Pentax 645Z Review - The Pentax 645Z is the most affordable medium-format camera on the market, and with a 51.4MP sensor and lack of an anti-alias filter it should be capable of resolving some stunning detail.
Prices for models from the likes of Hasselblad and Phase One can easily reach five figures and upwards, and when you consider the further investments in supporting kit needed are placed well out of the reach of most.
Pentax, however, has been looking to address this in recent years. In 2010 it launched the 645D – a medium-format camera that came in at well under £10,000 at launch and thus was just about within reach of the average professional landscape or studio photographer in need of the highest resolution going.
The 645D is now joined by Pentax’s latest medium-format addition, the new 645Z. The model retains the same physical size medium-format sensor but ups the resolution even further – now sitting at 51.4MP. It’s also even cheaper than its predecessor, coming it at under £7,000 body only.
That still makes it a lot more expensive than most DSLRs, so has Pentax done enough to tempt DSLR users to make the switch at the extra cost?
Pentax 645Z Review – Features
There’s no denying that the core feature of the 645Z is its sensor, and as such it’s sensible to take a closer look at the chip.
The sensor is the same as seen before in the 645D, measuring in at 44 x 33mm. This delivers an equivalent focal length multiplier of 0.8x, thus turning a 100mm lens in to an 80mm in 35mm equivalent terms.
Although the sensor is the same in terms of dimensions, there are in fact several key differences. To begin with there’s the resolution – this has jumped from 40-odd megapixels on the 645D up to 51.4MP, and thus will be capable of resolving a stunning amount of detail.
As if the 51.4MP resolution wasn’t capable of resolving enough detail, the 645Z also dispenses of its AA filter. If you have any issues with moire patterning Pentax’s AA filter simulator is on hand to help you out.
Another key difference is the technology of the sensor itself – while the 645D relied upon CCD technology, the 645Z utilises CMOS technology.
What this means in real terms is that the new sensor benefits from a massive increase in ISO range – while the 645D featured a relatively restricted ISO range of ISO 100-1600, the 645Z covers a huge ISO 100 – 204,800.
This increase in ISO range means that the 645Z is much more versatile and therefore well at home away from its traditional studio and landscape environments.
On the rear of the camera sits an attractive and well-specified 3.2in, 1.04-million dot LCD screen which is tiltable. This’ll no doubt appeal to landscape photographers who are used to working at awkward angles on tripods in pursuit of a unique perspective.
The LCD screen is paired with an optical viewfinder which provides a 98% field of view and 0.85x magnification.
One welcome feature of the 645Z is its compatibility with Flucards – SD-sized cards which support Wi-fi connectivity for the camera including wireless file transfer as well as remote camera control on either smartphone or tablet.