Alex Munoz: Medium Format Pentaxian

By PF Staff in Pentaxian Profiles on Dec 12, 2014
Alex Munoz: Medium Format Pentaxian

Today we're happy to present a brief biography of Alex Munoz, an American professional photographer who shoots with the Pentax 645Z medium format system.  He is currently sponsored by Ricoh Imaging. 

I am a lifestyle/fashion advertising photographer based in Los Angeles, California, USA. I have been taking images since I was 6 years old. What started out as a hobby became a profession in later life. Today, I am a PPA Certified Professional Photographer, and I occasionally teach photography classes in between commercial assignments (e.g. meet me at WCS2015 for a weeklong masterclass).

I learned by taking pictures with cameras which barely had an exposure indicator in them. It was all film, and all manual. I have been shooting digital since 2008, and today I work exclusively with Ricoh/Pentax equipment for all my still image needs. I also create commercials and infomercials as a DP, as Director, Creative Director, or any combination thereof. What can I say is that I just love creating visuals, both moving and still.

I used to shoot pretty much with anything out there throughout the years, but today I find it important in my area of work to shoot with medium format type sensors. It's the added resolution, different perspective, and per pixel sharpness that makes a huge difference. The 645Z, as an overall package, is clearly leading the way in that regard. While I have often used Hasselblad or Phase One cameras before, the speed at which I am able to work on set with the 645Z is just much closer to a DSLR than anything else out there.

The AF works more often than not, the camera is generally very responsive, I have access to a variety of great lenses (with or without adapters), I can shoot tethered on location and in the studio, I have an amazing workable dynamic range, commercially usable images even at ISO 6400, much more affordable accessories than with those other guys, great service and so much more. Yes, there are things that I wish the Z would do better, but then again, if those things matter to me on an assignment, then I would just have to rent different gear for that particular job. Overall, the 645Z covers 99% of my needs at a fraction of the cost of comparable systems, and most importantly, it does so many things better than the other guys, that this is really a no-brainer camera system, at least for me.

I have to admit though that I love complex lighting setups. In particular, the Broncolor Move packs offer plenty of light, are very versatile, and the standard reflectors work well for a punchy look; these packs enable me to do amazing setups almost everywhere, without having to worry about total power, or finding an outlet. I also believe that the Profoto B1's are amazing tools; although I wish, they had more power.

You can learn more about the Pentax 645Z in the in-depth review.

Photo Gallery

Below are some examples of my recent work.

My Gear

Alex Munoz's GearClick to enlarge

When I go on a shoot my kit most of these days consists of:

One or more Broncolor Move 1200L packs (best battery power packs by far)

  • My Pentax 645Z (amazing resolution and low-light capabilities)
  • My Pentax 645D (great as a backup; gets similar results at low ISO)
  • My HD Pentax-DA 28-45mm ED AW SR f/4.5 (weather sealed, amazing contrast and sharpness, plus it has optical image stabilization)
  • My SMC Pentax-FA 45-85mm f/4.5 (my favorite lens by far)
  • My HD Pentax-D FA 90mm ED AW SR f/2.8 Macro (great sharpness and resolution, and it is a macro lens)
  • My SMC Pentax-FA 55-110mm f/5.6 (not as fast as the other lenses, but it is very versatile in its focal range)
  • One or more AF540FGZ II speed light(s) (I use it as fill or slave flash whenever I need to add a bit of emphasis somewhere)
  • My Ricoh Theta 360 m1.5 camera (takes great 360 images and videos of lighting setups and is awesome for behind-the-scenes footage, or to show a client what was happening and how much work went into a particular project, if they can't send a representative to be on set with us)
  • Several ND and CP filters for various thread sizes (I always use them, in particular when I am outdoors)
  • Several Pocket Wizards (I have them because everyone uses them)
  • GOSSEN DIKISKY light meter (I never shoot without metering first, at least to get a baseline)
  • X-Rite Colorchecker Passport (allows me to have solid and repeatable color management)
  • A Hoodman Loupe (for those untethered outdoor shoots)
  • A 15ft tether cable (I shoot tethered to CaptureOne whenever I can)
  • A Macbook Pro Retina 15"
  • A Lacie external firewire SSD (to back up images on location)
  • Several spare batteries for strobes and my cameras
  • Lastolite Trigrip Reflecto (it fits neatly inside my bag and often comes in handy)

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