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12-14-2012, 04:04 PM   #1
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Pentax 645N just arrived -- first impressions

The 645N with 75mm lens that I ordered from KEH came today... luckily, just ahead of the rain.

It is exactly as advertised. Actually, better than that -- this is the first camera I've had in a very long time that just feels 'right.' It is amazingly simple and easy to use, particularly compared to digital cameras with all those weird menus. Don't misunderstand -- this isn't a knock on digital photography. I have a little Olympus XZ-1, which I'll be using as a monochrome previewer with the 645N. But there is just such a total ergonomic difference, which I'm experiencing for the first time. Well, maybe not the first time -- had a Kodak Hawkeye when I was 10, so I guess I can claim a medium-format heritage.

Downloaded a 645N PDF manual... like the camera, clear and easy to understand. Back to KEH -- ordered a second lens, a 45mm, with a few filters and a Pentax strap (with lugs!). The other day, got some Kodak Ektar 100 and Portra 400 film. I've had 35mm color negatives developed and scanned at NorthCoastPhoto.com in Carlsbad, CA, and they also do a lot of 120. It will be interesting to compare a 35mm scan to a 120mm scan of the same scene.

Lastly, I'd like to thank everybody on this forum for the comments you've posted. Your opinions helped me choose the 645N instead of other medium-format alternatives. Thank you all very much!

12-14-2012, 04:26 PM   #2
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Congratulations Jon! You're going to love the 645. Well, ok, you already know that now. :-)

My favorite lens on the 645 is the 120 macro.....incredibly sharp.

KEH is a terrific place to buy used photo gear.....I recommend them to all my photo friends.

Gary
12-14-2012, 08:25 PM   #3
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Thanks -- yes, KEH is super. The way online buying should be. Also, I'm impressed with Amazon -- for items that Amazon themselves ships. They arrive really, really fast via USPS.

Will remember your tip about the 120 macro lens. Must say though, for closeups, I am really happy with my digital XZ-1... you can get the lens about 1/2" away from the subject and it still has focus. Non-threatening -- it is a small camera and doesn't seem to scare spiders, who might just be terrified and bite me if I hovered over them with the gigantic (by comparison) 645N.

Anyway, thanks for the tip. Was thinking about the 150mm f/3.5 for my next lens -- its smaller and lighter than the 120 macro -- any comments on that one?
12-14-2012, 08:57 PM   #4
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I don't have the 150mm lens, so I can't comment on it. I'm sure there are others here who can, or you can check the Pentax lens reviews on this site.

The 120 macro is excellent for even non-macro shots. Here is one example (SMC-A version). Others here will have much better ones, I'm sure.




Another lens I really like is the 80-160mm. I have the SMC-A version.




Lots of excellent lenses available for the Pentax 645!

Gary

12-14-2012, 09:26 PM   #5
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Thanks Gary -- will have to get a Federal Grant for these lenses, before Congress gets serious about cost-cutting!

The 645N -- for me -- is a perfect blend of old and new. I enjoy manual focusing... and, to my surprise and delight, it shows a little in-focus light... with a beep if I turn on the sound. Had no idea it would do that with the older manual-focus lenses. VERY cool. And again, the controls are so easy to use. A photographer must've designed it, instead of the marketing people. I really like the little over-under exposure bar display, in manual mode. Anyway, I'm preaching to the choir here, aren't I? And thanks for the pictures, too... do you get your film scanned, or are you using a 645D?
12-15-2012, 01:32 AM   #6
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I have the 645NII......so I'm shooting film, like you. I would love to get a 645D someday. Those two images were scanned by my local custom lab at the time I had the film developed. I have them scan every roll at a resolution sufficient for a 300 dpi, letter sized print. Then if there are specific frames that I'd like to re-scan at a higher resolution, I do that myself on a Epson V750 Pro. I'm thinking of getting the new Plustek Optic 120 film scanner when it is released in 2013, if the reviews are good.

Most of my lenses are the older "A" versions (manual focus).....I love that focus confirmation light/audible beep too!

Gary

Here are a couple more shots with the 120 macro......definitely my favorite lens.



