still tons of S/H out there, relatively cheap, you can still get it serviced and will take most backs.

The negatives I can think of off the top of my head are no built in AE (apart from 200 series, but I believe they have become unserviceable), need for a sync cable from back to lens (I've had the occasional cable problem but always have spare and whilst seeming annoying, in practice, is a non issue). Some of the lenses may not be as good with 60mp+ backs, but I don't have one so can't comment from experience. I'm sure there are more, but again, it comes down to how you work, but doubt any of this is a problem if you like to work slowly and deliberately.

That's just my 2c on why I'm happy to stick with and enjoying using an old classic. I have to say I think Victor did, all in all, a very good job! But as already mentioned, you really need to try out different camera systems, backs and software combos to find out what suits you and your work flow best. There are pros and cons to all of them and it gets expensive to change later on. Good luck!

Cheers!
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adam z
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« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2011, 09:24:11 AM »
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I am considering adding some Zeiss ZE lenses to my Canon kit, in particular the 35/2, 50 1.4 0r 50/2 MP (struggling to decide - perhaps both!) and the 100/2 MP. In the short term this might keep me happy while I try and make a decision.

Buying new seems expensive, however second hand can be hit or miss in terms of the condition of the gear (eg: leaf shutters that need servicing etc). Sometimes this ends up costing almost as much as buying new when factoring in repair costs and the time it is out of action when it could have been earning its keep shooting a job. No matter, I am not in a hurry and will find something I like at some point. 

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Graham Mitchell
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« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2011, 11:54:41 AM »
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I was wondering about digital backs for a manual focus Rollei 6008 Professional SRC 1000 which I held in my hands about half an hour ago?

Yes, you can use a Sinar eMotion 54 or 75 or even an old 22. You will also need the Sinar->Rollei adapter kit.

3 Zeiss lenses (50mm, 80mm and 150mm)

That's a great start.
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adam z
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« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2011, 06:44:07 AM »
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Been doing a bit of research into some of the backs mentioned and am just about to send an email to what appears to be the only place that sells sinar in Australia. From what I can see there is only one adapter kit for the 6008 Rollei's, and that is this one:

552.45.043
SB 54M-86H/Rollei 6008 (SB eVolution Adapter Kit)
$ 2,464.00

Not sure which of the backs are compatible with the adapter

Approximately the same as what the camera and lenses will cost me!

By the way, is AU$2600 a reasonable price for the 6008 kit I mentioned above with the 3 zeiss lenses?


I am thinking that buying a used sinar back here may be almost impossible, and would probably have to rely on buying OS from ebay or a forum like LL. Not sure that is a good idea - maybe ok for a hobby, but probably not for business, especially if something goes wrong.

Phase 1 and Hasselblad seem to be best represented here in digital MF.
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Graham Mitchell
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« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2011, 07:21:35 AM »
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552.45.043
SB 54M-86H/Rollei 6008 (SB eVolution Adapter Kit)
$ 2,464.00

Not sure which of the backs are compatible with the adapter

This is for the eVolution series, which you probably don't want to get. Iirc, they must be used tethered and have no LCD screens. What you need is the eMotion series adapter. You might have to broaden your search outside Australia. That price also seems too high.

By the way, is AU$2600 a reasonable price for the 6008 kit I mentioned above with the 3 zeiss lenses?

Assuming good condition, then yes. Especially if the 80 or 150 is a PQS lens.

I am thinking that buying a used sinar back here may be almost impossible, and would probably have to rely on buying OS from ebay or a forum like LL. Not sure that is a good idea - maybe ok for a hobby, but probably not for business, especially if something goes wrong.

Yes, that might be a problem. However, if you are nowhere near any other dealers then it makes very little difference. You can courier a back to Europe for repair in a couple of days. Would be a good idea to have a backup plan, no matter what you end up getting. Where I'm working right now, I know I can get hold of a Canon 5DII or a Hasselblad H4-50 within an hour of something going wrong, which means the shoot probably doesn't have to be cancelled. If the nearest dealer was 3+ hours away, that probably wouldn't work.
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