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Monday, 09 August 2010



I think one ought to approach this camera the same way you should approach the M9 or a classic Porsche.

If you can, you must.

Now excuse me while I check under my couch cushion for wayward pennies and quarters.


You must have one gigantic couch cushion!

From the sample images i've seen from the Pentax, it's not the "poor man's" anything. The S2 may be the 'label whore's Pentax.'

That was sort of a joke. ~$12k isn't for the thin of wallet, obviously. It's a demographic that's way over my own head, that's for sure.

Still, the 645D is half the price of the Leica, which has got to count for something.


Mike, maybe you could kindly upload a photograph of your newly acquired Minolta lens. I bet she's a beauty. Congrats.

Has anybody done a thorough test of this beast? Now excuse me while I wipe the drool of my face...

It's actually rather scary to see this sort of product not slated for US distribution. That really tells you something about the state of the US economy and business environment, I think (I'm presuming the decision not to sell it here is economically rational).

Sigh. It's not that the price is especially unreasonable (it is indeed the poor man's S2, and probably in many respects the better of the 2 cameras). It's just hard to rationalize spending 5 figures on a camera. That's a car-sized price-tag. Meantime I guess us normal folks will have to get by using stitched 5D2 images, at 25% of the price.

Would really love to see a good review of the 645D though. Don't you have any contacts at Pentax, Mike?

I do, but as I've said, they're not importing the camera.


Anytime I think about cameras with that kind of resolution, I shudder at the workflow implications. What kind of NASA super-computer would you need to do post-producton work on those files?

Not that it matters any, but speaking as the owner of a new-to-me Contax 645, a camera that I find as pleasant to look at as it is to use, I doubt the Pentax 645D will be winning any beauty contests in the near future...

Michael Bernstein wrote: Meantime I guess us normal folks will have to get by using stitched 5D2 images, at 25% of the price.

...Or K10D images at 6.5%


I can make beautiful 8x10s,11x14s,and
the occasional 13x19(with care) with
a Panny Gf1,Gh2/Canon g9/Nikon f3H.
Why would I want to carry around this
overweight,overpriced monstrosity on
my shoulder?

I'm not aware that anyone implied you would.


"as I've said, they're not importing the camera"

As the economy picks up, they will. Who makes the chip? Kodak or Dalsa? Any links to reviews? I'm sure this will out perform the S2.

Mike, I notice after a bit more searching that there are several Asian vendors on eBay offering the Pentax 645D, not just Breguet Camera.

As for cost, I think it's more or less in line with what we used to pay for new medium format equipment in previous decades. This stuff was never cheap. We've all gotten spoiled by deals on used medium format film cameras abandoned in recent years as the profession moved to digital.

That looks like a 5D, a telescope and a cod had an ugly lovechild.

Paul: indeed, the vast majority of photographers have always been satisfied with less than the very best image quality possible. Most of us shot nearly entirely 35mm back in the modern film era, with a few of us shooting some or mostly medium format, and a very few using some kind of large-format sheet film.

It should come as no surprise to anybody if it is about the same in the digital era; most photographers will choose to sacrifice some image quality for the sake of convenience (which may make the difference between getting the shot at all and not, of course), cost, and other reasons.

On the other hand, quite a few people seem to like to exhibit prints considerably larger than 13x19 at least some of the time.

It is good that you're happy with your current equipment (or, more important, the images you make with it). On the other hand, I see no reason why the existence of the 645D, or people's interest in it, should make you unhappy.

The right tool for the right job.
If I were a professional (giant
landscapes,studio work,advertising,
cataloging art,etc.) a camera like
this (with a PC lens) is a godsend.
It could replace a 4x5 in most cases.

So,to answer my own question,yes I
would want to carry it around. But,
since I'm not a pro, I won't.

My gosh, that thing is huge. It's like a Nikon interpretation of Pentax.

Is anyone else amused at comparisons to car price tags in this day and age? Nearly time for a new benchmark.

