Pentax 645Z: First Impressions and Sample Image Gallery

We spent the afternoon with Pentax's new Medium Format camera, using it both in and out of the studio

645zsamplemain.jpg
Dan Bracaglia

On Thursday, we attended Ricoh's launch event for the Pentax 645Z and had a chance to use their latest generation Digital Medium Format in a variety of studio situations, including with the model shown above. We also spent some time shooting around the event space using natural light. This camera is significant because of its extreme affordablity: At $8500, it is a quarter the prices of the Phase One IQ250 digital back, which uses the same sensor (made by Sony).

All of the images that follow were shot using final firmware, and were captured as DNGs, the system's native RAW file type. An older SMC Pentax-FA 645 Zoom f/4.5 80-160mm lens was used throughout. Photos were converted from DNG in the AdobeRGB colorspace to JPGs in the sRGB colorspace using Adobe Lightroom 4. For full-res previews of the images, please click the link below each.

The last 5 images were shot in moderate light, at the 645Z's higher ISOs to demonstrate the resolving power and noise levels of the camera at these upper reaches. That's a crucial piece for this and other CMOS-based medium format camera systems, as their CCD-based predecessors were sorely lacking in high-ISO performance.

Also, be sure to check out the link below for real world sample images, including a tripod-mounted high ISO comparison.

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #1

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #1

The folks at Ricoh set up a variety of studio scenarios for us to take the 645Z for a spin in, including this one. The detail is really quite impressive, especially on the earrings (Note: My manual focusing skills need work). Tech Specs: ISO 100, 1/250 sec, f/9.
Focal Length: 160mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #2

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #2

The Pentax does an admirable job reproducing skin tones. Tech Specs: ISO 100, 1/125 sec, f/9.
Focal Length: 80mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #3

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #3

This image was shot on TAv mode, which is a fancy way of saying auto ISO. The 645Z maxes out your top ISO in this mode at 3200, which is why the image is slightly underexposed. Tech Specs: ISO 3200 1/320 sec, f/4.5.
Focal Length: 160mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #4

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #4

Camera companies have caught on to the fact that shooters like highly-customizable buttons, and not just one, but a whole bunch; Pentax is no exception. The 645Z lets you program all of the buttons on the top left of the body. Head to our Instagram for a quick video demonstrating the 645Z's layout. Tech Specs: ISO 2000, 1/320 sec, f/4.5.
Focal Length: 160mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #5

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #5

Most people think of a camera like the 645Z as something you would strictly use in the studio--they'd be incorrect. The 645Z is extremely comfortable in the hands, and easy enough to hold steady without a tripod (this image was shot at only 1/200 sec with no Image Stablization). The grip offers an extremely deep indentation for your fingers; I carried one around for a good hour and did not feel burdened by it's weight. Tech Specs: ISO 6400, 1/200 sec, f/4.5.
Focal Length: 160mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #6

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #6

Even without the studio lights, the 645Z does a great job with skin tones. Tech Specs: ISO 3200, 1/200 sec, f/4.5.
Focal Length: 143mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #7

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #7

People don't normally think of a Medium Format camera as something you would shoot with at higher ISO's, but the 645Z clearly has no issues at ISO 6400, as shown here. Tech Specs: ISO 6400, 1/200 sec, f/4.5.
Focal Length: 143mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #8

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #8

We test a lot of full frame cameras, but few medium format ones -- It's easy to forget how much more depth of field you get with a bigger sensor. Tech Specs: ISO 6400, 1/200 sec, f/4.5.
Focal Length: 143mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #9

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #9

Tech Specs: ISO 1000, 1/200 sec, f/4.5.
Focal Length: 160mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #10

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #10

These next few images are meant to demonstrate the extremely high ISOs available on the 645Z. Please note that these were shot handheld in moderate light. We will be adding tripod-mounted high ISO sample images soon. This is shot at ISO 65535, the furthest you can push the 645Z's low-light capabilities. Tech Specs: ISO 102400, 1/1000 sec, f/8.
Focal Length: 118mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #11

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #11

Tech Specs: ISO 51200, 1/250 sec, f/8.
Focal Length: 118mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #12

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #12

Tech Specs: ISO 25600, 1/125 sec, f/8.
Focal Length: 118mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #13

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #13

Tech Specs: ISO 12800, 1/200 sec, f/4.5.
Focal Length: 118mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia
Pentax 645Z Sample Image #15

Pentax 645Z Sample Image #15

Tech Specs: ISO 6400, 1/100 sec, f/4.5.
Focal Length: 118mm (CLICK FOR FULL-RES)
Dan Bracaglia