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Just as full-frame DSLRs have begun to hit their stride in the marketplace, an entirely different contender is beginning to re-emerge: the medium format DSLR. With recent advancements in sensor design, medium format cameras are, for the first time, utilizing CMOS image sensors rather than the tried-and-true, but less sensitive, CCD image sensor. The benefits: significantly higher ISO sensitivity as well as expanded uses for live view, continuous shooting, and even movie-recording abilities. On the springboard of these new developments, Ricoh has just announced the Pentax 645Z Medium Format DSLR Camera.
Taking on the familiar shape of the Pentax 645 from the film era, and succeeding 2010's 645D, the Pentax 645Z blends an air of intuitiveness with a host of technological advancements designed to make the medium format camera an even more efficient and contemporary digital-imaging solution. Inside the large yet ergonomically designed body is a 51.4MP CMOS sensor measuring 43.8 x 32.8mm, making it approximately 1.7x larger than 35mm-format, full-frame image sensors. Moreover, the 645Z's sensor omits the conventional optical low-pass filter from its construction for even greater resolution and detail-rendering capabilities. Making use of the sensor's output, RAW files can be recorded at 14-bit and saved using either the proprietary PEF format or Adobe's DNG format for greater post-production control and flexibility.
A new spin for medium format cameras, too, this one focuses much of its attention on speed. The updated CMOS sensor's design, along with the PRIME III image processor, enables a sensitivity range from ISO 100 to 204800, which along with enhanced noise-reduction capabilities, enables its use in a wide array of shooting conditions. A continuous shooting rate of 3 fps can be used for moving subjects, with the ability to record up to 30 consecutive JPEGs or 10 RAW photos per burst. If you're working at 1 fps, up to 25 RAW files or 300 JPEGs can be recorded. Finally, one of the most unique assets of the 645Z is its ability to record full HD 1080 video, at 60i, 30p, or 24p frame rates, in the H.264 format. Switching between movie recording and still shooting is controlled with a dedicated switch and, when recording, a stereo microphone terminal can be used along with an optional external mic for enhanced sound with manual audio-level control capabilities. In-camera time lapse sequences can also be recorded using the built-in intervalometer, allowing up to 2,000 shots to be recorded with 2-second to 24-hour delays, and output as 4K (3840 x 2160) files.
Taking on the familiar shape of the Pentax 645 from the film era...the Pentax 645Z blends an air of intuitiveness with a host of technological advancements...
Augmenting the camera's imaging capabilities is the 27-point SAFOX11 phase-detection autofocus module, which incorporates 25 cross-type sensors and three dedicated low-light AF sensors. Further contributing to focusing accuracy, as well precise auto exposure and white balance settings, is Pentax's Real Time Scene Analysis System, which employs an 86,000-pixel RGB sensor to deliver consistent results based on color, brightness, and subject-recognition abilities. This system avails the use of the AF system in a -3 to +18 EV range, and the exposure metering system in a -1 to +21 EV range. In regard to white balance control, a Multi-Pattern Auto WB system can be used to intelligently and independently adjust white balance settings when mixed lighting is prevalent. For example, if both sunlight and shade are detected, or flash and ambient lighting, different white balance settings are used in the different regions of an image to more accurately portray overall color balance. Also helping to achieve sound exposure balance is in-camera HDR image capture, with a variety of blending modes, which automatically composites sequential exposures in order to gain an extended dynamic range with richer shadow and highlight details.
The physical design of the camera—large in stature, but comparable to a professional full-frame DSLR—is poised to rest well within the hand and avail easy access to the physical controls, including a customizable RAW/Fx button for direct access to a common shooting setting. A large trapezoidal-shaped glass pentaprism, with Keplerian telescope-type eyepiece, enables bright and clear eye-level finding with 98% frame coverage. The included Natural-bright-Matte focusing screen is also interchangeable, permitting the use of optional focusing screens, depending on personal preference. If choosing to work in live view, and also for image review and menu navigation, a 3.2" 1,037k-dot air-gapless LCD monitor is available and features a tilting design (-35° down and +125° upward) to simplify use from high or low viewing positions. An electronic level gauge can be utilized with either the viewfinder or LCD monitor during shooting and, when working in live view, a variety of grid overlays and manual focus peaking can be used for greater compositional and focusing accuracy. The body is constructed from magnesium alloy and features a die-cast, aluminum-alloy chassis for enhanced durability and an overall solid feeling, which pairs well with a new shutter mechanism that is rated for 100,000 actuations. Additionally, 76 seals are placed around the body to render it both cold-proof and weatherproof for use in inclement conditions.
