Pentax's new digital medium format 645Z

dhazeghi

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Looks like there's a new(er) kid on the digital medium format (DMF) block - Pentax's 645Z.

It's hard to call any $8500 camera a bargain, but compared to the other players (PhaseOne, Hasselblad, Leica), I'm wondering if this may be the ticket to at least a modest revival for medium format. It definitely looks like the best current medium format body available (weather-sealed, good AF module, well-designed controls), and the 50MP CMOS sensor appears to have a few tricks up its sleeve as well (ISO goes to 200k, so presumably it'll be at least competitive with the Nikon D800 and Sony A7R in low light).

Who knows, after seeing digital FF drop to sub $2k prices, maybe affordable DMF (at least secondhand) will eventually become a reality too!
 

orfeo

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Great news and if I win the lottery I'll let you know how wonderful this new toy is. Really, Pentax is doing Pro stuff these days and this one looks like the ticket.

And like every electronic products, it gets better and cheaper all the time. You will be able to buy this 645Z used for less than 100 dollars. When? Well in a little bit of time!
 

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The problem with Pentax is the glass not the body. Pentax MF lenses were fine with film but show their loose tolerances with digital and I came to that conclusion when they were at 40MP. I looked long and hard at the 645D when I was getting out of Hasselblad but the lenses were always an issue,. End result, I now have a D800E with adapted Leica R and a couple of Zeiss lenses.
 

Jacquesass

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I'll never be able to afford a medium-format camera and lenses ... but that doesn't mean that I won't bring this camera up next time somebody wants to start an m43 vs. FF DOF equivalency argument.
 

dhazeghi

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And like every electronic products, it gets better and cheaper all the time. You will be able to buy this 645Z used for less than 100 dollars. When? Well in a little bit of time!
True, but the question is whether that will happen before or after batteries are no longer available for it!

The problem with Pentax is the glass not the body. Pentax MF lenses were fine with film but show their loose tolerances with digital and I came to that conclusion when they were at 40MP. I looked long and hard at the 645D when I was getting out of Hasselblad but the lenses were always an issue,. End result, I now have a D800E with adapted Leica R and a couple of Zeiss lenses.
Really? I had the impression that at least the newer Pentax D-FA lenses were pretty decent. I gather the Leica R lenses are something special though (but not special enough that I'd ever try one).

I'll never be able to afford a medium-format camera and lenses ... but that doesn't mean that I won't bring this camera up next time somebody wants to start an m43 vs. FF DOF equivalency argument.
Actually, that doesn't work. At best DMF gains you is 1 1/3 stop, which is more than compensated for by the fact that MF lenses are more than that much slower - their wides are f/4 and most of their normal and portrait lenses are f/2.8. In fact, most DMF sensors (the ones in the Pentax and Leica for example) are even smaller, so you gain only 2/3 stop in DoF.
 

usayit

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The problem with Pentax is the glass not the body. Pentax MF lenses were fine with film but show their loose tolerances with digital and I came to that conclusion when they were at 40MP. I looked long and hard at the 645D when I was getting out of Hasselblad but the lenses were always an issue,. End result, I now have a D800E with adapted Leica R and a couple of Zeiss lenses.
I'm interested in knowing more. Any links that have information regarding this?

I have a significant system of Pentax 645 back when I was doing film. Coupled later with a workflow that involved scanning on an Epson v700 produced wonderful results (lost access to darkroom). I would be interested in a used 645D someday to be used with my legacy 645 lenses.
 

drd1135

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I'm interested in knowing more. Any links that have information regarding this?

I have a significant system of Pentax 645 back when I was doing film. Coupled later with a workflow that involved scanning on an Epson v700 produced wonderful results (lost access to darkroom). I would be interested in a used 645D someday to be used with my legacy 645 lenses.
There were several articles on the Photorumors site, one with sample images.
http://photorumors.com/2014/04/15/pentax-645z-sample-images/
http://photorumors.com/2014/04/14/pentax-645z-medium-format-camera-officially-announced/
 

gryphon1911

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I am wanting Fuji to make a DMF rangefinder style camera. make it bare bones, possibly even a folder, between $3000-$5000. A dream, I know, but that is not illegal, so I shall continue to do so.
 

usayit

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Narnian

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I am wanting Fuji to make a DMF rangefinder style camera. make it bare bones, possibly even a folder, between $3000-$5000. A dream, I know, but that is not illegal, so I shall continue to do so.
Well, they made an interchangeable lens medium format rangefinder, The Fujica G690 - I had one with 3 lenses and really liked it. But i traded it for a Horseman 985 since I wanted something to replace my 4x5 view.

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A medium format fixed lens digital camera would be very appealing to me for landscapes - a 645 format with a 55mm lens would hit the spot.

