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07-31-2014, 11:11 AM   #1
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Pentax 645Z Now IN STOCK at B&H

Finally, no more pre-orders, at least until the camera sells out here.

Order at B&H below and get free expedited shipping within the US:

Pentax 645Z Medium Format DSLR Camera (Body Only) 16599 B&H




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08-02-2014, 01:45 AM   #2
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Guess they've already managed to sell out

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04-20-2021, 09:20 AM   #3
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To whomever is knowledgeable or interested,

Is it worth it to get a medium format digital Pentax camera right now? As for the same price I could get some stellar performing Fuji Corp-Medium formats SLR, or hell even a like new film Mamiya RB67 with some killer lenses.

Obviously the sensor size and pixel dimensions are important, but I can get a brand new Sony A7rIV with a Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 for less then a brand new 645z.

I have always wanted a medium format camera but think film is the way to go. Any opinions on the Pentax 645's and 67's versus the Mamiya 645's and 67's?
04-20-2021, 09:54 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sprky1285 Quote
Is it worth it to get a medium format digital Pentax camera right now?
I wouldn't buy a new 645Z. Used, though, is another story.

If you're patient on ebay you can find camera and multiple lens bundles for insane prices. I recently picked up a 645Z with 7k on the shutter, bundled with AF 55mm, 75mm, 120mm macro, and 150mm lenses, for less than the price of a new 50R or 50S body.

I rounded out the kit with used AF 35mm, 45-85, 80-160, 150-300, and 90mm macro lenses, and paid to import the whole pile to Colombia, all for the price of a 50 mp Fuji and a single lens, or a 100mp Fuji body. There isn't a strong used market for Fuji lenses yet. But used Pentax 645 is plentiful and cheap.

Is it as slick and fast as a mirrorless? No. But the results are still impressive, the lenses are still very very good.

Film is extra difficult/expensive in Colombia - there's no local professional infrastructure for it at all, as far as I can tell - but if I were in a better market I could get a 645n II and use most of the same glass on it. So if you're interested in both medium format film and digital, there's no contest.


Last edited by zjacreman; 04-20-2021 at 09:55 AM. Reason: removed extra quote
04-20-2021, 10:19 AM   #5
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I have 2 645nii and a 645z. If you are going with the Nii they can be had fairly cheap and the autofocus lenses work well. I love all my 645's. If you do go with the Nii get 2 backs as they are cheap. One advantage of the Nii besides the price to acquire is that you can shoot b&w infrared without doing any conversions. The z is great everyone is gaga over megapixel counts but that is not that critical. If you're going huge in prints still not critical. I have used ON1 for years. Then bought and folded in quinine fractals into their software years ago and I have enlarged 1.3meg pics to poster size with it and not had any issues. The same can be done with Topaz software. All the 645 handle easy and feel like shooting a 35mm. I have bought all my 645s used.
I have used a number of medium format film cameras and still like my Pentax the best. You can't beat the bang for the buck and repairability. And never had a complaint about the quality of the images.
I have a K S2 and have blown those images to 30x40 and not used any upscaling software. So don't chase megapixels counts.
04-20-2021, 12:45 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by zjacreman Quote
I wouldn't buy a new 645Z. Used, though, is another story.

If you're patient on ebay you can find camera and multiple lens bundles for insane prices. I recently picked up a 645Z with 7k on the shutter, bundled with AF 55mm, 75mm, 120mm macro, and 150mm lenses, for less than the price of a new 50R or 50S body.

I rounded out the kit with used AF 35mm, 45-85, 80-160, 150-300, and 90mm macro lenses, and paid to import the whole pile to Colombia, all for the price of a 50 mp Fuji and a single lens, or a 100mp Fuji body. There isn't a strong used market for Fuji lenses yet. But used Pentax 645 is plentiful and cheap.

Is it as slick and fast as a mirrorless? No. But the results are still impressive, the lenses are still very very good.

