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01-14-2015, 09:44 AM - 4 Likes   #1
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Curious about the 28-45, I rented one...

For me, this seems to be the ideal focal length range for landscapes on the 645Z, perhaps a little wider would be better, but this would do. Reading this forum, and people's comments on the size and heft of the lens, didn't prepare me for what I was about to experience.

It arrived Wednesday from Lens Rentals in a plain brown box. The box had a foam liner with a hole big enough for a Sigma Bigma, to fit. Inside that was the lens, with hood, inside its pouch. The lens cap looked like it came from a 1990's vintage Pentax lens, but the rest of the lens, and hood, looked new.

I put the lens on the 645Z and went out to the yard to take a few quick shots. I find the camera to be very nose heavy with this lens on it. The quick shots revealed the lens to be very sharp, and the new HD coatings do a nice job of reducing lens flare. Shots with the sun in them were very clean.

Back-lit Pomegranate Flower (28mm)

Since I'm a landscape photographer, and a big part of that is getting the equipment to the locations I want to shoot, I figured a good test would be to hike to a familiar spot. The spot I chose was a place known as "First Water", on the Mount Wilson Trail, in the Angeles National Forest here in Southern California. The hike to First Water is 1.5 miles with a a 980 foot ascent. It's not too bad if you're in reasonable physical health, but additional weight adds to the difficulty.

Mt Wilson trail Map

Once I got to First Water, I went down to the area I've shot before. I found the lens/camera combination less than enjoyable to use on slippery/unstable ground. It didn't balance well on a tripod. Perhaps the fact that the $5000 lens wasn't mine contributed to my uneasiness. Also, trying to use my Tiffen variable ND filter on this lens, with the hood, is impossible due the the close tolerances of the hood. There's little room to get your fingers in there to screw the filter on, and the hood doesn't have the little filter window some previous Pentax hoods have had. The result was I used the filter without the hood, which caused flare in the images.

First Water (28mm)


Heading back down the trail (28mm)

For me, to be able to use this lens, it would need: a) to be lighter, b) have a tripod collar so it feels better on a tripod, c) have a larger hood with provisions to use my variable ND filter. Also, I'd eliminate the optical stabilization. I don't think it's really that necessary for a focal length of this range, on a 'field camera'. That would also reduce the cost and most likely the weight and size.

A Weight Comparison:

645Z and SMCP-A 645 35mm


645Z and SMCP-FA 645 45-85mm


645Z and SMCP-DA 645 28-45mm


Wet brick (it was raining out, so a dry brick was not available)

Conclusion:
I'm glad I rented the DA28-45 before buying one. I enjoy using the 645Z with the A35 and FA45-85, but I just could not find any pleasure in using the DA28-45, mainly because the 645Z becomes so unbalanced with that lens mounted on it. It does take nice photos though.

YMMV...

01-14-2015, 10:09 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Very interesting review, and I liked the visual comparison at the end regarding weight (especially the wet brick).
01-14-2015, 10:19 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Thanks. I've been considering this one myself. For the same weight you can pack the 25 and 55 and have 2 lenses that should balance better. I find with zooms that I'm typically using them at the extremes and not much in between so 2 primes might be better. The weather sealing is important to me, though, living in the Pacific northwest, so I may still consider it. Consider adding your review to the lens database so it doesn't get lost.
01-14-2015, 10:26 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Interesting viewpoint. I held mine in store before buying it and took a few test shots. Handheld I feel it balances very well and the weight damps vibration. I agree it's nose heavy on a tripod, but a good quality head and sturdy tripod make that a non issue (once the nerves subside). Overall I love this lens and find any of it's shortcomings are far outweighed by it's strengths, not least the weather sealing

01-14-2015, 11:05 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
Very interesting review, and I liked the visual comparison at the end regarding weight (especially the wet brick).
It was weather sealed.

QuoteOriginally posted by jrpower10 Quote
The weather sealing is important to me, though, living in the Pacific northwest, so I may still consider it.
Yes, that's another reason I wanted to like this lens.

