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02-26-2016, 12:13 PM   #1
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Pentax 645Z for lowlight shooting?

Hi! I'm a Pentax user and shoot just about everything and am very pleased with the current aps-c system. My main camera is the K3 which is great but I just don't use it for lowlight photography (without a tripod.) I'm looking for a camera that will perform much better with high ISO for nighttime street and cityscapes. And if I do buy a 645z I will also use it for portraits, macro and product photography. But my main motivation is to use for cityscapes In very lowlight handheld which equals high ISO levels. The reason I don't want to use a tripod is because I want to shoot documentary style and capture moving people and cars, you know city nightlife etc. Is it wise to invest in a 645Z for this particular use?

02-26-2016, 01:25 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by A.Styrlander Quote
Hi! I'm a Pentax user and shoot just about everything and am very pleased with the current aps-c system. My main camera is the K3 which is great but I just don't use it for lowlight photography (without a tripod.) I'm looking for a camera that will perform much better with high ISO for nighttime street and cityscapes. And if I do buy a 645z I will also use it for portraits, macro and product photography. But my main motivation is to use for cityscapes In very lowlight handheld which equals high ISO levels. The reason I don't want to use a tripod is because I want to shoot documentary style and capture moving people and cars, you know city nightlife etc. Is it wise to invest in a 645Z for this particular use?
Yes, the 645Z would be much better for low light. However, if you don't plan to shoot on a tripod, I would go for the K-1, since it has built-in SR on top of the much larger sensor. It will probably outperform the 645Z for nighttime street shooting thanks to this.

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02-26-2016, 01:37 PM   #3
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My vote for the K-1 also. Inbuilt SR and good high ISO will make it better than the 645z
02-26-2016, 01:43 PM   #4
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If you are insisting on not using a tripod and handholding in the dark, then really the only CURRENT body that will be able to do a good job is the Sony A7S/A7Sii The basic reason is that it is a full size sensor with a reduced resolution - 12 MP, with a high ISO specifically designed for very low light shooting.



Sony is the only vendor who has dedicated a specific body to ambient very low light photography.



Last edited by interested_observer; 02-26-2016 at 01:51 PM.
02-26-2016, 07:24 PM   #5
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Go with the "Z"

i moved up from a 645D to the 645Z lat year, and the low-light performance of the CMOS sensor is excellent. Obviously, there's a price gap between any of the 35mm DSLRs and the Z, but the quality of images in all lighting conditions is amazing.
02-26-2016, 08:54 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by cksandberg Quote
i moved up from a 645D to the 645Z lat year, and the low-light performance of the CMOS sensor is excellent. Obviously, there's a price gap between any of the 35mm DSLRs and the Z, but the quality of images in all lighting conditions is amazing.
I have a 645z and I would wager a bet that I could get better low light photos with the new K-1 than the Z. Its lighter, has stabilisation and I would bet its low light performance would be within 1/2 stop of the 645z.
02-26-2016, 09:04 PM   #7
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Lots of opinions here but as a 645Z shooter, here are some facts. There are new lenses for the 645Z that have shake reduction built into the lens. As for other options, the older 35mm is an F.3.5 lens while the 55mm, 75mm are F2.8 lenses. The max 645z ISO capability is 204,800, the same as the SONY A7s. With judicious noise reduction applied in post and scaling down to 12-16 meg equivalent, you should have no problem shooting handheld with night time ambient street/city lighting.
02-26-2016, 10:20 PM   #8
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The iso performance is there for what you want to do with the Z at night. I find the medium format shallow depth of field challenging for what you propose with the camera (handheld documentary style at night).
Medium format digital is very very shallow and unforgiving in this regard. Especially if you are coming from the luxurious depth of aps-c....

02-26-2016, 11:16 PM   #9
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Thank you guys for giving me your thoughts on this, much appreciated.

It's a tough decision for sure, I'm not really contemplating moving from crop-sensor to FF anytime soon, why? Mostly because I'm very pleased with my results for most types of shooting and I already own many of the best aps-c lenses out there for K-mount. I also enjoy the much smaller size of zoom lenses in particular for crop systems rather than those for FF. So aps-c will stay as my main system for many years to come I believe.

