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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Comments

Wow! Less than half the price of an S2. However Pentax has always offered good value compared to most other brands. I'm looking forward to hands on tests and samples.

I'm not in the market for this camera (having made a happy commitment to a different medium format brand platform) but I'm nonetheless excited by this announcement. Although the 645D is not inexpensive by any measure it still makes good digital medium format reachable to a much wider audience than ever before. It also sends a strong bow-shot to other manufacturers in the larger-than-35mm segment.

Cheers to you, Pentax!

Damn you Pentax. Uncontrollable lust is not good for creativity.

Any word on additional 645 lenses available brand new for purchase?

The 645 55mm SDM looks nice, but it's the only digitally optimized lens available for brand new purchase in USA, right?

I'm happy for Pentax and Pentax owners who have long coveted this camera, to be able to buy it now, as a preorder.

$9,999 is still a bit steep for me. I need a brand new 4x4 truck for my photo outtings and truck camping. So skipping 645D at this point would get me about half way to my goal.

It's good to see a "mass" manufacturer wading in to the MF market. To have a rugged, SLR like MF option that's nature-proof gives serious landscape and travel photographers a no-compromise solution at a relatively bargain price. Just like the old 645.

It was a brave decision but I hope the initial Japanese market success and worldwide buzz puts Hoya/Pentax back on the map. We need competition and it's great when manufacturers think differently, but most of all it's great to see a great name like Pentax getting respect from professional photographers again.

I'm not in the market here, but have been following this camera out of curiosity.

I gather this limited initial allotment is due to demand and that the camera will have greater availability worldwide in time?

I just don't understand how Pentax has, seemingly, misread the market so badly.

I wonder if this will ever be 'allowed' into Europe. The 645N was famously banned because pentax refused to use enviromentally friendly solder on the circuit board.

Upon reading your announcement, I was very tempted to pre-order one, even though I certainly don't need another camera. I just figured I could turn around and sell it on ebay for a quick profit. Fortunately, my capitalist instincts aren't that strong.

It sounds like the 40 Mpixel Kodak chip they are using is comparable in capability to the chips in the Hasselblad and PhaseOne 40 Mpixel backs from about two years ago, which are now selling in the $14K range. That's back only, no camera included. This may exert downward pressure on the traditional MF market, which sells camera, lens and back as separate units.

scott

While I'm thrilled to see this coming to the US, I think there's a real problem with this camera regarding glass. I can't find used 645 AF lenses anywhere.

"It also sends a strong bow-shot to other manufacturers in the larger-than-35mm segment."

don't forget full frame. the pentax 645d has a much larger sensor than the ubercameras made by canikon, but it's only a little bigger, heavier, and more expensive.

"Two thirds more pixels than a 24mp full frame dslr."

Such a weird way of saying 40mp.

20x30 prints at 240dpi.

Who prints at 240?

And whose gonna buy me one of these?! I love it. By the way the manual lenses are dirt cheap right now used. Buy up those $200 dollar wides while you can.

"I wonder if this will ever be 'allowed' into Europe."

Bob,
European availability has already been announced.

Mike

I want that camera.
Really really badly.
Seriously
....
Good thing I'm broke - it's not even a question!
cheers,
john

I'm pretty sure the production capability of Pentax is limited at this moment by Kodak's production of sensors.

Last year the total sale figure of MF backs in France was of about 600, the monthly production capability of Pentax is annouced at 500 per month.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Pentax has taken the first place in MF market, in one year, while creating a whole new market.

I wouldn't be surprised either to see Pentax releasing shortly a second body with a sensor of a different maker just to cope with the demand.

By the way, Pentax has by far the largest lens lineup, even if they are lagging being with specialty lenses like tilt/sift and leaf-shutter lenses (which are much more important in that segment)

Perhaps you could recommend Ned Bunnel to update the description of the 55/2.8 on their webstore:

http://www.pentaxwebstore.com/detail/PTX+26350

It looks like they have confused the description of this 55 with the 18-135... the feature "Extended 7.5X zoom range is ideal for a wide range of shooting conditions" sounds like some incredible magic is happening here!

But then again, with limited stock coming in, I suppose they could put up ANYTHING as a description on that lens and people would still click the buy button!!!

Pak

Dear Mark,

I agree, it's a bit of creative (yet truthful) size inflation. But...

Having done a lot of printing in that size range, I can tell you that 240 ppi looks just fine. People don't pixel-peep 20x30 prints; at normal close viewing distance, it's near indistinguishable from higher reses.

