Pentax 645 reviews?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Existing Light, Apr 19, 2013.

  1. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    Well, I've taken a vacation from film photography for the last year to deal with some medical stuff. I'm pretty much done with 35mm film, and I'm basically using my K-mount lenses on my Pentax K-r. But I'd like to keep a rollfilm camera around for when I'm not feeling able to carry my 5x7 around, which I must admit, has been collecting dust lately. I'm interested in getting a Pentax 645, and was wondering if anyone has used or is using one or its bigger brother, the 67? I'm mostly concerned with functionability of the camera and having decent lenses; are the cameras reliable and able to take slight bumps, and are the lenses, in terms of optical quality and durability, as good as Pentax's 35mm lenses (the only lenses I'm familiar with)? I don't need super high resolution lenses nanocoated with angel dust, but I want something good without having to take out a 401k loan to make a down payment on :smile: Also, portability is a plus. If the pentax medium format cameras aren't horribly heavy, I'd consider the 67.
     
  2. HTF III

    HTF III Restricted Access

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    Can't go wrong with a Pentax. But remember, Hasselblads can be found cheap. Especially ELM's
     
  3. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    I'd also like to add that I found a 645 on Ebay for $299 as a buy it now item. Is that a decent price or too high?
     
  4. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    Brand loyalty makes me want a Pentax, but I wont pass up a good deal on aHasselblad if one comes around. But then, I wont know how to keep the conversation going after answering "yes" to the "Is that a Hasselblad?" question. And yes, people have looked directly at my K1000 or K-r, and must have noticed the PENTAX on the front before asking :D
     
  5. HTF III

    HTF III Restricted Access

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    Being brand-loyal to Pentax is a good thing.
     
  6. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    I've been shooting the 645N and NII for the past year and a half. If I had to sell all my cameras but one that would be the one I kept. The plain old 645 has a few disadvantages, to me the biggest one being it uses buttons instead of dials.

    Check out Pentax Forum for reviews and Ken Rockwell -- whatever your opinion of him might be --- has good reviews of the 645 and 645N.

    In my opinion the lenses are excellent and my cameras have proven durable. I do a lot of mountain biking, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling with mine and it's been rugged.

    $299 is a lot to pay for a 645 body. For that kind of money you should get at least a body + lens or else a 645N body.
     
  7. hoshisato

    hoshisato Member

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    I have had the Pentax 645NII for about 2 years now and I'm really enjoying that camera and I'm using it more and more. I'm using the cheaper 'A' manual lenses on it and they work great. It may appear a bit bigger, but I use it as an SRL, hand held, and use it when travelling.
     
  8. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I have the P645N and a Hasselblad. The Hasselblad stays home way more than the Pentax. I can sorta handhold the Hasselblad, but it's awkward. I can definitely handhold the Pentax, though it's tougher with the 120 macro. The lenses are fantastic, imo.
     
  9. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    I find Ken Rockwell tolerable, and I'll check out his reviews. And the body does come with a lens; sorry I didn't mention that earlier. Here's the link to the ebay listing: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Pentax-645-...799678074?pt=Film_Cameras&hash=item565562127a
     
  10. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    I have owed all three of the Pentax 645 series and a good buddy of mine owns a Pentax 6x7.

    I used to shoot the NII and had an N as backup (not that I ever needed backup). I found the cameras very reliable. The N2II has a mirror lock-up and a textured finish. The mirror lock-up is unnecessary due to the great job that Pentax does of dampening the mirror. The N is prettier in my opinion but the textured finish of the NII does hide/prevent scratches.

    I am a small time Ebay Seller of camera gear to help support my hobby. I have owned and sold quite a few original manual focus 645's. Like most people, I hated the buttons of the original camera. Imagine having to keep pushing a button to get the shutter speed you want. I also found the viewfinder dimmer than the N and NII.

    My advice is to buy an N or NII over the older original camera even if you just use the manual focus lenses.


    Comparing a 645 to a 6x7 is kind of like comparing apples to oranges. The 645 system is easier to carry and the N and NII have auto focus and matrix metering. The 6x7 is big and clunky but has that beautiful 6x7 negative. I used to shoot a Mamiya RZ67. It was a great camera but I didn't carry it around everywhere. You need to hold a 6x7 in your hands to see what you think.
     
  11. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Subscriber

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    I just got into the P67 system (have one non-working non-MLU body and one working MLU 6x7 body) + 105/2.4 which is the standard lens for the 67. It fits my fairly large hands better than a Spotmatic or ME/MX sized camera, but is a fair bit heavier.

