Pentax 645 - advice please

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Wolfeye, Feb 28, 2008.

  1. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    I just picked one of these up off eBay. Just the 645, 75mm 2,8 lens, and 120 insert. Probably "overpaid" for it, but oh well. :smile: I don't see many folks using this beastie here - is it a great camera? A pretty good camera? Anything I should watch out for, like, common problems this model has or tends to develop?

    Thanks in advance. I have several rolls of Ilford Pan F and Fuji Reala to shoot!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2008
  2. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    Haven't used one, but users speak highly of it. Shoot some film, and show us how it goes. Enjoy.
     
  3. CLAPhoto

    CLAPhoto Member

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    Been shooting one for years, excellent metering and handling. The only downsides I find are the lack of interchangeable backs (mid roll) and the viewfinder takes a bit getting used to. Another plus to the design is the use of lens adapters for fitting "others" lenses on the body. I currently use Zeiss Jenna glass on my P645, I have the 180, 50mm and an 80mm.
     
  4. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I had one and I think it is a fantastic choice. The reason I sold it was that I could never get used to the push button interface. If I did it again, I'd spend some more time getting used to the interface before I went out into the field with it. That said, the lenses are amazing, the kit is light, the viewfinder is simply the best and the mirror slap is almost non-existant
     
  5. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I've been using a pair of original 645's for several years. I've been very happy with them--both in handling and picture quality. The lenses I've used are all excellent with the 75mm being the pick-of-the-litter.

    I think a lot of people originally passed up the P645 due to the lack of interchangeable backs. Medium formats in general were the choice of pros who needed that feature. Now that us mortals are buying those used cameras, I don't know that many of us really need that feature.
     
  6. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    In the old days you could get a Kiev 6 adapter and use Kiev 6C lenses. But today used Pentax lenses are so cheap it's not worth it. Still likely the best way to use Kiev lenses on 645 -)
     
  7. Palantiri7

    Palantiri7 Member

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    Hi Wolfeye,

    The Pentax 645 is an excellent camera, and the 75mm is a first-rate lens. No camera is perfect, however, and I do wish that exposure compensation was not limited to 1 stop increments, or that aperture click-stops occur in third stops like Rollei lenses instead of full stops. You can adjust the film speed to mimic finer exposure changes, but I am sometimes apt to forget to change it back! I have used the camera in the rain. The camera buttons may cease to function in wet conditions, but don't panic, however, as they return to life after drying out. I actually think the viewfinder is quite wonderful, and the focusing is easy. The metering is accurate, although you're limited to center-weighted metering. All-in-all it's no Rollei 6008i in wonderfulness, but I like this camera better for some weird reason, and, of course, the pictures are great.

    Here's a not-so-great picture from this camera/lens combo (all I have readily available right now). Mangrove, Kodak TMX, Paterson FX-39 developer.
     

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  8. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser

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    I had the original years ago and just bought the AF version before Christmas.... I love it. One of the most under-rated cameras out there. I don't care about mid-roll change or polaroids so for me the camera is great. Great lenses and some of the telephotos are selling at a great price.... less than $1000 for a 300mm... compare that to a blad.
    -rob
     
  9. wjlorimer

    wjlorimer Member

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    Hi Wolfeye

    Welcome to the Pentax 645 club!

    I picked one up on an auction site myself a couple of months ago, and since then I've been having a blast. Should have got one years ago!

    I echo all that has been said thus far - about both the good and bad points. For slide film I too wish it had half or 3rd stop adjustment and aperture clicks, but if I bracket a lot there is always one (or two) in the series that are on the money.

    I actually find the push button interface really intuitive - perhaps my background in push-button slr's helps (my very first camera was the Canon T70 - very similar - and at the time quite revolutionary - push-button control).

    I toyed briefly with the Pentax 6x7 as well (borrowed a friends), but it was 'too much' camera for me. Too big, too heavy, too clunky...
    The 645 image area seems to be about right, and is definitely a step up from 35mm (and digital with a good scanner).

    Perhaps the thing I like most about the 645 (and indeed other medium format film cameras), is the way it makes me slow down when I use it, and really appreciate the 'art' of photography again. Even though I can, and do, hand-hold it, it certainly doesn't promote a 'shoot-from-the-hip' approach to photography in the way that my 30D outfit does.

    I have written more on my experiences recently on my blog www.nzdigital.blogspot.com feel free to take a look.

    Congrats on the purchase. It's a great system, and a lot of fun.
     
  10. Palantiri7

    Palantiri7 Member

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    Those 645 slide pics on your blog look great!
     
  11. Rolleijoe

    Rolleijoe Member

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    I've been considering this system myself, but am used to Zeiss lenses from my Rolleis, to Contax. Is there an adapter to use Zeiss glass on here, and if so, which Zeiss? (Hassy, Rollei, etc). This would be to get away from the small sized 35mm negative altogether, and stay in MF alongside my Rolleis.

    Thanks,
    Rolleijoe
     
  12. Rvoge

    Rvoge Subscriber

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    Pentax 645

    Hi,

    I have a 645NII that I bought on ebay, 2 years ago and I am very happy with it.It's a great camera very handy to use, I have mostly used it for B&W portraits and I am very happy with the results.

    Rachel

     
  13. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    Thanks for all the comments!

    I have taken two rolls and so far, so good. After the first few shots were user-error messed up, the camera worked fine. I don't know about the screen "brightness" that seems a common praise for this model... in our house, with rather limited lighting, I find it hard to focus precisely, which is critical when using f 2.8 on the 75mm lens. It was easy to focus outside in bright light.

