By the way, I'm sorry to threadjack, but we went from bemoaning a price increase to discussing the virtues of a camera, which seems like a step up, doesn't it? :-) It's due in the mail around New Year's Day, and I'll try to give it a quick smoke test on b&w film first off.
To get semi-back on topic, I got this camera partly with the idea of using it to take over some of the "random family photo" duties that 35mm E-6 currently holds down. I figure that without taking the coming price increase into account, I'm paying something like $17 (including film and processing) for 37 frames of 35mm, vs. $13 for 16 frames of 645, for Provia 100F. So the MF alternative is less than twice the price per frame of 35mm, and if I can see a "hit rate" with the Mamiya comparable to what I'm used to getting in medium format, I might well come out ahead on a "per keeper shot" basis. It clearly won't replace my 35mm cameras completely---did I mention that 50/1.5 Sonnar?---but it actually competes in their niche.
Incidentally, if my 35mm price of 46 cents per frame is typical, I wonder how it stacks up with past prices when adjusted for inflation. I know film is cheap by historical standards, but I don't know how much slide processing cost thirty or forty years ago.