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07-11-2010, 08:35 PM   #1
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645D - Short test and initial impressions.

I took a week off last week due to my Mum flying over from QLD to spend some time with us and the grand-kids over the school holidays.

The timing of the week off turned out to be good as Camera Electronic up near the city (Perth, Western Australia) got a demo model Pentax 645D in, and with me having placed my order and paid in advance for a 645D I got the chance to go up and have a play with the new beasty and spent the Tuesday morning trying it out.

First impressions:
- It's big, but not too big, and has a very solid, well made feel to it.
- Button and control layout was instantly familiar to me as a current Pentax user.
- New buttons and controls are very easy to use and well thought out with their placement and what goes in a menu compared to what gets it's own dedicated button.
- View finder is BIG, bright and crystal clear.
- Not as *heavy as I was expecting and after 30 mins shooting with it I was still fine with the bulk/weight compared to a DSLR.
- The new Pentax 2.8 55mm lens that comes with the 645D is stunning. Perfect focal length to get started with if you've no other 654 compatible lenses, it's super sharp and the auto focus is fast and precise.
- jpg images straight from the camera are 60cm by 45cm (not surprising given it's a 645), 300 dpi and are around the 18-20 Mb mark. Raw can be set to either Pentax .pef files or the .dng format and are around the 40-50 Mb range.

* I'm not exactly what you'd call petite at 192cm and 105 kgs and a reasonably solid build, I'm also used to lugging around a big back-pack full of gear while I ride a motorbike to shoots and am coming from a film background and reasonable heavy and old SLR cameras and lenses. So what's not too heavy for me may be a different story for others coming from light and small compact digi's and smaller/lighter DSLRs.

Quick test:
- Menu and buttons/functions are easy to use and any Pentax DSLR user will feel at home instantly.
- Info displayed on the back and top lcd screens show everything you want/need to see.
- Rear lcd is big, bright and does a good job displaying a preview image.
- SD card options are a bonus and I set Card 1 (16 Gb Sandisc Extreme) to capture .dng raw file and card 2 (old, no name brand 2 Gb card) to capture jpgs. Setting the options available for using the 2 slots is super-easy with a dedicated SD1 and SD2 button.
- There aren't any "scene" options on the dial like portrait, landscape, sport .....etc - instead it's the typical Av, Tv but also ISO priority and a few other variations along the priority theme and a "User" setting instead of manual.
- A lot of things are configurable when it comes to settings and buttons, I saw a lot of the options with a quick play but didn't really get into that side of things as I just wanted to shoot with it.
- Dynamic range is amazing and I quickly changed shooting style. On a DSLR shooting outdoors where I don't have fill-light options, I'd expose for the detail in shadow (like a face) and hope the highlights don't blow (sky/background). With the 645D you expose for the highlights and everything that would be dark shadow on a DSLR is captured in detail and exposed perfectly. For a quick test I shot a model in a black latex dress with a high light coloured red brick wall behind her. The sun was direct onto the wall, and in front and 45 degrees to the model (so over my left shoulder as I shot her facing me). The wall didn't blow out, she was exposed well (when I was expecting a near silhouette due to the wall reflecting light back at me) and a lovely blue sky and while fluffy clouds were shown as reflections in the shiny dress. A car close by casting a shadow on some grass near her feet still had the individual blades of grass exposed well and not appearing as a dark, underexposed area.
- Resolution and clarity is fantastic. I took a half length portrait and could easily zoom in and count the individual eye lashes on her lower eye lid without any pixilation, each eye lash was sharp and clear.
- The feel and sound of the shutter ..... lovely!!
- In natural/available light and leaving the camera in Av priority, what I saw in the viewfinder is what I got as the captured image. That was pretty much the first time I've ever just thrown a camera into an auto setting, shot, and then seen the exact same image in the preview as what I was seeing in real life. No +/- compensation needing to be dialled in, no blown highlights, no overly dark shadows, no "best guess" compromise when it came to the exposure of the image and a true to life tonal range - and this was 11:30am on a bright sunny day in a mix of full sun, partial shade and full shade locations.

Any niggling doubts I had about spending that kind of money on an upgrade from the K100D are well and truly gone and I am totally blown away by the 645D .... roll on August when I get to take delivery of mine!

Reducing a 20 Mb, 300 dpi file to show in here won't do the image justice, so no preview piccies to go with this. What I will do when I get the chance, is upload an example or two to my site and post a link so you can check them out if you want to take a look.

