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Pentax 645

Reviews Views Date of last review
11 74,168 Tue May 31, 2022
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
91% of reviewers $285.91 9.18
Pentax 645

Pentax 645
Pentax 645

Pentax 645 film body comparison

Pentax 645 vs 67

Year introduced
Pentax 645 A
Meter range
3 - 19 EV
Meter pattern
ISO range
6 - 6400
Film type
120 and 220 roll film, 70mm film
No. of exposures
120 film: 15, 220 film: 32, 70mm: 90
Data imprint on film
Exposure modes
P, Tv, Av, M, B, X
Exposure compensation
+/-3 EV
Exposure memory lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
15 - 1/1000s
Shutter speeds (manual)
15 - 1/1000s
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
Half step speeds in M and Tv
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Multiple exposures
Built-in, 1.5 fps
Built-in flash
TTL flash
P-TTL flash
Sync speed
Flash exposure comp
Autofocus sensitivity
Not applicable
0.75x, 92% (vert), 93% (hor)
Viewfinder type
Keplerian telescope
Diopter correction
-5 - +2
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Image size
41.5 x 56 mm
6 x AA
External battery pack
Size (W x H x D)
147 x 109 x 117 mm
1320 g
Accepts leaf shutter lens for flash synchronization to 1/500s.
Accessories: 120 and 220 film backs, 70mm film holder
Price History:

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New Member

Registered: January, 2012
Location: Wrightstown, NJ
Posts: 4
Review Date: May 31, 2022 Recommended | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Wonder medium format camera with the very good Pentax glass.
Cons: Can't think of any, especially after having the 6X7.

I didn't see any mention one of the jewels of this camera, that is the 120mm f4 Macro lens. If you never used a macro lens without a tripod, you will be very surprised. The f4 stop is nice and you can also use it as a mid telephoto.

I'll have to dig up some photos, but I haven't been healthy lately. I had to mention this lens at least generally.
Forum Member

Registered: February, 2015
Posts: 93
Review Date: May 4, 2019 Recommended | Price: $225.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Ease of use, light weight, handling

Found one new old stock recently. I've never shot med. format before this and I'm still in a pleasant state of shock. What a revelation! The camera itself is very easy to use, light and handles very intuitively. Too bad you can't swap out backs mid shoot but who really cares when there's only 15 shots per roll.
Did I mention how pleased I am?

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 10,218
Review Date: August 8, 2017 Recommended | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good handling and build quality, fantastic viewfinder, produces very nice images, excellent lenses
Cons: 1/1000s max. shutter speed, 80s control layout, works poorly in cold weather

The Pentax 645 is my only medium format system camera, the others being folding cameras or TLRs. The 645 is a far more flexible machine due to interchangeable lenses and better handling. The standard 75mm f/2.8 prime gives especially good handling and results, though I also love the 55mm f/2.8 for wider shots and occasionally use the 150mm f/3.5.

The camera is well built and feels very solid. The only possible exception is the slot-in battery module, which feels like the plastic may be a little brittle. Handling is surprisingly comfortable, at least in my large hands.

The viewfinder is huge (when compared to a 35mm film SLR, even one with a superb viewfinder like the MX) and manual focusing is very easy indeed due to this.

The biggest limitation on this camera is the maximum shutter speed of 1/1000s, though that's nothing unusual for medium format, in fact it's probably faster than most. I bought a 58mm ND filter to be able to use larger apertures on sunny days, and that largely solves the problem (though it makes focusing a bit more difficult) and is a pain if I have to put in on and take it off a lot.

I've also found that the camera doesn't work well on cold days and I think this is due to the batteries suffering with the low temperature. It doesn't even have to be all that cold - a few degrees above zero centigrade and the camera will start to malfunction. There is a battery pack add-on that allows the batteries to be kept inside a jacket pocket, so I should probably track one down and try that.

