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04-04-2013, 10:39 PM   #1
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645D focus assist with Manual Focus Lenses?

Hi,
Just joined the Forum because I am considering purchasing a 645D and I am trying to learn as much as I can before plunking down my dollars
I paid for a subscription to digilloyd's site to read his rather extensive review of the 645D
His review was mostly positive but he did point out that the Manual Focus Assist is a weak link
This seems like a pretty big problem for a camera that a) still has very few options for new Autofocus lenses and b) the ones that are available come with a pretty steep price tag
Any information I can get about the quality and reliability of the Manual Focus Assist on the 645D would be greatly appreciated
Thanks,
Bob

04-04-2013, 10:49 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by uintaangler Quote
Hi,
Just joined the Forum because I am considering purchasing a 645D and I am trying to learn as much as I can before plunking down my dollars
I paid for a subscription to digilloyd's site to read his rather extensive review of the 645D
His review was mostly positive but he did point out that the Manual Focus Assist is a weak link
This seems like a pretty big problem for a camera that a) still has very few options for new Autofocus lenses and b) the ones that are available come with a pretty steep price tag
Any information I can get about the quality and reliability of the Manual Focus Assist on the 645D would be greatly appreciated
Thanks,
Bob
FA-series AF lenses are not necessarily expensive. Many are under $1000.
af Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

The 645D does not have manual focus assist features such as magnification or focus peaking because it doesn't have live view. What it can offer, however, is AF confirmation, where the AF system beeps when it thinks that you're in focus. There is a little bit of tolerance involved, but in general it's fairly reliable. There are lots of threads on the forum about this.

The 645D has the same AF system as the Pentax K-5 FYI.

In general I would only recommend the 645D if you're a studio or landscape shooter. For most other applications you will be better of with a 35mm full-frame.

Adam
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04-04-2013, 10:50 PM   #3
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Don't miss our 645D reviews, by the way:

Nikon D800E vs. Pentax 645D - Introduction - PentaxForums.com (newer)
Pentax 645D Review vs. Nikon D3x - Introduction - PentaxForums.com (older)

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04-05-2013, 04:23 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
FA-series AF lenses are not necessarily expensive. Many are under $1000.
af Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

The 645D does not have manual focus assist features such as magnification or focus peaking because it doesn't have live view. What it can offer, however, is AF confirmation, where the AF system beeps when it thinks that you're in focus. There is a little bit of tolerance involved, but in general it's fairly reliable. There are lots of threads on the forum about this.

The 645D has the same AF system as the Pentax K-5 FYI.

In general I would only recommend the 645D if you're a studio or landscape shooter. For most other applications you will be better of with a 35mm full-frame.
Adam
I am a Landscape shooter
I rarely use Live View for focusing my manual focus lenses on my Nikon D3S
But there is a very reliable focus confirmation in the form of a green dot in the viewfinder that lets me know that the area I want to be in focus is
How does this work on the 645D and does it work reliably
Thanks,
Bob

04-05-2013, 08:37 AM   #5
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If you're a landscape shooter I don't think focusing will be much of an issue. Most of the time in landscape you should have the time to shoot and then review the file to check focus/DOF. That's what I do. You'll also likely be shooting at infinity a lot, and with popular landscape lenses like the 645 35mm A, you just crank it to infinity on one end and you're set. The 45-85FA and 80-160FA are both relatively inexpensive autofocus lenses that are quite sharp. The only really expensive landscape lens in the new 25mm and that's autofocus.

The only lens I've had trouble manually focusing with is the 200mm A, because it's a telephoto and cranking all the way to one end is past infinity focus. But hey, I paid $115 for that lens, so I can't complain. You can get the AF version for probably a hundred bucks more if you shop around, if that's a focal length you see yourself using a lot in landscapes. It's very sharp as well.
04-05-2013, 08:41 AM   #6
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The FA 35mm is about $1000-1100 for a good used copy, the A 35mm you can probably get for around half that. It's a bright lens and easy to focus.
04-05-2013, 09:59 AM   #7
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If you need an AF assist beam, you can always add a flash to the hotshoe. I know the Metz flashes have an optional "SB" mode wherein the AF assist grid gets projected but the flash will not fire. I think the Pentax units should as well, but you might want to confirm that first. Could be a useful feature in dim studios, particularly if you're trying to keep the ambient light low in order to freeze motion with the duration of your studio strobes.
04-10-2013, 12:53 AM   #8
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Welcome to the forum, uintaangler. :-)

The focus confirmation in the 645D viewfinder is threefold. One is a brief, red blink emanating from the sensor point that lock on. The other is a hexagon that lits up at the bottom of the viewfinder, beside the tech info about aperture, shutter speed and ISO. In addition there is an optional beep that sounds when focus locks on. I would assume this is very much in line with what you have on your current camera.

In manual focus, both with AF and manual focus lenses, all three indicators will still operate with the same reliability. If you use manual focus lenses, however, only the centrepoint sensor works.

As to reliability, and I assume you also think of accuracy, I am a very happy camper regarding the 645D performance. I have used it outdoors in temperatures between +25C and -25C with no hassle. Many of the older lenses have barrels made of metal that contracts in cold climates, but focus remains spot on.

I agree with you that the selection of current (in-production) lenses for the system is somewhat limited and expensive. Personally I do not own any of them. But I do have a decent set of focal lengths in AF anyway (from 35mm to 400mm). The film-era lenses for this system are all up to the task of dealing with digital, so as long as you buy from a reputable dealer you can safely buy second hand. That goes for the older manual focus lenses as well. Some of them are even outstanding, like the 645-A 120mm f/4 macro, for example. And with an adapter, you can also use optics from the Pentax 67 system. The adapter propagates aperture control.

As one of the early adopters of the 645D system, I have been monitoring the release of new lenses for the system with some concern as to whether Hoya, and then Ricoh, would develop it further. Since the release of the 90mm macro I feel reassured it is a system that will continue for a long time. So hopefully the price of optics will come down somewhat in the future.

As a final note, you should not expect to find much negative comments from 645D owners in this forum. If nothing else, people here will fiercly defend their investments... :-)

04-10-2013, 06:44 AM   #9
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alunfoto,
Thanks for the very informative response
Bob
04-10-2013, 06:45 AM   #10
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Ryan and maxfield_photo - thanks!
04-11-2013, 06:12 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
FA-series AF lenses are not necessarily expensive. Many are under $1000.
af Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

The 645D does not have manual focus assist features such as magnification or focus peaking because it doesn't have live view. What it can offer, however, is AF confirmation, where the AF system beeps when it thinks that you're in focus. There is a little bit of tolerance involved, but in general it's fairly reliable. There are lots of threads on the forum about this.

The 645D has the same AF system as the Pentax K-5 FYI.

In general I would only recommend the 645D if you're a studio or landscape shooter. For most other applications you will be better of with a 35mm full-frame.
i take mine outt into the field in a hot second.
04-12-2013, 08:32 PM   #12
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I have found the manual focus assist decent on most lenses but than again I generally manual focus by eye. I'm lucky enough to have very good eyes despite staring at computer screens for a good chunk of the day but your milage may vary. I just picked up a 2x eyepiece magnifier because under some circumstances the 25mm lens can be hard to judge due to the wide depth of field it delivers. The 25mm is extremely sharp and a slight focusing error can soften an area enough to be bothersome at 100%. I also find this particular lens harder to autofocus than any other lens I own.
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