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12-10-2010, 08:06 AM   #1
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A dilemma.

So, I've pretty much convinced myself into buying the 1984 645. In college I became pretty obsessed with pictures from a holga, and bought plenty of film. When the Holga died (side note - i then tore its lens off and attempted to attach it to my k20) I still had film left over.

At the moment, 90% of my camera work is digital - mostly due to budget. Family gatherings, I'll switch to film, just for the different look.

Way too much information, but basically... if you get a decent scan from a 120 negative - should the resolution out-perform that of the k20 or k7?

Also, is there enough of a difference between the 645 and the 645n to warrant the extra $120 dollars for a casual user?

12-10-2010, 08:16 AM   #2
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casual user - still depends on what you do with it. Main difference: autofocus, timer, more subtle metering correction. But the latter can be done with the 645 if you need to (via ISO), the timer is unnecessary in family gatherings unless you want to capture yourself, too, and autofocus, well, with the large viewfinder it's not a must I think. I prefer manual anyway. And the 645 is solid.

My main gripe with the 645 is that the diopter correction of the viewfinder is loose, at least on my model, but that's something I correct in the first seconds and then I'm fine. Basically, need no autofocus or .3 evf correction? Take the 645 as it's cheaper and more durable.
12-10-2010, 08:25 AM   #3
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+1 on what Smolk says. Personally, I didn't see the need to spend the extra money on the N.

RE. resolution - this topic always stimulates arguments and proofs, and I don't actually think any of it is all that fruitful. Film will be different than digital, render differently. Also, consider what one means by 'decent scan' - a K7 costs more than most any 120 capable consumer scanner, and has the advantage of a larger production run to amortize costs across. What I'm implying here is that direct digital capture has a performance and cost advantage when it comes to technology. This also means that the truly high end scanners are very expensive indeed.

That said, a decent 120 capable Epson does better with 120 than 35mm scans. And there's plenty of resolution; I can clearly see differences in lens quality.
12-10-2010, 08:29 AM   #4
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Thanks!

A lack of timer really isn't a problem. I've heard that the meter in the 645 is pretty basic, but more than likely I'd manually expose 80% time anyway. Which leads to 2 more questions.. At similar focal lengths and exposure settings could a digital camera be used as proofing/preview? Also, I'm pretty satisfied with the k1000's meter, is the 645's more basic or equal to it?

12-10-2010, 08:34 AM   #5
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Both very helpful...

I'd have to ship the film out for developing, most likely would get it scanned there as well.

Edit - I think the N is out then.

Last edited by dflorez; 12-10-2010 at 08:34 AM. Reason: addition.
12-10-2010, 09:04 AM   #6
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I recently purchased and have been using the original 645 as I've been exploring MF. Hey I thought I was the only one with the loose diopter issue. It has to be adjusted just about every time I pick up the camera. I'd make one vote for the N because it's supposed to imprint the exposure info into the negative. I miss all the exposure info I get on my DSLRs and would love to have it somewhere other than a notebook which I have yet to remember to use when shooting.

I've had different results so far with scanning 645 negatives. When I get them done locally the scans are ok and the files are around 1.5mb. My home scanner can sort of handle the MF negatives but it doesn't understand the smaller size of the 645 image versus a full size MF negative. I'm tending towards getting an upgraded scanner just to deal with 645 negatives. So far, b&w film delivers what I'm looking for in MF but color has been just so so (I haven't shot as much of this as I'd like to so the jury's out on that).

Getting a 645 to K mount converter is fun too as the Pentax-A lens work quite well on my K10.
12-10-2010, 09:23 AM   #7
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I don't own the pentaax 645 (i have a bronica kit) but from a scan standpoint whether it outperforms the k20 depends on the scanner, the software used and the operators experience. usually when you send out for processing and get a scan domne they do low res 4 bit scans, fine for web and proof prints/contact sheets but not so hot for better prints. Home scanning i'll recommend 2 things if you go the epson scanner route get an anti newton glass holder (betterscanning makes excellent ones) and upgrade your scan software both will help you achieve good consistent results that should easily outperform the scans labs do on the cheap. If you really want to see what can be achieved take the low res scans review them and pic an image you really would like a large print of. then get it scanned at max res on an imacon (or go rent time on an imacon if you live in a city that has pro labs with the option, i have 4 places i can do this in toronto)
a full rez 16 bit TIFF from a 645 neg is HUGE usually 80mb +++ depending on the scanner
so you don't want to do this with every shot (it's expensive for one, but you'll also kill hard drive space pretty quick. I've seen 645 scan done this way produced on giclee prints at 6 ft high that when viewed from the kind of distance you need to view that large a print were astonishingly sharp, and even looked great from a foot away.
your other option of course is set up a darkroom and print. much easier to get a good web scan from a print, and the prints themselves look better than digital prints (when it comes to b/w anyway) darkroom gear is cheap now days but it's a learning process to print well
12-10-2010, 11:32 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by dflorez Quote
Thanks!

