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07-11-2014, 12:23 PM   #1
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The 645Z has landed in Calgary

Starting yesterday evening, The Camera Store in Calgary has begun delivering 645Z's to pre-order customers. I've got one of them, and I've just spent some time messing around with it, configuring my preferred custom settings, etc. So far I'm pretty positive on the minor changes in control layout on the body, and what I can divine from the new config settings on offer.

Full disclosure: phase detect TTL autofocus on my 645Z was nonfunctional on all of my AF-capable lenses, while contrast detect AF in Live View worked fine on all of them. After some digging around with the guys at the shop, we were only able to get AF working for a brief moment with one store lens, otherwise it remained dead despite all settings tweaks and other usual things we could think of doing. We concluded the body was DOA and so I exchanged it right then. The second body seems 100% so far with all my lenses.

Next up will be doing some real shooting with the Z, starting later today at the Calgary Stampede...

07-11-2014, 01:25 PM   #2
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Hi Royce:

Share some photos with us when you get a chance.

Dale
07-11-2014, 01:27 PM   #3
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to think one of a few 645Z first batch units came with dead phase detect AF... Bad QC score there good to hear you got a good one asap, and looking forward to your first "roll"!
07-11-2014, 04:02 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Royce Howland Quote
Starting yesterday evening, The Camera Store in Calgary has begun delivering 645Z's to pre-order customers. I've got one of them, and I've just spent some time messing around with it, configuring my preferred custom settings, etc. So far I'm pretty positive on the minor changes in control layout on the body, and what I can divine from the new config settings on offer.

Full disclosure: phase detect TTL autofocus on my 645Z was nonfunctional on all of my AF-capable lenses, while contrast detect AF in Live View worked fine on all of them. After some digging around with the guys at the shop, we were only able to get AF working for a brief moment with one store lens, otherwise it remained dead despite all settings tweaks and other usual things we could think of doing. We concluded the body was DOA and so I exchanged it right then. The second body seems 100% so far with all my lenses.

Next up will be doing some real shooting with the Z, starting later today at the Calgary Stampede...
Thanks for the heads up on PDAF---will test mine.

07-11-2014, 05:56 PM   #5
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about time TCS got them out. So far, all my AF lenses have worked on mine. The Z is just nice to work with. The D is just so slow.
07-12-2014, 05:23 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Royce Howland Quote
................................................
Next up will be doing some real shooting with the Z, starting later today at the Calgary Stampede...
I look forward to your comments; any comparison to color vs. the D would be appreciated.
07-12-2014, 10:18 AM   #7
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Here's my first comment after ~7 hours of shooting the 645Z at the Calgary Stampede last night, and just starting to look at the files this morning. If you're able to afford it but really don't want to spend $9K USD on this camera, then stop looking at it, talking about it, or thinking about it. Put it out of your mind right now. Otherwise, get ready to make a purchase.

After 3.5 years of heavy use, I have still loved shooting my 645D's as much as I did at the beginning. As I've said elsewhere, the files were and are gorgeous, and have never left me wanting for anything when I was able to work within the camera's constraints. But the 645Z is really a much more capable photography making tool than I think can be appreciated just by looking at the upgraded specs on paper. In spite of the level of expectation I reasonably had based on a ton of experience with the D, the Z is already impressing the heck out of me after a single day working with it. Any doubts I may have had about getting this camera are history.

Ming Thein's review comments are right on -- the 645Z is going to substantially increase of the envelope of usability of the 645 system. Likewise, the conclusion of the LuLa first impressions review -- "It's a world-class image-maker in every regard, and the fullest realization of the dream of a 35mm quality MF camera." The LuLa phrase "35mm quality MF camera" should be understood to refer to shootability, not IQ. I was usually conscious of working within some constraints with the 645D; most of that sense is gone with the 645Z. The Z will still reward every scrap of shooting discipline that you want to use, but it doesn't force it on you any more.

It's going to take me some time to get into the details, including posting some images and making some DNG's available. But one of the few big questions I really had, which was the impact of CMOS vs. CCD on the "look", I think I can see is going to be a non-issue. Tone and colour look great to me on initial review. It's quite possible that very close inspection will bring to light some differences, but from what I'm seeing right now I think they'll be just that -- differences, not losses. And probably minor ones at that, at least for my type of work. I don't have head-to-head comparison files yet, but I did shoot the Stampede a week ago with the D. Images from last night with the Z taken in similar settings compare very favourably. I was able to use the Z in a much wider range of light and circumstances, and overall using the Z for this type of photography was a much more smooth, fluid and seamless experience.

So... big thumbs up so far. I'll post some images as soon as I can.
07-12-2014, 10:29 AM   #8
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Thanks for the report Royce. Seems resistance is futile, I should probably place my order.

