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Pentax 645N

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9 55,572 Tue February 4, 2020
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $504.29 9.75
Pentax 645N

Pentax 645N
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Pentax 645N
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Description:
Pentax 645, 645N, and 645NII Compared

645N
Year introduced
1997
Mount
Pentax 645 AF
Meter range
2 - 21 EV
Meter pattern
m (6 segment) c s
ISO range
12-6400
Film type
120 and 220 roll film, 70mm film
No. of exposures
120 film: 16, 220 film: 33, 70mm: 95
Data imprint on film
Yes
Exposure modes
P, Tv, Av, M, B, X
Exposure compensation
+/- 3 EV
Exposure memory lock
Yes
Shutter speeds (auto)
30 - 1/1000s
Shutter speeds (manual)
4 - 1/1000s, B
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
None
Half step speeds in M and Tv
No
Self timer
Yes
Mirror lock-up
No
Auto bracketing
Yes
Multiple exposures
Yes
Winder
Built-in, 2 fps
Built-in flash
No
TTL flash
Yes
P-TTL flash
No
Sync speed
1/60s
Flash exposure comp
No
Autofocus
Yes, (3 points)
Autofocus sensitivity
-1 - 18 EV
Viewfinder
0.76x, 92% (vert), 93% (hor)
Viewfinder type
Keplerian telescope
Diopter correction
-3.5 - +1.5
Exchangeable screen
Yes
Depth of field preview
Yes
Image size
41.5 x 56 mm
Battery
6 x AA
External battery pack
Yes
Size (W x H x D)
147 x 109 x 117 mm
Weight
1280 g
Comment
Accepts leaf shutter lens for flash synchronization to 1/500s.
Accessories: 120 and 220 film backs, 70mm film holder. External battery pack
Price History:



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Junior Member

Registered: January, 2013
Location: Sturtevant, Wisconsin
Posts: 48
Review Date: February 4, 2020 I can recommend the Pentax 645N: Yes | Price: $570.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: The feel of it, bright viewfinder, data imprint on the film and auto focus Read
Cons: Some what Heavy

It's a Pentax, I love the feel of it in my hand. Was looking for a Pentax 6x7 or 67. But I happen to walk in my local camera shop. And they just got in a used 645N, they know I love Pentax Cameras and I was looking for medium format camera. It came with a Pentax SMC FA 45-85mm lens and Pentax flash, all are in EX. condition. I've had it for less then a week and just shot one roll of film so far. It's easy to load, good auto focus, great lightmeter, easy to use. It's a little heavy, and some what noisy shutter, but it's not as bad some people say.
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2017
Location: Medellín
Posts: 1,286
Review Date: January 10, 2020 I can recommend the Pentax 645N: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros:
Cons:

I love it! Can do double exposure, unlike my 6x7, but I do miss the MLU (only reason to get the NII, but not sure if the hefty price is worth it just for the MLU since I only use MF lenses and really also don't benefit from any AF improvements).
   
Forum Member

Registered: January, 2015
Location: McKenzie River Valley, Oregon
Posts: 71
Review Date: May 9, 2015 I can recommend the Pentax 645N: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Format, Ergos, Lens options, great view finder, DOF check lever
Cons: Heavy, Noisy

When I talk to my girlfriend about this camera, I find myself using the term "the big camera" as opposed to my old Spotmatic and a Canon EOS which I also own. The fact is that the the 645N is—and feels like, in the hand—a brute; a Sherman tank of a camera. When the shutter trips, it sounds "ka-CHUNK". And compared to my nearly 50 year-old 35mm Spotmatic, it IS big.

That all said, this camera makes wonderful photos and the format is so much better to play with in terms of landscapes and portraits, it gives me hours of pleasure to work with it. You'll need a strong tripod, for sure. I highly recommend a cable shutter release or use the timed shutter release when shooting landscapes or slower speeds.

I don't think this is a good camera to use in wedding photography as the shutter makes a very loud ka-CHUNK when you press the button. The photographer, not the couple, would be the center of attention, for sure.