Film is extra difficult/expensive in Colombia - there's no local professional infrastructure for it at all, as far as I can tell - but if I were in a better market I could get a 645n II and use most of the same glass on it. So if you're interested in both medium format film and digital, there's no contest.
Wow,

Lucky may be an understatement, but you may have hit a small lottery! That is an amazing find! How long had you been looking for a 645Z before stumbling upon this golden nugget? I have yet to buy any digital cameras off of Ebay, as it seems impossible to accurately judge the condition as electronics are much more complex than their mechanical counterparts. Have you had better luck?

---------- Post added 04-20-21 at 12:51 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Denver Quote
I have 2 645nii and a 645z. If you are going with the Nii they can be had fairly cheap and the autofocus lenses work well. I love all my 645's. If you do go with the Nii get 2 backs as they are cheap. One advantage of the Nii besides the price to acquire is that you can shoot b&w infrared without doing any conversions. The z is great everyone is gaga over megapixel counts but that is not that critical. If you're going huge in prints still not critical. I have used ON1 for years. Then bought and folded in quinine fractals into their software years ago and I have enlarged 1.3meg pics to poster size with it and not had any issues. The same can be done with Topaz software. All the 645 handle easy and feel like shooting a 35mm. I have bought all my 645s used.
I have used a number of medium format film cameras and still like my Pentax the best. You can't beat the bang for the buck and repairability. And never had a complaint about the quality of the images.
I have a K S2 and have blown those images to 30x40 and not used any upscaling software. So don't chase megapixels counts.
Denver,

I appreciate the insight here. Sounds like you have a wonderful kit befitting of a Pentaxian's wet dream. The only draw back I have really heard of the 645N vs something like Mamiya is the interchangeable backs. But since I have no experience with integrating medium format into my personal life, I have no ide if that is something I would require. Though I do currently carry around 2 Pentax ME-Fs, a silver one with Color-Negative film and an all black one with B&W-Negative film. But possibly the lower exposure count of 120 film would nullify that as I could easily blow through a roll and replace it with a different type.

The only other negative I have come across is 645N vs 645N-II and that the electrical components of the TTL and autofocusing in the newer model are prone to failure. Have you been lucky on Ebay and similar online second-hand vending when it comes to older film cameras with electrical components?

Thank you kindly for your response.
04-20-2021, 01:49 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sprky1285 Quote
How long had you been looking for a 645Z before stumbling upon this golden nugget?
I may have gotten lucky, my purchase was roughly timed with the announcement of the Fuji GFX100s. I kept my eyes peeled for a month or two before buying. Ebay is a little dry at the moment but I've seen more than one similar bundle go on sale. Saved searches help, and if there's a good deal you have to be ready to jump on it. 645Zs seem to move quick, especially when they're below market rate.

As for buying cameras on ebay, if the pictures look good, the shutter count is low, and the description seems like it was written by somebody who knows what they're talking about, that has gone pretty well for me.

But bodies also show up on KEH, B+H used, etc. for a bit more money if you'd feel more comfortable with a better return policy. Low price lenses are pretty widely available from Japanese sellers (just watch the descriptions closely - 'excellent' in Japanese apparently means 'has just a little haze/fungus'). 10-25% of new price for most of the SMC FA lenses. The zooms in particular, they practically give those away. That's where the real savings come in vs. Fuji.

04-20-2021, 08:31 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sprky1285 Quote
Wow,

Lucky may be an understatement, but you may have hit a small lottery! That is an amazing find! How long had you been looking for a 645Z before stumbling upon this golden nugget? I have yet to buy any digital cameras off of Ebay, as it seems impossible to accurately judge the condition as electronics are much more complex than their mechanical counterparts. Have you had better luck?