A lack of timer really isn't a problem. I've heard that the meter in the 645 is pretty basic, but more than likely I'd manually expose 80% time anyway. Which leads to 2 more questions.. At similar focal lengths and exposure settings could a digital camera be used as proofing/preview? Also, I'm pretty satisfied with the k1000's meter, is the 645's more basic or equal to it?
Think of the 645 as a Super Program - it is from the same era and pretty much has similar functionality, only translated to 120 film. While I don't have a Super Pgm, I do have a Pgm Plus, and have found its metering to be more predictable than anything Pentax have done since, certainly more predictable than the K100D's for example.

Perhaps the basic-ness has to do with the manual exposure indicator, i.e. can you meter down to 1/3 stop as indicated in the view finder. False accuracy I say, except perhaps in the studio using slide film

With the caveat about actual Pentax DSLR metering accuracy - and how well this translates to 'objective' light measurement, I don't see a reason why not to use one that way. Based on initial experience, adjust mentally to compensate for any difference.

12-10-2010, 11:54 AM   #9
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btw i shoot a large amount of MF using sunny 16 rule, once you know it your results may be better than some meters, but it really is an experience based thing, initially you'll be under and over a fair bit until you learn to interpret light levels
12-12-2010, 03:48 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
btw i shoot a large amount of MF using sunny 16 rule, once you know it your results may be better than some meters, but it really is an experience based thing, initially you'll be under and over a fair bit until you learn to interpret light levels
thanks for the sunny 16 rule, which I was unfamiliar with. Not sure I've got time enough to play with it, but I might as well try. Good to train the eye.
12-12-2010, 03:49 PM   #11
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I have mentioned in other posts that my wife's project used a 6X8 film camera and Nikon D3 and the Nikon's images could not hold up in very large enlargements compared to the film scanned on a Nikon scanner (with professional Photoshop assistance for both mediums). I bought a used Nikon 8000 scanner for under $600 a couple of years ago and a Hasselblad 500 C/M has become my favourite camera.

The Pentax 645 is about half the negative size of the Fuji GX680 and the Pentaxs are not full frame so perhaps the comparison does not matter. However for myself if I was having all my film processed in a lab and then having to scan it all, I would go for the K20 or K7. My wife and I both enjoy using the darkroom hence less than 10% of the MF we shoot is in colour.

I was going to ask how you broke a Holga but having owned two I realize the correct question would be how can you tell if it is broken? If you are just looking at ways to use up the film take a look at the Holga wide angle pinhole panoramic camera. it is a fun piece of equipment.
12-13-2010, 06:20 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Smolk Quote
thanks for the sunny 16 rule, which I was unfamiliar with. Not sure I've got time enough to play with it, but I might as well try. Good to train the eye.
best way for you to pick up on sunny 16 cheaply is with your digi, i learned it back in the 70's and it was a very trial and error education, fortunately at the time i rolled my own film and processed it myself, it would be damn expensive to learn on medium format colour now
there is an app called exposure for the iphone that has some very good example definitions but i would still bracket and record shots at first to learn what works and doesn't.
otherwise a good old handheld light meter can be had cheaply and is probably better than the in camera meter if you are shooting stationary and have time (measuring the light falling on a subject is always better than measuring reflected light - with the exception of spot metering which is great once you get the hang of it.)
12-13-2010, 07:04 AM   #13
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Sunny F16 Schmunny F16, I always say. (In all honesty, while a great rule, I rarely stop below 6.3)

Thanks all of you guys. Depending on how things pan out, the 645 will eventually be mine. I've been talking to some people (and have a few in mind) who have a darkroom set up, but most likely will be sending the images out for developing and scanning.

...Actually, I wonder if i let walgreens use my 120 film tank and reel, if they'd develop for me... (haven't used it since college)


How did I know the holga broke? the shutter spring died. Literally only closed 1 in 6'ish times. Sad sad day. Also, the attaching to the k20 was a huge failure. I basically made a very blurry, super macro.
12-13-2010, 10:34 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Smolk Quote
thanks for the sunny 16 rule, which I was unfamiliar with.
Your Holga is designed around the Sunny 16 rule. So, you've be using it all along.
12-13-2010, 10:39 AM   #15
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...and at any rate, with any camera that has built in metering, especially auto exposure, figuring out your own exposure is much simplified, and often I leave it at auto anyhow

Apart from seeing what modern lenses can do with 120, the reason to buy a modern 120 camera such as the 645 is for the metering.
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