If you love film, like I do, this is one of the best, if not the best, values there is in medium format. Pentax lenses are still among the best around, and there are a healthy number of 3rd party lens options out there, as well.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: March, 2007
Location: Greater Copenhagen Area
Posts: 380

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 24, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax 645N: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Great handling, bright viewfinder, data imprint on the film and auto focus
Cons: None

If you have used the Pentax MZ-5/5n/-3 35mm camera, you will find yourself right at home with either the 645N or 645N II. The ergonomics are very similar and logical.

The Pentax 645N and 645N II are practically identical. The viewfinder is exactly the same on both cameras (and a bit brighter than on the original 645). AF and metering are the same.
The N II version came out just a few years after the 645N and incorporated some very minor changes that make it possible for the user to enable some settings that only can be set by a service mechanic on the 645N like 15 or 16 images to a roll, 1/2 or 1/3 aperture steps in auto, the frame counter counts down instead of up and the like. Both have imprinting of exposure data and focal length on the edge of the film, but the II version has a bit more information (and smaller characters that can be at bit harder to read). I don't feel that the lack of user access to these settings on the 645N to be any major drawback or dealbreaker.

The 645N has a shiny exterior finish, and the 645N II has a very nice satin finish.
Button layout is practically identical and handling therefore the same.
Information in the viewfinder is the same o both cameras: focus confirmation, F-stop, shutter speed plus bracketing and exposure compensation (if acitvated). Frame number and iso are only shown on the top display.

Contax or Hassy shooters critisize the Pentax 645s for not having film backs that are interchangeable in mid-roll. That is true, of course, but as the longer 220 film is rarely used anymore, there are only 16 (or 15) images to a roll. Changing in mid-roll is therefore rarely necessary nor a significant problem. Plus: Analog Pentax 645 gear is now so inexpensive that it not very costly to use two 645 cameras (with different films inside) side by side.

BTW, you can use 120 film in 220 film backs - you only have to loosen two screws and turn a small part on the 220 back around to make it behave like a 120 film back. So if you can find 220 backs for cheap, don't hesitate to try them.

The major difference: 645N II has MLU, the 645N (and the 645) do not. Some say MLU isn't necessary, as the mirror is very well dampened in all three Pentax 645 cameras. That is true, in my opinion, so I don't feel the lack of MLU on the 645N to be of any significance.

As I have set my N II to handle exactly like the N version (so that I can use them side by side) and rarely use MLU, I think either one is good. If the 645N is easier to find (and it is) and cheaper than the 645N II (it regularly is), go for the 645N. It's a great camera.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2010
Location: Salzburg
Posts: 1,260

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: May 6, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax 645N: Yes | Price: $330.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: ergonomics, ease of use, viewfinder, AF
Cons:

After enjoying a P645, I could not resist the 645N—and the upgrade is impressive. It is very solid, has yet to let me down.

Positives: a very, very bright and large viewfinder which does not distract. The camera is a pleasure to handhold despite its weight or size. It has autofocus, which sometimes can be very practical. It has a 1/3 step EV compensation knob, a knob for the shutter speeds, two places to attach the tripod to (also to the side for portrait mode). I have been very impressed for the last 3 years I have been using it. The only thing that's not so solid is the little black round cover for the DoF lever which has come off both 645Ns I've had (I sold one). Purely cosmetic.
   
New Member

Registered: March, 2010
Posts: 20

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: July 28, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax 645N: Yes | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Useful automation & features. Control layout.
Cons: None

I love my Pentax 645n! It has a fast motor drive, autofocus, reliable metering, TTL flash metering, and additional useful features. The optical viewfinder is bright and clear, a very sophisticated design. Ergonomics are perfect by my estimate, as is the layout for controls. By this time, I have thrree film holders, two zoom lenses, Pentax lens shades, and adapter 645 in a kit that would have cost over 10K when the 645n was new.

