Hands On with the Pentax 645Z Medium Format DSLR – Updated

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Update: I’ve added four test shots in original size to my Flickr page. Please note that these files are basically straight out of the camera and the model images lack the normal cleaning up I would do in Photoshop. Also, resolution is set at screen size, not print size.

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The announcement of the Pentax 645Z was akin to Nikon’s rolling out of its D800(e) and Sony’s introduction of the A7(r). All three showed guts, marked a major step forward in technology and jolted their market segment.

The Nikon was the first prosumer-oriented DSLR to pack a whopping 36 megapixels and amazing dynamic range, a feat still not matched by any other APS-C or full-frame DSLR. The Sony upped the ante by featuring that same sensor in a much smaller mirrorless body at a lower price point. Again, no other manufacturer has followed suit yet.

Ricoh Pentax then produced its own little earthquake by announcing the 645Z, a medium format DSLR boasting 51.4 megapixels on a 43.8 x 32.8mm Sony CMOS sensor that’s also the key component of Hasselblad’s H5D-50c and Phase One’s IQ250. Nothing new there, except that the Pentax costs a mere $8,500 compared to $27,500 for the Hasselblad camera and back and $35,000 for the Phase One (back only). And it adds HD video, fast autofocusing, high ISO capability and a shooting speed of 3 frames per second.

Ever since, the question has become how much longer Hasselblad and Phase One will be able to keep on charging the enormous premiums they did. But that’s for MBAs.

For us photographers, digital medium format suddenly doesn’t require a second mortage anymore. Your pockets must still be pretty deep, but if you’re invested in good Canon or Nikon gear, chances are you have as much sunken cost in that system as you would put in a Pentax medium-format kit.

The question of course remains how well the Pentax will do its job. Judging by the brief hands-on session that Ricoh Pentax organized for the media and selected photographers earlier today, it seems that the 645Z will do just fine.

[Read more…]

Me? Heavy? No, This Camera Can Take It…


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Ouch…

One day, not so long ago, my wife exclaimed: ‘Sometimes, you can be so incredibly stupid.’ She was addressing me. Luckily we have a good marriage and she was actually right, so we survived the moment.

You’d think this is going to be some off-topic (OT) post, but it isn’t. It’s very much related to photography.

You see, I was making a point. Except that it failed. [Read more…]

Pentax K-3 Review – It’s Good, Buy It, Unless You Don’t Need It

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Pentax K-3 with Pentax-DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited – 1/100, f/6.3/ ISO 1600

I don’t really like to beat around the bush, so I spare you a lot of reading if you want to know my conclusion: the Pentax K-3 is a truly capable camera, probably the best of the APS-C DSLR bunch. Probably, because your humble reviewer doesn’t have enough experience with modern-day APS-C DSLRs to go beyond that qualifier.

That’s it. If you like Pentax and you want or need to move up from your current Pentax, buy it. If you like top-quality DSLRs that deliver a lot for a reasonable price and you don’t insist on full frame, buy it. If you rather have smaller top-quality lenses than the ones Canon and Nikon produce on a body that performs admirably, buy it.

So, there you have it. I’m done.

Kidding. [Read more…]

Pentax K-3 DSLR – First Impressions & Samples

On Friday, I received the Pentax K-3 I pre-ordered the day it was announced. While I haven’t had much time to shoot with it yet, I want to share some first impressions and early pictures from the camera.

First a word about my weakness for things Pentax. My first ‘serious’ cameras were a Pentax ME and a ME Super. I beat the hell out of them. I fancied myself a photojournalist and battled with other photographers to get good shots of riots or a close-up portrait of the pope when he visited Holland. This involved lots of elbow work and my poor Pentaxes clanging against much sturdier Nikons and Canons, the ones the real pros were using.

[Read more…]

Pentax K-3 Shipping

Ricoh Pentax started shipping its new Pentax K-3 DSLR this week. B&H shows the camera as in stock, but Amazon still mentions a release date of November 15.

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The K-3 sports almost 24mp in a tough body with a maximum shooting speed of 8.3 frames per second. Its anti-aliasing filter can be turned off. Its specs put it at or near the top of the current APS-C sensor offerings.

I had hoped to have some hands-on experience with the K-3 at PhotoPlus Expo last week, but for some hard-to-fathom reason Ricoh Pentax didn’t have a booth at the largest photography trade show in the United States.

So, if UPS does its job well I will first lay my hands on one tomorrow. I will shoot with it over the next days and report my experiences here.