Medium format, thy name is Ricoh; Pentax 645Z has no competition (Update: Now with full tech info)


posted Monday, April 14, 2014 at 9:00 PM EDT


Back in early 2010, Pentax launched the 645D, a medium-format digital SLR that leap-frogged full-frame rivals in terms of sensor area, and simultaneously set a new benchmark in terms of affordability compared to existing medium-format options. Today, the Pentax 645Z follows in its footsteps and aims even higher, putting medium-format rivals on notice that Ricoh -- the company behind the Pentax brand -- intends to claim the medium-format space as its own.

Just like its predecessor, the Pentax 645Z shares much with Ricoh's flagship APS-C DSLRs -- and with four years of development having taken place on the APS-C front since the 645D was launched, there was no shortage of new features for it to inherit. But the most important feature of them all is at its very heart: a brand-new, Sony-sourced 51-megapixel CMOS image sensor that's identical to those used by Phase One and Hasselblad -- but the 645Z does a lot more with it. Not only does it set new benchmarks for sensitivity (ISO 204,800) and burst performance (3 fps for 30 JPEG / 10 raw frames), but it also provides live view -- including remote live view via tether or Wi-Fi -- and even allows Full HD movie capture.


That's achieved thanks in part to a PRIME III image processor, as first seen in the K-3. The 645Z also inherits that camera's 27-point SAFOX 11 autofocus and 86,000 pixel RGB metering systems, not to mention its support for high-speed USB 3.0 SuperSpeed transfer and UHS-I compatible Secure Digital cards. And nor do the improvements stop there. The Pentax 645Z sports a larger, tilting LCD panel with higher resolution, an improvement that's doubly useful given the new live view function, and its shutter life has been doubled to 100,000 shots, giving you a lot more photos across which to spread the cost of your camera purchase.

And there are plenty of other improvements, besides, as you'll find out in our hot-off-the-press Pentax 645Z preview. (Note that we've also added our full technical information section with insight on all aspects of the camera's operation.) Available from June 2014, the Pentax 645Z is priced at US$8,500 body-only. Read the preview for a whole lot more on the camera that's going to set the medium-format market alight!