Pentax 645z medium format camera to start shipping on June 27th

The new Pentax 645z medium format camera (announcement | sample images | pre-order) will start shipping on June 27th according to Ricoh Imaging Japan. There is still no US release date for the 13 Pentax 645 medium format FA lenses (they were not available for sale in the US before).

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  • saywhatuwill

    I’d be willing to shell out $9k for this camera, but looking at the provided samples on my monitor they look like the output of any full frame camera. Call me blind, and I’m sure you will, but unless they’re blown up to large sizes then most likely I’d see a difference, but on the computer, no real difference. I admit I do see differences when people post photos that were taken with a CCD unit. They just “look” different and that’s what using a different medium is all about. I just developed and scanned a roll of 120 film from my Hasselblad V-series and I was shocked and pleased with the smooth gradations that I saw. That type of “look” is what I expect when paying so much for a digital camera.

    • Dave

      I also agree medium format film has a look no digital sensor is able to replicate.

      I’ve never been happy with the look of digital files and I think you have to be a master of editing to get them to look as nice as most film.

      I really hope digital cameras like these don’t put an end to the production of medium format film, we’ve already lost enough decent films in recent times.

      I have never seen digital cameras as a replacement for film, just an alternative.

      • sasa208

        I agree. I am still looking for a replacement for my medium format film camera’s, but have always been disappointed.
        The look of the files is a major factor in this, digital files just don’t have that organic, natural look to them as with film.
        The best so far are the Foveon files IMO. They don’t look like film per se, but do have a more organic quality that I like.
        Now, the second major problem for me is the handeling of digital camera’s opposed to the handeling of a medium format film camera. With MF film, you have a huge optical finder and you can see exactly where the focus is. Click and you are done. And you know you have just nailed it. Simple and full control. This is an shooting attitude that I just cannot find in digital camera’s so far.

    • sperdynamite

      I’ve done some shooting with the 645D and you can see the difference in the files almost immediately. Sample jpgs always look like shit.

      • saywhatuwill

        Isn’t the 645D a CCD sensor camera? As I stated before the CCD sensor does indeed show a difference.

        • Dolph Lundgren

          The first one was CCD, this one is CMOS.

          • saywhatuwill

            Right. The 645Z is the CMOS one and that’s the one that looks like any full frame camera out there. The 645D, CMOS, looks different.

          • It’s just poorly shot samples. Also I don’t like the way others process the raw files. Best to get some raw files and play with them yourself before jumping in to conclusions.

        • sperdynamite

          And I will state now. Every camera has a slightly different look straight out of camera. When you say that CCDs look different than CMOS, what you’re telling everyone is that you don’t understand raw processing. Once you’re done with a file you should be able to get them to look identical. It was all those Leica people justifying the M9’s terrible low light performance that started this discussion.

          • saywhatuwill

            Ummm, no. They have a different look to them. CMOS looks like my full frame camera and that’s what I see in the 645Z samples. They look the same. CCD looks different. Skin tones look different. Highlights aren’t burned out. CMOS have better shadow detail. If you’re saying it was all about RAW data processing then perhaps you don’t know the difference. There is a reason why people chose CCD over CMOS sensors and visa verse.

          • sperdynamite

            The samples look like an APS-C camera actually because THEYYYY ARE WEB SAMPPLLLEEESSSSS. They were down-res’d and compressed so many times well after some not-very-great photographer spent not-enough-time with the camera in preproduction. Nobody ‘chose’ CCDs over CMOS except back makers and that’s only because that’s what was being produced and it made sense for the way they were meant to be used at the time. Everybody else has gone CMOS. You can make great images with both, but neither has some out of this world advantage, nor does one have a ‘look’ that obvious after you do decent raw processing. That’s like saying ‘well there’s a reason why Hasselblad chose to shit the bed in the LCD screen department for so many years. It has a look and people love it.’

    • saywhatuwill

      This is the photo I just developed and scanned. This was off a 8-bit scan (jpg).

