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07-02-2015, 06:32 AM   #1
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Finally got to try a 645Z today!

Like the title says, I've wanted to try out a 645Z for a long time now and finally got to handle one in a Munich camera store. It's even larger than I had previously thought--with a longer lens or older lens (I used it with a fancy shmancy autofocus 50mm something or other) I bet it would be absolutely monstrous! That said it wasn't uncomfortable at all to hold and actually felt very well-balanced. I think having such a massive piece of equipment in my hands made me feel more professional in some way.

Anyways, for those of you who actually own one, would you recommend purchasing one? Upgrading to medium format might be a possibility in a few years...

07-02-2015, 06:44 AM   #2
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Depends on what you do and why you feel that a 645Z would somehow benefit your work.
Is it the 14+ stops of dynamic range that you would find useful for landscape use? Is it the resolution to print at massive sizes without stitching? Do just want to go for "the look" of medium format when shot wide open? I can't answer any of these questions for you, but I can say that much of this criteria was applicable to my work, which is why I bought one.

In terms of size, the 645Z is about the size and weight of a gripped DSLR with zoom lens, so regardless of where you go in the high end, you'll have to deal with bulk either way.
07-02-2015, 07:12 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kolor-Pikker Quote
In terms of size, the 645Z is about the size and weight of a gripped DSLR with zoom lens, so regardless of where you go in the high end, you'll have to deal with bulk either way.


Not that much bulk. A grip is optional. The 28-45 is massive as well and I must say that I have cooled to the 645 system due to its size and weight in spite of owning four 645 lenses and the 645NII.
07-02-2015, 07:14 AM   #4
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I haven't regretted my purchase one bit. I shoot mostly landscapes and the extra resolution and dynamic range were both factors for me. I also love the look of portraits I get with the Z. Yes, it's bigger than the K-3. And yes, people will look at you differently when shooting it. I had several people stop to chat at Mt Rainier a couple of weeks ago when they realized I was shooting medium format. It was a new experience for me (I won't say good or bad, just new). It really got me thinking how the gear you use can change people's opinion of your ability (again, not saying it's right, just that it happens). I don't do paid shoots so it doesn't really matter to me, but for a lot of pros it might.

07-02-2015, 07:58 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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Well, in the past few years I've gone from a very good camera (Oly E-3), to an excellent one (Sony A850), to another excellent one (A7R, despite some flaws). I thought I was done, with the A7R and the A850 in backup. Then Pentax rocked the world with their announcement a bit over a year ago. My first thought, after having laid out the money for the A7R, is unprintable here in these forums.

But I started thinking about it, very hard. I already had a 645N and a group of lenses for it, all of which would work for the Z. A quick look online showed me that I could fill out gaps in that lens collection for less money (a lot less) than I could with the A7R, even accounting for using some legacy glass there. I made some purchases along those lines, understanding that I could use these lenses with my existing 645N, and maybe I could get a Z after some time.

Contributing to my thinking was that a dear old friend of mine had become a new Pentax rep, and had several local clients who were interested in the camera. Although I could not get a discount, one of these clients was willing to take a lot of gear I had in trade---and that brought the price down $3K to the point where it wasn't death, but merely excruciatingly painful.

The positives, though: I did my friend a favor, helping her move some product, and I finally got a camera that, for me, may just have let me get off the upgrade ladder. With it, and the A7R, and the collection of lenses I have for both (only 4 now for the A7R, including a T/S), I now have the best photographic setup I have ever had, and one which completely fills my artistic needs, but also equips me well for some professional (non-art) photography I am trying to get going over the next several years as I reach "retirement age", even though I'll never retire, really.

I relate all this personal stuff to you because, unlike the pros here, my situation was more idiosyncratic and therefore less commercially driven---just as yours seems to be. With a purchase at this level, it behooves the non-pro (I mean someone who really makes their whole living out of their photography) to very carefully assess their full situation and options. If I had not already had the Pentax glass, and all that trade in gear, it would have been impossible really for me to justify the purchase---given that the A7R is really pretty darn good for my purposes---even though in so many ways the Z is truly the "right" camera for me. This situation has now become even more nuanced, if that is really the right word, with the arrival of the A7RII.

A caveat: moving up into medium format (and I shot it in film days, but some time ago, with one exception), even from FF, is an adjustment. The actual quality of many of my images went significantly down (peeping 1:1, that is, strictly looking at sharpness. In other ways, immediate improvement....). So, the Z is great but also demanding.

