This is the first digital medium format camera I have owned. I have progressed in sensor size starting from sub APS-C Sony R1 to and APC-S camera and I still onwn a full frame Sony Alpha 850. I have been through many lenses in my searcrch for image quality. My past film experience saw me using a Mamiya Press (6cm x 9cm), 6x6 TLR and 35mm.
There is some of talk about high end FF digital cameras such as the Nikon D800 equalling the Pentax 645d. There is some talk of the Sigma Merrill sensor rivalling the Pentax 645D. I own a Sigma DP2Merrill and it prodces superb resuts in the right conditions.
The Sigma Merril and the Sony A850 are no match for the medium format Pentax.
At base ISO of 200 the images are smooth with a buttery ''grain'' that is only visible on pixel peeping.
HINT - the lower ISO of 100 is a little too slow fopr the sesnor size and you will either under expose of end up with camera shake. Reserve 100 for tripod use only.
The definition and dynamic range on the Pentax are a league above the Sigma and Sony. I am using legacy lenses - Penta 645 A 75mm and 35mm and have Pentax 67 55mm and 135macro lenses (with adapter). I am awaiting delivery of the 645 150 and 300mm lenses.
The lenses arre all gems. They are really quite cheap in comparison to FF lense,s so unless autofocus is an absolute requirement the camera sits in legacy lens Nirvanah land.
Using the Pentax makes me feel all my previous cameras have been toys. The ergonomics are superb.The camera seems like it has been designed by photographers.
ALthough the camera is larger than my Sony it is comfortable to carry and the lighter lenses do not add much weight.
The camera is designed to take and use legacy lenses with ease. The 645A lenses work beuatifully only missing out on autofocus (which I always disable if present on my Sony line up as I hate autofocus).
The camera is versatile and highly configurable and will lend itself to MANY genres - not just landscapes. Its a popular misconception that this is a specialist landscape camera. It is not.
Pentax have done something big with this camera and deserve many sales. There is a lot of misunderstanding out there about medium format digital, written by those who would have you buy a Nikon D800 instead of medium format alternatives. Dont listen to them. Save yourself some money (on lenses) and get the Pentax 645D. Maybe the Leica S2 has a marginal edge but at 3 times the price ???????
The Future Shall Make Fools of All of Us
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Last year when Pentax was going around doing their "road Show" I got a chance to handle a 645D all I could say is WOW what a nice piece of hardware. the build quality was excellent. I have wanted one ever since. Especially since I mostly do Landscape photography.
Thanks for the review
Saint Paul, MN, USA
Congratulations on your new camera. The 645D is a very specialized and advanced tool. That's the reason it commands a high price and usually only accessible to people who make a living from photography. I do believe that MF produces much better quality than FF.
Since probably you have been trough this already, I have a question. Do you believe that there is a quality separation between APS-C sensor and Full Frame, in the same way there is a significant quality separation between MF and FF?
Thank you for your feedback and it is a pleasure to review such a camera.
In response to Unexpresivecanavas - yes there is a big jump from FF to medium format just as there is a big jump from a cropped frame to full frame. It is hard to measure and its not just about definition, but that is clearly part of it. Its also about a much better transition of tones and the whole feel of the image which is intangibly better.
The experience of using a tool like the 645D is utterly superior to any other camera I have used. I can only say that its like an extension of my mind. After initial configuration the camera does not get in the way like so many digital cameras do.
I absolutely think its worth the cash and these cameras are now trickling into the second hand market. I bought mine as second hand but it might as well have been new.
The Future Shall Make Fools of All of Us
Thanks for the detailed review of one of my favorite cameras. I too, had the 645n and was happy to switch up to a 645D. What has been an issue for me, is finding lenses for the 645D. As you wrote too, the 645D is lacking in lenses and affordable lenses. I am mostly interested in getting a MACRO lens for my 645D. I will look into some of the Legacy Lenses that you referred. Thanks again, for taking the time to review, what I have found to be one amazing medium format camera.