QuoteOriginally posted by jrpower10 Quote
Consider adding your review to the lens database so it doesn't get lost.
Thanks, I'll look into that.

QuoteOriginally posted by unkipunki Quote
Overall I love this lens and find any of it's shortcomings are far outweighed by it's strengths, not least the weather sealing
That's what I was hoping for, but it didn't turn out.
01-14-2015, 11:19 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Haha, I nearly fell out my chair seeing that brick and the weight, but I'm actually thinking of getting this lens as my next addition to my kit.

Having used gripped DSLRs with 70-200's and the Canon 85L, I have a pretty good idea of what the weight and balance will be like, but I can see why it might not be for everyone. Regarding SR, it actually seems pretty useful since this is "only" an f/4.5 lens, but combine it with the fact that this is a wide and you could hand-hold in the dark. I use my Z a lot off-tripod, so I want SR on as many lenses as possible since they are so slow compared to small format lenses, and going by other camera manufacturers that offer stabilization, the SR should add no more than 200g (7oz) to the total weight of the lens, but yes it does cost a premium.

I use Gitzo 3-section Mountaineer legs with a 405 geared head, and it's rock solid with some pretty heavy stuff on it, putting on lop-sided cameras never made it budge.
01-14-2015, 12:28 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Mike,

Thank you for sharing your review and thoughts. This is by far the most interesting review I can recall seeing. You approached it from a practical user based point-of-view which resonates with me.

I am about to switch to a 645Z from a K3 and prime lenses and this lens is an obvious choice for wide shots. I attended CES and tried the camera with a few of lenses I have already acquired (45-85, 200 and A120 macro). However, as you know the trade show floor is no place to adequately evaluate image quality. Too many brights signs against dark backdrops and almost black ceilings.

I saw a few prints at the show but they were not impressive. There was no wow factor. To be fair the prints were lab prints and my guess is that they really did not show the potential of the camera. Perhaps if printed on a large format inkjet with someone who knows what to do, they may have looked totally different.

The pomegranate shot is very nice and looks good on the computer. Looks like something I would shoot as a nature photographer. So, my question to you as owner of a 645Z, how does the image quality compare to a DSLR, say a K3 or similar. I am hoping that you have had a chance to compare results. Is the difference so big? My show experience with the 645Z compared to my K3 was not conclusive. Then again the environment was not right for a proper test.

I did not mean for my post to go so long. But I wanted to get some feedback from actual owners and users such as yourself, before making the leap myself.

Thank you for your reply.

Boris
01-14-2015, 01:52 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kolor-Pikker Quote
Haha, I nearly fell out my chair seeing that brick and the weight, but I'm actually thinking of getting this lens as my next addition to my kit.
...
I use Gitzo 3-section Mountaineer legs with a 405 geared head, and it's rock solid with some pretty heavy stuff on it, putting on lop-sided cameras never made it budge.
Glad I could humor you. Agreed about the tripod, even more so with this lens. One thing good about the Pentax 645 cameras is the 2nd tripod mounting point built in. Even so, the 28-45 just didn't feel right to me. Best of luck with yours.

Boris, thank you. I use both the 645Z and K-3. The Z definitely has more dynamic range and detail depth than the K-3, but the K-3 is no slouch. These days I use the Z for wide shots and the K-3 for longer shots and hummingbirds (the Z doesn't have catch-in focus, yet ). I can recommend both. Given that you already have a few lenses, I'd rent the Z so you can compare the two under the conditions you find appropriate. You may find, as I did, that you can find a use for both.
Good luck.