Yesterday I carried my own overweight monstrosity up a mountain trail for six miles, most of them above 10,000 feet above sea level. I had my humble first-gen Pentax 645 and 45-85 lens slung over my shoulder with a neoprene strap, which cuts the perceived weight considerably. One look at the Maroon Bells through that great big viewfinder was ample reason for the extra exertion. I hope the film turns out to look half as good was what I saw inside that big black box.

I'm following the slow, slow rollout of the P 645D with great interest. I've accumulated 10 Pentax 645 lenses from the used market, paying a total of about $1,500 for what cost over $8,000, back in the day. If this camera succeeds, I'll sell most of those lenses for a tidy profit and pick up something more rational, like an A900. But I still wouldn't have the benefit of the 645 format. Most of the A700 pix I took from my Aspen hike have already been cropped down to an 8x10 format, because that shape just says "art" to me, while 2x3 photos say "snapshot."

But isn't it odd how slowly that photos, reviews and other accounts from the P645D are trickling out over the Internets? I'm monitoring the usual sites like dpreview, photo,net and pentaxforums.com, but there's little new content from week to week. Is Japan like Vegas-- what's shot there, stays there?

The least expensive new car available in the U.S. in 2010 is the Hyundai Accent Blue at $10,680.

Of course, the 645D can't get you from point A to point B. Then again, the Hyundai doesn't have 40 MP and an albada finder. [g]


If one compare this with 35mm, I think it is a waste of time. As once you are in medium format world, one does a different ball game. I am not saying that it is better and in fact historical there is a reason for reporters, sport and snapshot to switch to that. But the medium format and larger former exist for a different kind of approach or scale to take photos. Some photos cannot be taken by these but I suspectn some photos is hard to take using 35mm as well.

Hence just an exercise, if you can afford this and for reason in medium format and even large format group, would you buy it. I am not yet save enough for this buy I am thinking that if I can afford only one, which one and would it be this 645d?

It is never just the carmera. You need the system.

Can the Pentax lens good enough? Is the close world of Pentax sufficient ? Mind you 645 with adapter can take some good zeiss lens at least 6x6 version. But compare with a digital back, would it give you better option -- from hook to many medium format to large format whilst the 645 may not have the mount available.

But Pentax give you weather proof and auto focus. And it is cheap especially if the Pentax 67 and/or 645 lens can handle the resolution and if necessary the hasselblad zeiss lens can help a bit with stop down metering which I do not mind.

It is a struggle. But option is good.

An "albada finder?" I'd like to know more about that. I hate it when I lose mine...

Well, again beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The 645D looks much like the 645N, which I think is a lovely camera. More importantly, it feels like a lovely camera in my hand and I suspect that has been retained in the 645D. As for the size: Pentax 645D, 1480g; Nikon, 1220g; Canon 1Ds Mk III, 1210g. All are about the same price as well.

"$10k for the body. Hmm...the lowest current price here in Japan is ¥757,800, which converts to about $8,825 at the current exchange rate."

As always unless you are actually there and able to make the purchase knowing that price is close to irrelevant. Also the seller will pay 8-10% eBay and Paypal fees on this sale, plus - we hope - put some of his margin aside to deal with potential warranty issues. In Mike's words: "Just sayin'…"

From the initial comments I have been picking up is that the new breed of digital MF is getting very tough competition in terms of image quality from the FF DSLRs like the D3 or 1D, which are less expensive and smaller.

Again, I'm just sayin'...

I had a brief opportunity to play with one at the recent PMA expo in Melbourne. I'd love one, but can't justify it. Instead I chose to put money towards formal photo tuition. Maybe when I complete that in four years time I'll be closer to being able to exploit its capabilities.

It will be available here in Australia in the next month or so. Pentax/Hoya say their production rate is 500 per month so there is probably a little while to go before the home market demand is satisfied. A small market like ours probably lets them test the waters in a western market before moving on to the USA. I can't believe for a minute that it won't be sold in the USA, just that Pentax doesn't have the capacity for that *yet*.


Sorry for the long post but bellow is the list I compiled with the available 645D resources.