I think the point is that if you were printing that large, uncropped, you'd likely be served just as well by printing the native file size as upsampling.

When I get a review unit to test (not soon, but it will happen eventually), it's something I'll check out-- how large one can go before feeling a compelling need to upsample.

pax / Ctein

pax / Ctein

I'm always a bit surprised when ever I read discussions about the Pentax 645D that lack of a system is never mentioned. Pentax haven't sold any 645 lenses outside of Japan for many a long year. Even if I did have £/$10,000 to spend on a camera, I wouldn't be spending it on a camera that required me to search 2nd hand shops for lenses!

And even if they suddenly started importing a full range of legacy film lenses, they'll still have a distinct lack of true wide-angle options. Pentax desperately need new lenses for this camera!

And is the price really that much cheaper than the competition? The UK price for the 645d is £10,000 with the 55mm lens (not sure if that includes tax). But you can get the very latest Hasselblad H4D with a similar 40mp sensor and an 80mm lens for a bit under £14,000 inc tax (I'm looking at robertwhite.co.uk for prices).

As a bit of a Pentax fanboy it pains me to be down on this camera, but I can't help wondering at some of the hype. On the other hand if Pentax US and Pentax UK are going to import such limited numbers, and therefore not compete directly with other MF brands, maybe they really don't need to care about this stuff... they'll still be able to sell everything they import 2 or 3 times over...

In the ever-reopened topic on S2 price in the Leica User Forum has been said that the full size of digital medium-format cameras market is about 6000 units/year:

http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/customer-forum/144758-leica-luf-%40-pkina-english.html#post1477585

I wonder how manufacturers can survive in such an incredibly small market and how many 645D Pentax is going to sell. I would like one for myself...

I wonder if someone at Leica had had a look at one of these? It seems a direct shot at the S2.

Voltz

"I just don't understand how Pentax has, seemingly, misread the market so badly."

It's possible, as isn't uncommon for modern electronics, that they are having trouble manufacturing enough units to meet demand everywhere. So they're either trading off supply to Japan or other countries against the short supply in the US. Or just as likely, they're short everywhere. With any manufacturing, there's a LOT of overhead in getting the production facilities up and running. This is especially true with semiconductor manufacturing, and they simply may not be able to justify ramping up their production capability, even with demand outstripping supply somewhat.

I can't help but notice the "face" formed by the shutter button and the controls (two buttons and the dial) around it.

No doubt have to save a bit to reach that level to get one. Got a 6x7 and hence it seems it is okish to use old lens (and bw 6x7 and color 645D).

Still, when I save to that level, should I get a Hasselblad instead? This will be a question to decide as one can have both. Hence, got 2-3 years to think about this and decide.

I think the adverstiment is a bit over the top and inappropriate in tone for photographer who would spend that amount of money. It is a Pentax and not a Leopxxx skin Leica. We will use this take picture. Hence, no need to oversell it. Still, it is about 16x20 @360 dpi in native resolution, the largest print I do in my darkroom. It is ok size wise.


John Brewton: Sample images can be found <"a href=here.">http://www.pentax.jp/japan/imaging/digital/medium/645d/ex.html#top">here.

Help me understand this.
Why would they:
1) plan to release it only to Japan?
2) after seeing the worldwide demand/interest, plan only a limited quantity release for Europe and the US?

Seems like they're saying "we only planned to make 1,000 of these things, so we broke the mold." Why can't they just increase production, and continue production until they can't sell them?

Mark,

240 ppi is the de facto dpi of choice for users of Epson printers, you just about need a loupe to distinguish between prints at 360 ppi (the print head's native resolution) and those printed at 240 ppi.

Strange worry department: anyone know what size files it produces?

Like, if shooting raw + SHQ, how huge will those be?

Dear Kelvin et.al.,

For modest size prints, I can see a lot more than 360ppi, if I can get it. But mileages differ, and everyone has different personal tolerances for print (un)sharpness. So I came up with a test people can run to find out what level of sharpness matters to them:

How Sharp Is Your Printer; How Much Can You See?

http://tinyurl.com/yjuoddl


pax / Ctein

Why can't they just increase production, and continue production until they can't sell them?

CK Dexter Haven

Probably because of a little thing called capacity. Tooling up for something as sophisticated as this isn't a matter of shoving a couple of benches out of the way and installing an extra 645 O'Matic in the corner of the workshop. Nor, with a eagle-eyed parent company looking on (who've made it quite clear that they now have mixed feelings about having taken on Pentax in the first place), can they simply demand for the necessary readies from a budget that's already committed elsewhere.