All-in-all I'm extremely satisfied with the pictures that I can get with this camera. It provides nice shallow depth of field, which I like and struggle to get with smaller formats. The controls seem to be better on the later 645 (N & NII) cameras and that's probably an advantage, but they cost at least double what this model does. I'd like to upgrade one day but until then I'm very happy with the original 645 and I consider it a very good deal in the medium format world.

Some favourite sample images.

Paris P645 160NS 012a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Paris P645 160NS 002a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Paris P645 400H 012a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

P645, 400H 017a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Tri-X 645 2013 015b
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Edinburgh 400H 005a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Edinburgh Tri-X 004a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Edinburgh Tri-X 008a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2010
Location: California
Posts: 2,223
Review Date: April 5, 2017 Recommended | Price: $480.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Good ergonomics even if it is a bit heavy, great MF shots
Cons: None

This is a great camera that works on aperture priority. It is an alternative to my Pentax 6x7 (when I do not want to carry 2 and a half kilos). This camera is absolutely fantastic. The shutter sound is a bit scary, like the thing has something loose inside, but the shots are great. I recommend it. You can get 15 shots with a 120 roll of film. With the 6x7, I can only get 10. However, they are great cameras. Here are some samples that better describe what this camera can do:

18-UltrfineXtrm400-HC110011 by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

Platero y Yo by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

15-400Tx-645012 by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

13-UltrafineXtreme100-023 by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

Update October 17/2017. More photos:

Atascadero by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

Are you talking to me...? by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr

Px645-Tmax-7-2017-119 by Palenquero Photography, on Flickr
Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2015
Location: Kaneohe, HI
Posts: 3,425

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: January 23, 2016 Recommended | Price: $850.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: SLR style ergonomics for medium format
Cons: All the improvements made with the N and NII

Many excellent and complete reviews on this camera, so I will try to add just a few observations and opinions.

I bought my Pentax 645 new in 1986 with the 35mm, 75mm, and 200mm primes. I was a professional photographer from 1982 until I became a full time photography teacher since 1996. I still own and use this camera after 30 years, in part because of the IQ of the primes, the advantages of medium format over 35mm film, and the durability of the camera thru 3 decades and countless photo "safaris".

With my f/2.8 and f/3.5 primes, I find the viewfinder delightfully large and bright. Unlike most medium format cameras that seem better suited for tripod mounted studio work, I find the 645 well-balanced and in combination with a wide neoprene camera strap, easy to carry on long walks for street photography as well as hikes in nature. There is a second tripod socket on the side of the camera which improves balance on a tripod for vertical shots if needed.

The 6 AA batteries last almost too long, in that I've forgotten that they may die and that I should bring a spare set. One must also be careful to not just leave them in the camera 'forever' as leaking batteries and corrosion seem inevitable. This is not so much an issue with electronics that burns through batteries that need constant replacing.

The last anecdote of why I am so impressed and have kept this camera is that it has survived two drops. Once indoors, bouncing off the carpet and putting a hole in the drywall. Once outdoors, from about waist high onto concrete. The camera not only continued to work without problems, there was no physical damage or marks. I have dropped other cameras (failed straps, quick release plates, etc) and those cameras and lenses required repairs and/or total replacement.

So this is why I did not give it a rating of '10':
a) It is LOUD. The mirror slap, focal plane shutter, and film advance motor and gears in action rivals the noise of a Polaroid to tell the world around you, you've fired a shot loud enough to raise testosterone levels.
b) The Keplerian viewfinder eyepiece diopter creeps and does not stay put.
c) The light meter is highly influenced by highlights, and thus tends to underexpose. Not a problem when shooting Velvia slide film, but problematic when shooting negatives. Typically this forces me to either bracket exposures or to set the ISO -2/3 EV for lower ISO films (64 ISO for 100 ISO films) or -1/3 ISO for higher ISO films.
d) Not weather-sealed. When suddenly changing environmental temperature and humidity, the camera will shut down and not fire. Once acclimated, it's fine, but I have lost a few opportunities because of this.

