Pentax 645 vs 645N vs 645NII
By way of introduction, I have been a 6x7 shooter. I shoot with a Pentax 67II system with 3 lenses (45 f4, 75 2.8 and 105 2.4).
I am planning a photographic trip to India and am trying to decide what I use over there. I will be shooting mainly portrait, people and little bit of landscape. Normally, I wouldn't think twice about shooting with the 6x7 but because I am going to burn a lot of film in India and I don't think I need the image quality of a 6x7 film for any future use of my photos, I think it could be wise to shoot 645 to save space and a few bucks.
When it comes to 645, the first system I think of is the Pentax 645 as I can use my 67 lenses to save money on buying into a new system. When I come back from India, I will probably sell the 645 camera and go back to my 67.
My questions to you are:
- How adaptable are the 67 lenses on the 645? I know that there will be a crop and I lose the wide angle of the 45. I may need a 45mm dedicated for the 645 system.
- There's a significant difference in price between the 645, 645N and 645NII. I read the spec chart on Pentax Forum. It seems to make a little difference to me as I will be shooting manual exposure and manual focus. However, I wish to find out from a user-friendliness perspective, which one would you recommend to me? Does one have a significant advantage over the other say for manual focusing? I need to mention that most of my shootings will be done hand-held.
I am sorry for the long post. Any thoughts will be appreciated. Thanks!
It does not matter if you are using the native 45mm or the 67 45mm .... 45mm stays 45mm. If you want the wide angle view you will have to mount the 35mm lens. Superb, but pricy. I do not own the original 645, but it is said that the N versions are better at metering light. And of course ergonometics. If you can handle the button interface of the original 645 you will not have a problem.
The 645 has horrible manual controls on the body (a mode button that cycles through modes, and mode-dependent up-down buttons for things like shutter speed) and small LCD screens to tell you what's going on. It's cheap, though, and the viewfinder is well suited to manual-focus lenses (there's no autofocus with this body).
The 645N has just about a perfect control layout - big dedicated dials with any matching auto function in the right place (eg autoexposure is just another setting on the shutter-speed dial) and no bloody mode switch. Adds autofocus and data imprinting to the 645 package, along with shutter-priority autoexposure with the right lenses.
The 645NII adds extra data imprinting on the negative, and is newer (well, less old) than the 645N.
With the 67 -> 645 adapter you retain automatic aperture control, along with aperture-priority autoexposure. Pricing for these adapters can be weird - I bought mine boxed for $45, while another unit in similar condition was offered (by the same seller) for close to $200.
I love my 645N, but can't compare it to the others because I haven't used them. I can confirm that the metering in mine has been great. I have smallish hands and have no problem with it, though I do need a tripod with the 120mm because it's just too heavy to stay steady. I've never used 67 lenses on mine, but a friend has and likes it fine. The fact that it takes AA batteries has been a lifesaver a few times. I don't know if the original has a tripod mount on the side as well, but the 645N does, so you can mount it on a tripod in portrait position or landscape - handy.
I have owned and shot all three. I'm just going to go into the things that may be important to you.
On the original camera as mentioned above you have to use buttons to control the shutter speeds up or down instead of a dial. It's useable but I didn't like it. The viewfinder is also darker than the later models.
The 645N and the Nll are a joy to use with their big bright viewfinders, normal controls and matrix metering, so I recommend them over the original for you. Yes, they will cost you more but if you buy right you will probably get most if not all your money back when you sell. I see no advantage to you for the Nll except for it being newer. Pentax finally caved into demand and put a mirror lock-up on the Nll but it is unnecessary due to Pentax's excellent mirror dampening.
Last edited by Alan Gales; 08-19-2014 at 11:09 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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What Alan said. Get a 645N. The only difference with the NII is that the II has mirror lock-up. Don't need it.
I would also second the 645n vote, but honestly since it will be a short owned one you may as well go with whichever you can find the best deal.
As for lenses, you probably will be able to get the 75mm matched with the body for a good price I would embrace that option for the money.
Instead of buying an adapter you may want to consider putting that money toward another modest priced lens to sell with the kit later.
The 45 is considered a poor performer so I wouldn't recommend that, the 55 is better and can be picked up rather cheap, it will be about the same field of view as you 45 adapted to 645. The 35mm is a nice choice but you will pay for the wide angle.
I just picked up a 120 macro for a great price for my new 645n kit and think that may be a nice consideration as they aren't terribly expensive and are one of the sharper lenses. Both choices would give you similar coverage to what you 67 lenses would.
The 45 a poor performer? Says who? I get great photos with mine.
645N then as it's at least $300 cheaper than the NII. Thanks everyone for the helpful advice.
I use a 300mm f/4 from the Pentax 67 system on my 645N. When you use a 67 lens on a 645, you can't use shutter or program modes, and the lenses tend to be larger and sometimes slower than their 645 equivalents. For example, the dedicated 45mm lenses for the 645 system are f/2.8 instead of f/4. The 300mm f/4 for the 645 system had ED glass, which my 67 version lacks.
Originally Posted by inzane
I can't speak to the 645NII, since I could never justify the price difference to myself. Besides autofocus, though, the 645N has more conventional controls, doesn't require the odd battery in the grip, does exposure compensation in 1/3 stops and has an autoexposure lock. The view through the finder is also nicer. The 645n also records 16 shots per roll of 120mm film instead of 15; I'm fine with that, but the reduced frame spacing does make things a bit more finicky in the darkroom.
Originally Posted by inzane
The one advantage that the 645 had over the 645n is focus screens for manual focusing. The 645's UC-21 screen combines both microprism and split-image aids. The standard AS-80 screen for the 645n lacks both. The optional AA-82 screen includes a microprism aid, and the AB-82 includes a split-image aid, but you have to choose. Both optional screens are also fairly hard to find; it took me a few months to find a camera store which had one gathering dust on the back shelves.