Pentax 645Z Review


The Pentax 645Z is Nothing Sort of Amazing!

 

I freely admit I am a camera gear junkie and on no level apologize for the illness!  I am always looking at the newest, latest and greatest thing to hit the market.  While I will never do video review full of sarcasm and profanity I will however, offer my real world opinion of newly purchased gear.  Today I want to talk briefly about the new Pentax 645Z!

I use the Fuji X System for a lot of my work, mostly wedding work but I wanted a dedicated  “portrait” camera, one with substance. A camera I could take into the wilds of locations shooting.  I had the Nikon D800 and while a nice camera, it just isn’t do it for me.  I have alway lusted after the “medium format” digital cameras, but found them very expensive, so much so I did no feel comfortable taking them on location.  Then Pentax released their 645Z, or zed for you Canadians!  Why did I choose this camera for my portrait work?

First and foremost the price was excellent.  I got a great deal at Houston Camera Exchange  The Pentax 645z body with the 55mm f2.8 AL [IF] SDM AW lens for $6,999.99.  For the cost of some of the higher end DSLR’s I was able to move into the world of the much larger full frame medium format sensors, and boy howdy I am glad I did!  Admittedly the 55mm is not a portrait lens, but, the line up of Pentax FA lenses is decent and affordable so I picked up the 75mm FA, 120mm FA macro and the 150mm 2.8 FA, now I am set for lenses!

The second reason I picked up this camera is the weather sealing.  I will never, nor have I ever shot in the rain But in Houston humidity is a real concern and I figured that having a weather sealed camera is not a bad thing.  To be fair. Most, if not all, of the newer professional lines of cameras come with weather sealing and the Pentax 645Z finally joined their ranks.  The only lens I have that is weather sealed is the 55mm the rest are not.  But to spend $4000.00 for the 90mm Macro is not on my list of things to do any time soon.

Lens quality is the third reason I picked this camera.  I knew I wanted this camera for a specific purpose and that being portrait work, so a huge lens line up was not necessary.  The Pentax 645 lens line up may not be extensive but they have a perfect line if you ask me.  What do I mean by that?  I mean that they may not have a ton of lenses like Canon and Nikon, but what they do have is very high quality and cover your needs nicely.  I am not a zoom lens kind of guy, but they do have a couple that are really nice and affordable.  I have used and still use my Pentax 67II and have always loved the quality of their lenses and the quality is there on the 645 lenses as well.

Megapixels galore!  Yes, at 50 megapixel I get full, sensual, detail rich ACW files and I love this!  I am a fan of anything that is RAW and the ACW files seem to plays nicely with Adobe.  Yes, my slow to evolve Fuji X is only 16 megapixels, detailed for sure but when you compare those files with that taken from the Pentax 645z their is simply no comparison.  I like detail.  I like the ability to crop without losing image quality.  But mostly I like that option of doing all of this which the Fuji X simply does not offer.  I know the Fuji X Pro-2 has been announced and yes I know it is up to 24 megapixels.  But this is all on a APC cropped sensor.  Fuji, WAKE UP and make a full frame!  The size of this sensor makes all of the difference as well.  You get the “medium format” depth of field at 2.8.  I love shooting my Pentax 67II and the 105mm 2.4 at an aperture of f2.4 and the Pentax 645z allows for that same look, which is a great thing!

The “hand feel” of this camera is excellent.  It is not a Leica M6, but then again nothing else is.  It’s not any more cumbersome that my D800 was.  In fact I find this camera more comfortable to hand hold.  The grip fits me perfectly and the rubberized texturing is tactile enough for me to eel very confident while holding onto my new love.  The controls are well places and they are intuitive.  People feel the need to point out camera control placement and make poorly placed controls the be all-end all of their world.  The way I see it, ya gotta place the buttons somewhere right!  Nothing gets in the way with this camera and that’s all I need. By the way, the worlds worst button were on the original Fuji X100!

In conclusion:  This is the best decision I’ve made in a long time when it comes to new camera gear.  I own a lot of gear but it is the Pentax 645z I find myself reaching for more times than not.  If you want DSLR handling but in a medium format digital camera then the Pentax 645z is a no brainer!


 

Some sample images froths camera:

Julia2-W

Pentax 645z with 5mm 2.8

Keira-Chic1-W

Pentax 645z with 150mm 2.8 at 2.8

Julia6-WPentax 645z with 75mm2.8

Sammie3-WPentax 645Z 55mm2.8

Julia3-WPentax 645z 55mm 2.8

IMGP0417Pentax 645z 120mm macro

P645-Selfie2WPentax 645z 55mm 2.8Rose-P645-WPentax 645z 120mm f4.0 Macro

All images are copyright 2016 Scott Evans all rights reserved.  Do not republish or reuse without written permission

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3 comments

  1. Hi, thanks for the write up. How do you find AF Z? Do you find it limiting to have points clustered in the middle? I’ve been eying Z since it was introduced, that time I still had Leaf Aptus 75S (now sold) digital back on Hassy V – PITA to manually focus on large apertures but the output from that 33mp CCD was stunning. But those older backs are pretty much limited to studio/tripod work on low ISO.

    1. I find the Z pretty darn amazing. The biggest surprise so far was just how good the AF actually is. It’s very responsive and accurate. The Z is amazing at ISO 3200. I find the handling much like my Nikon D800 with grip. Pretty intuitive camera as well

      1. Thank you very much for response – very tempted 🙂 the MF look is addictive and since I sold my digital back I’ve missed it as I don’t shoot film that much these days, thanks again.

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