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Pentax 645D Camera Review


What’s It Like To Photograph With a Medium Format Digital Camera?

I’ve photographed with a vast range of cameras. Some are my own, some belong to students and some are to review. There’s certainly no ‘best’ camera in the same way there’s no best car. However, few cameras can compete with the Pentax 645D for the pleasure of creating photographs.


Barcelona’s Casa Batllo

Forget about the 40 megapixels, if you can; the viewfinder alone sets the camera apart. It’s incredibly bright, and the dioptre adjustment is so good I can actually see the world better through the camera. The viewfinder is also huge. This makes a tremendous difference to the feel of the photography.

I expected a medium format camera to be slow and clunky, but while the 645D takes a few seconds to write the massive DNG files to card and manages ~1fps, it handles just like a pro dSLR. At 0.16s, shutter lag is essentially unnoticeable.

Except in many ways, it handles better than a Nikon or Canon dSLR. It’s expected that the photographer is a professional, so all of the marketing gimmicks are replaced by precise, logical controls. The mirror-lock-up isn’t buried in a menu; it’s a switch on the body (and is automatic with the 2s self-timer!). Everything you need is quickly and easily adjusted.


Gaudi’s Casa Mila, Barcelona

The Pentax 645D is also very usable one-handed. The grip is deep and fits very well in the hand. I was able to hand-hold shutter speeds of 1/13s with critically sharp results. You can also mount it on a tripod either horizontally or vertically.

It’s also a tough beast. It doesn’t weigh more than the dSLRs I’m used to, but looks like it could take more abuse. It rained on it; and I could trust that the weather-sealing would shrug it off. It’s a real professional tool, built for years of hard use.

As well as being able to use lenses for the 645 film camera and Pentax 67 lenses with an adaptor (which are bargains!), Pentax also makes a trio of weather-sealed lenses. One of which is the 55mm I used. When they say weather-sealed, they literally mean you can put the camera under a shower and it will be fine. When there are no excuses to getting the shot, this is just incredible.

The 55mm lens also has silent ultrasonic auto-focus. It’s very quick to lock on and there are a range of options to control the focussing right on the body. I did some street photography and never missed a shot.

The white balance was also very precise. There are a lot of presets and customisation, but the auto white balance was accurate in a wide range of lighting situations. The colours are pleasingly neutral and there are even some usable presets.

There are two SD card slots (each with dedicated buttons to choose what they’ll store). Raw images can be in the open .DNG format which works with all converters. They can also be converted in-camera with lots of options including output as .jpegs of various sizes. This was very useful.

Battery life was brilliant. I’d thought that this might be a weak point because the batteries seem quite small, I used the screen a lot and the files are huge, but obviously some magic is going on as they last for ages. They’re also very cheap!

The 3″ LCD screen is bright and colour-balanced and makes reviewing photos a pleasure. It’s easy to use the RGB histograms to check exposure and the menus are well designed. One button displays a 3d level which is fantastic for getting everything lined up.


Street Photography

While the Pentax 645d is expensive; almost £7,000 with the great 55mm f2.8 prime lens, it’s a real bargain compared to other medium format cameras and even some dSLRs.

One of the main reasons to step up to medium format is the quality of the shallow depth of field and that amazing viewfinder. The bigger sensor allows this even with a f2.8 lens; and betters a smaller format camera with a f1.2 lens. This is amazing in practice.

This is all enough; but oh the image quality! It’s incredible to take a photograph and have 40 megapixels or resolution to look at. The colours are very natural and the graduations between the tones are smooth and look very ‘real’.


The Magic Fountain, Barcelona

The camera has a CCD sensor so there’s no live view, video nor incredible high ISO sensitivities as possible with CMOS sensor cameras. However, the photos are very usable right up to ISO1600 and the noise looks more ‘film-like’. Skin tones in particular looked better to me with this camera.

So the image quality of the Pentax 645D is the best I’ve experienced outside Hasselblad and Phase One. But this will change and when it comes down to it, the Pentax 645D is just such a pleasure to use. No camera comes close; most feel crippled in some way, sullied with marketing gimmicks or beset by compromises. Not this beast. It’s a true photographers camera; fun to play with then instantly forgettable when the magic moment appears.


We Love Barcelona’s Tapas Restaurants!

El revision de la camera, Pentax 645D

He fotografiado con un vasto numero de camaras. Algunas son las mias propias, otras pertenecen a mis estudiantes y tambien estan las que he tenido para hacer estudios y articulos. La verdad es que no hay una ‘mejor’ camara en el sentido de que no hay un ‘mejor’ coche. Sin embargo no hay camara que compita con la Pentax 645D en el placer de crear fotografia.

Yo esperaba de una camara de formato medio que fuese lenta y ((clunky)), pero a la 645D le lleva solo unos segundos grabar el masivo archivo DNG a la targeta de memoria y ((manages)) 1fps, lo controla como una pro dSLR. a 0.16segundos, ((shutter lag)) es esencialmente al momento de apretar el boton de disparo.

Incluso mejor, se espera que el fotografo que tenga esta camara sea profesional, por lo que todos esos botones de marketing han sdo reemplazados por logicos y precisos controles.
El bloqueador de movimiento del espejo no esta perdido en el menu, lo encuentras en un switch en el cuerpo de la camara( y es automatico con el self-timer de 2s!) Todo lo que necesitas es facil y rapido de ajustar.

barcelona-passeig-gracia-fountain-photo-645d-0151b copy

Olvidate de los 40 megapixels, si puedes; solo por el visor esta camara entra en una calificacion aparte. Es increiblemente brillante, y el ajuste para diopter es tan bueno! Literalmente puedo ver el mundo mejor atraves de la camara. Tambien hay que decir que el visor es enorme. Marca una diferencia tremenda en como te sientes al capturar imagenes.

La pentax 645D es tambien muy buena para usarla con una mano. El ((grip) es grande y encaja perfectamente en la mano. He sido capaz de tomar fotos (con una mano) con velocidad de oturacion de 1/13s con resultados increiblemente nitidos. Tambien puedes colocarlo en tripodes de manera horizontal y vertical.

Tambien es una bestia resistente, pero no pesa mas que las dSLR que he usado, pero al parecer puede soportar muchos ‘abusos’ de nuestra parte, digo esto porque le llovio encima y vi como la camara se deshacia de cada gota que caia sobre ella. Es una herramienta muy profesional construida para anos de trabajo duro!