Dual SD memory card slots are also integrated into the 645Z, both of which are compatible with SDXC UHS-I card types. Dedicated FluCard memory cards can be used, as well as Eye-Fi cards, which avail wireless image-transferring abilities to linked mobile devices. The FluCard also enables wireless remote control over the camera, including the ability to configure aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and focus point settings and release the shutter using a smartphone or tablet as a trigger. When shooting tethered, the USB 3.0 interface offers faster transfer rates between computer and camera, compared to USB 2.0, for a more efficient shooting workflow.
Now available in the USA, this camera's release brings with it 13 new lenses, in addition to three existing lenses, which serve to fully round out an optical network. Ranging from the wide-angle smc Pentax-FA 645 35mm f/3.5 AL IF to the telephoto smc Pentax-FA 645 400mm f/5.6 ED IF, this system touches on wide zooms, standard zooms, two macro options, and fast f/2.8 standards. Each of the current lenses supports the 645Z's AF system; however, legacy manual focus 645 lenses are also compatible, as well as Pentax 67 lenses, via an optional adapter. Since the Pentax 645Z is serving as the next step in the evolution of the Pentax 645 series, which dates back to the 1980s, this new model inherits a broad system of lenses, including wide-angles, telephotos, primes, and zooms.
|Pentax 645Z Medium Format DSLR Camera|
|Lens Mount||Pentax 645AF2|
|Image Sensor||43.8 x 32.8mm CMOS|
|Maximum Resolution||8256 x 6192|
|Still Image File Format||JPEG, RAW (PEF and DNG), TIFF|
|Storage Media||SD, SDHC, SDXC|
|Card Slot||Dual SD card slots|
|Viewfinder Type||Keplerian telescopic trapezoid prism finder|
|Magnification||Approx. 0.85x (with 75mm f/2.8 at infinity)|
|Eye Relief||Approx. 21mm (from view window)|
|Diopter Adjustment||Approx. -3.5m to +2.0m|
|Shutter Type||Electronically controlled vertical-run focal plane shutter|
|Shutter Speed||30 to 1/4000 sec. in 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps, bulb|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/125 sec.|
|Drive Modes||Single Frame, Continuous (H, L), Self-timer, Remote Control (immediately, 3 sec., continuous), Multi-exposure, Interval Shooting, Interval Composite|
|Top Continuous Shooting Rate||3 fps for up to 30 frames (JPEG), 10 frames (RAW), or 12 frames (TIFF)|
|Self-Timer||12 or 2 sec. delay|
|Exposure Metering System||TTL open aperture metering using 86K pixel RGB sensor|
|Metering Method||Multi-segment metering, Center-weighted metering, Spot metering|
|Metering Range||-1 to +21 EV (ISO 100 with 55mm f/2.8)|
|Exposure Modes||Program, Sensitivity Priority, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Shutter & Aperture Priority, Manual, Bulb, Flash X-sync Speed, User-defined (1-3)|
|Exposure Compensation||+/- 5 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 steps|
|Exposure Bracketing||2, 3, or 5 frames|
|ISO Sensitivity||Auto, ISO 100 to 204800 (1, 1/2, or 1/3 EV steps selectable)|
|Autofocus System||SAFOX11 TTL phase-detection|
|Number of Focus Points||27 (25 cross type)|
|Focus Modes||Single AF (AF-S), Continuous AF (AF-C), Manual, Customizable|
|Autofocus Sensitivity||-3 to +18 EV (ISO 100)|
|Flash Interface||Hotshoe (P-TTL), high speed sync and wireless with Pentax dedicated flash, X-Sync Socket|
|Flash Modes||Flash On, Flash On+Red-eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Slow-speed Sync+Red-eye, P-TTL, Trailing Curtain Sync, contrast-control-sync, high-speed sync, wireless sync (available with a dedicated external flash)|
|Flash Compensation||-2 to +1 EV in 1/2 steps|
|White Balance Modes||Auto, Multi Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Fluorescent Light (D: Daylight Color,
N: Daylight White, W: Cool White, L: Warm White), Tungsten, Flash, CTE, Manual
|Movie Recording||Full HD: 1920 x 1080, 60i/50i/30p/25p/24p
HD: 1280 x 720, 60p/50p/30p/25p/24p
|File Format||MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (MOV), Motion JPEG (AVI) for Interval Movie Record|
|Audio Recording||Via built-in stereo microphone, external microphone terminal available|
|Monitor||3.2" 1,037k-dot tilting LCD monitor|
|Interface||USB 3.0 (micro B), external power supply terminal, cable switch terminal, X-sync socket, HDMI output terminal (Type D), stereo microphone input terminal (USB Connection: MSC/PTP)|
|Power Source||D-LI90 rechargeable lithium-ion battery|
|Battery Life||Approx. 650 images|
|Operating Environment||14-104°F / -10 to 40°C|
|Dimensions||6.1 x 4.6 x 4.8" / 154.9 x 116.8 x 121.9mm|
|Weight||3.4 lb / 1.5 kg|