---------- Post added 04-20-21 at 12:51 PM ----------


Denver,

I appreciate the insight here. Sounds like you have a wonderful kit befitting of a Pentaxian's wet dream. The only draw back I have really heard of the 645N vs something like Mamiya is the interchangeable backs. But since I have no experience with integrating medium format into my personal life, I have no ide if that is something I would require. Though I do currently carry around 2 Pentax ME-Fs, a silver one with Color-Negative film and an all black one with B&W-Negative film. But possibly the lower exposure count of 120 film would nullify that as I could easily blow through a roll and replace it with a different type.

The only other negative I have come across is 645N vs 645N-II and that the electrical components of the TTL and autofocusing in the newer model are prone to failure. Have you been lucky on Ebay and similar online second-hand vending when it comes to older film cameras with electrical components?

Thank you kindly for your response.
Hi
I have used eBay to buy most of my used Pentax. I have found that the Japanese vendors are very honest about the description of what they are selling. At times I have asked questions about an item before I buy it and they have always been prompt and forthright with their answers. Japan has more camera nuts than we do and they upgrade more frequently than we do so in the used market there is a treasure trove of used equipment. On eBay, I always do a deep dive as the prices from similar used equipment vary widely. I was lucky and there was a Pro selling off his lightly used 645z with some nice lenses at an incredible price. He was moving on to a Nikon system as the medium format did not fit his needs. I have found that buying from sellers in the US is a crapshoot. KEH, Adorama, and B+H all are great to do business with and are very honest about the equipment they have for sale but is more expensive. I usually do not buy anything from Florida as I have been less than happy with the items. Most have issues with being in a very high humid area and show signs of it. So when buying used here in the US I am very careful.
I have been very happy with all my 645Nii and Z cameras and lens. Some harder to find accessories but nice to have is the external battery back for Nii (good for cold weather or when doing a number of long exposures) The right-angle finder which works on all the 645s is nice for low work or high tripod work. The Nii can use a standard cable release but the z needs an electronic one. The z has an ac adapter with a corresponding port. I have made a battery cable to use with my Quantum Turbo 3 for my K S2 and it was easy to create one for my z as both use the same voltage. I have used this to great effect in night photography and in cold weather never having to worry about changing out batteries. In my 35mm film work I always carried 3 bodies, 1 for color neg, 1 for black and white, and 1 for Kodachrome. With the demise of Kodachrome, I am down to 2 but may go to 3 again as I want to play around with infrared. I will first do Infrared with my Nii as it is a shorter roll. I hope this gives you insight that is helpful if you have any questions or just want to chat denverclassic@gmail.com
04-21-2021, 10:05 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by zjacreman Quote
I may have gotten lucky, my purchase was roughly timed with the announcement of the Fuji GFX100s. I kept my eyes peeled for a month or two before buying. Ebay is a little dry at the moment but I've seen more than one similar bundle go on sale. Saved searches help, and if there's a good deal you have to be ready to jump on it. 645Zs seem to move quick, especially when they're below market rate.

As for buying cameras on ebay, if the pictures look good, the shutter count is low, and the description seems like it was written by somebody who knows what they're talking about, that has gone pretty well for me.

But bodies also show up on KEH, B+H used, etc. for a bit more money if you'd feel more comfortable with a better return policy. Low price lenses are pretty widely available from Japanese sellers (just watch the descriptions closely - 'excellent' in Japanese apparently means 'has just a little haze/fungus'). 10-25% of new price for most of the SMC FA lenses. The zooms in particular, they practically give those away. That's where the real savings come in vs. Fuji.
Thanks again,

Yes I had pretty good luck on some legacy Pentax glass form Japan. Their rating systems is laughable at times. Excellent ++ could be near perfect but a scratch on the lens, Near Mint could be "Near Mint" just as long as you don't mind a piece of glass being chipped lol. But thankfully they generally take high quality macro-esque images and include a lengthy description. As much as I like speaking the common language, fast shipping, and less distance for the object to travel, nothing instills less confidence than an American listing with the description "Item is used, but good condition" accompanied by photos seemingly taken on a Sidekick.