Yes, the primes are not cheap, but they are an excellent value. In 1986 they cost 3 times more than they do today, and that's not compensating for inflation. As I get older, I would prefer the knobs vs. the buttons in the N and NII and can appreciate AF at times. Imprinting data on the film edge is also a missing feature on the original 645 that I would love to have.

But I have no plans on upgrading simply because the SMC A 75mm f/2.8 and 35mm f/3.5 manual focus primes are exceptional. They and the 645 have followed me through the Sahara and the Mojave deserts, from the French and Swiss alps to remote beaches in Hawaii, and many streets and alleyways from Vera Cruz to Cairo to Geneva.
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Port Angeles, WA
Posts: 505

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: April 13, 2015 Not Recommended | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great handling for MF, Awesome for handheld, Big negatives with Pentax colors
Cons: Nearly Useless (see below)

After my quest to get more and more into manual cameras, I have discovered that when you're good enough to compose and inherently understand the balance of exposure, a well laid-out, more automated camera becomes a fantastic tool for making consistently excellent photos with no effort. For me, this is the perfect step back into automated cameras while retaining amazing quality.

After a recent life change, I lost my Bronica ETRS kit. I replaced it with a Pentax 645. After shooting with other cameras that are fully manual and make me think so much more, I haven't been shooting as much lately. This camera has changed that for me. The AE is very good with a couple caveats, the mirror is very well dampened, and handling is fantastic. I've had a blast with it with the 55mm f/2.8 lens, and have been getting great results and have been taking many more photos with it than I ever did with my ETRS or Graflex.

Let's start with handling. It handles like a large Super Program, basically. People complain about the push buttons for adjustments, but my favorite 35mm SLR is the ME Super. I feel right at home with the buttons. Once you find the layout of everything, it's very easy to change modes, shutter speed, aperture, and exposure compensation. To me, it handles like a breeze. The angled grip makes hand-holding great, and the mirror is so well dampened that I get sharp shots handheld down to 1/30. 1/60 was definitely the limit on my ETRS due to the massive slapping mirror. Built in motor drive makes things a no brainer, with operation, as does the non-changable (mid-roll) back. To me, handling is basically transparent.

Metering is dead on, but has its limits. Perfect exposures in Program and Aperture-Priority. No exposure lock, and compensation and meter readings in full stops. This would be a bit tricky with slides in a weird lighting situation, but it's more than close enough for color and B&W negatives. Most other MF metered prisms won't do better without spending a ton of money.

As a system, the Pentax 645 setup is sharper than the ETRS rig, and I have a hard time believing the Mamiya 645 would be better. Out of the more budget options, the Pentax is a hands down winner.

Now the big problem, and it is a BIG problem: Price and availability. I'm still trying to track down a 75mm lens for under $200. They just don't seem to be out there right now. And something wider than a 28mm equivalent? That'll cost $450+, and I can really only find 2-3 currently available options for that 645 35mm. For a MF film kit, it's just not worth it, unless you also have a 645D or 645Z. If you can justify the cost of one of those bodies, you'll likely go for the 645N or NII.

To summarize, you can get an ETRS with the 40mm and another lens or two for just the price of the Pentax 35mm, if you can find one. Mamiya stuff is really cheap, too. And, if you want even better quality, RB67 gear is beyond cheap these days.

For me, this camera is totally fantastic, but for the total cost of getting into the system, it's just not worth it. With the 645D and 645Z, it seems like there's a big market for lenses since they have a digital MF application. For film usage, I'd definitely recommend sticking with something in a defunct system/mount and saving $ or upsizing format.

Registered: March, 2007
Location: Greater Copenhagen Area
Posts: 425

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 24, 2014 Recommended | Price: $175.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great image quality, very inexpensive, great intro to Medium Format
Cons: No auto focus, interface with buttons not as intuitive as the knobs on the N/N II versions

The camera delivers the same great image quality as its younger brethren; the 645N and N II. The meter performs perfectly. It's as easy to use as a traditional SLR.

The Pentax 645 can be used in combination with FA-lenses, but without auto focus.

