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04-30-2015, 01:46 AM   #1
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Wedding shooter debating on 645z

Hi Guys.

I was hoping to get some advice on getting a 645z.

I'm a well established wedding shooter in Australia. Shot hundreds, do about 60-70 a year.

I currently shoot with canon 1dx's and have pretty much every canon lens worth owning but my strength as a photographer is in the couple/portrait/location shoots, where I mostly use the 85/1.2 and 135/2 and 200/2.

This is where I'd want to use the medium format rig - to get a different look to the average guy out there. I'd also like to use it for landscapes but thats personal and just for fun - not for making money.

Back to the point of the post. I want to get that extreme lack of DoF look that I see on a lot of medium format shots. A typical example would be the stuff Jose Villa gets with a contax 645 and 80/2. Another example is this photo here which I believe is a pentax 67 with a 105mm.

With the 645z though, we have a 1.3x crop sensor so I'm wondering if I'll lose some of the full frame medium format magic look for portraiture that has me interested and wondering if it won't be sufficiently different to what I get now on the 1Dx and the 135/2 and 200/2. I love the files from the 645z, I've downloaded a stack - it obviously excels at landscapes - but I'm yet to see any nice natural outdoor low dof portraiture with a tele lens to compare to my canon rig.

I hope that makes sense!

Dollar wise, here in Australia a 645z with a 55mm/2.8 lens is $11,000. I'd prob need 2 more lenses on top of that. I'm guessing I'd be up and running for around $16,000.

A refurbished phase p65+ with body & 80/2.8 lens is $20,350. It's a lot of money and only 1 lens but it's does have a full frame sensor.

my website is Wollongong & Sydney Wedding Photographer | Gavin Cato, Wedding Photographer if you want to have a look to see how I typically shoot.

Many thanks for any advice!

cheers

Gav

04-30-2015, 03:20 AM   #2
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You should wait for Chris Giles to chime in, as he is also a wedding photog who recently switched to the Pentax system and I'm sure he has a lot to say, but in the mean time you can check out his multi-part review of the 645Z and how it applies to his work: Pentax 645z Review by Chris Giles

Shallow DoF definitely looks unique comparing something like the FA 150mm f/2.8 to the EF 85LII 1.2. The 150 is much sharper wide open and has fewer aberrations, but it also doesn't have the same razor thin focus transition, which I think is a pattern you'll see with all MF systems, the focus fall-off is much more gradual. In any case, the look is definitely going to vary depending on whether you're comparing a 33x44mm sensor, 645 or 6x7 film, you can't point to one and ask if the Pentax is going to be similar, it's very likely not going to.

QuoteQuote:
A refurbished phase p65+ with body & 80/2.8 lens is $20,350. It's a lot of money and only 1 lens but it's does have a full frame sensor.
Not worth it IMO, if it was an IQ180 then it could have been something to consider, but with the p65+ you loose too much modern conveniences just for a big sensor. Also you'd be pretty much stuck at shooting at ISO50 if you want usable images.
04-30-2015, 03:47 AM   #3
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Hello.

I wrote that review a few months ago and while I stick by most of it I've shot many more weddings since.
When I first got the camera I was all 'hell yeah, every wedding' but it's been far from the case.

The sensor and image quality IS superb and even though it renders beautifully there are some serious shortcomings which holds it back.

I now use it for the couples portraits and formals almost exclusively. If I have time to use it for well lit situations I will do that too. The problem is you will miss shots due to the speed of the system.

I mainly shoot manual but with the Z I use T/AV. Yet there is no safety shift and the camera still fires even if the exposure is out of whack. I wasted a good 30 exposures because I'd set the camera at 1/200 sec @ F4 with Auto ISO during couple shots. Sure the screen was flashing to say it couldn't get correct exposure but I didn't spot that. The reason I shot so many shots was because the preview images are so mind-blowingly slow to appear if you shoot more than one image that it actually spoils the moment. So you keep shooting.