Speaking for myself, as someone with a great fondness for Pentax (my 'growing-up' cameras were an MX and LX), I'm glad they're now in the same position as Leica or Bristol Cars - having a product that generates waiting lists.

Let me repeat this core idea:

It's GREAT to see Pentax again in the list of lust products in photography.

I think their current line of dSLR together with the 645D might be just about right to continue making both great cameras & good business. You don't neep to be the top seller if your base of customers is happy with your products: you just need to differentiate yourself and demonstrate, with every new wave of cameras, that you keep on understanding the needs of real photographers.

There are already medium format backs.

The appeal of this Pentax is the relatively low price. But with the small supply, the chances of actually getting it at 10,000 dollars will be pretty small.

So at what point will price gouging effectively eliminate the camera's appeal?

swr,
Where does price gouging enter in? It's only being sold through four selected dealers (B&H, Adorama, Samy's in L.A., and Ace in Virginia) and directly from Pentax. All will sell for MSRP I'm sure.

Mike

It's worth remembering that Hassy has already beaten this price with a much better camera system,...as announced at Photokina. Camera body with detachable v/f, back and lens for the same price as the pentax body only. Pentax is basically and old model with a sensor,...hassy is a full system camera with detachable back etc.

@Chris
Man, are you serious? That Hasselblad example is 40% more. That's a significant price difference in my wallet. If £14,000 is affordable, then £10,000 plus £4,000 in your pocket is pretty nice, don't you think? That extra money would buy a lot of lenses and stuff.

Dear misha,

Depends on how they're handling the lossless compression in the RAW (the size of the JPEG's almost insignificant in comparison) but assume 60 MB, give or take a third.

Sounds big, but even a 4 GB card (cheap) will hold 70 photos-- what used to take us five rolls of film. 500 photos on a 32 GB card.

'Course once you get those photos in and out of Photoshop, you're looking 150-200 MB PSD's... before you start adding layers.

Good thing hard drives are down below $100/TB.

And, yes, this would be a good time to max out the RAM in your computer.

pax / Ctein

Mike,

Given enough demand, resellers, non photographers will buy it to flip on craigslist or eBay. Not necessarily gouging as the dealers aren't pocketing the extra cash but Nintendo Wii wasn't readily available and the grey and secondary market lasted for the first few years of production.

Given the extremely limited number of dealers and units available for sale, it seems almost certain that most photographers will be buying this camera without ever having held one in their hands. That's exactly how many of us buy photo equipment today and maybe it's just me, but for ten grand I'd at least want to handle a camera before I bought it.

While there aren't any hard numbers available, I wouldn't be surprised if the 645D is already the world's best-selling digital medium format camera. With the stated production of 500/month and the fact that they've been selling out in Japan for many months and the fact that the total market prior to the 645D's release was only about 6000/year, it wouldn't surprise me if Pentax has outsold Hassy, Phase One, Mamiya and Leica and anyone else in the market.

Mike,
Should we tie you to the mast?

This looks like a lovely camera. My first "good" camera was an H1a so I'm glad Pentax is making waves with this box.
Still I have to wonder just how much better a 20x30 from this camera would be compared to one from a D3X?
Two thirds more pixels does not add up to two thirds greater resolution. Perhaps the larger sensor will lead to lower noise but the current crop of high end DSLRs are pretty quiet already.
Does the 645D have an AA filter? If not is that a factor?
Sorry to ask dumb questions here. It's academic for me anyway. I don't have the dough for a D3X much less a 645D.
Just chewing the fat.Like I say I'm too broke to have a dog in this fight.

Sam,
That entirely depends on whether the warranty is transferable (I'm not sure whether it will be or not). Without a warranty, a resold camera won't be worth nearly as much as a new one.

I just don't think there's going to be a lot of that happening with this camera. Too limited a supply, too narrow a market.

Mike

"Mike, Should we tie you to the mast?"

Nah, entirely too rich for my blood. I can't even bring myself to spring $2700 for the A900.

Sure does appeal, however. And it's the one camera Pentax makes with the right focal length prime for me...hmm, maybe I need one after all....

Mike

I guess I misunderstood this line.

TOP sponsor B&H Photo is among the very limited number of dealers that will be accepting pre-orders

I thought you were saying B&H was the only dealer to accept pre-orders.

Still though, what's to stop someone with a few hundred thousand dollars from buying a few dozen of these and putting them up on Ebay?