The viewfinder is not as bright as that of the N/N II cameras, but still very large and bright compared to a traditional 35 mm SLR.

One oddity is that you can only get 15 frames per 120 roll, and there is no way around that. However, this gives greater spacing between each frame.

The interface is not as intuitive as the interface on the N/N II versions. This is no problem in normal use, but changing modes, for example, is a bit clumsy.

It is still modern enough to have TTL flash metering with the appropriate flashes.

If you want to give medium format film photography a try, this camera is a great opportunity. It can be found quite cheap, A-lenses are also cheaper than the more desireable FA-lenses, and the image quality is the same. If you want to part with the camera again, you will probably be able to sell it without a loss, as the price is already rock-bottom.

Lenses to get: the standard A 75mm F2.8, the 55mm or the 45mm in the wide end and the 120mm macro or the 150mm portrait lens make up a great set.
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2013
Location: Sydney
Posts: 844

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 2, 2014 Recommended | Price: $170.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image quality, ease of use
Cons: Expect it to mis behave on occasion! Cannot be serviced in uk.

If you loved the 1980's, you'll love this camera!

I picked mine up at a bargain basement eBay sale, and well, it had some issues. The mirror would stick every couple of frames, the battery pack would occasionally stop supplying the camera, and the diopter setting was initially way off (which I hadn't even considered checking before a friend pointed it out - if it feels like you are focussing at the end of a long tunnel, check the diopter)

Initially with the various problems I had, I looked for somewhere to service it in the uk, and was a little saddened to find that no one will touch them. to cut a long story short, armed with the service manual I was able to lubricate the problem mirror, and after a couple of rolls, it's been working ever since (albeit with a few scares over the last year).

In use the controls are very similar to a super program, but with an easier to use red LCD display in the viewfinder rather than the horribly faded grey lcd's found in the super program. I find it impossible to use this camera without humming 'gold' by 'tears for fears'

The styling, whilst maybe not to everyone's taste, is quite usable in practice. I tend to forego a strap when out hiking, and just hold onto the camera by its big chunky grip instead (I find I can walk for miles with it like that. With a strap, the weight around my neck soon becomes an issue). That does depend on the lens I find. With the 75mm attached, I find the weight ok. With other lenses (such as the 150 f3.5), I find it just a touch too heavy.

Once you've sussed out how to load the film, and figured out how to work the slightly primitive controls, it's an absolute joy to use. The viewfinder is nice and big, and the resulting shots are fantastic. I've had a few moments if terror when it's stopped working after a few minor knocks (once after I dropped it and it rolled down a sand dune - although thankfully it was in a padded case!). Usually detaching the hand grip, popping out the batteries, and then reassembling it has always worked do far. They are thankfully built like a tank!

It has occasionally gone crazy with the film wind on mechanism, although only in the first few weeks I owned it (it has been fine for over a year though - so I suspect many of the problems I encountered were due to it having spent a long time sat unloved in a cupboard prior to me buying it). You can fire the shutter without a film inserted (assuming you have the backplate), but I would strongly advise against doing that. It just seems to cause problems with the next film you load.

If you buy one and have some niggles similar to the ones I've experienced, all might be fine after you've run a few rolls through it.

Even with all the niggles and problems I've had with it, it's a camera I absolutely love. Yes you only get 15 frames, and the later versions may be better, but for the price, there really isn't a cheaper entry into the world of medium format. If you do buy one, make sure it's a good one, and you might want to look for a seller that accepts returns for additional peace of mind.

The biggest downside to this camera is that I'm now eyeing up a 67 ii!!
Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2007
Location: North Palm Beach, Florida
Posts: 728

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 15, 2012 Recommended | Price: $175.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Nice handling,built in film advance, bulletproof reputation
Cons: clunky electronic controls, heavy lenses, popular accessories VERY expensive

Others here have done a great job of introducing the camera and its operation, so I will just leave my personal observations about the camera after about 5 months of use.