There isn't anything worse than a camera related posting on the bay where the listing photos are terrible lit, out of focus, and super low-res. If you cannot take a proper photo, how can I trust you know how to adequately judge camera gear.

Anyways, little more rant than needed. THANKS!

---------- Post added 04-21-21 at 10:08 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Denver Quote
Hi
I have used eBay to buy most of my used Pentax. I have found that the Japanese vendors are very honest about the description of what they are selling. At times I have asked questions about an item before I buy it and they have always been prompt and forthright with their answers. Japan has more camera nuts than we do and they upgrade more frequently than we do so in the used market there is a treasure trove of used equipment. On eBay, I always do a deep dive as the prices from similar used equipment vary widely. I was lucky and there was a Pro selling off his lightly used 645z with some nice lenses at an incredible price. He was moving on to a Nikon system as the medium format did not fit his needs. I have found that buying from sellers in the US is a crapshoot. KEH, Adorama, and B+H all are great to do business with and are very honest about the equipment they have for sale but is more expensive. I usually do not buy anything from Florida as I have been less than happy with the items. Most have issues with being in a very high humid area and show signs of it. So when buying used here in the US I am very careful.
I have been very happy with all my 645Nii and Z cameras and lens. Some harder to find accessories but nice to have is the external battery back for Nii (good for cold weather or when doing a number of long exposures) The right-angle finder which works on all the 645s is nice for low work or high tripod work. The Nii can use a standard cable release but the z needs an electronic one. The z has an ac adapter with a corresponding port. I have made a battery cable to use with my Quantum Turbo 3 for my K S2 and it was easy to create one for my z as both use the same voltage. I have used this to great effect in night photography and in cold weather never having to worry about changing out batteries. In my 35mm film work I always carried 3 bodies, 1 for color neg, 1 for black and white, and 1 for Kodachrome. With the demise of Kodachrome, I am down to 2 but may go to 3 again as I want to play around with infrared. I will first do Infrared with my Nii as it is a shorter roll. I hope this gives you insight that is helpful if you have any questions or just want to chat denverclassic@gmail.com
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I agree with many of the sentiments expressed.

Greatly appreciate the responses!
05-18-2021, 02:16 PM   #10
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Pentax as an upscale brand

With the current trend to have Pentax as an upscale brand, I wonder what features a 645Z would have. If I understand the market properly, large format cameras are now looking a lot more like an upsized FF DSLR. I wonder if Pentax will also go that route? I often wondered what the advantages were of the current 645 design over that of a K1. Anyone know?
05-27-2021, 08:35 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sprky1285 Quote
To whomever is knowledgeable or interested,

Is it worth it to get a medium format digital Pentax camera right now? As for the same price I could get some stellar performing Fuji Corp-Medium formats SLR, or hell even a like new film Mamiya RB67 with some killer lenses.

Obviously the sensor size and pixel dimensions are important, but I can get a brand new Sony A7rIV with a Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 for less then a brand new 645z.

I have always wanted a medium format camera but think film is the way to go. Any opinions on the Pentax 645's and 67's versus the Mamiya 645's and 67's?
In my humble opinion, if you want the real MF look, then you will find it with the Pentax 6x7 (particularly with the transparencies) and to a lesser extent with the 645 film. I know some people will disagree and say the real MF look is with 4x5, and they have a point. The digital 645 crop will give you other capabilities, not available to the film arena, unless you drop some big money into film related equipment, particularly scanners. USD 20k to 30k!

If you want to see which type of scanner will be able to match the resolution of the 645z, or max out the resolution of the film to digital then I suggest the following:

Set two standards (a) a scan resolution that matches the 645z pixel pitch and (b) the scan resolution that matches the finest grain on film, in the region of 2 microns to 0.2 microns. You will have to do the conversion from pixel pitch to dpi to see the scanner metric. Remember to also look for the lpi metric of the scanner.

