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Pentax 645Z Hands On Review

We go hands-on with the new Pentax 645Z, the most affordable medium format digital camera ever released, and post a number of sample photos.

Posted: 03/06/2014 - 11:47

Pentax 645Z Weather Sealed Wet (2) (Large)

The Pentax 645Z is not only the most affordable 50 megapixel medium format digital camera available, it's also the world's first medium format camera to offer full HD video recording, and uses a new 50 megapixel CMOS sensor from Sony. The CMOS sensor is 1.7x larger than a full-frame sensor.

Pentax 645Z Features

Pentax 645Z Weather Sealed Wet (1) (Large)

The weather-sealed Pentax 645Z offers a 51 megapixel medium format CMOS sensor that shoots high resolution JPEG and RAW (AdobeDNG, PEF), images at a resolution of 8256 x 6192.

Bod Img 01 01

The new camera also offers one of the largest ISO ranges available in a medium format camera, from ISO100 to ISO204800, with most other medium format cameras offering a maximum of ISO6400. Another benefit of the Pentax 645Z is that it offers 3fps continuous shooting, which may not seem very quick when compared to your average Digital SLR, however most other medium format digital cameras with this resolution sensor offer 1.2fps or 1.5fps continuous shooting.

The camera features the PRIME III image processor, which has lens correction built in including: Distortion Correction, Lat-Chromatic-Ab Adj, Peripheral Illumin. Corr., Diffraction Correction, and Colour Fringe Correction. 

The Pentax 645Z system is roughly 3 times cheaper than the nearest competitor, such as the Hasselblad H5D-50c available for £22440 body only, with the Pentax 645Z priced at £6799 body only. The Pentax 645D with a 40 megapixel CCD sensor will remain on the market and is available for £5099 with lens, making it more than half the price of other 40 megapixel medium format systems. 

Key Features

  • 50 megapixel medium format CMOS sensor, 43.8 x 32.9mm
  • AA (anti-aliasing) filter free sensor
  • 3.2 inch 3:2 tilting screen, 1037k dots
  • Liveview shooting for stills and movie, with focus peaking
  • Optical viewfinder: Keplerian telescopic trapezoid prism finder, with 98% Coverage
  • Dual Axis Electronic level
  • Remote viewfinder support (using FLU Card)
  • Dual SD card slots, USB3.0
  • ISO100 to ISO204800
  • Full HD video, mic socket, 4K timelapse video output
  • Phase Detection Focus - 27 AF sensors, 25 cross type, -3 EV focus
  • Color depth: 8 bits/channel JPG, 14 bits/channel RAW
  • Dustproof, weather-resistant construction
  • Magnesium alloy exterior, Aluminum die-cast chassis

Pentax 645Z Handling

Pentax 645Z (19) (Large)

The Pentax 645Z has a deep handgrip to help give a firm grip of the camera, and when held with both hands feels quite comfortable to hold, however as can be seen in the pictures the camera and lenses are noticeably larger than your standard Digital SLR system.

Pentax 645Z (20) (Large)

There are numerous buttons and controls, with an additional row of buttons on the left hand side of the camera. However, the camera is very similar in operation to the Pentax K-3 with the same menu system, a familiar mode dial, and similar buttons and controls on the back of the camera. Using the 645Z feels like using a large Digital SLR camera, rather than a more traditional medium format camera. This makes it relatively easy to pick up and start using straight away without necessarily having to have used the system before.

Pentax 645Z (18) (Large)

With a weather sealed body (and a number of weather sealed lenses) it means it can be used in the rain, as well as down to -10C for landscape photography for example. The tilting 3.2inch screen with a 1037k dot resolution is particularly well suited for low angles, or for studio work, as shown above, and a dual-axis electronic level ensures your photos are straight. There is a large illuminating LCD screen on top to quickly show shooting information.

Pentax 645Z (7) (Large)

The 645Z has a number of physical controls and dials to make changing settings, and setting up the camera, quick and straightforward without having to delve deep into the menus. There is a mirror lock-up switch at the front of the camera, with a metering dial under the mode dial, a focus mode dial, as well as a dial to switch between photo and video modes. The battery life is rated at 700 shots according to CIPA standards.

Pentax 645Z Menus (2) (Large) Pentax 645Z Menus (4) (Large) Pentax 645Z Menus (5) (Large)

If you do need to go into the menu system, then the menus are quite neatly laid out over several colour coded screens, and anyone who is familiar with other Pentax cameras should find the menus very easy to use. Focus speeds are respectable however not as quick as the best Digital SLRs, and for moving subjects did not seem the most responsive. For everything else, and particularly for some of the subjects where this camera is likely to excel, such as fashion / studio and landscape photography, focus speeds were quick enough. We will be putting the focus system to the test when we have a full production version of the camera in for review shortly.

Nb. Sample photos taken on a rainy day in London. Photos shown below taken using a beta version model of the camera, and not the final production version. Photos have been resized at Pentax' request.

Pentax 645Z Specifications

Manufacturer Pentax
Effective Magnification 1.3x
Image Sensor
Pixels 51Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W) 8256
Pixels (H) 6192
Sensor Type CMOS
Sensor Size Medium Format
Sensor Size (width) 44mm
Sensor Size (height) 33mm
Aspect Ratio 4:3
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor 3.2in
Screen resolution 1037k
Touch Screen No
Focusing modes Autofocus
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest 1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest 30sec
Bulb mode Yes
Exp modes Program
Program Variable
ISO sensitivity 100 - 204500
White balance
Exposure Comp +/-5
Magnification No Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting 3fps
Movie mode Yes
Video Resolution 1920x1080 FullHD
Video FPS 60i,50i,30p,25p,24p
Stereo Sound No Data
Optical Zoom with Video Yes
Other Features
Image Stabilisation No
Wi-Fi No
Card Type SD
File Type RAW
Power Source
Battery Type Lithium Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating) 700shots
Box Contents
Box Contents No Data
Weight 1480g
Width 156mm
Height 117mm
Depth 123mm

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