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Pentax 645Z Review

Compared to the sensors found in full-frame cameras like the Nikon D810 and the Canon 5D Mark III, the sensor located in the Pentax 645Z, which is a camera with a medium format, is much larger. In fact, given that it measures 43.8 by 32.8 millimeters, it is approximately 1.68 times its size.

The new camera, the 645Z, includes a Sony CMOS sensor, which, compared to the sensor found in its predecessor, the Pentax 645D, could be excellent news for noise management. In addition, the pixel count has been increased from 40 million to 51 million, which should result in an extremely high level of detail resolution.

On the other hand, this is made even more impressive by the absence of an anti-aliasing filter, which is also included in Hasselblad and Phase One medium format cameras that use the same chip.

Pentax has also paired the sensor with a PRIME III image processor, initially introduced in the APS-C format SLR camera known as the Pentax K-3. This allows for a maximum shooting speed of around three frames per second, during which up to ten raw photos or thirty big JPEG images of the best quality may be captured (fps).

Pentax 645Z Build Quality.

Because Pentax has kept the design and control configuration of the 645Z identical to that of the 645D, upgrading users will not experience any significant disruptions in their workflow. The body is covered quite liberally with controls that provide a rapid path to essential functions such as the ability to adjust exposure compensation, white balance, and sensitivity.

However, only two buttons—the one labeled “RAW” on the top left of the camera and the one labeled “LCD Illumination”—may be altered to provide access to alternate capabilities. This is a significant limitation.

By pressing the RAW button, users will be able to make a speedy transition from capturing JPEG photographs to raw files or from raw files to the ability to capture both raw and JPEG at the same time. It is difficult for me to fathom that many users of medium-format cameras would ever want to move away from working with raw files in many different settings.

This button, fortunately, allows you to choose between Digital Preview and Optical Preview (a preview of the depth of focus). In Digital Preview mode, an image is taken using the parameters that have been chosen so that it may be viewed on the screen of the camera. However, the idea is not recorded on the memory card.

By pressing the Illumination button, one can cause a flashgun that is compatible with the device to either produce a modeling flash or a test flash.

The AF button, meantime, may be programmed to enable back-button focusing. This requires the AF function to be removed from the shutter release, and the Preview Dial, which is located surrounding the release, can be used to access either Optical or Digital Preview.

Pentax 645Z Performance

The ability to capture an extremely high level of detail is the primary benefit that comes from having a medium format sensor that has 51 million effective pixels. Additionally, those pixels are pretty big, providing a solid signal, allowing the noise levels to be maintained at a lower level.

At low to mid-range sensitivity settings, the photographs produced by the 645Z have a relatively minimal amount of noise and a very high amount of detailed sharpness. This is instantly visible in the images.

Even when set to its most excellent possible sensitivity (ISO 204,800), the camera maintains a relatively good level of noise reduction. Although there is some colored speckling that can be seen, the detail seems to have been preserved better than in photographs taken with small format SLR cameras at such settings.

The majority of photographers, even though it has a noticeable granular texture, will only wish to use it in extreme circumstances because the color saturation lowers dramatically.

Using an ISO value that is lower, such as 6400, produces photographs that seem noticeably better and have an abundance of detail, making this setting more realistic. Because of this, the 645Z is far more adaptable than the “typical” digital medium format camera, and it opens up the possibility for owners to use the camera hand-held when photographing events.

The raw files, which can be saved in either the widely used DNG format or Pentax’s proprietary PEF format, will always have more detail than the JPEGs that were captured at the same time. During the post-capture processing, it is possible to strike a nice balance between the visibility of the details and the suppression of the noise.

Pentax 645Z Image Quality

The Pentax 645Z was capable of producing photographs of exceptional quality. Noise is highly effectively handled by the Pentax 645Z, starting to show for the first time at an ISO level of 3200 and becoming more plainly discernible at faster settings of ISO 6400 – 25600 while viewing photographs at 100% magnification on screen (particularly in the RAW files).

On paper, the quickest settings of 51200, 102400, and mainly 204800 appear considerably better than when captured by the camera. The color saturation is steady over the whole ISO range, which is quite impressive.

The 51-megapixel JPEG photographs were a touch soft right out of the camera when using the default sharpening level. For the best results, you should perform additional sharpening utilizing an application such as Adobe Photoshop; alternatively, you may modify the setting from within the camera.

While the numerous Digital Filters enable you to generate distinctive effects in a short amount of time, which would generally need you to spend a significant amount of time in the digital darkroom, the Custom Images provide you the ability to modify the effects to fit your needs better.

The D-Range choices assist in making the most out of both the shadows and highlights in a high-contrast scene (and it works for both JPEG and RAW files), while the HDR mode significantly widens the dynamic range of a JPEG by merging three shots with varied exposures in-camera.

Using the multi-exposure mode, the camera can blend two to 2,000 separate JPEG or RAW shots into a single picture.

Pentax 645Z Specs

Body typeLarge SLR
Max resolution8256 x 6192
Other resolutions6912 x 5184, 5376 x4032, 1920 x 1080
Image ratio w:h4:3
Effective pixels51 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors53 megapixels
Sensor sizeMedium format (44 x 33 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorPRIME III
ISOAUto, ISO 100-204800
White balance presets10
Custom white balanceYes (3 slots)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW + TIFF
JPEG quality levelsSuperfine, fine, normal
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points27
Lens mountPentax 645AF2
Focal length multiplier0.8×
Articulated LCDTilting
Screen size3.2″
Screen dots1,037,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage98%
Viewfinder magnification0.62× (0.77× 35mm equiv.)
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/4000 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject / scene modesNo
Built-in flashNo
External flashYes
Flash modesFlash On, Flash On+Red-eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Slow-speed Sync+Red-eye, P-TTL, Trailing Curtain Sync, contrast-control-sync, high-speed sync, wireless sync
Continuous drive3.0 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 secs)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±5 (2, 3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps)
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (60i, 50i, 30p, 25p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (60p, 50p, 30p, 25p,24p)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Storage typesDual SD/SDHC/SDXC slots
USBUSB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)
HDMIYes (mini-HDMI)
Microphone portYes
Headphone portNo
Remote controlYes
Environmentally sealedYes (Weather and dust sealed, freezeproof to -010C/+14F)
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionD-LI90 lithium-ion battery and charger
Battery Life (CIPA)650
Weight (inc. batteries)1550 g (3.42 lb / 54.67 oz)
Dimensions156 x 117 x 123 mm (6.14 x 4.61 x 4.84″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes
GPS notesvia O-GPS1

Pentax 645Z Verdict

During the days of film photography, medium format cameras were not exclusively the domain of professional photographers; many amateur photographers also owned and used them. The wider frame brought with it more excellent quality photos that could be blown up to enormous sizes, similar to what happens with digital photography.

Unfortunately, the cost of the typical digital medium format camera places it well out of reach for most hobbyists.

The Pentax 645Z is still too pricey for most amateur photographers, coming in at around £7,700/US$9,700/AU$12,700 for a camera body and a 55mm lens. However, it costs just a fraction of what a comparable Hasselblad kit would set you back, so there is a lot of interest among professional photographers.

Pentax 645Z Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Tilting screen with Live View functionality
  • Large sensor with a high total number of pixels
  • Familiar control configuration
Need Improvements
  • Bulky
  • Expensive in comparison to 35mm film
  • Heavy

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