The other thing is that even though it's built like a tank a good few times the camera won't talk to the AF motor. I 'think' this is because I change lenses on the fly and now practice a 'turn off and change' approach to see if that fixes things.

For anything else though I use the 1Dx and 5D3 myself. This isn't knocking the other aspects of the camera. But if you are a run and gun shooter who captures moments the 645z won't quite get you there. Truth be told it really boils down to the preview speed of the system. Fix that and it would have a much better run of things. A 1Dx with this sensor in? OMG sign me up for two.

But for special staged stuff, hell yes.
The other thing is servicing. Photopia has had a 300mm lens for three weeks now. Canon CPS and it's back in 4 days.

I had the 645z for two reasons, personal camera lust and landscape enjoyment with a view to use it for my work stuff too. Would I get this just for weddings? Probably not because of what the outlay could get me elsewhere, like a car.

The 645z look isn't just down to the sensor but the dynamic range. The tilt screen is creatively liberating too.

It's still a superb camera to me it's just that my views on it are maturing as I use it more.

If there was a list of things I need urgently to improve the user experience it would be:

1. A button I could program a custom function into so I could shoot true manual mode, then I could press (say, the green button) and it would fall into a program mode for those short duration moments where I just have to get an exposed image.
2. Safety shift for when my auto settings were unable to get the capture.
3. Faster preview time after a short burst. We're probably limited by design but 10 seconds to check my images? Really?
4. The low light AF is bad compared to the 1DX so the flash IR button needs to be more in our control for night focusing.

Last edited by Chris Giles; 04-30-2015 at 04:04 AM.
04-30-2015, 05:28 AM   #4
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Hello Chris, you pretty much listed all the reasons why I still have a Canon and 24-70, it's just a bit too slow for some things, but really nice for special shots. And to think the operation speed was massively improved over the 645D, that camera was unbearably slow.

04-30-2015, 07:46 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chris Giles Quote
1. A button I could program a custom function into so I could shoot true manual mode, then I could press (say, the green button) and it would fall into a program mode for those short duration moments where I just have to get an exposed image.
How is what you are asking for different than using the green button?
04-30-2015, 07:52 AM   #6
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great review with great pics to back it up.

Pentax 645z Review | Portrait + Wedding Examples
04-30-2015, 08:53 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by rangercarp Quote
How is what you are asking for different than using the green button?
Why hell if I didn't just learn something new.

Anyone got a link to the E-Dial menu setting and how to use it. I really didn't understand it when I read the manual

It seems like there's a ton of options for each exposure mode.

Edit - Worked it out. FFS
04-30-2015, 10:17 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chris Giles Quote
It seems like there's a ton of options for each exposure mode.
I am not very familiar with other systems, but I think that is one thing Pentax does well. Still, I wish there was more options to customize how each button and dial functions.

04-30-2015, 03:51 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chris Giles Quote
Hello.

I wrote that review a few months ago and while I stick by most of it I've shot many more weddings since.
When I first got the camera I was all 'hell yeah, every wedding' but it's been far from the case.

The sensor and image quality IS superb and even though it renders beautifully there are some serious shortcomings which holds it back.

I now use it for the couples portraits and formals almost exclusively. If I have time to use it for well lit situations I will do that too. The problem is you will miss shots due to the speed of the system.

I mainly shoot manual but with the Z I use T/AV. Yet there is no safety shift and the camera still fires even if the exposure is out of whack. I wasted a good 30 exposures because I'd set the camera at 1/200 sec @ F4 with Auto ISO during couple shots. Sure the screen was flashing to say it couldn't get correct exposure but I didn't spot that. The reason I shot so many shots was because the preview images are so mind-blowingly slow to appear if you shoot more than one image that it actually spoils the moment. So you keep shooting.

The other thing is that even though it's built like a tank a good few times the camera won't talk to the AF motor. I 'think' this is because I change lenses on the fly and now practice a 'turn off and change' approach to see if that fixes things.