The camera, in spite of it's relative bulk compared to modern DSLRs, handles very well and was intended for off-tripod use. The built in, ergonomically tilted handle fits well in hand and when using a shorter lens (say the standard 75mm) it is compact enough to hold at the ready and balances well. It is possible to adjust all controls while holding the camera to the eye and the 645 lenses were designed with an aperture ring meant for regular use. While it IS heavy, this camera should not be thought of a studio rig. It was designed to travel and be handled. It is very sturdy and while not officially water resistant, I wouldn't be worried if it caught a few raindrops during a shoot.

As noted elsewhere in these reviews, the electronic control interface is primitive and uses up and down buttons to adjust exposure settings. It is clear this set up was a predecessor to the rotary selectors now common in camera design. I feel like I'm operating an Atari game from the 1970s when using these controls. In spite of that, the controls are a finger press away and CAN be changed on the fly with your eye to the viewfinder. There is a exposure display in the big, clear viewfinder and making changes while shooting can be done very quickly. Again, this camera was designed to be hauled around and used in hand. And it is fun to use in this way.

The camera has an auto film advance feature that is very handy and fun. Nothing beats the looks you get when you fire off a shot in a crowd and the camera growls to life. It just sounds cool, even today. Loading the film does have it's drawbacks, as you must use two hands and remove a part of the camera to get this done. It isn't at all hard, but if you're thinking of the days of flipping open the camera, popping in some film and slapping the back shut with one hand, you will be disappointed. You can carry a spare film insert with loaded film for a quick change, but that means more parts and more to carry.

Speaking of spare parts, this is an area of irritation with the system. While the 645 is one incredible value in terms of price/performance, you can pay quite a premium for essential extras and parts in today's used market. Certain wide angle lenses command the same money as used digital counterparts, odd parts like spare battery holders (fits in the handle) are rare and costly, and 120 film backs will set you back 40-50 dollars a sample. This is an indication that the system is still popular and in use by photographers today. You have to be aware that there's a nickle-and-dime effect that can kick in when you want to expand your kit.

I got into 645 while waiting for the promised Pentax FF digital body. The large film negative is in effect "full frame" in terms of optical performance, DOF, and image resolution. Using film demands a slower, more thought out approach to shooting, and while the 645 is capable as a go-anywhere point-in-shoot, the magic of setting up, composing, thinking about your exposure is a very satisfying "reboot" of the hobby. If you wish to dip your toe in medium format film, I strongly suggest the 645 system. It is a friendly, approachable camera that offers amazing results.
Veteran Member

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Albuquerque NM
Posts: 9,830

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: February 27, 2011 Recommended | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great price, high image quality 35mm handling
Cons: No WL finder, buttons for shutter/aperture, film can't be changed mid roll

Pros Great price, high image quality 35mm handling
Cons No WL finder, buttons for shutter/aperture, film can't be changed mid roll
Rating 9
Price (U.S. Dollars) 200
Years Owned 2

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Terrific value, TTL flash works like Pentax film bodies, Superb lenses, handles like a 35mm camera, Easy loading of film.

Camera Review
I won't try to match Nesster's excellent guide, but I will say I love this camera, and I wish I got out with it more. This was the biggest bargain in cameras, and the body is still very reasonably priced. The difference between the 645 negative and 35mm is huge, especially since many of the lenses for this camera are on a par with 35mm lenses. Using ISO 400 or higher film has fewer downsides on this format, and since the lenses are fairly fast, you've got most of the advantages of the smaller body. If you've used a superprogram, you've basically used the exposure controls of this camera. That is good and bad, since I generally prefer a shutter speed dial to buttons.

I do wish it had interchangeable finders like the LX. A waist level option would be nice for tripod work. It would also be nice if the film backs could be changed mid-roll like a 'blad, but we can't have everything.

