I'm slowly getting closer to settling on the camera to replace my beautiful but now-limited Linhof Kardan Bi. You may or may not remember my posting a question back when the board was still on P.N regarding LF camera systems, the emphasis being on the system as a whole, for studio work. My functional emphasis will still be on studio work. Still life, portraiture, etc. The choices have been narrowed down now, and I'm looking for some more specific feedback now.
The two models I've narrowed things down to at this point are the Linhof Kardan Master GTL and the Arca Monolith 4x5. I had considered, briefly, a Sinar P2 or X, but honestly Sinar gear has never impressed me all that much for whatever reason. Same for the Cambo Ultima. Maybe it's just the base logic behind the systems. Whatever. Both of these cameras are big, heavy, and so expensive it's scary. The supporting systems are also crazy expensive, but that's just something I'm going to accept.
The equipment I have now doesn't really enter into the decision. One could argue I should go with the Kardan GTL because I already shoot with a Linhof and therefore likely have accessories I could just use with the new camera, etc. My current inventory of Linhof-specific accessories consists of two lensboards.
What does enter into the equation are things like reliability, system capabilities, and long-term support. I'm 21 now and will likely be using whatever I buy for a pretty long time, so I'd like to think that in 15 years I'll still be able to buy accessories and parts without having to spend long hours scouring the used market. Digital support is another consideration, though seems to be only of negligable significance given the modular and interchangeable nature of LF equipment in general.
Secondary considerations include things like how easy/hard it is to take these cameras on location. Having only had the chance to handle these cameras in person briefly, I don't really know about these details. Yes, studio work will be my primary application, but I can guarantee that the camera will also be taken on location from time to time. Another secondary consideration is format conversion - if I want to shoot 5x7 or 8x10 with the same camera, how does switching bellows, format frames, etc impact the usability of the system?
If I can, I'll be handling both these cameras at PhotoPlus Expo later this month (I'm just going to assume that I'll be able to do so), and this may shed a little helpful light on the situation, but any thoughts anyone here could throw my way would be greatly appreciated. Do you own or use either of these cameras? Have you used them in the past? Have you used both of them? Thoughts one way or the other, yea or nay, would be great. Thanks much.