Many scanners will advertise very high dpi numbers but in most cases it is emulated, or that the high dpi is only in one direction, not lpi. If it is a dry scan system, you will start to see the film itself, not the image. Let alone the problems with newton rings, dust and micro scratches. Software can remove a lot of imperfections, but at the expense of resolution.

There are some people that will do high-end wet drum scanning for you for a reasonable price of around USD 40-60 per frame. Depending on your location, that may be an option for you, assuming that you are looking for high-end quality. Scanning with anything less on MF film is not utilizing the full potential of the film and IMHO should only be used for image selection.

.

Last edited by TDvN57; 07-27-2021 at 06:19 AM.
05-31-2021, 05:52 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by TDvN57 Quote
In my humble opinion, if you want the real MF look, then you will find it with the Pentax 6x7 (particularly with the transparencies) and to a lesser extent with the 645 film. I know some people will disagree and say the real MF look is with 4x5, and they have a point. The digital 645 crop will give you other capabilities, not available to the film arena, unless you drop some big money into film related equipment, particularly scanners. USD 20k to 30k!

If you want to see which type of scanner will be able to match the resolution of the 645z, or max out the resolution of the film to digital then I suggest the following:

Set two standards (a) a scan resolution that matches the 645z pixel pitch and (b) the scan resolution that matches the finest grain on film, in the region of 20 microns to 0.2 microns. You will have to do the conversion from pixel pitch to dpi to see the scanner metric. Remember to also look for the lpi metric of the scanner.

Many scanners will advertise very high dpi numbers but in most cases it is emulated, or that the high dpi is only in one direction, not lpi. If it is a dry scan system, you will start to see the film itself, not the image. Let alone the problems with newton rings, dust and micro scratches. Software can remove a lot of imperfections, but at the expense of resolution.

There are some people that will do high-end wet drum scanning for you for a reasonable price of around USD 40-60 per frame. Depending on your location, that may be an option for you, assuming that you are looking for high-end quality. Scanning with anything less on MF film is not utilizing the full potential of the film and IMHO should only be used for image selection.

.
Wow, that's a lot to consider!

Thanks so much for the info Theuns. I have recently, after the posting of this, ran some number just on the cumulative costs of running a film medium format rig. The camera of course, plus film, developing and scanning if outsourced, or chemicals and tools if developing on my own. And even without the scanner can add up to the cost of a decent digital MF. Still a tough decision as I just love the process of shooting analog...

I haven't done enough research into the scanners yet. But that is some good information to consider.

Do you own any MF digital or film cameras yourself?
05-31-2021, 08:58 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sprky1285 Quote
.

Do you own any MF digital or film cameras yourself?
Yes, my first MF was the original 6x7 in the early 80's and after some practice I used it as my main camera doing weddings on weekends. That gave me access to a pro lab (money) and the tech staff always helped out with dodge& burn etc.

In the really 2000's I bought the 67ii and the 645Nii and soon after the only pro lab in our area shut down. I started doing my own developing and scanning and went through a couple of scanners and was never happy with the results. The pictures were great and the scans never matched the analogue versions.

That lead me on the path to find out where the loss of quality occurred and eventually realized the Achilles heel is the scanner itself.

When I saw the scanner's price tag and the physical space you need to accommodate it, I started selling off everything and waited. In 2014 I bought the 645z and has been my main camera ever since.

I still miss the process of developing and the whole analogue creation process, but it is not feasible for me at this time. Perhaps I'll get back into it again one day, just for the enjoyment factor.
06-02-2021, 01:14 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by TDvN57 Quote
Yes, my first MF was the original 6x7 in the early 80's and after some practice I used it as my main camera doing weddings on weekends. That gave me access to a pro lab (money) and the tech staff always helped out with dodge& burn etc.