Dear sam & swr,

Well, I cannot think of any photographer I know who would be so desperate to get one NOW that they'd pay a premium to buy it second- hand from some would-be scalper.

Also, I am not familiar with Ace, but the folks at the other stores are not dummies. If someone were to try to order several of these, I am pretty sure it would not slip past them ( nor would the bulk order be honored ).

Really, don't we have better things to do than invent urban myths about camera scalpers.

Pax , Ctein

Still though, what's to stop someone with a few hundred thousand dollars from buying a few dozen of these and putting them up on Ebay?
Who wants to risk their capital that way?
200,000 worth of 645D = 20 cameras. 30% markup over the 10,000 each = 3000 profit per camera. You risk 200,000 to earn 60,000.

You could afford to drop/break/lose about four cameras and still break even.
Interesting, but not plausible.
Now buying ten cameras and leasing them, that would make sense. (And banking the extra 100,000.) Plus, you avoid capital gains, and can write off expenses. (Depreciation, etc.)

Realistically, who has the money in hand to risk that?* And if you do have the money to risk that, then you have the collateral to get a pretty nice business loan to try to make money on something else - not camera market arbitrage, banks won't loan money for that.
And why are we talking about hypothetical secondary market sales where someone might charge an arm and a leg for a rare item? Is that really something to worry about? I'd much rather talk about cameras!

Will

*if I had that on hand it would get parked in my IRA so fast your head would spin. Er, after I replace the furnace and add some insulation.

At this moment there are 9 "PENTAX 645D" offers on ebay USA.

I think its wise Pentax USA is offering these 645D. People obviously want them here in the States. The inclusion of Pro membership is a very smart move, a very nice instant bonus for the buyer(s) of 645D officially sold & supported in US marketplace.

I am curious, will Pentax USA provide service to grey market 645D ?

Nikon USA flatly refuses to provide repair service for grey market Nikon gear, so I only buy official USA market Nikon gear.

"I am curious, will Pentax USA provide service to grey market 645D ?"

I would guess not, although I haven't asked.

The 645D's on Ebay now seem to be Asian gray market.

Mike

I liked the idea of this camera, but even the $11,500 was too much. I shot MF film until I got a shift lens for my 24x36 digital. Now a Canon 21mp "full frame" can be had for $2,000 and any of the four focal length tilt shift lenses can be had for less than that, many considerably less, how does that help? Well my 24x36 sensor can be used as a 24x36, a 24x60, a 48x36, and a 36x36 square, all with a shifted shot made of two perfectly, and automatically, align able images. Not perfect in all situations but more than workable for my MF inclinations, still life and landscapes.

A $4,000, 40 megapixel, fake medium format solution works well for me.

' ...for ten grand I'd at least want to handle a camera before I bought it.'

Gordon

The great thing about this camera is that you probably have already. Digitalia aside, this is just a further iteration of the original 645, THE best-handling MF camera ever (I owned one for a while in the early 1990s, but eventually found it too large for everyday - ie, hiking - use). The control layout and shape of the new beast suggests that it will be every bit as intuitive in operation as its ancestors.

I am not familiar with Ace, but the folks at the other stores are not dummies. If someone were to try to order several of these, I am pretty sure it would not slip past them ( nor would the bulk order be honored ).

Why would a store not want to sell a multiple order to someone. If I was selling them and someone came in with the cash to buy a few I would certainly sell them.

The K645D uses losslessly compressed DNG and a quick glance shows file size between 52MB and 72MB. (Don't have any PEFs handy, but they should be around the same size.) The larger files are ISO 1600 shots.

Anyone with much opinion on camera ergonomics should be able to decide between the K645D and the H4D in a matter of minutes. Very different design aesthetics between the two.

-Z-


"Why would a store not want to sell a multiple order to someone."

Because the store doesn't want to jeopardize its relationship with its supplier. I'm sure these outlets were chosen because of past records for reliability, not because they'll do questionable things to turn a buck.

Mike

Scott - That's absolutely true in terms of megapixels, but may not be in terms of dynamic range, color depth, or actual resolution due to AA filters, etc. From everything I've read (no actual experience), those are the real advantages of medium format - and can't just be summed up in the megapixel number.

David, true, but the files I am getting are just incredible. Yes it is a poor mans approach or a work around. This figure or that number might be talked about, but, the results I am getting really are speaking for themselves. I'll keep my setup, and the $6,000+ I saved and sleep well in the knowledge that few, if any, could tell.

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