For anything else though I use the 1Dx and 5D3 myself. This isn't knocking the other aspects of the camera. But if you are a run and gun shooter who captures moments the 645z won't quite get you there. Truth be told it really boils down to the preview speed of the system. Fix that and it would have a much better run of things. A 1Dx with this sensor in? OMG sign me up for two.

But for special staged stuff, hell yes.
The other thing is servicing. Photopia has had a 300mm lens for three weeks now. Canon CPS and it's back in 4 days.

I had the 645z for two reasons, personal camera lust and landscape enjoyment with a view to use it for my work stuff too. Would I get this just for weddings? Probably not because of what the outlay could get me elsewhere, like a car.

The 645z look isn't just down to the sensor but the dynamic range. The tilt screen is creatively liberating too.

It's still a superb camera to me it's just that my views on it are maturing as I use it more.

If there was a list of things I need urgently to improve the user experience it would be:

1. A button I could program a custom function into so I could shoot true manual mode, then I could press (say, the green button) and it would fall into a program mode for those short duration moments where I just have to get an exposed image.
2. Safety shift for when my auto settings were unable to get the capture.
3. Faster preview time after a short burst. We're probably limited by design but 10 seconds to check my images? Really?
4. The low light AF is bad compared to the 1DX so the flash IR button needs to be more in our control for night focusing.
Hi Chris,

Thanks So much for the detailed reply - definitely some things for me to think about!

It would definitely be for the staged shots - not intending on getting rid of my 1dx's, they are beautiful workhorses, albeit lacking a bit in DR.

---------- Post added 04-30-15 at 03:53 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Kolor-Pikker Quote
You should wait for Chris Giles to chime in, as he is also a wedding photog who recently switched to the Pentax system and I'm sure he has a lot to say, but in the mean time you can check out his multi-part review of the 645Z and how it applies to his work: Pentax 645z Review by Chris Giles

Shallow DoF definitely looks unique comparing something like the FA 150mm f/2.8 to the EF 85LII 1.2. The 150 is much sharper wide open and has fewer aberrations, but it also doesn't have the same razor thin focus transition, which I think is a pattern you'll see with all MF systems, the focus fall-off is much more gradual. In any case, the look is definitely going to vary depending on whether you're comparing a 33x44mm sensor, 645 or 6x7 film, you can't point to one and ask if the Pentax is going to be similar, it's very likely not going to.


Not worth it IMO, if it was an IQ180 then it could have been something to consider, but with the p65+ you loose too much modern conveniences just for a big sensor. Also you'd be pretty much stuck at shooting at ISO50 if you want usable images.
Thanks, yes the p65+ does look a bit clunky, albeit with amazing quality at base iso. The iq180 and above would be magic but the price tag is terrifying
05-01-2015, 05:37 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by gavincato Quote
I love the files from the 645z, I've downloaded a stack - it obviously excels at landscapes - but I'm yet to see any nice natural outdoor low dof portraiture with a tele lens to compare to my canon rig.
While I haven't done any portraiture with the Z yet, but I did get my mother to pose for a few shots yesterday at the park.
FA150mm f/2.8 @ 2.8. Some basic processing in Lightroom.
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/41183616/_IMG1716.jpg
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/41183616/_IMG1718.jpg

Edit: and a photo of a friend:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/41183616/_IMG1743.jpg

Last edited by Kolor-Pikker; 05-02-2015 at 04:43 AM.
05-03-2015, 02:50 AM   #11
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Original Poster
hey guys

thanks for all the info, I grabbed one today. initial impressions are very positive but won't know for sure until I use it properly at a wedding. I'll be taking it out on a few field trips before then to get my head around it.
05-05-2015, 07:10 AM   #12
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Congrats. It's a beautiful camera for my needs-landscape and portraiture. Love the mirror lockup while using the waterproof remote.
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