I never had the spare cash to buy this when it was at its full four figure price and new, but at under $300 for a body plus backs plus lenses, it was hard to pass up.
Veteran Member

Registered: October, 2006
Location: NJ USA
Posts: 13,072

10 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 11, 2010 Recommended | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Lowest cost, manual focus, good meter
Cons: clunky 80s interface

Pros Lowest cost, manual focus, good meter
Cons clunky 80s interface
Rating 9
Price (U.S. Dollars) 300
Years Owned 2

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
The lowest price of entry into Pentax medium format
Manual focus, good view finder, excellent lenses
The electronic interface and shutter logic is clunky
Super Program on Steroids!

Camera Review
As I haven't used any other modern 120 SLR, especially not the later auto focus Pentax 645's, this review is only about THIS camera as a photographic tool and object of worship

Pentax 645 by Nesster, on Flickr
The 645 with 150mm, the 75mm with Vivitar hood, the extension tube set.

The Pentax 645 shoots 6 x 4.5 pictures on 120 film - instead of the usual 16, you get 15 as the frame spacing is a bit wider than usual (the later 645N gets the full 16). This is an annoyance 2 ways - one, cheated out of 1 frame and two, makes fitting film into a standard binder holder a bit difficult. One big benefit is that there's plenty of space between frames to hold the film for scanning.

Loading the 645
You load the film into an insert that then slides and locks into the back.

Loading a Pentax 645 A by Nesster, on Flickr
Got film, take up spool, Pentax 645 film insert
Put the roll on the side that has a picture of a roll - the other side has a picture of an empty spool
The main trick here is the film goes in 'reverse' of how one usually does it - the roll unwinds from the top with the black side UP and the colored side against the pressure plate. I've attempted to load the camera the other way, and felt dumb. No doubt I will do so again some time.
I find it easy to put the film into the take up spool slot first, then put the take up spool in the film back.

Loading a Pentax 645 B by Nesster, on Flickr
There's a metal cog wheel on the right side of the holder in the top picture, with a helpful arrow - turn the wheel in the direction of the arrow to roll film onto the take up spool till the START arrows on the film line up with the red mark on the back as in the top pic.
Put the insert in and twist the thing to lock it in place.

Loading a Pentax 634 C by Nesster, on Flickr
That's it, except for a rear view of the camera with insert in place.
Turn it on, and nothing happens. Turn it on with an empty holder and nothing happens. Take the empty holder out and you can get a manual 1000 speed - maybe others, but the clunky interface is hard to figure.
You have to push the shutter button, which sets off the shutter and a long wind to the first frame.
That again is something I forget sometimes.

The camera's logic is not intuitive to me - empty, you can't really test it out; you can take the back off and get into a manual mode... but it's all very 80s style. Think of the auto exposure 35mm cameras when someone had the bright idea to hard code the camera to 1000 until you reach frame 1.

But once the film is in and you convince yourself to push the shutter so it's wound to '1'... the thing comes to life. Clunky but effective is what I'd call the push button controls.

You push a button on the left and use the up/down buttons on the right to change setting.
There's a button for EV compensation, up to 3 stops in either direction, 1 stop steps.
There's an ISO selction button
There's a MODE button - when the lens aperture ring is on "A" the modes are P, Av, Tv. What? No manual mode? To get to manual, take your lens off the A... Now the MODEs available are: Av, Manually metered shutter speed, fixed 1/60, and Bulb.
Manually metered comes in 1 stop chunks only - there's no 1/2 or 1/3 fine tuning. The viewfinder indicates Ok when the meter's centered, and the +/- 3 stops in either direction. Some consider this a draw back or failing - but I say most of the time we've been conditioned to false manual accuracy with the 1/3 stop indicators. I suppose shooting slides in a studio it may make an important difference.
Note that in the auto modes, the shutter speed is set exactly rather than in the 1 stop standard increments. Ev comp as I've mentioned is in 1 stop chunks - if you want something else, change the ISO.

The metering itself, within the limits above, is excellent - predictable center weighted that gives good results. Of course as always you need to know your film's characteristics as well as the meter's. But this meter - like that on the Program Plus (and I guess the Super Pgm) - is accurate and predictable, with a wide range, which is more than I can say about the matrix metering on the K100D. I haven't done any night shots yet to be able to say how well it does in those situations; the Program Plus does very well so I predict the 645 will do so as well.

