The theme for this month's official photo contest- our 92nd monthly contest to date- will be "Spring Colors". Show us those beautiful colors that are emerging as winter comes to an end, or if it's not spring in your area, be creative or simply grab a photo from your archives! The only requirement is that your photo be taken with a Pentax or Ricoh camera, and that it's sized appropriately.
In addition, voting for the winners of our March "Starbursts" photo contest is now underway. Help us pick the top three winners, who will be receiving gift cards courtesy of B&H Photo and photo paper courtesy of Red River Paper. The same prizes will be available to our April participants.
We'd like to wish all our contestants good luck!
Alongside the new 645Z, Pentax Japan has also officially announced the Pentax Film Duplicator accessory today. This bellows-like rig makes it easy to digitize negative film and positive slides of various sizes using any DSLR with a macro lens and an external flash. It makes digitizing film considerably faster and arguably more enjoyable than with a flatbed scanner, and it gives the user more control over the appearance of the final image.
The Film Duplicator weighs 2200g and can stretch up to 90cm to accommodate various lenses, cameras, and degrees of magnification.
At this time the accessory has only been announced in Japan. It will go on sale in May for 120,000 Yen (approx. $1200 USD).
To learn more about the film duplicator, check out a demonstration of it in action at the CP+ 2014 show.
The 645Z teaser has ended as Pentax has just officially unveiled the new Pentax 645Z medium format DSLR, the 51-megapixel successor to the 645D, originally launched in 2010.
This professional DSLR boasts a new CMOS sensor that delivers a big jump in image quality and resolution compared to the 40-megapixel CCD chip that came before it. The ISO range of the 645Z will be an impressive 100-204,800, up from 200-1000 (100-1600 expanded) on the 645D. At an MSRP of just US $8,499.95, the 645Z promises to be a very compelling option for studio and landscape photographers craving ultimate image quality, as its sensor specifications place it in a league above 35mm full-frame without the steep price tag of other medium format systems. This launch price is 15% lower than that of the 645D, and it marks an industry low for a medium format DSLR.
Other features new to this camera include live view, full-HD video recording, and a tilting LCD screen. It has received an upgraded 27-point autofocus with sensitivity to -3 EV as well as a highly-accurate 86k-pixel metering system. It can also be remotely controlled via the optional FluCard accessory, or desktop tethering software. Pentax is able to keep the price of this very serious camera down by sharing hardware between it and the Pentax K-3, the company's APS-C flagship. Another shared component is the PRIME III imaging engine, which offers increased processing speed and responsiveness compared to earlier cameras.
While the 645Z shares the same form factor as the 645D, it has received an updated button layout to accommodate the presence of video and live view. The shutter mechanism has also been improved, now offering a maximum frame rate of 3FPS, up from 1.1FPS. The dual SDXC card slots now support UHS-I memory cards for faster read/write speeds. The 645Z continues to be fully weather-sealed.
As a medium format camera with a 44x33mm sensor, the 645Z uses lenses that are larger those for traditional 35mm or APS-C DSLRs. The camera body is also considerably larger in order to facilitate the wider lens mount, large mirror, and optical viewfinder. As a result, the 645Z has a number of additional controls as well as two perfectly-flat tripod mount surfaces: one on the bottom and one on the left side. This makes for easy changes in orientation without affecting the camera's center of gravity.
In the early morning of April 15th the moon will acquire a reddish hue as we observe a total lunar eclipse lasting several hours. This rare event will make it a great night to go out and capture stunning moon photos with those telephoto lenses, and possibly moonscapes, if you get lucky!
According to NASA, the the moon will start changing color at 1:58 a.m. Eastern Time (GMT-4), as it enters the Earth's Umbra, or shadow. It will become the so-called "blood moon" by the 3:07 a.m., once it is fully engulfed by the shadow, and this will continue until approximately 4:24 a.m., when the process will begin undoing itself.
Although one would normally expect the moon to become invisible while it's in Earth's shadow, our atmosphere refracts some sunlight into the shadow, which is then scattered, ultimately resulting in a perceptible red hue. A similar effect reddens the sky during sunsets.
While lunar eclipses are quite common, total eclipses featuring a red moon are rare, as we need to be lucky to get the Sun, Earth, and Moon to line up properly. This time around we're super lucky, as similar eclipses will take place on October 8th of this year and April 4th and September 28th of 2015.
Read on for some lunar photography tips to help you get the best moon photos tonight.
I'm a British ex-pat based in Okinawa. I specialize in shooting travel images of Japan for publication in magazines, newspapers and guidebooks.
In 2002, I started using the Pentax 67II. It’s a big, heavy, beast of a camera, but I was hooked by the beautiful transparencies it produced. In Japan, the 67 is nicknamed Gulliver, and for nearly a decade it was my faithful travel companion. After escapades with ninja, yakuza and geisha I named my website TRAVEL67.com.
In 2010, the arrival of the 645D meant I could have the quality of medium format with the faster workflow of digital. Along with travel imagery, I started working in the studio, shooting model portfolios, products, headshots, and the occasional dog. My travel and studio photography converged with the Karate Masters Portrait Project in which I bring a studio flash to the dojos of Okinawa's martial arts icons.
Sigma Japan has just made a press release stating that the Sigma USB Lens dock will become available for Pentax and Sony lenses starting on April 25th. The lens dock was previously only available for Sigma, Canon, and Nikon lenses.
This innovative accessory allows users to perform lens autofocus adjustments and firmware updates without the need for professional servicing. In the US, it retails for just $59.
The USB dock is only compatible with Sigma Global Vision lenses, including the "Art", "Contemporary", and "Sports" series. The following Pentax K-mount lenses are compatible:
- 30mm F1.4 DC HSM "Art"
- 35mm F1.4 DG HSM "Art"
- 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC HSM "Contemporary"
- 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM "Art"*
- 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM "Contemporary"*
*coming soon for Pentax
We will post an update once the USB dock arrives at US and international retailers. Stay tuned!
The number of available Pentax 645 medium format lenses in the US market skyrocketed today, as we've just learned that 13 FA-series lenses will soon be complementing the current 3 lenses in the DA- and DFA-series. This change means that in addition to the 25mm, 55mm, and 90mm lenses, users of the 40-megapixel Pentax 645D will also be able to choose from a variety of other lenses including wide-angles, macros, zooms, and telephotos.
All the new FA lenses are now available for pre-order at B&H Photo. While some of those have been around for nearly two decades, they are still in production and form a key part of the Pentax 645 system in other markets. They were available in the US during the film era. FA lenses feature autofocus and auto exposure support, but they lack modern features such as full-time manual focus override (quick shift) and weather sealing compared to the DA/DFA series. The 13 FA lenses are now priced between $699 and $4799.
The diagram below shows the complete Pentax 645 mount lens lineup in the US before and after this announcement. Note that the FA* 645 300mm F4 is the only FA autofocus lens that won't be going on sale in the US.
We are happy to hear this news, as it will undoubtedly strengthen the appeal of the upcoming Pentax 645Z launch outside of Japan. The successor to the 645D will be announced next week and is rumored to feature a 50-megapixel sensor with video capabilities.
Read on for a complete pricelist for the lenses being introduced.
The Pentax K-50 and K-500 entry-level DSLRs now are available at very affordable prices. These cameras offer nearly the same image quality as the legendary Pentax K-5, but at a much lower price point.
The K-500 is available from B&H with the Pentax DA L 18-55mm kit lens for just $399.
Read on for another great deal on the weather-sealed K-50.