      • Spy Black

        Looks like you were a bit low in developer level in your developing tank.

        • saywhatuwill

          Really? You have a really good eye. The developer is from 4/2012! I didn’t make a new batch because the developer still worked. Now that you said something, I’ll whip up a new batch. Thanks.

          By the way, it was a cloudy day that’s why it was half bright and half not.

          • Spy Black

            Yes, but your contrast levels are shifting across the image. That’s development, or lack thereof, actually. Looks like your developer volume level was a bit low in the tank, so it was exhausting the developer on the film surface faster than that fully immersed between agitations.

          • saywhatuwill

            Hmm, interesting. A lot of it could have been the post processing that I did. For example, I burned in the sky, but wasn’t terribly careful. I just swept the pen around the tablet and poof, done. I also burned in parts of the snow and such. Again, wasn’t too concerned, but wanted to get the idea across. 😉

            So, I think a lot of it was user error in post processing more than the developer, though I’m sure that didn’t help. The type of developer I use, Diafine, can be used with 120 and 35mm together.

          • Spy Black

            Fortunately post-processing can come to the rescue. Just scan at 16-bit and make a gradated mask at the edge and modify curves or levels. Won’t take much. 😉

          • saywhatuwill

            Thanks again. I’ll try that since I normally don’t use gradated mask, just tried highlight and use levels to match densities. We’ll see how it goes.

  • fjfjjj


    • Neopulse

      Is it so bad it not being mirrorless? Still a great camera.

    • Mr.Black

      Seems like there won’t be any mirroless cameras from Pentax. There is a tiny chance for a new Ricoh FF mirrorless with a new mount. That was actualy a Pentax development project, parallel to FF DSLR which is also on hold after merging. As far as I know Ricoh decided to leave only DSLR cameras under Pentax brand name.

      • DT

        I have two, the K-01 and the Q 😉

        • Mr.Black

          Both of them produce excellent photos, K-01 is excellent as a second APS-C body when you don’t want to attract too much attention (except as a clown with banana yellow version of a camera), and there is no similar tool like Q and its lenses on a market. Unfortunately usability of both cameras is very limited. K-01 has only fixed screen and not any kind of a viewfinder even optional. Q have really brilliant IQ for it’s sensor size but that size is not big enough. If Pentax will ever produce Q with 1″ sensor, I’ll buy it without asking for a price. Even if it will be branded as Ricoh 😉

          • DT

            I agree, the K-01 is a good and fun camera, and I use it as a second body to the K-3 (and for travel or casual parties etc). The Q is just for fun 🙂 But there is no denying that only a rear screen doesn’t work very well in sunlight, but both where sold very cheap within a year of launch.

      • Zos Xavius

        I wouldn’t say any. In fact if you follow some of their recent patents they certainly seem to be investing in mirrorless technology and lens designs. All the manufacturers probably ultimately want mirrorless to win the market over if they could help it. The cost savings and gains in reliability in the reduction in components and complexity is hard to ignore. Personally, you can pry the slr out of my cold dead hands.

      • Zos Xavius

        Also I must add that it wouldn’t be hard for pentax to make a MF camera that is mirrorless. They have most of the components and technology in place. CDAF speed wouldn’t be great, but live view would be a big benefit for a lot of people. It would also expand their market as you could essentially adapt lenses from any SLR MF system and even possibly some of the range finder systems if they can shorten the flange enough. If pentax doesn’t do it first, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fuji was secretly figuring out how to throw a sensor in their MF system or in a fixed lens body. I can’t see sony doing much more than a fixed lens camera to test the market.

    • Ken Elliott

      I hope they are using a tick-tock design strategy. On the “tick”, they develop the electronics package to support the new Sony MF sensor, and mate to the existing hardware package. On the “tock”, they develop the new mirrorless body, using the sensor, and electronics package already developed. This gets them a competitive model quickly (keeping up with Hassy and Phase One), while building toward a full mirrorless 645.

