Okay. I went to the Pentax 645 Z night at the Oxford Hotel in Leederville on Wednesday night - sponsored by C.R. Kennedy and Camera Electronic. I saw James Simmons put on a marvellous show. I had a pint of the local ale, two samosas, a sausage roll, a prawn on a stick, and four chips*. It was all highly satisfactory.
The rest of the crowd seemed to think so too - and with good reason. James is a pretty good speaker and his technique is worthy of study. The camera is a unique instrument that needs to be considered by a wide range of photographers - for a surprising number of reasons.
1. It is medium format and puts out an immensely detailed file in large size. If your work needs to be sharp and detailed you get it with this camera and sensor. there is area to play with. 51.4 MP CMOS< if you know what we mean...
2. As the effective dimensions of the sensor come out to be approx. 56 x 43mm you can do the mathematics to find out the "standard " lens on the basis that the standard focal length is the square root of the sum of the squares of the two sides of the sensor - in this case it is just under 70mm. Pentax make delicious 75 mm prime lenses, and they also make wonderful 45mm - 85mm lenses...ALL OF WHICH have smaller depths of field in comparison to their APS-C or FX counterparts. If you are a bokeh-fiend or an out-of-focus enthusiast you can get wider framing but soft backdrops. remember that there is a sandard combination of the Pentax 645 Z body and their 55mm f:28 that gives you a wide angle plus the softness.
Go to the DOFmaster site and see what you can do with the mathematics of optics.
3. The dynamic range of this camera is immense. It far exceeds what can be done with smaller cameras. James Simmons made this perfectly plain on the screen as he drew a black image up into a perfectly exposed on with one slider.
4. It is affordable. Other medium format digital cameras cost a European luxury sedan with automatic transmission and optional bronze metallic paint - literally. The Pentax 645 Z costs a small Chinese sedan with manual transmission that only comes in white. If you are spending your money spend it carefully.
5. It is balanced. Grip it and it grips back. You can operate anything with one hand, but in the case of a medium format digital camera, not for long. Some of them are mega-heavy. The Pentax is still solid, but runs very close to the weight of a large FX DSLR and is a darn sight sleeker in the bargain.
6. It is easy to use. If you have used a standard DSLR you can pick this camera up an shoot straight away in any of the PASM modes. There is a wonderful green reset/get-me -out -of -trouble button on the back that lets you change from extreme settings to quick response ones.
7. There is a good range of lenses - and these can include the range of Pentax 645 lenses that served the analog version of the camera. The new ones are moderately priced - the sort of costs that are reflected in standard digital FX lenses - and not the budget-busters that might be called for on other systems. You can afford more glass.
8. The glass is good. Really good.
9. You get a live view with a tilt-able screen on this camera. Hi-ho for the studio stand and not having to bend down to peer into a viewfinder half the day. No more Voltaren at the end of the day.
10. Shoots full HD video. Is this a good thing for you? Have your clients seen what they look like as motion picture stars with as big a sensor as this? Is this going to be the selling point for you?
11. DNG. Keep your results in a file format that will be here in the future and that will spread out over a vast number of processing platforms.
Okay. That's some of the good parts. The rest is up to you. Remember that you can rent one of these cameras to see if it works for you. Camera Electronics Rental Department.
* Mayonnaise on a chip? Have they stopped making tomato sauce?