Chris Wilson's blog:


You will find on his flickr account several full size images also:


IMHO the best landscape photos made with the 645D (and older FA 645 lenses):


Influence of the SDHC card on the recording speed of pictures (a fast expensive card helps):


The lenses line-up for the 645D:


Usage of the 645D tethered with a Eye Fi X2 Pro card:


Additional info:


Includes (among others):

•ISO 1600 shot.

•Same picture from in camera jpeg and ACR developed DNG sample.

•High DR examples with sunset, water reflections and "sun in fog".

•Long time (13sec), base ISO exposure.


•In camera noise reduction settings influence for pictures from ISO 200 to ISO 1000.

•Test shots of the new DFA 55/2.8 lens from f2.8 to f22;

•Test shots for the wide angle zoom (33-55 mm).

Very important IMO:


The head of marketing Pentax France after presenting in length the camera says @ 10 min 53 sec responding to the question whether there are new lenses planned that there are 3 more lenses (besides DFA 55) in design phase (as the first wave) but he cannot say details about them.

Best regards,

@Scott, at 40mp that's about what you'll get from a cheapish scan from a 6x7 film shot, and a lot less than a good scan from a 4x5 frame. You don't need all that much processing power to deal with it, just plenty of memory.

@John, there's lots of reviews and reactions on the camera on the internet already. Of course, they're in Japanese and won't show up if you search for reviews in English. And English-language material is probably going to be thin on the ground until the camera is released in English-speaking countries.

A couple of "real" online reviews (most photo magazines don't put this kind of stuff online though):


And customer reactions on Kakaku:


Dear Radu,

Thanks for those great links. Much interesting pixel-peep fodder!

Since I can't read Japanese, can you check a couple of details for me?

At http://ganref.jp/magazines/index/1/0/368, the ISO 1600 photograph is an in-camera JPEG, right?

The RAW vs JPEG comparison looks odd to me-- is it possible that either the headlines or the photos are reversed? The reason I'm asking is that the "JPEG" is showing more highlight and shadow detail than the RAW file, and less noise suppression and loss of subtle, low contrast detail (look at the plowed fields and the wet paddies). Either the photos/headlines are swapped or some very odd ACR settings were used for the conversion.

In the noise reduction samples at http://www.nippon-camera.com/s_pentax645d.php, do the rows read from top to bottom, low noise reduction, medium noise reduction, high noise reduction and no noise reduction (all in-camera JPEGs I assume)?


pax / Ctein

i hope the 645d gets pentax the respect it desoives...so they can get busy working on a full frame dslr!

For the price of a Nikon D3X and couple of lenses, you can pick up one of these. I can see a market for this camera, especially if you can mount third party DSLR lenses and use it in crop mode.

My experience in the early days of film scanning and very early digital capture was that directly-captured digital pixels were worth vaguely three times what scanned digital pixels were worth -- that a given size print from a 6MP scan and a 2MP digital capture would look roughly equally good. I'd have to guess that the quality of the captured pixels has increased faster than the quality of the scanned pixels in the time since then.

So the comparison to a 40MP scan is probably relevant only to the question of handling files of that size (which is where it was put forward); not to final image quality.

People need to remember, if stretching for a camera near (or a bit beyond) the limits of their budget, to remember the change in product lifecycle. It's probably not wise to view a 645D as a 20-year investment, the way a film MF body would have been. Technical advances now happen in the camera body (autofocus, though that may be less important for most medium-format users, but also the sensor itself).

For what it's worth, Adobe just released their ACR 6.2 beta. And amongst the changes listed is the addition of lens profiles for just about every Pentax 645 lens sold in the past 15 years. Not, of course, that they need much correction, but it's nice to see somebody committed the resources to this project!

Man that 35/3.5 FA645 on the 645D would be sweet for landscapes...


Thanks for the link to the user reports on the 645D on Chris Wilson's blog. In reading how he is using it, together with his use of older Pentax 645 lenses and Pentax 67 lenses via adapters, I got the sense that the 645D is a camera that can really be used like a camera, without a lot of fuss, awkwardness and medium format digital hoopla. I suspect the Leica S2 is the same way. Both of these cameras give the impression of being more user-friendly and transparent than other medium format cameras that, if online reviews are to be believed (I don't have any experience with medium format digital, only medium format film cameras), always seem like slightly kludgy compromises.

