Pentax 645Z First Shots: Medium-format, maximum image quality—is it time to clean our Still Life scene?


posted Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 2:56 PM EST


If image quality is a prime consideration for your own photographic endeavors, we have a new camera in our lab right now that will make your heart flutter: the Pentax 645Z.

The original Pentax 645D, which made its debut in late 2010, has been our de facto standard for high image quality ever since we first tested it. In fact, its test shots of our Still Life target have served us on many occasions when comparing other cameras' image quality. Instead of walking into our lab to peer closely at the test target, we've just pulled up the 645D's images instead, as they showed more detail than the human eye could see.

The 645D sports 40-megapixel resolution and has a sensitivity range that maxes out at just ISO 1600-equivalent. The 645Z takes things to another level, with 51 megapixels and sensitivity that ranges up to ISO 204,800! We could talk all day about how amazing this sounds on paper, but it's much more interesting to unveil our test lab First Shots, hot off the presses and shot just this morning.

Here are a few comparison samples to pique your curiosity, but make sure and check out our lab samples page to inspect specific sensitivities you may be interested in. And don't forget to use our Comparometer to pit the 645Z against other models we've tested that you're interested in, including seeing the results as the sensitivity begins to rise.

Following are 1:1 comparison crops of our lab test target at ISO 100 showing the Pentax 645D and 645Z, as well as the Nikon D810 and Sony A7R:

Pentax 645D • ISO 100 • default NR
Pentax 645Z • ISO 100 • default NR
Nikon D810 • ISO 100 • default NR
Sony A7R • ISO 100 • default NR

And now boosting to ISO 6400-equivalent and showing the 645Z, D810 and A7R (with the 645Z shown downsampled, so that we're analyzing noise at the same relative image size):

Pentax 645Z • ISO 6400 • default NR
Nikon D810 • ISO 6400 • default NR
Sony A7R • ISO 6400 • default NR

Stay tuned, as the Pentax 645Z leaves the lab and heads to our Knoxville office and the ultra-experienced hands of our senior editor Mike Tomkins. Shooter's reports to follow! In the meantime, you can check out the major differences relative to its predecessor, head over to our Pentax 645Z vs 645D page.

[quick links: Pentax 645ZLab SamplesComparometer]



PS: We weren't joking about needing to clean our Still Life scene because of this camera. Our technical editor Zig Weidelich took one look at the ultra high-res 645Z images and said "Time to dust our test-targets, guys."