      This is how Intel doe it. They develop new processor architecture on an existing (well understood) fabrication process, and the next cycle is used to develop a new fabrication process using a well-understood architecture.

      • fjfjjj

        What companies besides Intel have adopted this strategy?

        • Ken Elliott

          Apple for one. They will develop a new phone (iPhone 3), then the update will have shrunk chips (3GS), followed by a new phone using most of the same chips (iPhone 4).

          But there’s plenty of others who do this. They change the design, or the process – but not both at the same time. I’ll leave it as an exercise for your Googling pleasure.

          If Nikon did a tick/tock, we’d see fresh sensors in old bodies – which sometimes happens with a “s” update.

    • Daniel Shortt

      Because using it in a dark studio (where most medium format get used) the auto focus would suck on a mirrorless camera, also far more light through an optical MEDIUM FORMAT mirror box. If you go to a mirrorless the distance to the sensor changes and all the old lenses become useless… I could go on.

      • fjfjjj

        You’re right. What was I thinking?! They never should have made the Mamiya 7, the Plaubel Makina, or the Fuji GW690.

  • CRB

    According to sigma, their dp quattro is as good as the new 50mp sensor. Or, better explain, the prints from both cameras are indistinguishable

    • Tinusverdino

      It’s still an aps-c sized sensor, so prints will be very distinguishable. Bigger sensors are not just about better iso and sharpness.

      • Paul

        so you are saying perspective changes the look of a picture? its not something i can’t just measure? what?!??! *sarcasm*

        • TinusVerdino


      • CRB

        i agree…but its interesting to see how these companies work their marketing. But i bet sigma users disagree

    • dgdb

      You did actually saw prints from 645Z and Quattro DP2?
      Before production? On prepoduction firmware?

  • frank

    Wasn’t Pentax supposed to release an ultra-wide zoom too? WTH happened? I got all excited several months ago when Pentax showed a prototype of it and the 645Z all under glass. But it’s been months and no word about it since. C’mon Pentax either put up or shut up!

    • Mike Kawasaki

      I agree. Pentax is constipated in the lenz development department. God knowz what iz Ricoh is doing to them; perhapz not giving any money to make new lenses, az long as they can sell those from the 30 yearz ago. Ricoh always goez through some “restructure” excuze and their new investmentz are tiny — only cozmetical, and they only milk out that what otherz have done before them.

      • Neopulse

        There were too many “z” letters wrongly placed in what you wrote. Hard to take seriously what you’re trying to say.

        • Mr.Kawazaki

          He iz right.

  • Spy Black

    My Canon S110 beats that…

  • Me

    No 16 bit, no point.

    • 16 bit is no point with high pixel densities. These are not the dark ages where pixels were coin-sized and gathered enough photons to needed to have that precision.

      • Whatever

        Medium format has standardized on 16 bit. I can’t see art directors wanting photographers to start showing up with less capable gear.

        It might be a good camera for the “rich lawyer” crowd. The lack of a swappable back basically excludes it from being added to anyone’s existing inventory.

        • Duh.

          Not exactly true. The Hasselblad H5D-50C + the P1 IQ250 are also running 14-bit. Take a look at reviews on both of those cameras, and people that have used the CMOS system in real-world scenarios report not being able to distinguish much – if any – difference in quality from 14 to 16 bit, or even CCD vs CMOS in the specific examples of these cameras.

        • Neopulse


        • Zos Xavius

          Don’t be silly. 16-bit is more of a marketing feature than anything. Truth is those 16-bit hasselblads are basically 14-bit internally and they are just increasing the bit depth in software. Even if that’s not the case, there is basically no difference between the two in real world use.

        • I don’t think you understand how sensors work… which leaves me really puzzled as to why you choose to comment on their capabilities.

          • MichaelM

            I was about to ask you the same thing. Medium format is used in a lot of scientific and engineering photography, and yes, we use every bit of the colour space. (Truth be told, even more would sometimes be useful.)

