It’s been five long years since Pentax introduced us to their exciting plans to develop their first-ever medium format digital camera. With lots of exposure and an agonising ‘will-they-won’t-they’ debate over whether or not the camera would reach UK shores, the Pentax 645D is finally here, and I am one of the first to get my hands on a full-production sample to review.
First, let’s take a look at the headline specifications: the Pentax 645D – the first digital version of their excellent 645 medium format camera system – offers a colossal Kodak-manufactured 40MP (44 x 33) CCD sensor, 3-inch, 921,000-dot LCD and a high-speed PRIME II imaging engine. Compatible with the manufacturer’s existing 645 system lenses, the 645D can be snapped up for a cool £10k.
What does that buy you? Well, in addition to an incredibly robust, yet surprisingly lightweight, camera body, you get a wonderful user-experience, thanks to the logically laid-out and well-proportioned controls. There are a few niggles when it comes to operating speed, but if it’s top-notch image quality you’re after, then the 645D cannot be faulted.
The huge 7264×5440 pixel images produced by this camera are gloriously detailed, with very accurate colours and superb dynamic range. Noise is well-controlled throughout its – albeit relatively narrow – ISO sensitivity range, with perfectly usable shots up to the top ISO 1600 setting.
This camera may not suit everyone’s needs (or indeed budget) but it excels in the controlled studio environment, or when out in the field, armed with a tripod and on the look-out for stunning landscapes.
Check out issue 6 of Digital Photography Enthusiast for my full, in-depth review, but in the meantime, take a look at a few of the test shots I captured during my time with this superb camera (for a closer look, visit my Flickr Photostream: www.flickr.com/photos/josiereavely/)