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04-11-2012, 04:07 PM   #1
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645D & D800 The question?

Is the 645D worth $7000.00 more than the D800/E

Let me start this conversation by saying that we all have opinions based on our experience and preferences. No more right or wrong than the next guy and I would encourage everyone to try and maintain the same attitude and be pleasantly objective as the conversation progresses. If it does at all. And lets try to stay on track.

So let's make kind of a broad assumption for the purposes of this conversation that we all have good basic skills in our photography. We have taken the time to study camera mechanics and lens optics. We know about diffraction and lenses and that one needs great lenses to get great images. That we know how critical good technique is to the end image. That vibration of any sort ( I like landscape photography, and to steel some one else's words there is no such thing as to big a print ) will eliminate the benefits of the largest sensor regardless of the high number of pixels that sensor might have. etc.... etc... I think we all get the drift.

I've been playing around with a 645D the last few days and am very impressed with the resolution, color palette, micro detail, micro contrast and all the other buzz words we might want to throw around concerning medium format digital. I would be quite content owning one of these. Of course I was equally happy owning and using the canon 1Ds MKIII. But lately I find myself wishing that I could get a little bit more out of my tools. And based on the information thats beginning to surface on the web about the D800 ( there is some great stuff over on Lloyd Chambers blog ) I would probably be equally happy with the D800 or more likely the E version.

The first 645D's were available when? Late 09 mid 2010 perhaps? Not counting the years it took to brink the product to market. So lets say that technology is two years old and the D800 is the latest greatest technology that Nikon has been able to come up with. Has Nikons efforts placed them on the same playing field as 40mp medium format sensors Specifically the 645d? And if so is the 645d $7000.00 more advanced than the D800? And of course our answers will be based partially on individual preferences.

Personally based on my own tests of the 645D the last few days and what I have seen over on Lloyds pages on the D800 I think the two cameras are very close in resolution with the 645D slightly edging out the D800. (Yes it's just the net but if done properly one can glean some useful information) The differences in color are simply that different not so much better than one or another just different I can appreciate both. It seems perhaps the real differences might be in the micro details which when it comes to large print are a have to have kind of thing. As much as I can appreciate what Nikon has accomplished with the D800 the 645D images just seems a little more magical to me. Wether that little bit of so called magic is worth the extra money over the D800 is obviously going to be based on personal preference and what we value as individual photographers. I suppose the proof of the pudding would be to do print comparisons between the two. If some one can do that and offer up an opinion that would be interesting.

So please feel free to add your two cents.


Last edited by Whats_edoo; 04-11-2012 at 07:35 PM.
04-11-2012, 08:12 PM   #2
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Buy what you want. Only you can judge what you want to pay for a camera and what you want from it. Ultimately, you as the photographer will be more important than the camera.
04-12-2012, 06:33 AM   #3
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The D800 is a tempting camera, but consider that you need the best lenses (i.e. newest and expensive) to fully use the resolution of the sensor. The larger 645D sensor is less demanding of lenses. A twenty-year-old 120mm A macro costs about $500 and outresolves the sensor and other old lenses are excellent as well. By the time you factor in lens costs, the 645D is not more expensive and it's still got a better image.
04-12-2012, 07:05 AM   #4
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...and if you have been the proud owner of the 67 system, you even save a lot of money on lenses. Most of the 67 lenses I tested on my 645D deliver outstanding performance.
But let's face it: if you are a passionate photographer you'll never stop buying more equipment, old and new, and you will probably always be a little tempted towards what's new out there that might outdo the equipment you own. Only a few stay with what they have and are satisfied.

04-12-2012, 07:08 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Thomas Quote
The D800 is a tempting camera, but consider that you need the best lenses (i.e. newest and expensive) to fully use the resolution of the sensor. The larger 645D sensor is less demanding of lenses. A twenty-year-old 120mm A macro costs about $500 and outresolves the sensor and other old lenses are excellent as well. By the time you factor in lens costs, the 645D is not more expensive and it's still got a better image.
Theoretically speaking, would one be able to adapt the less expensive 645 glass to the Nikon D800 and therefore save money in that way? Of course, you'd still need to pay top dollar for a good wide angle, as none of the 645 lenses would work there, so it would only be a partial savings at best.

Not that I plan on selling my 645D anytime in the near future for a D800
04-12-2012, 07:31 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Yamanobori Quote
Buy what you want. Only you can judge what you want to pay for a camera and what you want from it. Ultimately, you as the photographer will be more important than the camera.

Very true.
04-12-2012, 07:32 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Thomas Quote
The D800 is a tempting camera, but consider that you need the best lenses (i.e. newest and expensive) to fully use the resolution of the sensor.
Why? The D800 sensor works out to be about 100 lines/per mm, which is hardly a difficult target for most lenses. There are a lot of myths about MFD and the new D800 and one of them is this one about lenses. It is just like the myths regarding the film lenses for the 645D that they would not be good enough for the sensor and most of them turned out to be fine.
04-12-2012, 07:34 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Whats_edoo Quote
Of course I was equally happy owning and using the canon 1Ds MKIII. But lately I find myself wishing that I could get a little bit more out of my tools.
And why is an increase of 22% in resolving power going to be significant? Especially since you are going to have to invest in a new system.