Cost is worth mentioning, because the real value of optical instruments is what it would cost to buy equivalent products today, less some apportionment for wear. This should not be confused with market value, which is more like a head count of buyers and sellers in the mood to do business at a particular place and time. Since the market is value is low compared to real value, my 645 gear is a good value--and medium format has the added attribute of good image quality.

Make no mistake, this camera can produce fine art quality prints. The optical resolution of Pentax lenses is certainly up to the job, and the negative is 2.7 times the size of 35mm film. Printing with a conventional enlarger, photographers can expect crisp 24" prints from this camera. Beyond a certain threshold of image quality,
it is image content that wins the day. Pentax 645n prints are gallery quality, assuming you also have strong content.

I was already shooting with a Pentax 67II, but there are situations where the 645n is a better choice. All of my 67II lenses can be attached to the 645n using adapter 645, and the two cameras also use the same pentax flash units. Obviously, 67 lenses will not autofocus, but they look as if they were made for the 645n because the fit is perfect. With this arrangement, you get auto aperture and focus can be confirmed by the green light (or beep) in low light. Since some of the 67 lenses are a few stops faster than my 645 zoom lenses ( f/4.5 max) , I usually put a fast lens in my bag.

The 645n camera is an outdoor camera, through and through. For that matter, so is big brother (the 67II). To keep things simple, this means two things: It's good outdoors, and not a good choice for studio photography. The focal plane shutter and 1/60th synch speed are not idea for the studio, but leaf-shutter lenses are available to synch at 1/125, 1/250, and 1/500th of a second. The synch speed of 1/60 is fast enough to walk around and take photos at an event or wedding, where a zoom lens is also desirable.
   
New Member

Registered: December, 2011
Posts: 22

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 22, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax 645N: Yes | Price: $750.00 | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros: Absolutely brilliant and ergonomic design...this camera simply "gets out of the way."
Cons: Nothing of significance.

This camera came to me as my "introduction" to medium format, as it shares features that are similar with the more familiar 35mm SLR models. As such, it simply couldn't be designed or constructed better.

My entire review can be said quite simply: the 645N was conceived by persons that obviously photographed as often as they engineered cameras, if not more so. The controls are intuitively placed, and there are no irritating menus or settings to browse through. Everything you could need has it's own slider, button or dial, and everything is placed in a compact, convenient location. As I said above, this camera simply gets out of my way...which lets me concentrate on making good photographs instead of fussing over my camera setup. All the relevant information is in the finder, and when you've got the body comfortably resting in your hands you seem to be instantly aligned with the controls. When other people are fidgeting with white balances or metering modes or what-not, I'm simply picking an aperture and burning up film.

On that note, the body is surprisingly compact in overall dimensions. Placed next to a Nikon F100 with a 28-105mm lens, the 645N with a the 75mm lens is not appreciably larger. There is quite the weight difference, but since heavy objects tend to stay still with greater ease than lighter ones, this is a matter of no consequence. The construction is top-notch...this feels like a real camera. Picking up a modern DSLR worries me...they feel like toys compared to this baby. It's one of the only cameras that I think I could carry and shoot all day and later use to either drive in tent stakes, or bash guerrilla insurgents over the head in desperate moments.

Considering what one of these cost when new, the price I paid is a steal. The camera I bought was rated "Excellent" (laughably conservative) and came with a nearly-unused 120 insert and the 75mm f2.8 lens...all for $750. That's a small price to pay for a camera that you can carry all day and that will also annihilate anything in 35mm.

My only real complaint would be the noise level...this baby is loud, no doubt. So, with that said, get all thoughts of low-key photography out of your mind. Wherever you carry one of these, people will see you, and they will hear you. If you want to walk around unnoticed, get a small rangefinder and a wrist strap, and keep moving. This camera is best suited to impromptu walking-about for landscapes, portraiture and anything else that falls into the SLR arena.

All in all, you can't go wrong with this camera. I've got an arsenal of classic and high-end Nikon bodies and lenses that are all collecting dust, now. It's a great piece of hardware, and a blast to shoot. If you want one, get one...you won't regret it.
   
