Pentax 645Z Shooter’s Report Part II: The medium-format camera, unleashed!


posted Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 2:57 PM EST


For years now, medium-format cameras have occupied a small niche at the very top of the digital camera market. For most photographers, extremely high pricetags weren't all that kept us away. While there was no question which cameras you turned to when resolution was the be-all and end-all of your planned creations, limited sensitivity and performance as well as modest feature-sets have so far kept medium-format cameras out of the mainstream.

The Pentax 645Z marks the first of a new breed: The medium-format camera unleashed, if you will. No longer are these roomy sensors hobbled by low sensitivity, limited shutter range and absolutely pedestrian burst shooting. Perhaps even more impressively, features like live view and movie capture are now possible. Thanks to a switch from a CCD to a CMOS sensor, the Pentax 645Z can shoot Full HD video, offers sensitivities up to a whopping ISO 204,800 equivalent and can shoot long exposures of 30 seconds and beyond in bulb mode.

ISO 100, 6.0s, f/8.0; smc PENTAX-FA 645 75mm F2.8 lens

And even the pricetag is impressive, by medium-format standards anyway. With a list price of US$8,500, the Pentax 645Z costs just 6% more than Nikon's flagship D3X full-frame DSLR, and a quarter more than Canon's top-of-the-line EOS-1D X -- and that despite the 645Z sporting fully two-thirds more sensor real estate than either camera.

In-cam HDR. Base ISO 100, 5.0s, f/2.8; smc PENTAX-D FA 645 55mm F2.8 AL [IF] SDM AW lens

In my second Pentax 645Z Shooter's Report blog, I took Ricoh's flagship DSLR far, far outside of the traditional medium-format comfort zone for a test of its high ISO, long exposure, raw HDR and movie-shooting chops, both in beautiful Colorado and back home here in east Tennessee. How did it handle some more challenging shooting? Read Part II of my Pentax 645Z Shooter's Report, and find out!

ISO 6400, 1/200s, f/6.3; smc PENTAX-D FA 645 55mm F2.8 AL [IF] SDM AW lens

ISO 25,600, 1/160s, f/5.6; smc PENTAX-FA 645 Macro 120mm F4 lens

[quick links: Pentax 645Z • Shooter's Reports Part I / Part IIGalleryLab Samples]

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