This morning at 8 a.m. Mountain Time, Pentax USA announced that it will import, sell, and service the eagerly awaited Pentax 645D medium-format digital camera. The camera body will ship in December 2010 for $9,995.95. The SMC Pentax-D FA 645 55mm ƒ/2.8 lens will ship at the same time for $1,199.95.
Reading between the lines, I suspect Pentax USA thinks its allotment will sell out through pre-orders. TOP is currently working on an interview with Ned Bunnell, President of Pentax USA, and, in the interview, he says it is "important for your U.S. readers to know that we'll be bringing in an extremely limited quantity of units to the U.S. I hope folks don't think I'm saying this as a sales pitch. Quite frankly, we'd relish having more units to sell. However, it's not going to happen."
TOP sponsor B&H Photo is among the very limited number of dealers that will be accepting pre-orders. I'll try to provide the link as soon as it goes live.
Purchasers of the camera will have "prioritized access to a dedicated team of U.S.-based Pentax 645D specialists to answer 645D customer service and product questions (Monday–Friday 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mountain Time—holidays excepted)" and will be automatically enrolled in Pentax Professional Services, which offers quick access to rental lenses and accessories and high-priority repair services.
Pentax also announced that the camera has received an American Photo magazine Editor's Choice 2010 award in the November/December issue. An excerpt: "The 645D's gigantic 44x33-millimeter Kodak CCD boasts two-thirds more pixels than a full-frame 24-megapixel DSLR and produces 23x30-inch native image size at 240dpi, ideal for big prints. The body itself offers superb balance and ergonomics, a light but tough magnesium-steel alloy frame with extensive weather sealing, and automatic sensor-dust cleaning, a first in a medium-format digital camera. It also features built-in automatic correction for a given Pentax 645 lens’s optical characteristic."
I must say that this editor agrees with that editor. The Pentax 645 has a long history, and has always, in my view, been a particularly successful camera design, brought to a high level of logic and elegance through successive iterations during the film era. It's an excellent point of departure for a digital version, and it's really no wonder the camera was far more popular in Japan than expected (causing the shortages that delayed the worldwide launch).
If you'd like to see it for yourself, the camera will be displayed at the Pentax Booth (booth 612) during the PDN PhotoPlus Expo from October 28–30 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. (PhotoPlus, the biggest U.S. camera show, is open to the public.)
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Andre: "In related news, I have a slightly used kidney for sale."
Featured Comment by Joshua: "Excellent! now I can walk around with my old 645 film version and pretend it's digital and look rich!"