01-14-2015, 03:41 PM   #9
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I've had my 28-45 for just over a week and have been out shooting with it quite a bit already. Yes, it's heavier, but I think it's a much faster and more flexible option than carrying both the 25mm and 35mm and having to constrantly swap lenses. I upgraded my ballhead from the RRS BH-40 to BH-55 and it balances much better now. It's a monster, but it fits in my bag and doesn't had much more weight than having the other two lenses. It's also sharper than the other two lenses.
01-14-2015, 04:29 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ryan Tischer Quote
"more flexible option than carrying both the 25mm and 35mm"
Ryan, thanks for the reply. Indeed, it would be more flexible. And, agreed, a stout tripod and ball head are necessary for this lens. Glad to hear it works for you.
Enjoy!
01-14-2015, 05:24 PM   #11
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I know what you mean by flare without the hood. My hood fell off and into the sea out of reach in Holland, and I get more flare as a result. it won't take a standard 82mm hood either as it is recessed.
01-14-2015, 05:45 PM   #12
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Thanks for the informative mini-review. I, too, wanted this lens but also found it just too monstrous. That said, if you're using less than a BH-55 or Arca Cube or some equivalent, y'aint got enough tripod head. The 645z is a big sucker and needs all the stability it can get.

I hope Pentax gets a little more realistic on lens size. The 90 is also a complete no-go for the same reason. Image stabilization is really not worth the size. I've been buying up the little "A" primes because they are a fraction the size and cost nothing.

Let's hope the core zooms on the roadmap are more reasonably sized.
01-14-2015, 05:54 PM   #13
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I have had mine for a few months. Actually as long as my 645z. It has replaced my 25 almost completely because of the convenience and the filter capability. I use an 82/77 stedown ring and have no problems. Without filters, it will cover my 645n. I use it a walk around lens in TAV mode and auto ISO. I don't think I will be using too many grads on this camera as the DR is incredible. I definitely wouldn't be using a variable ND as I wouldn't want to put up with that X-pattern exposure pattern that shows up on wides. Straight NDS. Oh and when it's on a tripod, I use pods and heads that will 20-30 kg. go big or go home.
01-15-2015, 01:43 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by iCrop Quote
Glad I could humor you. Agreed about the tripod, even more so with this lens. One thing good about the Pentax 645 cameras is the 2nd tripod mounting point built in. Even so, the 28-45 just didn't feel right to me. Best of luck with yours.

Boris, thank you. I use both the 645Z and K-3. The Z definitely has more dynamic range and detail depth than the K-3, but the K-3 is no slouch. These days I use the Z for wide shots and the K-3 for longer shots and hummingbirds (the Z doesn't have catch-in focus, yet ). I can recommend both. Given that you already have a few lenses, I'd rent the Z so you can compare the two under the conditions you find appropriate. You may find, as I did, that you can find a use for both.
Good luck.
Thanks for the follow up Mike.

Sorry I took this tread off track a bit with my 645Z quality question. However, I did use the 28-45 at the show. It is HUGE. I did not expect it to be that big. I think balancing issue is one thing, weight and cost are another two biggies. Unfortunately there is no cheap and light weight alternative for super wides. The A or FA 35 is only equal to a 28mm which is not wide enough. There is only one report on the 33-55 in the lens database. It is a viable alternative but it is rated very low. So I guess we are stuck with the bulk and cost of the 28-45.

I am not sure if the size of the 28-45 would shrink that much even if you were to drop the SR from the lens. For me cost is an issue too. Yes 645Z system is a relative bargain but by the time you add their latest lenses; the 55, 90 and the 28-45 and one or two longer lenses, you are well past $20K which is out of reach of most people.

I agree that the K3 is no slouch but my switch is purely to produce large 60x80 or something in that neighborhood prints. I was wondering if you had gone super big on prints and seen comparative print results from the K3 and the 645Z side-by-side. If I were to stay with up to 20x30 or even a little bigger prints, the K3 is more than adequate. However, the intended application is much large prints hence the 645Z.

Thanks again.

Boris
01-15-2015, 06:49 AM   #15
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Thanks for the useful and entertaining report Mike. I love the brick comparison. I remember hiking that trail in 1973 with my new-to-me Pentax Spotmatic.

Tom
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