Maybe even a folding bellows type so it would be compact for carrying like the Fuji G546:

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dhazeghi

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Well, they made an interchangeable lens medium format rangefinder, The Fujica G690 - I had one with 3 lenses and really liked it. But i traded it for a Horseman 985 since I wanted something to replace my 4x5 view.

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A medium format fixed lens digital camera would be very appealing to me for landscapes - a 645 format with a 55mm lens would hit the spot.
Now that's a good looking camera! But 55mm doesn't seem anywhere near wide enough for landscapes for me. On the current DMF sensors (33x44mm unless you spend over $20k), that's like 44mm on full frame.
 

HappyFish

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sample images left a lot to be desired ? also the sync speed is pathetic sadly ?
 

dhazeghi

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sample images left a lot to be desired ? also the sync speed is pathetic sadly ?
Sample images usually aren't very good regardless of the manufacturer. I've never figured out the reason. On the bright side, none of them are obviously OOF, unlike the promotional material Olympus used for the E-3.

Sync speed is indeed poor. If you're into weddings or fashion, this probably isn't the right camera. But judging by the weather-proofing, they have a different market in mind.
 

usayit

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Sync speed is indeed poor. If you're into weddings or fashion, this probably isn't the right camera. But judging by the weather-proofing, they have a different market in mind.
Its typical sync speed for MF film cameras. The same MF cameras that were popular for weddings and fashion back in the day. MF cloth shutter cameras sometimes sync at as slow as 1/30th. My Pentax 67 camera syncs at 1/30th but I have a leaf shutter equipped lenses that sync at 1/500th.
 

HappyFish

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but this is a med format digital and they are giving good sync speeds :) sadly they could have really went after that market but missed it big time
 

Narnian

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Now that's a good looking camera! But 55mm doesn't seem anywhere near wide enough for landscapes for me. On the current DMF sensors (33x44mm unless you spend over $20k), that's like 44mm on full frame.
On a 645 sized sensor 55mm would be around 28mm FF equivalent I believe. And as noted in the near term prohibitively expensive.

I expect a FF fixed lens camera at 28mm will likely become my medium format equivalent to m43 . ;)
 

usayit

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but this is a med format digital and they are giving good sync speeds :) sadly they could have really went after that market but missed it big time
Think about it before you think they "missed big time".

Pentax 645D and Z is the only fully equipped MF Digital that not only costs under $10k but comes in significantly cheap enough to almost drop into the upper tier 135 format FF cameras are costing. That in of itself is AMAZING. I believe the next cheapest is a Hasselblad that will still run you at least $15k on to $40k. The Leica S is $24k.

With the exception of the newer H series Hasselblads, almost no MF camera (not just digital) has had a "fast" sync speed. The curtains on the shutter are large and its that much more difficult to establish a sync speed fast enough. It means that at max sync, the first curtain must reach its full open position before the second curtain begins movement. That's physically difficult, not cost effective, and most likely not as reliable. Certainly impossible with older designs that rely on cloth shutters (older MF bodies with digital backs). They instead rely on leaf shutters. This is extremely common and has been done even before the 135 format even applied to still photography. The Leica S series also has a sync speed of 1/125th. On the other hand, there are FIVE Leica S Lenses with "central shutter" which allows sync speeds of 1/1000th of second. The same for my Pentax 67 and 645 (I have 135mm and 75mm LS lenses). Similar leaf shutter lenses exist for other systems. This is very common design and much more effective and reliable than implementing a shutter that can achieve higher sync speeds.

To a seasoned MF photographer, a slow shutter speed isn't a show stopper. Its something they are used to. To expect any higher out of a bargain priced camera such as the 645D or 645Z is pretty high expectation. I'm also not convinced a fast focal shutter speed is a big differentiator in this category of camera.

I wished current digital cameras today use built in leaf shutters too (or at least work on perfecting electronic shutter). With help of modern technology, they theoretically would mean they could sync at all speeds. The Fujica G690 pictured for example has a speeds between 1-500th and sync at all speeds due to leaf shutter with interchangeable lenses.
 

jeffg53

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Sorry folks, asleep at the wheel again, GetDPI is the best place around for many things including Pentax MF. I asked there about the lenses. Here's a couple of links:

http://www.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-digital-backs/43838-pentax-645d-4.html
http://www.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-digital-backs/35577-comprehensive-testing-results-observations-pentax-645-lenses-used-645d.html

I really didn't want to go the D800E way. I much prefer square or 645. The 3:2 ratio annoys the hell out of me. My requirement was to have lenses that were better than me, and I wasn't sure that I could do that easily with Pentax. My old 645NII was a superb camera, easy to use and handle, had the best metering system that I have ever seen but without consistently good lenses it was not a goer. I am not interested in hunting down good copies of lenses, I just want to make images knowing that my gear is always better than my ability.
 
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