Pentax 645z Review Pt1 – The Journey
A Pentax 645z overview. From left, Extension tube set, the 45-85mm FA 4.5, the 35mm A, the 80-160mm FA, the Pentax 645z and 55mm D-FA 2.8, the 120mm F4 Macro, the 75mm 2.8 FA, 150mm 2.8 FA and finally the x2 extender[/caption]
Welcome to my personal review of the Pentax 645z. There are many posts and even though they will undoubtedly cross over in places with regards their content, I’ve tried to focus on certain aspects with each page.
Firstly, why I bought the Pentax 645z and the journey I took to get to this point.
At the time of writing my current DSLR and MF Camera experience has mainly consisted of using:
- The Canon 40D, 7D, 5D I, II and III, the Canon 1Ds3, the 1DIV and the 1DX.
- The Mamiya RZ67 ProIID (Film), the Mamiya 645DF+ (Film and Digital using the Phase P25 back).
- All three Sigma DP Merill cameras (worth a go as they are excellent value for money).
- The Hasselblad H1 with film and a Leaf Aptus 22 back, the H3DII 39 and finally the H4D50.
I will concede that any opinions I have are limited to my experience with these cameras. I have never used technical cams or the latest CCD and CMOS offerings from Phase One or Hasselblad.
***Update 6th February 2015***
Canon has announced the 50mp 5Ds and 5Dr, I’ve added some initial observations on the conclusions page……
***Update 28th July 2015***
I reviewed the Canon 5DSr here: The Canon 5DSr – A working Wedding Photographers review
I am not currently sponsored by any camera or lens manufacturer.
I’m a full time wedding photographer. My professional work consists of about 50 weddings a year and some actors portraiture. I do other work for commercial entities by referral only and I don’t advertise my services outside of weddings as I prefer to shoot people, emotions and landscapes with spirit.
Until recently my main work cameras have been the Canon 5D3 and the 1Dx, with a strong bias to the 1Dx. This dual camera setup is great to use, it’s quick, accurate and pretty much bulletproof. I’ve always wanted tools that have the potential to deliver the best image quality possible. Initially I achieved this by taking the Hasselblad to weddings for the couple shots. It was certainly my cam of choice for headshot and portrait photography. Once the H4D50 came out with true focus I could nail portraits at 2.2 handheld easily and I also had my indulgent camera for when I wanted to take time out and do some Landscapes. Many can relate to that.
However using the Hasselblad came at a price. I had a terrible time with the reliability of my H3DII 39. It only had 5000 shots on the body and the springs on the power pins failed costing £500 to fix, a low mileage lens failed and cost more to fix it than to buy a used replacement.
Medium format is prohibitively expensive and a luxury system has a luxury repair price. When I took delivery of my H4D50 I was actually scared to take it anywhere other than the studio. I was worried if it rained, if it got knocked and those road trips abroad I was hoping to do had the additional worry that I only had one body and if it failed I’d be screwed (I count downgrading to a 5D3 for landscapes as being screwed).
Nobody should be scared to use their camera. I even called Hasselblad to find out the cost of a 1 year extended warranty to protect myself and was told £2,800. You can buy used for £7000. The numbers just didn’t add up for me….
So in short, there was a screaming need for a tougher, weatherproofed medium format solution.
Now you might say that there was the 645D out a couple of years ago but I didn’t consider it a big enough jump for the outlay. The main restriction being around the sensor. CCD is terrible at high iso regardless of the body. But also it was the 50mp larger sensor Hasselblad that won me over vs the 40mp smaller sensor in the 645D.
I held off for a while content with the Hasselblad and just living in hope that someone smart would develop a CMOS. Using a camera limited to a usable ISO400 presents its own problems but even so I had to accept the reality that it would take several years for it to drip down into the used market….then Sony dropped a bomb on the Medium format industry with their 50mp CMOS.
The medium format landscape changed overnight and Sony’s sensor gave a new lease of life to the industry.
Many guessed Sony would be releasing a Medium Format CMOS sensor at least for Hasselblad because of the re-branded Sony products that soon appeared under the H logo. But what we didn’t expect was that Sony sensor to go on Tinder and flaunt itself to every major player in the Medium Format circuit.
Hasselblad, Phase and lastly Pentax in quick succession announced bodies and backs with the same CMOS sensor in. Many sat up and were overjoyed at the prospect. As was I.
I didn’t move on the Pentax in any serious way until last December when I hired one from www.hireacamera.com – Each Christmas they do two weeks rental for the price of a single day. As a result I bagged the Pentax to try out with a 55mm 2.8 lens. Fortunately I had three weddings to do and yes, I used it at weddings as my primary camera. I was sad to see it go back…so I bought one for myself.
Next: Part 2 – Image Quality
Please use the comments to ask about anything I don’t cover here and I’ll do my best to help!645z Wedding Photography, Canon 5Dr, Canon 5Ds, Pentax 645z, Pentax 645z Raw files, review, vs, wedding photography