    It handles GREAT. Love that! I can use it around the house, which I never did with my first 645 (Mamiya 1000S). The 75mm lens is excellent.

    B&W next! :smile:
     
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  15. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I'm always raving about mine. I love the push-button interface. The 75mm lens is probably the sharpest i've ever owned. The viewfinder is the weak point, in the sense that it can get loose and wiggle around, the diopter can get loose too and shift in the middle of a session as well. I used a dab of hot glue and a table tennis 'ping pong' ball cut in half, then cut into thin strips as a sort of shim to fit around the viewfinder tube and body. The hot glue comes off easy and clean as well.

    Might be more than you wanted to hear.. I can go on and on sometimes.
     
  16. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    Some odd B&W results

    I shot a roll of HP5 at ASA 400 and developed it. Printed a few shots up to 8x10. One of the test shots was of my camera collection, some 40+ odd pieces or so, shot with a flash bounced off a white ceiling.

    At 1/125th second.

    Oops! The flash sync for the Pentax 645 is 1/60th, should have read the manual first, I suppose... but wait! There's more! None of the shots were affected. Not that I can tell. The flash sync seemed to work fine at 1/125th sec. Was I lucky?

    I am semi-disappointed with the lens, however. At f11 is it reasonable to expect all the cameras be in pretty sharp focus? I wouldn't call my results sharp (will post a scan of an 8x10 later) at least not compared to a shot taken with a Canon 5D and an "L" lens, also at f11. Do I need to stop down even more with medium format? The area the cameras occupied, front to back, was no more than 2.5 feet, and I focussed on a middle camera.
     
  17. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    You will have less depth of field with the 645 when used at the same aperture as an equivalent lens on 35mm.

    I can't help you about the flash synch. I've never used flash with my P645's.
     
  18. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I always thought that you could use shutter speeds at the synch speed (1/60th) and faster. *shrug*

    Which lens are you disappointed with? The 150? Have you adjusted the diopter? The rubber ring with -'s and +'s around the viewfinder? If you haven't, a good way to check is to remove the lens and activate the meter by pressing the shutter release button down halfway. Adjust the ring left or right until the LED readings are at their sharpest. Or you can stick the camera on a tripod and focus at infinity and adjust it using that.

    I can tell you from experience that an incorrectly adjusted diopter can make every picture soft or even blurry.

    I can also attest to the 75mm being the sharpest lens I own.
     
  19. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    I'll second Phillip's comments.... The diopter adjustment has tripped me up a couple of times. The little 75mm is an honest optic and will give results that should satisfy most anyone. I have owned a P67 system and had accumulated quite a few lenses over the years. The 645 is much brighter and easier to focus and with the adapter, I can use the P67 lenses on the 645 with good success. Keep us posted on the focus issue.
     
  20. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    Soft Image

    Here's a scan of an 8x10 print. I printed it with as sharp a focus as I can see with my enlarger. The photo was shot on Ilford HP5 at ASA 400, f11, 1/125th sec, handheld, with a flash bounced off the ceiling and a little front fill flash too. The image is printed on Promaster RC variable contrast paper with #1 filter.

    http://www.wolfeye.smugmug.com/photos/264940921_hngX5-O.jpg

    Now to me, this looks soft. Is it? Or is HP5 the culprit, lacking sharpness? I have another shot of this setup in the camera right now on Pan F, which should be as sharp as possible, f8 this time. I'll develop and print when the roll is finished and post for comparison.
     
  21. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    You are right—the image is uniformly soft. Assuming the problem is the camera and not the enlarger, I would run some test shots. I would use a tripod to eliminate camera movement as a variable. I would try different f/stops, different camera to subject distances, and I would bracket focus. I would use a loupe to evaluate the images on a light table.
     
  22. Paul.A

    Paul.A Member

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    Yes the image is definitely soft. You can see the progression of the depth of field over the photo with the sharpest point being on the Canon F1 (at least to my eye).
    I think you've got some blur with the cause most likely being mirror slap. I'd be intrigued to see the same shot taken on a good tripod with mirror lock up and a cable release. If it was still unsharp then you have a problem.
    I have a Pentax 645 IIn with 45-85 mm and 150 mm lenses. I find it a brilliant camera and wished I bought one much earlier. I regularly print out at A3+ and have had excellent results.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  23. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    I use the 645NII a lot. It's a great camera with wonderful lenses! The diopter is important.
     
  24. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    That is soft (duh, sorry) and the F-1 is sharpest to me too. The 645 has a wonderfully dampened mirror system. Much more dampened than my hassy 503cx. I've never noticed image shake, possibly once but I'm more than sure that I was using a slow shutter speed and was moving a little too much at the time. I'm guessing you've inspected the negatives with a loupe. If you're just going by the print it could definitely be the enlarger.
     
  25. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    A good bit better

    I'm thinking the HP5 is the culprit. Maybe. This shot, not the same, but showing some DOF, is on Pan F:

    http://www.wolfeye.smugmug.com/photos/265279203_8NJae-O.jpg

    This shot is tripod-mounted, 15 seconds at f16. I used a screw-in self-timer to trip the shutter. It's focussed on the AV-1 and I think it's pretty darn sharp. This is a negative scan - hope to print it out tonite. Some of the sharpness loss on the edges may be from the slight curvature of the negative. My flatbed doesn't do much to help negative curl.
     
  26. Paul.A

    Paul.A Member

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    That's a lot better. Just playing around with levels and the unsharp mask has also made an improvement[​IMG]