But if I should buy a K1 as a speciality body for lowlight shooting I will see much better results of course than my current K3. But as I'm also a lot into cityscapes (shooting old factories and city skylines) the dynamic range of the 645Z really appeals to me, In these types of shots I always use a tripod of course. Also if I get the 645Z I will get a more competent camera for macro, portraits and studio work which I'm looking to get into more in the near future. I understand that a A7IIs for example would be best suitable for those documentary street night shots, but I won't get the benefits for my other types of photography that I would with a 645Z.

However I specifically asked for the 645Zs capability in lowlight situations handheld and maybe its a bit unsuitable for this ofcourse but still will be a huge step up than my K3 I guess. Hmm, well I've got plenty of time to think this decision through as I'm not going to buy anything until September-October when I travel to NYC. The 645Z +55 2.8 is 40% cheaper there than here in Sweden.

Who knows? I might get both the K1 and 645? But I'll probably not get the Sony even though it outperforms the K1 in lowlight. Don't know why, I just don't like Sonys menu system and prefer SLRs rather than EVFs.
02-27-2016, 01:45 AM   #10
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645 in low light, just the lamp and a reflector
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02-27-2016, 02:47 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by A.Styrlander Quote
Thank you guys for giving me your thoughts on this, much appreciated.

It's a tough decision for sure, I'm not really contemplating moving from crop-sensor to FF anytime soon, why? Mostly because I'm very pleased with my results for most types of shooting and I already own many of the best aps-c lenses out there for K-mount. I also enjoy the much smaller size of zoom lenses in particular for crop systems rather than those for FF. So aps-c will stay as my main system for many years to come I believe.

But if I should buy a K1 as a speciality body for lowlight shooting I will see much better results of course than my current K3. But as I'm also a lot into cityscapes (shooting old factories and city skylines) the dynamic range of the 645Z really appeals to me, In these types of shots I always use a tripod of course. Also if I get the 645Z I will get a more competent camera for macro, portraits and studio work which I'm looking to get into more in the near future. I understand that a A7IIs for example would be best suitable for those documentary street night shots, but I won't get the benefits for my other types of photography that I would with a 645Z.

However I specifically asked for the 645Zs capability in lowlight situations handheld and maybe its a bit unsuitable for this ofcourse but still will be a huge step up than my K3 I guess.
I guess the thing is that while the 645Z does have impressive sensitivity out to 12,800, you're currently limited to f/2.8 lenses at the fastest, unless you adapt lenses from other systems, like the Zeiss V-mount lenses which go to f/2. So the boost you gain in noise is somewhat countered by not having f/1.4 primes as you would on small format.
The 645Z also requires generally higher shutter speeds for consistent results, with the 55mm lens on I typically shoot at 1/125th, whereas on my old Canon 1/60th would've sufficed.

Although I suppose what ultimately matters are results, and the fact is that I've never felt limited shooting in low light with this camera, for what it's worth. As others have said, the K1 will have maybe a stop worse sensitivity purely due to physics, but it does gain in-body stabilization and you can also use f/1.4 lenses, so in absolute terms it'll be a low-light monster. The 645Z is too, but mainly in comparison to other medium format cameras, and not necessarily all digital cameras.
This of course could change in the future, if Pentax begins optimizing their lenses for the reduced format, a set of 45mm, 70mm and 100mm lenses at f/2 would be absolutely super, although it seems they first want to get some zooms out. About time they updated their lens roadmap, I wonder what's taking so long...
02-27-2016, 02:57 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by chrism888 Quote
645 in low light, just the lamp and a reflector
Far out, buxom!
02-27-2016, 02:21 PM   #13
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might not be what you want to hear - sounds like you have made up your mind - but if I was placing my emphasis on street stuff I'd be looking at a system that can use f/1.x lenses, whether that be the K1 or a nikon or canon or sony. Not the Z.

Yeah the 645z can do high iso very well, but like any camera when you crank that iso your dynamic range goes down - so you might as well have started with a faster lens with a lower iso if dynamic range is a concern to you.
03-16-2016, 12:55 AM   #14
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Im thinking about using the 645Z at a Black Metal Festival..Since K-1 doesn't arrive in time..
03-16-2016, 02:25 AM   #15
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Which lens do you intend to use, for such event ? Because max aperture is not stellar in the range of 645 lenses, and they are not so fast for AF (if you use AF in such conditions) ?
For the rest, the camera would support any abuse (beer, fights, etc)
That would be an interesting experiment, anyway !
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