Pentax 645Z sample gallery: The monumental medium-format meets captivating Colorado
posted Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 3:36 PM EDT
Some cameras are anonymous, but others provoke comment literally everywhere you go. This week, I've been shooting Ricoh's awesome Pentax 645Z medium-format DSLR on a working vacation in Denver, Colorado -- coincidentally the home of Ricoh Imaging Americas -- and I can now confirm that it falls firmly into the latter camp.
In the decade-and-a-half that I've been reviewing digital cameras for Imaging Resource, never have I been on the receiving end of so many questions. Everywhere I've gone, from restaurants and stores to hiking trails and national parks, random strangers have approached me over and over to chat about this incredible camera.
Stealth it's most certainly not, but the Pentax 645Z is oh so much more than a mere conversation-starter. This camera takes truly spectacular photos, and its controls have very quickly become second nature for me, even though the arrangement is actually quite different to the APS-C sensor-based Pentax DSLRs that I'm more familiar with. (If you've shot with the earlier Pentax 645D, you'll be right at home though.) And unlike its medium-format rivals, the 645Z shoots a lot like an APS-C or full-frame professional DSLR would, with confident autofocus, reasonably swift performance, a generous sensitivity range, and a go-anywhere weather-sealed body.
That last point, as it turned out, was particularly valuable, as I wasn't lucky with the weather my first few days in Denver. Ever-present rain clouds frequently dumped their contents, and more than once I was caught in the middle of a sudden deluge. I kept shooting nonetheless, but the dreary conditions made it tough to get anything resembling the shots I was really after. Still, those first few days gave me plenty of time to rehearse and familiarize myself with the camera and its many functions. And then the sun arrived with a vengeance, taking temperatures up into the 90s and by yesterday, bringing spectacularly blue skies as well.
I've gathered together 32 of the best of my daytime shots for this first gallery update, and they'll be followed soon by the first section of my upcoming Pentax 645Z Shooter's Report. And fear not, I've also done plenty of low-light shooting, both at high sensitivity and with long exposures; look for those photos to come in the near future as well. (With the spectacular file sizes of the 645Z -- around 30MB apiece in JPEG format, and 60MB+ in raw, I daren't put the whole lot up at once for fear of bringing our server to its knees!)
You can see low-res versions of a few of these images embedded in this article, and full-resolution images straight out of the camera -- almost all of them available in both JPEG and DNG raw formats -- can be found in our Pentax 645Z gallery. And now, if you'll excuse me, the captivating state of Colorado beckons from just beyond the doorstep, and I still have a couple of days left to get out there and shoot it all. (And I've just the camera for the job!)