In the really 2000's I bought the 67ii and the 645Nii and soon after the only pro lab in our area shut down. I started doing my own developing and scanning and went through a couple of scanners and was never happy with the results. The pictures were great and the scans never matched the analogue versions.

That lead me on the path to find out where the loss of quality occurred and eventually realized the Achilles heel is the scanner itself.

When I saw the scanner's price tag and the physical space you need to accommodate it, I started selling off everything and waited. In 2014 I bought the 645z and has been my main camera ever since.

I still miss the process of developing and the whole analogue creation process, but it is not feasible for me at this time. Perhaps I'll get back into it again one day, just for the enjoyment factor.
I bet the 67 created some spectacular wedding shots.

I can't imagine the sound of that shutter thwap during the wedding though! It must have been quite the startling sound to those near and not used to a machine like that.

It is quite disappointing, the sparse nature of labs these days. And most are more simple and refined, the bare minimum to cut costs and expedite the process. Heck, I only know of 3 or 4 labs in the entire state of Florida here. And I am not aware of one that does scans to the quality one might desire in a medium format negative.

I love the Pentax lenses, so the ability to use old and new on the 645z may be the deciding factor in whether to chose, Fuji, Hassy or Pentax (as far as digital MF goes).

Have you noticed that relatively old (for the era of semiannual tech updates) Sony sensor in the 645z showing any age? I am not worried about frame rates or video etc. as that would not be main concern for MF work. Mainly portraiture, landscape and the like.

Thanks for your considered response.
06-02-2021, 04:27 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sprky1285 Quote
I bet the 67 created some spectacular wedding shots.

I can't imagine the sound of that shutter thwap during the wedding though! It must have been quite the startling sound to those near and not used to a machine like that.

It is quite disappointing, the sparse nature of labs these days. And most are more simple and refined, the bare minimum to cut costs and expedite the process. Heck, I only know of 3 or 4 labs in the entire state of Florida here. And I am not aware of one that does scans to the quality one might desire in a medium format negative.

I love the Pentax lenses, so the ability to use old and new on the 645z may be the deciding factor in whether to chose, Fuji, Hassy or Pentax (as far as digital MF goes).

Have you noticed that relatively old (for the era of semiannual tech updates) Sony sensor in the 645z showing any age? I am not worried about frame rates or video etc. as that would not be main concern for MF work. Mainly portraiture, landscape and the like.

Thanks for your considered response.
The 6x7 allowed me to charge higher rates, although I still only managed to make enough money to pay for my hobby, which at that time was sufficient. The lab costs were very high in comparison to the one-hour shops for 35mm.

Re your question about the lenses. Most of the legacy (film) lenses for 645 and 6x7 deliver fantastic results. Some of the older lenses from the 70's and prior don't have all the high end coatings and are prone to fringing and chromatic aberration.

If a lens has SMC coatings and ED coatings then the results will be great. Just keep in mind that if a lens has a weak character, it is more likely to be seen in mf than in 35mm FF. Combine with that the all lenses (all manufacturers) have a range of apertures at which the lens renders a sharper image.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, the grain on color film consisted of crystals with sizes ranging from 2 microns to 0.2 microns. The 645z sensor pixel size (pitch) is about 5.3 microns and the newer 100mpx sensor is about 3.7 microns in the same sized sensor. (Google can give you more detail). Thus if a lens was rendering bad results in the film era, it would most likely have been known at that time already.

To get an overview of most medium format lenses and what they can deliver, you may want to scroll through the forum thread "Post your medium format photos". The thread has been active for a number of years already and currently have around 16k posts of mf photos, film and digital and some discussions about lenses.

In mf you also dont need a million lenses, three or four lenses will cover a wide focal range, and even if they don't have the latest hd coatings, the 645z's performance will put your results way ahead of what can be produced with FF. That's my opinion, other are welcome to disagree, just saying. :-)

Last edited by TDvN57; 07-27-2021 at 06:15 AM.
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