Today I went to the Photokina, because I could no longer resist to find out more about the new Rolleiflex Hy6 MF camera. Well, my visit was certainly worthwhile! Before I get into details, I suggest you take a look at Michael Reichmann's videoblog here, featuring the Hy6: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/photokina/medium-format-report.shtml I have had the opportunity to have extensive discussions with the technical product manager of Franke & Heidecke as well as some other key people involved in the development of this new camera. They have shown me the camera in detail and of course I was able to play with it as well. The Hy6 ("Hy" from "hybrid") is technically an evolutional development of the famous Rolleiflex 6008AF concept, while the outer design and the user interface should be called a more revolutionary development. Actually, all typical 6008AF functions are there. An improvement is the new focus detector (now a cross CCD) and the infrared light to focus under difficult lighting conditions. Also new is the battery: it's now a widely available Lithium-ion brick that can be recharged without risking memory-effects. The model I found in the Hy6 was from Varta and looked like a camcorder battery. The reason that the new design could be so radically different from the 6008 series is because the motordrive is removed from the body and the new battery is located in the hand grip, thus lowering the body height significantly. This means that the Hy6 can only take film magazines that have their own motor built in, like Rollei's 4560 rotating magazine. I was told that a self-driven 6x6 magazine is under development. Here lies the great news of this camera: it will take all kinds of high-end digital backs, but also 6x4.5 and 6x6 framed film. This, while the whole package is very light and compact. To me it looked and felt a whole lot more compact than the Hasselblad H3 (which does only 4x4.5 max). In contrast to the Hasselblad the handgrip of the Hy6 is rotatable, like we know from the 6008 series, although this one cannot be removed because it carries vital controls (and the battery of course). The Hy6 works with all lenses that work on the 6008 series as well, so the investment in Zeiss and Schneider glass will be well protected (and not force you into buying Fuji lenses for example). The functionality as we know it from the 6008AF is all there: leaf shutters with full flash sync up to 1/1000sec; mirror-blocked multi-exposure, full metering functionality regardless of the viewfinder used; et cetera. The ground glass in the Hy6 is the same as in the 6008AF. Only the viewfinders and 6x6 backs are different because these are lower in order to further save on the camera's height. A new 90 degree viewfinder will be introduced as well. While the technical reality of this camera is designed by F&H, the looks and user interface are designed outside the Braunschweiger factory. An extensive survey under photographers has been done in order to define the look and feel of the Hy6. If they were asked to choose between "BMW", "Volvo" and "Mercedes" most voted for Volvo. For this reason it will be no coincidence that this camera looks more like a totally modernised version of a 500CM than a traditional Rolleiflex. Something like Victor Hasselblad's wet dream (which cannot be said about the H3). Holding the Hy6 is amazingly comfortable due to the rotatable handgrip on the right and the very well placed controls on the left, mostly predestined to be operated by thumb. So your left hand can support the camera continuously while changing settings with that same hand. Wonderful concept. The handgrip has two control wheels to change shutter speed and aperture or other settings when you go deeper into the menu. (For those worried about endless sub-menu layers: you can rest assured because all vital controls are directly driven by the buttons on the left and the extra buttons on the hand grip for mirror lockup and such. Deeper menu layers can also be accessed directly by moving the controls to "red dot settings", bringing you right under the hood of the camera. And for real geeks the camera can also be programmed by hooking it up to a PC with the USB connection.) Some other interesting functions of the Hy6 are: white balance sensor on top of the camera; a new built in quick release plate (much bigger than the old one); a large LCD on the hand grip showing important data such as shutter speed and aperture settings, battery condition, correction values and such. Asked about the price level I was told it would be about the price of a 6008AF. Also, for people pre- ordering it with a Jenoptik back there will be a step-up program: first they will receive their back with a 6008AF body and by the time the Hy6 becomes available it will be swapped out. Digital backs that work on the 6008 will also work on this camera. Unlike what Michael Reichmann says in his videoblog the 6000 series aren't planned to be phased out. Mostly because it is a camera line well under control of F&H's production plant, so they could do some production runs whenever needed. F&H is an extremely flexible company when it comes to production. So it will merely be decided by demand from the market if and for how long those cameras will live on to be produced. All in all I was very impressed by this camera, because it seems to have gained on a number of crucial points compared to the 6008 series, while the trade-off's aren't really apparent (if there are any). Given the fact that it allows to work with several high-end digital backs (Sinar and Leaf will even sell the same camera under their own brand names and I am pretty sure Phase One will follow soon, since Hasselblad has made the H3 for Hasselblad backs only.) Basically I don't see any serious competition in the MF camera world for this new design marvel. The only question that remains will be if the MF digiback market as a whole will survive the current developments in 35mm chipcams. That is where the real competition lies. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask, because I have a technical data sheet of the Hy6 as well.