Pentax 645z Part II

Gear / March 12, 2018

Ok so we left off with the proverbial tripod of needs from a camera (Sensor Quality, Lens Support, Usability) but we only covered the top line of each of these. Here we’ll dig into to these qualities and figure out where the Z holds water and where it’s already ready to give up the ghost.


Depending on what your doing with the 645z you may or may not find that you agree with my assement, I didn’t agree with my current assesment for many years of owning this camera. Having bought this camera with what I consider the best two uses for it in mind Portraiture and Landscapes it’s actually held up really well for both of those items. In the studio except for the slow sync speed it’s an amazing camera, you don’t really feel the weight, the autofocus is fast enough for most situations, the handling of the camera body is excellent with great grip and good feedback to the photographer about key settings. The Z shines in this light and if you can work within those constraints it’s an amazing camera regardless of it’s age as of this posting.

Taking it into the field has proved to be another story alltogether though, weight, size, flexability are all limiting factors when your shooting on location as much as they are when your going through airports and having to board planes. Ok, I put up with this for a long time because the quality was great and I admit I can still put up with this for this camera but it’s a problem. The camera body other than the screen on the back looks and feels like a film medium format from the 80’s as much as it does a digital camera from the 2010’s, the body is long and boxy, the mirror is loud, the operation is smooth and silky in all that it is but it’s also at the opposite end of the specturm from today’s technological marvels. This can be charming and it can be obnoxious as your in a quiet room lookign to take a stealthy shot and the mirror slap audibly gives you away.

Button placement is great and the extra knobs, dials, buttons for functions that are burried in menus on other cameras is a breath of fresh air and makes the Z an ideal camera to get to know, learn it’s language and your hands will just find their location to the buttons you need, no matter the conditions. Oh I forgot to mention the battery, if yoru coming from Nikon or Canon maybe this is not such a big deal but I can routinly get over 500 shots on a charge, take the Sony!

Sensor Quality

There is not a lot to be said here, and that’s an amazing thing you have quiality, quality, quality available to you. Dynamic range, High ISO quality, color representation are all amazing, I used to bracket a lot, these days on the Z I make sure I nail the exposure I want, check the highlights and shadows and move on, I know I can pull the data out of the single shot.

Lens Support

The great failing of either Pentax or the 645z owners depending on how you look at it. I think Pentax had the best intentions going into thei 645D and 645Z, they wanted a modern system both, body and lenses but either we didn’t buy the new lenses and they had to abandon the strategy or Pentax just dropped the ball on them I don’t know which. The few modern lenses that Pentax did release were optically great lenses but they were also gigantic, heavy and put the camera off balance. I ended up having to go to mostly the old Pentax medium format lenses for the selection that I wanted for my system. It was great having that option but it’s not modern lenses for a modern camera, they were slow to focus, not designed for digital. The lack of a great set of lenses killed the 645z for me personally. I would have killed for a reasonably sized 20ish mm lens with a 2.8 or better aperture.

In the end for me it was the lack of this lens suppor that forced me to abandon the systme and move on to a different company for my photographic needs.