Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pentax 645 Digital No Myth - It's Here!

Some of you scoffed when I wrote that the Pentax 645 Digital was On The Horizon, not being able to read the signs that denoted the difference between project development and product release. But those folk can be forgiven their scepticism, as it has certainly been a long road for those waiting for a medium format digital camera from Pentax. Now it is here, I can only image what the ripples are going to be like in the little pond of photographers that need and care about MF.

Units are due on the Japanese market in May, at a price that converts to US$9400. Depending on if and when the camera comes to Europe and North America, that could be a breakthrough price. After all, this is a 40MP (7264 x 5440) camera with a 44x33mm sensor, significantly larger than full-frame. (This spec different from that in my prediction article.)

Just to compare, the Mamiya DM40 and Hasselblad H4D-40 are both twice that price.

This is going to be a very full-featured and usable camera. Pentax is throwing in almost everything we have come to love in the APS-C sensor K-7 camera, namely:
  • strong composite metal body
  • dust-proof, weather-resistant and cold-resistant
  • dust removal system
  • 11-point AF sensor
  • 77-segment multi-pattern metering
  • 98% field of view optical viewfinder
  • custom image function
  • Hyper-Program mode
  • Shutter/Aperture-Priority (TAv) and Sensitivity-Priority (Sv) modes
  • the magical green button
  • digital level
  • automatic compensation of distortion and lateral CA
  • hot shoe and X-Sync socket for flash
  • extended bracketing
  • HDR built-in
  • dynamic-range expansion
  • intervalometer
  • multiple exposure mode

The camera has a large 3 inch LCD with 921k pixels. Better yet the top panel and back LCD are covered in glass and treated to prevent reflections.

We get a 1/4000 second shutter and exposure compensation in a large +/-5 EV range. The ISO support is 200-1000. While I would not expect high ISO in this type of camera, I am disappointed not to see 100 available. But the real proof will be to see what images look like at 200.

The camera has dual SDHC memory card slots that can be configured for auto-backup or to save RAW files to one and JPGs to the other. Nice one!

And of course, in true Pentax tradition, the camera is backwards compatible with all previous 645 lenses. Which are astonishingly good and cost nothing like the competition.

Best yet: there will be no anti-aliasing filter, so every bit of detail captured by the lens will be preserved on the sensor. But what about a switchable AA filter? Wouldn't that be cool?

This camera could be the one to open up medium format to a new crop of photographers.



robin said...

The camera is 156 x 117 x 119 mm in size and weighs 1480g with its battery and two SD cards. I think that's about 100g more than my film-based 645N.

robin said...

The official Japanese site has photos of the front and back as well as a list of the available accessories. Looks like quite a complete system at launch, though we have to wait on what other lenses are to be made available.

Finally we can ask Google to translate the FAQ.

robin said...

A Spanish reviewer went to the Japanese hands-on show. Lots of pictures here of the cut-away camera and so on.

robin said...

Here's a shot of the available lenses for the 645D. The camera can also take all pentax 6x7 lenses with an adapter, should you wish to repurpose lenses you already own.

robin said...

Informative interview with Japanese Pentax rep, revealing the fact that they are already planning further MF bodies and a wide angle lens to better even the extraordinarily good film 35mm.

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