Pentax 645D medium format digital camera
The 40Mp field worker
Glass half full?
Although the 645D is compatible with most old Pentax lenses, which are notoriously good and cheap, these simply do not compare to the glass available on the new Hasselblad, Phase One or Leica models. At present Pentax has released only one digitally-optimised lens, the SMC Pentax-DFA 645 1:2.8 55mm AL (IF) SDM AW, which I used in this test shoot. While Pentax offers 15 lenses compatible with this model, however, later this month more news on optimised lenses is anticipated.
Great value, but needs more quality glass to show of the extent of its capabilities
This 645D’s 55mm prime lens is dust-proof and weather resistant, has a completely rounded diaphragm to produce a natural, smooth transition between focal plane and out of focus areas. Its also features a new supersonic direct-drive motor for effortless autofocus and a special lens coating to minimise flare. The lens is bright and fast and does justice to the calibre of the sensor, delivering a level of detail far beyond the reach of a DSLR.
I was pleasantly surprised by the clever design and stunning picture quality of the 645D. It is almost the perfect blend of medium format image detail with DSLR ease of use and ergonomics. At a fraction of the price of a Hasselblad, the 645D is certainly appears great value, and there are plenty of compatible lenses out there for it. That said, if Pentax wants to be a serious contender in the digital medium format market it needs to invest in delivering a range of calibrated lenses to complement the capabilities of the 645D camera body. Hopefully, the company won’t take as long as it took to bring the 645D to market or the allure of this camera's excellent bang for buck will be very short lived. ®
Catherine Monfils is a professional photographer specialising in portraiture, lifestyle and fashion.
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