Physically the camera is deeper than a 35mm, and larger than any Pentax 35 or DSLR. But compared to some of the monster Nikon pro cameras with grips and drives, it's really about similar size, not as tall but deeper. In the hand, the camera is more nose heavy than a typical 35mm set up - I end up using my focusing hand to support the camera bottom, which is a stable configuration, and comfortable.

I've heard the 645N view finder is 'much' brighter than the 645. I don't know about that - on its own, I don't find this finder overly dark or fuzzy; the image snaps into focus pretty well, and the split prism + microprism collar are excellent in use.

Tripping the shutter is a trip - the thing KerKlunks, whirrs, gulps, cha-chings, i.e. it's pretty loud. I wouldn't pick this for a quiet event where unobtrusive photography is required.

Once the camera decides it's taken enough photos for the roll, it winds to the end, and you can take the film out. My experience with a 220 back: yes, you can modify it to do 120 by flipping a metal feeler on the insert. On my camera, what happens after exposure 15 is inconclusive - mine didn't fully believe it was a 120 holder and didn't whine its way to the end... but it didn't believe it was a 220 either. Some say using the 220 back with 120 film results in fuzzy pictures - I can't figure out how that would be, the film plane is the film plane regardless of how the pressure plate is, right? But as I don't need to, I won't repeat my experiment any time soon.

Misc notes: on my sample the diopter adjustment stays put, I see others have trouble with this. I have trouble with the slider on the K100D's diopter!

Using one of the AF***T flashes is great - there's pTTL and the combination works very very well.

It uses AA batteries for power, they last for ever, and you can use a standard threaded old fashioned plunger type of a cable release.

Picture quality? There really isn't much to say, the larger negative trumps nearly anything a 35mm camera can do. The lenses however are in 35mm territory resolution wise, so the limiting factors on image quality are how steady the camera is, how well you focused, how sharp the film is, and how good a scan (or print) you make.

Compared to more vintage 120 cameras (50s vintage Ricoh Diacord 6x6 and Voigtlander Bessa 6x9, 60s-70s vintage Yashica Mat 124G 6x6) the 645 holds its own, making up with more modern lens quality and automation what it lacks in frame size. One of the best 6x9 vintage cameras, the Kodak Medalist, may pull ahead in sheer image quality due to its excellent Ektar lens and 6x9 (i.e. double) frame size, or maybe the two are neck and neck. Obviously, all the cameras I've mentioned are more than capable of excellent results - only their applicability and areas of competence differ.

Usage - I'd rather take the Bessa or one of the TLRs when I go out for a day's walk. The 645 is just a bit heavy. But that's just wimpy me - sooner or later I'll take it for a long walk. Car based photo tripping is easy, home shooting and so on. Having the exposure automation, PTTL flash with one of the compatible (and excellent) Pentax flashes from the era, and being able to change lenses are all super benefits.

All in all, I find this a very capable camera, able to make excellent photos with and without flash. I find the clunky interface endearing most of the time... and about the only real complaint I have is common to Pentax lenses: I wish they'd allow one to focus just a bit closer! At least the smallest extension tube I find essential.

One of a new kind: Pentax 645 by Nesster, on Flickr

**** Addendum 11/1/2011: My camera's AA batteries finally went low. THERE IS NO BATTERY INDICATOR on the camera. The first symptom of batteries running low is that the film transport starts to misbehave: either it doesn't whirr to the next frame, or does so inaccurately, or it can't manage to whirr to the next frame at all. The LCD indicators etc are still fine as they consume less juice.

When this happens, please resist the urge to open up the back! Chances are you did load the film OK, if it ever advanced to "1" at all. Go to your stash of AA's and replace the batteries, then see if that solved the issue.

It happens seldom enough that one may forget; and the first time it happens is not so happy.

Also, I have posted a contemporary Modern Photography review of the 645 here:
Add Review of Pentax 645

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