          • The read-out could be 64-bits but there’s no use because you can’t get past the noise. There’s a finite number of photons going in also… the most the hardware can do is be able to count each one of them. Beyond that… well that’s a whole different topic 🙂

          • fjfjjj

            Yeah, another person who knows less than you! Tell em, Geno!

          • If people come talking rubbish, why am I not allowed to simply call out their BS? Are you some sort of a wannabe bully to follow my posts and demand me to do things? ROFL

          • fjfjjj

            Because you’re not adding anything, Geno.

          • I do add… In addition to proving whiners on sites like these wrong, i have a blog and a photostream. If what I’ve written there is not adequate, feel free to ask. Many do so (e.g. via email) and I explain without holding anything back. If it’s stuff that’s not of interest to someone they can choose not to read… I’m not obliged to do unboxing videos and write about the same stuff all over again that’s covered by blogs like these and sites like dpreview, etc.

            What have you added other than lame memes and one-liners?

          • fjfjjj

            You’re right. You have lots to share, and I don’t..

          • You think you contribute because you posted a meme and people up voted you? ROFL Sheesh… you must be quite the subject at Nobel Prize committee meetings.

          • Neopulse

            Might as well just explain the issue at hand. I’m curious to know actually about the 14-bit CMOS sensors on the 50+MP medium format cameras and it’s advantages with this particular sensor over the 16-bit CCD kind. I know a bit about the differences of 16-bit and 14-bit color wise and post processing advantages. But maybe these new age ones have something to bring to the table to be sold at such a premium.

          • The CMOS makes it possible to do better liveview and the noise levels in high ISOs will be much less. Of course, the CCD medium format sensors have been made larger which will compensate for their lower efficiency to an extent.

            As for the bit depth matter… maybe the better way to explain it is by saying the high quality that people associate with DMF (CCD) hasn’t been due to the 16-bitness vs. the 14/12 bit of smaller CMOS/CCD sensors. It is very well known that modern FF/APS-C sensors are barely capable of 14bit itself because of their pixel densities. Modern FF CCD DMF sensors (e.g. P65+ onwards) have equally high pixel pixel densities but they still produce the best image quality (especially in low ISOs) mainly because of the amount of light they can gather. In other words, when viewing 100% crops, their pixel-quality isn’t too different (possibly worse) even though they’re 16bit but when the images have their resolutions equalised against smaller sensor images, the DMF images look better. The same can be observed between mFT/FT and FF too.

          • Neopulse

            Also something I wanted to mention is the 40 MP DALSA sensors that the Phase and Mamiya DBs have on their 44×33 sized sensors happen to also have 16-bit, why not include it in this “cropped” medium format sensor? And also if you had to choose between the CCD and this new CMOS for work (if you do it for work that is), which would you choose and why?

          • It’s probably easier to do 16bit (or more?) with CCD as the ADC is likely off-chip. Can’t say much more without looking at things properly. 16bit also probably got established during the time pixel densities were comparable to what would have been in 10MP FF sensors. Nowadays pixels are a lot smaller… the IQ280 has a pixel density comparable to a 32MP FF sensor and this CMOS DMF sensor is comparable to a 29MP FF sensor. Since there’s a lot of pixels, they make up for the lack of precision at the individual pixel level since things get averaged out when output at the same sizes.

            If I had to choose between a CCD and a CMOS of the same size, I’d go for the CMOS. CCD is overrated. I much rather have the flexibility of the CMOS.

          • Neopulse

            Thanks for the reply, much appreciated. I myself am wanting a CCD-Sensored Leica S. Just love the images it produces and of course the quality of the lenses. I know it isn’t as big as the other medium format sensors, but just love what it produces at low ISOs, it’s cheaper and it’s more rugged than the competition.

          • No problem. I’ve used the S too… feels like a bigger 35mm DSLR minus any sense of user-friendliness. It’s a nice camera but I havent noticed anything the others can’t do.