And the Pentax 645D has the added benefit of being robustly built, with some degree of water resistance, and a price tag that is not unimaginable. These factors mean that I can imagine a lot* of people buying one and actually using it outside of a studio or tightly controlled location shoot - using it more casually and in more rough-and-tumble circumstances. Time will tell, but medium format digital could conceivably move into genres of photography where it previously wasn't feasible/practical/affordable.

Best regards,

*Relative to the small class of people who can afford and are realistically likely to buy a medium format digital camera, that is...

Dear Folks,

Mike and I have discussed reviewing this camera and it'll happen if Pentax decides to officially import it into the US and we can arrange a loan of at least 3 weeks (this can be difficult with in-demand items).

We both have a good and established relationship with Pentax, so willingness shouldn't be a problem-- it's all about availability.

pax / Ctein

645D is a crop format camera.

645 35mm FA mentioned above is not a wide angle lens on 645D Pentax camera. 645D has smaller 33mmx44mm sensor

I've tracked 645 lenses at B&H since the camera was first announced in 2005, check their availability, right now. At the moment there is ONE manual 645 lens in inventory. No autofocus 645 film lenses for sale.


Buy a Canon or Nikon and have some 60+ lenses Canon or Nikon available for purchase today or buy 645D and you can have the One newly designed and digitally optimized lens.

A 645D camera and one 55mm lens is not a "System".

Obviously its not the economy in USA that keeps 645D out, its the lack of a complete, robust system of lenses designed for today's digital sensor.

Pentax relies on their lens backward compatibility to not produce a vibrant array of lenses today.

Drop $10,000 on a 645D and then hit ebay, pawn shops, craigslist, yard sales, ect, to purchase old discontinued lenses from Pentax past.

There are 35 Pentax 645 lenses on Ebay right now, including several zooms and several 300mms. I don't think these lenses are hard to find at all.


Hi Ctein,

You're welcome Ctein I follow closely the 645D and I thought of sharing my links! I want to point out that I can't read Japanese either but as far as I could understand from various computer translated versions of those pages:

Q:At http://ganref.jp/magazines/index/1/0/368, the ISO 1600 photograph is an in-camera JPEG, right?

A: Yes all pictures but the ones that show directly the difference between in camera JPEG and DNG developed with ACR are in camera generated JPEGs.

Q: The RAW vs JPEG comparison looks odd to me-- is it possible that either the headlines or the photos are reversed? The reason I'm asking is that the "JPEG" is showing more highlight and shadow detail than the RAW file, and less noise suppression and loss of subtle, low contrast detail (look at the plowed fields and the wet paddies). Either the photos/headlines are swapped or some very odd ACR settings were used for the conversion.

A: As of today Adobe profiled the 645D and 14 FA plus the lone DFA lens in its release candidate Camera Raw 6.2 (and LR 3.2). I suspect that the same DNG developed with that version of ACR will show the true nature of the camera/lens combination.

Q:In the noise reduction samples at http://www.nippon-camera.com/s_pentax645d.php, do the rows read from top to bottom, low noise reduction, medium noise reduction, high noise reduction and no noise reduction (all in-camera JPEGs I assume)?

A: Yes I think so, and those settings are very familiar to any Pentax users since they are present in most DSLRs as well.


pax / Ctein

You're welcome!

Hello Adam,

Chris Wilson is IMO a very good example of film to digital transition as the 645D is his first digital camera. He also has besides the DFA 55 mm only Pentax 67 lenses (so manual).

What I think makes 645D quite unique is the plethora of buttons that make almost any setting available at very few touches away instead of browsing the menus. Also the back LCD is the best in MF world and the top LCD has plenty of info.

About weather protection this are the words of a Pentax executive:

"Regarding weather sealing, the 645D has been developed with very high standards in mind. It cannot be immerged, but will resist whatever amount of pouring rain for whatever amount of time."

Furthermore this camera is unique because it is rated to operate at -10 centigrade and actually has a number of shots that it can take at this low temperature. Also the two LCDs are covered in tempered glass. Of course only the DFA 55 is equal in weather resistance.