04-12-2012, 07:58 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Thomas Quote
The D800 is a tempting camera, but consider that you need the best lenses (i.e. newest and expensive) to fully use the resolution of the sensor. The larger 645D sensor is less demanding of lenses. A twenty-year-old 120mm A macro costs about $500 and outresolves the sensor and other old lenses are excellent as well. By the time you factor in lens costs, the 645D is not more expensive and it's still got a better image.
Good point on the lenses. Add three quality lenses to the D800 and your in the Pentax price range. And there is the fact as you point out the 645D has a larger sensor in addition to a larger pixel size 6.6 micron on the 645D vs 4.8 micron on the D800 I believe. Fatter pixels better image quality correct? Yet if one were to put the same attention to quality lenses for the 645D how much more could one draw out of the 645D? Or if the twenty year old 120 A macro out resolves the 645D sensor is that pursuit wasted effort?

Last edited by Whats_edoo; 04-12-2012 at 08:38 AM.
04-12-2012, 08:25 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by phonoline Quote
...and if you have been the proud owner of the 67 system, you even save a lot of money on lenses. Most of the 67 lenses I tested on my 645D deliver outstanding performance.
But let's face it: if you are a passionate photographer you'll never stop buying more equipment, old and new, and you will probably always be a little tempted towards what's new out there that might outdo the equipment you own. Only a few stay with what they have and are satisfied.

This conversation brings back memories of when I switched from 35mm film to 6 x 7 film. Bigger film always provided the opportunity for better images. larger sensor and pixel size better quality images right? Or does the advent of cameras like the D800 suggest this is becoming less true?


As far as your second point HOW TRUE! I was involved in high end audio for twenty years or so and the need to upgrade was a common disease. I see and feel similar tendencies when it comes to camera gear. I purchased my 1Ds MKIII when they first came out and been very happy with it up until now, I think that was in late 07. Thats been a little over four years. Not a bad run I think. Lately I've gotten to the point where I think my skill set is at least equal to the capabilities of the camera.... Hey! it's my delusion so cut me some slack!

Last edited by Whats_edoo; 04-12-2012 at 08:31 AM.
04-12-2012, 08:36 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Yamanobori Quote
And why is an increase of 22% in resolving power going to be significant? Especially since you are going to have to invest in a new system.

Good point. I think that thought may be why I didn't just jump on the D800. As much as Nikon has accomplished with the D800 is it just an incremental step? Better than the existing crop of DSLR's in some rights but not quite as good as entry level MF digital?

Last edited by Whats_edoo; 04-12-2012 at 08:51 AM.
04-12-2012, 09:16 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Whats_edoo Quote
Good point on the lenses. Add three quality lenses to the D800 and your in the Pentax price range. And there is the fact as you point out the 645D has a larger sensor in addition to a larger pixel size 6.6 micron on the 645D vs 4.8 micron on the D800 I believe. Fatter pixels better image quality correct? Yet if one were to put the same attention to quality lenses for the 645D how much more could one draw out of the 645D? Or if the twenty year old 120 A macro out resolves the 645D sensor is that pursuit wasted effort?
The 645D pixel pitch is listed at 6um, not 6.6um. I think you will find it is actually 5.95um.

When everything is the same, which it never is, then larger pixels have an advantage. If pixel quality is what you want, then the D800 is for you--I refer you to DxOmark.

If you read lens reviews you will see both the A and FA 120mm marcos work very well on the 645D. Probably the most regarded lenses for the 645D. I use the A version myself. There are many posts on Pentax Forums and around the net about how the Pentax lenses work with the 645D. There are now examples of Nikon lenses on the D800 on the net as well.
04-12-2012, 09:38 AM - 1 Like   #13
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Hello, let me say first that i am exhausted of this kind of "comparison" threads between two photographic systems that have about nothing in common, but the number of photosites ...

Did you for example ask you the question, wether to replace your Sony A900 by the Sony A77 ?
Because the differences btw those two are even lessened : exactly the same resolution !
Still different sensor sizes, with close ratios in both cases (let appart the 4:3 versus 3:2 format... btw 24x6 and 645D...)

But OK, forgetting these details, let's admit that money can be THE drive of your choice...

So in this respect, i will just give you the prices i paid for my 645 Lens collection :

D-FA 25/4 : 4600 USD, new

FA 35/3.5 : 1300 USD, mint

FA 45-85/4.5 : 950 USD, new

D-FA 55/2.8 : 1200 USD, new

FA 75/2.8 : 450 USD, new

FA 80-160/4.5 : 1200 USD, new

A 135/4 LS : 450 USD, new

FA 150/2.8 : 1150 USD, mint

FA* 300/4 : 1950 USD, mint

Supposedly with no differences in photographic use (for example AF speed...), can you bring us the Nikon equivalent or closest focal lenses prices in recent (say less than 2 years) values ?

Is the bargain still in favour of Nikon in the end ?

Last edited by Zygonyx; 04-12-2012 at 09:47 AM.
04-12-2012, 09:40 AM   #14
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I think most of us have chased equipment over the years, looking for more IQ. I went from 35mm rangefinder to 35mm SLR to Pentax 67. Then I considered a 4x5 and the 645D. I decided against those because I realized it was not about the equipment but about my ability/ my eye. My epiphany was a 35mm film shot taken at Kitt Peak, Arizona of lightning striking all around the observatory domes. It is an Incredible image. I still use my 35mm Leicaflex and P67. No need to chase equipment.
04-12-2012, 09:47 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by desertscape Quote
I think most of us have chased equipment over the years, looking for more IQ. I went from 35mm rangefinder to 35mm SLR to Pentax 67. Then I considered a 4x5 and the 645D. I decided against those because I realized it was not about the equipment but about my ability/ my eye. My epiphany was a 35mm film shot taken at Kitt Peak, Arizona of lightning striking all around the observatory domes. It is an Incredible image. I still use my 35mm Leicaflex and P67. No need to chase equipment.

I would like to see the image.
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