    I don't shoot a whole bunch of images when I go out anymore, so the 10 shots/roll doesn't bother me. This may replace a whole bunch of other gear for me.
     
  12. Fast

    Fast Member

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    I'll add my vote for the 645. I bought mine a few years ago and it was my first move to MF from 35mm. I was blown away by the detail and the lenses are wonderful. I got mine from KEH for a good price, (can't remember exactly how much - their prices seem to fluctuate with time. They had a lot of inventory at the time so I had good choice in lenses). Hand holding is not a problem for me. I'm not a big fan of auto focus, so don't mind the manual lenses at all.
     
  13. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Absolutely.
     
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  15. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    I built a P67 kit some years back and when I ran into a 645 system in the right situation, I purchased it and an adapter to use the P67 lenses on the 645 body. The 645 came with a 75 and 150 which are both solid performers, but having a 45, 55, 90, 135, 165 and 200 accumulated for the bigger camera had me well covered without buying a bunch of glass. The 645 covered for most duties very well and is much easier to handle than the 67, brighter viewfinder, motor drive, etc but the bigger camera was there for duty when I knew I'd be apt to be making bigger enlargements on a project.
     
  16. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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  17. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

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    The 645Nii is a terrific camera. Until this year it was my most used camera. This year I happen to be working a lot with my Zeiss Ikon rangefinder so I have not used it as much.
     
  18. smolk

    smolk Member

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    The 645N or 645NII are more functional than the original 645 (I agree with the previous poster); all of these cameras, however, are extraordinarily reliable. Apart from the 645 diopter, better on the 645N, I haven't heard of any errors. I'm sure there must be, as with all cameras, but these are rugged ones. And ergonomic too—you hardly believe it until you use one. I find AF good enough for my purposes.
    And the lenses are tops, at least most of them.
    Above all, these cameras and lenses tend to keep their value. So you can try them out and if it's not for you just sell them on again.
     
  19. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    Well I guess you are getting a lot of the same answers. Pentax 645n is one of my absolute favorites! It is significantly improved over the 645 original. But personally I don't think the minor improvements of the 645nII warrant the significantly higher price. As for the lenses, the are fantastic! I only use the manual focus A series but love them. The 645n even has focus confirmation if you are unsure about your MF abilities. It can also imprint the exposure data on the edges of the film for each frame. The VF is large and much brighter than the 645 original and the ergonomics are excellent. It is a reasonably portable camera with a very sturdy build.

    The 67 is much larger, not nearly as easy to handhold, but is a wonderful camera in its own regard!

    As others have suggested, the Pentax Forum is an excellent source for information.
     
  20. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Yes - I love this!
     
  21. MrclSchprs

    MrclSchprs Member

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    Shutterbug also has a nice P645 review on their site.
     
  22. JamesR

    JamesR Member

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    i recently bought a Pentax 645, i had been looking at them years ago, but read a few bad reviews, and heard the the 645N/NII were the ones to get, but they were more than i wanted to spend.
    well i bought one anyway, maybe paid AU$250ish with a 75mm 2.8.
    anyways, i love it.
    buttons aren't an issue, the viewfinder is bright enough.

    my dilemma now is, do i want another lens! 45mm or 150mm...
     
  23. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    The 645 in question (the one mentioned by the OP) is overpriced. You should be able to get the body and 75mm lens for about $200-$250.
     
  24. steelydam

    steelydam Member

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    I have two 645s, both purchased well used. I love them - completely reliable and I am shooting them more and more all the time. I am accustomed to the buttons to change fxns and shutter speeds. A feature that, to me, absolutely RULES is tripod mount on two different sides so you can mount for horizontal and vertical shooting with ease. I don't really use their meters much but could without worry, they seem to be spot-on. And I really dig the glass, I have 55mm, 75mm, and 150mm and use the 75mm 80% of the time.
     
  25. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    well, guys, thanks for all the answers. I don't think the buttons will be that big of a deal since I prefer landscapes / cityscapes, and wont really need to use the dials to quickly change between shutter speeds and ISO's, and any portraits I do will be done in controlled lighting situations. Unfortunately, the one I was looking at sold, and I wasn't the buyer. I'll be on the lookout for another one, and hopefully it'll be a few $$$ cheaper, since that seems to be the consensus for the regular 645
     
  26. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Look at KEH to see what they're getting for them, remembering that they grade condition very conservatively, so the EX grade is usually fairly close to flawless, and BGN is usually what some ebay sellers would call "minty". For sure don't pay more than what they want for a camera in truly comparable condition.
    I'm surprised at the prices for the original 645. They seem to have gone up quite a bit over a few years ago, when I last monitored KEH's prices on them.