The article from LL is here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/pentax645d-1st.shtml and there is also a picture of the next digital lens for 645D the ultra wide (strongly rumored to be a 28 mm).

Best regards,

Dear 645D.

Some stuff: I´ve recently been back to Rotterdam, and surprisingly you can get a whole lot of 645 and 67 lenses for a fraction a L lens from Canon, not to mention inferior quality lenses such as Hasselblad, Sinar system and Scheider.

Yep, the 645 line has some extremely impresive lenses, mostly the wide angles [645 35mm] and the 150 short teles.

If you want numbers, there you are:

If you use it with [Thanks, Maarten] a adapting ring with a K20D, the results are staggering in terms of bokeh, specially, and the sheer build quality of those lenses.

Visiting Barcelona, TGEB [things get even better]:

Pentax MF equipment is so undervalued as a not tragic hipster machine over Hassys, Contax and Mamiyas, that in Casanova Foto you can have Pentax FA primes for as little as 250 euros, VAT included [the PENTAX AF 75/2.8 FA].

The Stellar A35:
PENTAX 645 35/3.5 595,00 €
Closest Hasselblad:

Pentax A 35/3.5: 1300 euros
Hasselblad HC 35 3.5: 2950 euros

Both on physical and internet shops.

Funnily enough, they get stuck in the same cabinet as much more expensive equipments, and often overlooked.

The Tragic Hipster Guide by Honda:


Whilst currently there is only 1 lens specially decided for 645d, to say that there is only one lens is not really true.

On top of 645 lens, with adapter one can use hasselblad and other lens. How good are they is a question to be answered in real life. So far even 67 lens photos to me is quite good.

Also, whilst 35mm is not wide in 35mm wide, it hold it's group for normal wide in 645 world as this is crop factor but also a medium format factor.

There are still new 645 and 67 lens for sale.

My question as before is whether this system is better than phase p25 and hasselblad backs, especially used one. I did 4x5 and 8x10 as well.

Hye Kent.

Who´s this camera for?

[yep, that stands for Japanese Wealthy Amateur Photographers.

The kind you will always find on the metro exit of a, say, Gaudi Monument.

So you see this, and micro 4/3 going the EVIL way. Would not an EVIL/larger sensor/short flange mirrorless camera be an interesting idea? Like a digital Mamiya 7?

Looking at the samples, that f/22 waterfall shot is a kick in the nuts! With large sensors you can go for the small f-stops for DOF, amazing!

"The 55mm DFA lens is weatherproof and is the equivalent on the larger format of Pentax's famous 43mm Limited."

That statement might be a bit misleading since the two lenses are nothing alike... except in equivalent focal length, assuming the FA43 is on a film camera. Which I am sure is what you meant. If the DFA55 is anything near as magical as the FA43 I would be surprised. But I am equally sure it is perfectly serviceable.

I'm stretching to think of the few remaining commercial applications that truly require more or better pixels than what a mid-level dSLR provides... billboards, 14x44 feet, are printed at a resolution of 9 ppi - that's a 20 mb file folks.... Likewise, bus signs, trade show exhibits, double-truck spreads, magazine covers and most posters are all easily within the realm of a dslr file. And if or when something does go huge, how often do they use a straight full-bleed photo mega-feet wide? Never to 1% maybe?

Nope, can't think of any practical commercial use.

What this camera is for is making large format prints for art-hobby photographers. It's a landscape-fine art camera.

Which is exactly this website's demographic. Well, at least for some of you ;-)

The cool thing, to me at least, is that it is so darn ugly that hopefully some of the over-compensating posers won't buy it to show off.

Dear Frank,

A similar analysis would show that there was little or no point, in terms of image quality, to 4x5 and 8x10 view cameras for any kind of practical commercial photography. The logic was robust.

Funny how one could readily see the improvement over smaller formats, even in modest-sized reproduction.

Theoretical musings about what a particular level of image quality is for, especially ones based on pixel count, are worth exactly the paper they're printed on. (The musings, that is.)

pax / Ctein

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