      • fjfjjj

        When I shoot a sky that gradates from L=180/255 to L=199/255, do I want bands/dithering between only 20 levels? No, I want 320 levels. Even if there’s lots of noise in that small range, I want it quantized with good depth, not rounded off to chunky steps that will be exaggerated when I increase contrast in 16-bit post. More bits, please.

        • Invalid comparison. You have much to learn about how digital sampling works at the hardware level and what happens to samples at the software level in usage.

          • fjfjjj

            You’re good at telling people they’re wrong, but you’re bad at explaining what you seem to believe is the truth.

          • I’m very happy to educate people who ask me to do so nicely. Not people who go claiming rubbish on subjects they never studied or understood.

          • fjfjjj

            I studied and understand the subject, and as a result I’m willing to go out on a limb and say what I believe is true. You claim to have studied the subject, and as a result you stalk around finding people like me and announcing crudely that they know less than you. To each their own, I suppose.

          • But did you ask nicely? That’s the point.

            Learn some manners at least to use when you need others.

          • Guest


          • Zos Xavius

            That’s really funny. You are equally as guilty of the same thing. Both of you are self proclaimed experts. Kind of funny to see you two clash finally. For what its worth fjfjjj, even the MF backs that are claiming 16-bit are generally 14-bit internally anyways. They just save the files as 16-bit. Its like “16-bit” consumer grade scanners that are really just 8 bits at best. Their internal hardware is typically 8-bits. In this case, genotypewriter is right. (don’t tell him I said that!) 14-bit wouldn’t give you banding. It would give you smoother gradation than your eyes can really discern.

    • sperdynamite

      I know you’re trolling but I’ll field an answer anyways.

      No 35mm dslr is 16 bit and that’s been fine for most pro photographers since digital started. In fact the D1 was fine and so was the 1Ds years ago, people got by. Now you have a medium format (for digital) camera that can shoot at sensitivities film could never touch cleanly, and produce massive 50mp files, at nearly half the cost of every competitor. You can have 16 bit (IQ180), or you can have ISO 400 and above. Go ahead and spend the cost of a car so you can have 16 bit. Really, go ahead, have fun. People will be wow’d by you talking about 16bit. It worked for Nintendo’s marketing team when they released the N64. Go forth.

      Or actually, 16bit isn’t good enough for you. What were you even thinking?! 16 little bits. What a joke!

      This is what you need:×14-deardorff-view-camera-v11-duplicate/

      It’s cheaper than the Z, is a bigger format, and you can scan at HUGE bit depths. GO GET THOSE DATA METRICS!

  • PentaxMan

    Looks like a D800 killer to me.

    • fjfjjj

      What does the 645Z have to do with Nikon’s repair service?

    • Ken Elliott

      “D800 Looks like a medium format killer to me.”

      There – I fixed it for you.

      I knew you typed it backwards, given the D800 is almost 1/3 the price, lighter, faster, more lenses, etc. The few use cases that justify medium format come at a very high cost.

  • Nobody important

    Competition is good and given the number of OEMs that have vanished in the last ten years, it’s good to see some competition in the medium format world.

    However, I think this might be finding a long slow slog up hill to gain any traction. It can’t be used with your existing backs and a few other pro-level items like no Compact Flash.

    • dgdb

      Whats “pro” on Compact Flash? SD are practically the same with speed but smaller, more durable and 50% cheaper.

      • Nobody Important

        A bit of Google-age may answer your question. But, because I’m a helpful soul, Compact Flash have micro controllers in them so that the writing of the file is handed off to the CF card.

        SD, however, needs to have the computer in the camera manage the writing process.

        Moreover, apart from my practical experience that no-one cares about, I think it’s generally received that the bendy SD cards aren’t considered as robust as the square hockey pucks that are CF.

        Finally, if you don’t believe me, just look at all the pro gear that is a lot less price sensitive than consumer gear? Why does it all have CF?

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