Veteran Member

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

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: April 5, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax 645N: Yes | Price: $480.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Convenient controls, light, easy to handle
Cons: Film inserts rather than backs

[table] Pros | Convenient controls, light, easy to handle
Cons | Film inserts rather than backs
Rating | 9
Price (U.S. Dollars) | $480
Years Owned |
   
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2010
Location: Colorado
Posts: 103

5 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 30, 2010 I can recommend the Pentax 645N: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Easy to use, Film-edge Data, Non-modal/Non-menu Operation, Green for go knobs, Fits hand well, Not as heavy as it looks
Cons: Heavi-ish, Big-ish Loud shutter

Pros Easy to use, Film-edge Data, Non-modal/Non-menu Operation, Green for go knobs, Fits hand well, Not as heavy as it looks
Cons Heavi-ish, Big-ish Loud shutter
Rating 10
Price (U.S. Dollars) $350
Years Owned 2

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Medium format 645 format, SLR camera.
Film size: 41.5x56 with 70mm diagonal.
Film area: 2.7x 35mm film. Film diagonal: 1.6x 35mm (Lens factor).
Pro-build with wide availability of high-quality lenses.
Auto-focus, Matrix metering, Motor wind and rewind.

Camera Review
I love this camera! It feels solid and confident in the hand, and the Autofocus works well, despite a bit of ch-ch-ch as it zeros in. The usage and haptics on the 645N are just wonderful. Triggering a photo results in a satisfying ka-chunnnk as the mirror flips up and the motor winds. Despite the noise, there is zero feeling of mirror-slap. Batteries seem to last a long time. AND last but not least... Film edge printing of exposure data; Very sweet!

What I like best is that each camera function has its own knob, meaning that the controls are virtually "non-modal". In other words: No menu screens! The knobs have a "green-for-go" indication, and when they are all set green you have an automatic, point-and-shoot SLR camera... OK, a large SLR. Move a knob off green and you have just taken over manual control for that function.

If you look at the picture you see five knobs with green indicators. The aperture setting on the lens gives you a sixth knob. The only button-driven menu is for setting ISO.

Second. The camera is heavy, but not as heavy as it looks. 3-3/4 lb (1-3/4 Kg) with lens, which is roughly the same as the Nikon D3. The grip balances easily in your fingers; the strap hangs very nicely and feels soft on your shoulder. Weight starts to add up if you carry more than a couple lenses. The zooms are pretty heavy.

Third. The Pentax 645 lenses are highly regarded, and the 645N has a wide range of from 35mm (22mm equiv) to 200mm (125mm equiv), that are very inexpensive and readily available on the used market. Other sizes include 45mm (28mm equiv), 55mm (35mm equiv), 75mm (47mm), 120mm (75mm), 150mm (94mm). More expensive, longer lenses exist, but I've never seen one outside "buy-now" at ebay. Standard filter size for Pentax 645 lenses has been 58mm, and many of the FA lenses maintain that size; Other sizes are 67mm or 77mm. In the middle of the range, many FA lenses offer f/2.8 apertures.

The 645N has no problem using the manual focus lenses from the older Pentax 645 manual camera. These are beautiful lenses with a buttery-smooth focus control, and the 645N focus confirmation indicators (light and sound) work with the manual lenses. I regularly use the 35mm manual lens, for landscapes.

Availability

This camera was very popular with professional wedding photographers. There are a lot of them available on the used market (at least in the US) as the wedding pros have all moved to digital and are finally dumping their analog cameras. Usually they are offered with the "normal" 75mm lens and a film insert (which is a necessity) for $400-500, but often you can get a full kit with several lenses, inserts and random accessories. The AF500FTZ Flash is frequently and cheaply available. I believe it has some off-camera, remote communication like Nikon 600 & 900 flashes.

FA lenses have become much less available and more expensive with the announcement of the Pentax 645D, but for professional equipment, the P645 lenses (manual or automatic) are still a great deal in professional, medium format equipment. Good luck finding the 35mm FA!
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