07-12-2014, 10:44 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Royce Howland Quote
Here's my first comment after ~7 hours of shooting the 645Z at the Calgary Stampede last night, and just starting to look at the files this morning. If you're able to afford it but really don't want to spend $9K USD on this camera, then stop looking at it, talking about it, or thinking about it. Put it out of your mind right now. Otherwise, get ready to make a purchase.

After 3.5 years of heavy use, I have still loved shooting my 645D's as much as I did at the beginning. As I've said elsewhere, the files were and are gorgeous, and have never left me wanting for anything when I was able to work within the camera's constraints. But the 645Z is really a much more capable photography making tool than I think can be appreciated just by looking at the upgraded specs on paper. In spite of the level of expectation I reasonably had based on a ton of experience with the D, the Z is already impressing the heck out of me after a single day working with it. Any doubts I may have had about getting this camera are history.

Ming Thein's review comments are right on -- the 645Z is going to substantially increase of the envelope of usability of the 645 system. Likewise, the conclusion of the LuLa first impressions review -- "It's a world-class image-maker in every regard, and the fullest realization of the dream of a 35mm quality MF camera." The LuLa phrase "35mm quality MF camera" should be understood to refer to shootability, not IQ. I was usually conscious of working within some constraints with the 645D; most of that sense is gone with the 645Z. The Z will still reward every scrap of shooting discipline that you want to use, but it doesn't force it on you any more.

It's going to take me some time to get into the details, including posting some images and making some DNG's available. But one of the few big questions I really had, which was the impact of CMOS vs. CCD on the "look", I think I can see is going to be a non-issue. Tone and colour look great to me on initial review. It's quite possible that very close inspection will bring to light some differences, but from what I'm seeing right now I think they'll be just that -- differences, not losses. And probably minor ones at that, at least for my type of work. I don't have head-to-head comparison files yet, but I did shoot the Stampede a week ago with the D. Images from last night with the Z taken in similar settings compare very favourably. I was able to use the Z in a much wider range of light and circumstances, and overall using the Z for this type of photography was a much more smooth, fluid and seamless experience.

So... big thumbs up so far. I'll post some images as soon as I can.
With my tongue firmly in my cheek, I wonder what Mr Rockwell will think of it. He hated the D. Probably because Pentax wouldn't give him a freebie to play with. Mind you he preferred the D800 over the 5D3 and then changed his mind - an opinion for hire...

For me, the fact that you can have very useable images at 12,800 ISO even without NR is incredible. With ISO 64,000 can be plenty useable with careful usage of NR
07-12-2014, 01:04 PM   #10
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thanks for the quick review Royce. I have been thinking about getting a 645d because the prices have dropped so low. Now I think I may wait a few months and save for the Z... I really want to see some side by side shots if possible.

Thanks
07-12-2014, 01:06 PM   #11
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I already made-up my mind on a 645z before you posted this but it's nice to hear and read about it nonetheless. My only drawback is the glass as I'll be starting from scratch and this will no doubt be the most expensive kit I'll ever build in all of my shooting history. - ask me now why I ever procrastinated those years when film lenses could be had for rock bottom prices on eBay.

Not sure which lenses I'll be aiming for but I'd like to start with a wide, normal and portrait kit. Not so sure whether I could ever justify longer reaching lens(300mm) though if the 645z is as good as could see myself wanting to hang up my FF kits for good. But that would also mean that I'd likely loose my 600mm telephoto capabilities in the process which I've really grown fond of :/
07-12-2014, 05:35 PM   #12
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Yes, I did some interior available dimness shots during the Peking Acrobat show at the Stampede last night. Allowing for the fact that they were handheld with the FA 645 150-300mm at 300mm, the ISO 3200 / 6400 / 12,800 results are definitely usable... and for more than just Facebook posts.

Another small note. I'm now a bit over 8 hours and 1100 frames on the first charge of the new battery that came with the 645Z. The battery still shows 1 bar on the camera LCD. I've not shot really anything with Live View (or video) yet, but have chimped & reviewed to a reasonable degree. So battery life with the standard D-LI90 pack remains amazingly good for a camera of this spec.

I've been shooting mostly with the FA 645 45-85mm, 80-160mm and 150-300mm zooms. AF is accurate and snappy; though not the same level of "fast" as 35mm DSLR, AF is snappier than on the D, and fast enough for what I need. Images from all 3 lenses are looking good. I'm mostly shooting offhand in a less-than-fully disciplined way but I don't see the Z out-resolving these lenses any more than the D did. Whether the Z truly delivers a bit more usable resolution (13% more linear pixels) is a question that will have to wait until I can set up some side-by-sides. Even if the Z offers me no more real detail, the increased smoothness and responsiveness of the camera in use plus the wider range of shooting situations is very welcome.
07-12-2014, 05:38 PM   #13
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told you it was all in the handling …
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