Hope that helps. BTW, yes the camera is big. Great to operate, less great to carry around or travel with. I am in Ecuador right now, just finishing a 3 week tour, and there have been some challenges lugging the gear around.
07-02-2015, 09:03 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
Great to operate, less great to carry around or travel with. I am in Ecuador right now, just finishing a 3 week tour, and there have been some challenges lugging the gear around.
When I bought the 645 (film) system, it wasn't any larger or heavier than a pro grade 35mm system. The body was about the size and weight of an F5 and the lenses no larger than Canon L-glass; the 33-55 weights 500g only; the 75mm only 215g!
With digital everything seem to get heavier. If I'm not mistaken the K-3 is the largest and heaviest K-mount SLR ever. The crop factor of the 645z is unfortunate - the wide alternative is now 1.5kg and cost $5000.
I'm also getting older, and for mysterious reasons, heavier. I think FF might be the new MF for me....
07-02-2015, 09:04 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Vitzthumb Quote
Like the title says, I've wanted to try out a 645Z for a long time now and finally got to handle one in a Munich camera store. It's even larger than I had previously thought--with a longer lens or older lens (I used it with a fancy shmancy autofocus 50mm something or other) I bet it would be absolutely monstrous! That said it wasn't uncomfortable at all to hold and actually felt very well-balanced. I think having such a massive piece of equipment in my hands made me feel more professional in some way.

Anyways, for those of you who actually own one, would you recommend purchasing one? Upgrading to medium format might be a possibility in a few years...
I do not own one but have used it in multiple photo shows to see how I like the feel of the camera. It is big but manageable in a stationery (studio or local usage) situation. To carry it on your back into the wild might be a little more bulk than I can handle. I am going to the gym getting ready just in case!!

I was so sure I was going to get a 645 that I even went ahead and bought some legacy 645 lenses starting about two years ago. Now with the introduction of the Sony A7RII, I am not so sure the differences are going to be worth the extra cost or bulk.

As I am hanging on to my K3s and all my new and legacy glass, I am going to wait to see the comparisons between the 645Z, the A7RII and the upcoming Pentax FF. If the final overall results favor the 645Z heavily, then I will try to justify the cost. Otherwise, if the quality compromises are minimal, then an A7RII or a Pentax FF would be a lot more cost effective to own and to log around.

For me the resolution is only part of the equation. Wanting to do more nature and landscape work, dynamic range is another big factor... and yes the cost issue too.
07-02-2015, 09:22 AM   #8
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The z is no heavier than a 5d3 with a grip. The mirror box makes it seem bigger.

The (old) primes from 35 - 200 are small light and magnificent

The zooms are large and heavy but optically amazing. The 80-160 on the z is like carrying around a 70-200 2.8 and gripped 5d3

I carry mine out into the wild. But then I used to lug large format around.

I love the size and using it in the cold or wet is a breeze

It is the very best camera I have ever used. End of. Portraits, events, landscapes.

A holga in a poor photographers hands can produce rubbish. The same for the z.

Learn the camera. Enjoy the experience. Learn how to coax every single pixel out of the files and then print print print.

I do not regret buying it at all. It has changed my image making for good.

07-02-2015, 02:00 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pål Jensen Quote
Not that much bulk. A grip is optional. The 28-45 is massive as well and I must say that I have cooled to the 645 system due to its size and weight in spite of owning four 645 lenses and the 645NII.
Why do you say "a grip is optional"?
07-02-2015, 04:26 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pål Jensen Quote
I think FF might be the new MF for me....
Yeah, like that A7RII...But what this trip really taught me is that what I need to complement my Z for travel purposes is that oft-rumored Mamiya 7 style (or Fuji medium format, AFAIC...) medium format camera Sony may have been considering making...Love my Z, but would love a fixed zoom digital medium format, like the old Fuji GA645zi (but a different zoom range, please). What a travel camera!
07-03-2015, 04:30 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by algrove Quote
Why do you say "a grip is optional"?
I think they mean in the case where you can always slim down a 5D3 by taking the grip off, while the 645Z is always big. Although the Canon 1D and Nikon D# series cameras have integral grips.

In some cases you don't want to take the grip off however, such as when using lenses that weigh more than 1kg. Back when I first tried the 85LII on my 5D2 at a store I immediately asked for a grip and it made a world of difference, especially when shooting in portrait orientation.
07-03-2015, 07:50 AM   #12
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OK. I had a 5D3 until getting the Z earlier this year and I never knew one could take its grip off since it looked part of the original mold.
07-03-2015, 09:00 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by algrove Quote
OK. I had a 5D3 until getting the Z earlier this year and I never knew one could take its grip off since it looked part of the original mold.
Just so we're clear, by grip I mean this attachment piece:





Compared to the 1DX:



Setting my 645Z + 55mm next to the Canon 5D2 and 24-70 2.8 II, both are about the same high and width, but the Z is twice as deep around the mirror box area, and feels heftier, but not significantly more so.

Last edited by Kolor-Pikker; 07-03-2015 at 09:05 AM.
07-04-2015, 04:06 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Vitzthumb Quote
Anyways, for those of you who actually own one, would you recommend purchasing one? Upgrading to medium format might be a possibility in a few years...

I would recommend buying one today. In a few years, we could be seeing the 645X, a full frame 645 affair, with 6 fps.


07-04-2015, 06:15 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by rfkiii Quote
I would recommend buying one today. In a few years, we could be seeing the 645X, a full frame 645 affair, with 6 fps.


Which is why I'd say no... buy a used D today, build a lens system and save the pennies for 3 years hence.
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