Cheers,

Wayne.
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Last edited by Warped; 07-11-2010 at 11:23 PM.
07-11-2010, 10:00 PM   #2
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Nice review, now I just have to save up enough money...

QuoteOriginally posted by Warped Quote
Any niggling doubts I had about spending that kind of money on an upgrade from the K100D are well and truly gone and I am totally blown away by the 645D .... roll on August when I get to take delivery of mine!
Good God. Am I to understand that you bought this as an upgrade to a K100D?! That's one heck of an upgrade...
07-11-2010, 10:35 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by HawaiianOnline Quote
Nice review, now I just have to save up enough money...


Good God. Am I to understand that you bought this as an upgrade to a K100D?! That's one heck of an upgrade...
Yes- it's an upgrade from my ageing K100D.

That said, I've been shooting for over 20 years and have shot a fair deal of 35mm and MF film in the past, so it's not like I'm upgrading from my first SLR stlye camera to the 645D.

The K100D was/is my first DSLR after many years of film and I reckon I've got the most from it that I can get out of it. I was just about to switch camps to Nikon or Canon for a full frame DSLR but bit the bullet and stayed in the Pentax camp.
07-11-2010, 10:48 PM   #4
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I was going to head in there to check out the demo unit, but haven't had a chance yet. It will be good to see some of your shots from it when you get it.

07-11-2010, 11:17 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by tootall Quote
I was going to head in there to check out the demo unit, but haven't had a chance yet. It will be good to see some of your shots from it when you get it.
I think they've got the demo until the end of the month, after that they have to give it back to the distributor.

They've ordered two and one of those is now spoken for (mine), so there will be one in the shop after the demo goes back until someone buys it.
07-12-2010, 02:51 AM   #6
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Hi Wayne,

Glad you like the camera. I have just received mine (I live in Sydney, by the way - pleased there will be at least 2 645D owners in Oz!). I haven't had a chance to use mine yet, but I wonder if I could ask you a favour? I have never owned a Pentax DSLR before, and the meaning of some of the buttons isn't obvious to me. The manual that comes with the camera is only in Japanese. Would you mind if I contacted you to ask for advice on some of the buttons?

Hope yours arrives soon too.

Best wishes,

Ed
07-12-2010, 05:42 AM   #7
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No worries Ed,

Mine is coming through the Aussie distributers so I'll get it early August. Once I've got it I'd be happy to share the manual/documentation that comes with the Aussie release 645Ds.

Cheers,

Wayne.
07-12-2010, 06:01 AM   #8
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Thanks Wayne - that's brilliant of you!

Ed

07-12-2010, 06:08 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ed Hurst Quote
Thanks Wayne - that's brilliant of you!

Ed
If I forget, send me a message 1st or 2nd week of August
07-12-2010, 06:34 AM   #10
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I think the most exciting thing to hear was that the meter in the D is just as good as it is in the N, which is something I've always said was the greatest strength of the camera but completely unquantifiable in marketing / advertising the thing. O, to have the DR of digital and my favorite meter ever... one day!
07-12-2010, 06:40 AM   #11
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Looking forward to the sample shots, and thanks for checking in!

Adam
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07-12-2010, 09:56 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ed Hurst Quote
...The manual that comes with the camera is only in Japanese...
Could you download the English manual from Pentax's Web site?
07-12-2010, 11:14 AM   #13
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Looking forward to your preview pictures. When you write up your blog post, if you could post 100% crops of a few areas before/after postprocessing, that'd be great. Chris Wilson isn't into postprocessing, so he hasn't posted any for studio shots, but IMHO, it's always needed for studio shots...
07-12-2010, 05:36 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Warped Quote
I think they've got the demo until the end of the month, after that they have to give it back to the distributor.

They've ordered two and one of those is now spoken for (mine), so there will be one in the shop after the demo goes back until someone buys it.
I better make time soon then

You thought of coming along to some of the social outings in Perth (the "West Australian Pentax Users" under the social groups), I know a few people that will be jealous if you turn up with your 645D.
07-12-2010, 05:39 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by tootall Quote
I better make time soon then

You thought of coming along to some of the social outings in Perth (the "West Australian Pentax Users" under the social groups), I know a few people that will be jealous if you turn up with your 645D.
To be honest, I'd not looked at the Social Groups .... will have to go have a look and see if I can make an outing.
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