Last edited by bensonga; 12-15-2012 at 01:40 AM.
12-15-2012, 02:01 AM   #7
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i had the 120 & 150 for my 645 and sold the 120. Marco is for me not the domain of MF (if I use the 135 on my 6*7) and the 150/3,5 is very compact and therefore comes with me more frequent
12-15-2012, 09:34 AM   #8
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The 645N is as you have discovered a very intuitive camera as the much maligned Ken Rockwell has in this case rightly said. I don't know how wide the Pentax strap is but I find the OP Tech strap to be ideal for carrying the camera around the neck. Broad neoprene around the neck area with easily detachable straps either side. Worth considering if you find the Pentax one digging in after a short while

Have fun

asahijock

12-15-2012, 12:24 PM   #9
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Keep an eye out for the 35mm WA. It is killer! Sharp and very low distortion for the equivalent of about 20mm for 35mm fromat. Again Ken Rockwell was right.

I also like KEH very much and wouldn't hesitate to buy again their "bargain" grade. I bought a LX from them in bargain grade just a few months ago, it had a little brassing on the self timer hub and by the strap lugs, a few light scratches on the base plate, a little dust in the VF which I blew out with a bulb. It looks like a well used and properly cared for camera, and works perfectly. What's not to like, especially for...drum roll...under $170.00 with prism, less lens!!!!!

BTW, they will watch for a certain item and let you know when one arrives. That's how I got the LX.
12-15-2012, 12:54 PM   #10
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It's nice that prices and availability of the 645 lenses at KEH have improved and returned to almost normal (ie pre-645D) now that the 645D has been out for a couple years. For about a year, it was tough to find 645 lenses and the prices had really spiked.

Good time to be a new owner of this great camera!
12-15-2012, 09:47 PM   #11
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The 3.5/150mm is actually quite good, only it does not focus very close; the 2.8 version does. If you do not mind manual aperture, the LS 135mm is an attractive and light-weight alternative to the 150mm.
If you want 45mm, the 45-85mm is reportedly better than the prime at that focal distance (I only have the zoom though), and in any case a truly good zoom which does not disappoint.

A great camera indeed. I also love its ergonomic feel and the way its buttons are laid out.
12-17-2012, 03:06 AM - 1 Like   #12
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Loaded my first roll of film today. Like going back in time, Christmas at age 10, my new Kodak Hawkeye, a roll of 620 film then, and 120 Ektar 100 this morning. The same excited feeling, opening the roll package, taking off the tape, feeding it onto the takeup spool.

So easy to load the film. Hasn't changed in what, 75 years? The user manual shows so clearly how to do it. And then the 645N made this wonderful noise as it advanced to the first frame, and I went out to the garden to photograph impatiens flowers, vividly bright in the soft overcast daylight, just before the rain.
12-17-2012, 07:00 PM - 1 Like   #13
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I also have the 645N and really like it for it's intuitive feel. Eminently hand-holdable down to ridiculously long shutter speeds (like 1/8s). I have only the 35mm SMC-A for it and highly recommend (the existence of this lens is why I got into the camera and the format.) Feel compelled to mention that while I've had a bunch of cameras I cannot think of another that became so transparent to the image-making process from the very first time I used it (though I don't suggest reloading the film cassettes at the beach the first few times without practice, as I did while a killer sunset unfolded).
And if there exists a better, bigger, clearer, and brighter viewfinder view than the 645N in all of SLR-dom, I've not found it.
12-18-2012, 01:56 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by jon404 Quote
The 645N with 75mm lens that I ordered from KEH came today... luckily, just ahead of the rain.

It is exactly as advertised. Actually, better than that -- this is the first camera I've had in a very long time that just feels 'right.' !

Once one throws away all the specs etc there is the right camera for each of us but its a different camera for each as well. Enjoy and make good use of it. And may it feel right to you for a long long time.
12-19-2012, 12:39 AM   #15
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Redrock -- "There is the right camera for each of us..." isn't that the truth.

Today, I looked out the window near sunset, saw the sky lighting up, grabbed the 645N, and drove over to the beach. Arrived just as the sun was right at the horizon. No time, no time at all to think about how to set my new camera. But all I had to do was turn it on, point, focus, shoot. Because I had previously set the aperture, shutter, and meter settings on 'green' ... instant box Brownie on steroids! The viewfinder is huge and very bright. No problem at all seeing in the dim light. Noticed that the programmed exposure kept the shutter speed as high as possible, to avoid camera shake blurring... not bad at all, at sunset.

Carrying the 645N is a kick. It is about as heavy as an old film Nikon with a motor winder, or about half the weight of an old Speed Graphic. Or, about the same as three or four digital point 'n shoots. Ergonomics -- the hand grip is REALLY a hand grip, not just a little bump. So I've already gotten over my fear of dropping it by mistake. And, a Pentax camera strap is on order.

But it IS big. Think I'll make a press pass to go with it. After all. Maybe something like this:
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