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08-14-2016, 08:12 AM   #1
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645z Reviews From Pro Photogs / Architectural & Interiors

Currently I'm reviewing the 645z as my main go to camera for my business. Primarily I shoot architectural and interior projects with a few very demanding clients, along with some food assignments.
In the past I have owned and used everything from Phase One, to Hasselblad H5, and, Nikon D800E. Since 95% of my work is on location the 645z has some very appealing features. However, I have found few reviews from full-time professionals, including those whom have used Hassy's and / or P1's, especially fellow architectural / interiors photographers. My main concern are the lenses, both selection and quality, while rendering the full potential of a 51mp sensor. Are there plans for a new line of lenses? Again any feedback from full-time, pros along sample images, will be very helpful as well and your thoughts on workflow. I dread using Lightroom, however I understand Capture One is a challenge withe the 645z to say the least.

08-14-2016, 09:03 AM   #2
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I'm not exactly the person you want answering your post, as my commercial work is currently restricted to fine arts repro. More on that in a moment. I can answer one question, with some additional comments, and can comment on the other implicit question, and add an interesting link.

To the question about new lenses: no one here knows, if some are coming Pentax is keeping extremely quiet about it, but I think they most certainly are, yet at a quite leisurely pace. I have been able to visit Pentax booths (and lack of them....) at the U.S.'s current premier photo show, the Photo Plus Expo in NYC every October. Been going there for almost 10 years now. Here in the U.S. at least, Pentax reps and the U.S. organization seems "behind the beat". Things were a little better at last year's show, where at least one rep knew a great deal about the K-1, and where they had a decent Z presence----although the 2 reps handling that were dreadfully underwhelming. What has impressed me most about Pentax US for the past few years is its sleepwalking quality.

But I'm willing to wager there's something in the works somewhere, it just stands to reason. This has been a more successful camera than Pentax anticipated, by a lot. The silence about it to me reads more like bad marketing than absolute absence.

As far as needing them is concerned, this is an interesting read in general: https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2014/12/36-megapixels-vs-6x7-velvia/#/ The comments about legacy lenses are pertinent here. In my work, and I have only 1 DFA lens, I have had no issues at all. considering the fact that the museum I work in now uses a 5dmkIII as its repro camera, I am certainly not concerned about my legacy lenses and don't find myself wishing for new ones, except for flare issues, the one spot I've occasionally had trouble with (very occasionally, and never in controlled lighting situations...).

Of much more concern is the support problem.
08-14-2016, 10:13 AM   #3
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In no way do I want to derail the thread here ...... I too am not the person you want to hear from either -
QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
....
But I'm willing to wager there's something in the works somewhere, it just stands to reason. This has been a more successful camera than Pentax anticipated, by a lot. The silence about it to me reads more like bad marketing than absolute absence......
... but the 645z was successful beyond the expectations of Pentax that it pushed the K1 full frame body announcement out by a year (they also had a K3II GPS design/rework problem) - because of production capacity limitations. Pentax planned for a 10,000 unit lifetime run, and pre-orders were 20,000 units with 2,000 from institutions. To put that in perspective, B&H alone had pre-orders for the D800 of 50,000 units.

I can only surmise that Pentax now has both a lens design and production problem - designing lenses for both the 645 and the K1, and once designed their production. The K1 was announced with 3 new lenses that were in production and available for instant delivery. I suspect to do that that Pentax had to slide the design/production of 645 lenses to the right, by some time period.

The various reviewers have been writing, that a limiting factor to adopting the K1, is the lack of new digital lenses (even with 3 new FF lenses available for the K1 release). That coupled with Sigma saying that the Pentax user base is too small to produce for, and Pentax apparently making a deal with Tamron for some of their lens designs (and Tamron is not producing any lenses for Pentax). That effectively puts Pentax in a bind - as to what do they design/produce when, for what appears to be two extremely successful camera body lines. That puts a real strain on their low production, high margin business model. To rectify this problem, Pentax probably would need additional new capital from Ricoh - while the camera business is in somewhat of a decline.

Here is the 2016 645 lens road map

.... and here is the 2015 645 lens road map - for comparison

Not much change - still the two zooms, but no further information on them - and we are essentially nearing the 4th quarter of 2016.

PS - Welcome to the Forum!!!


Last edited by interested_observer; 08-14-2016 at 10:29 AM.
08-14-2016, 05:09 PM   #4
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I'm not a professional - however do have the Z. From what you will find by exploring this forum I believe that you will discover that the 28-45mm DA and the 90mm DA Macro are top quality performers. The crop factor for these lens is approximately x.8 for 35mm full frame equivalence. There are adapters to accommodate other brand lens - if you already have a quality lens for your purposes there may be an adapter for the Pentax 645 mount. Some of the Pentax legacy lens are quite good and available 2nd hand.

08-14-2016, 07:01 PM   #5
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you should rent it and see for yourself. You seem to have some very specific expectations and who knows, you could be wildly pleased with the 645Z.

I have never felt limited by the lens selection for 645 and 67 mount, but I often appreciate a manual focus lens with a long focus throw over a short throw AF lens. I have a mix of various lenses, all vintages and on the whole have never felt the lenses are not up to the task of support the 50MP sensor. Some lenses are standouts, but i have never been disappointed with my present rig. I do understand you may be wanting a wide shift lens for your interior and that is understandable.

good luck!
08-14-2016, 08:02 PM   #6
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Blog - Mark Kitaoka Photographs

Mark kitaoka is prob the best resource for high end commercial work with the z. And yes capture one doesnt play nice with the z, but that is to be expected since it made by a direct competitor to the z
08-14-2016, 08:44 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikeSF Quote
you should rent it and see for yourself. You seem to have some very specific expectations and who knows, you could be wildly pleased with the 645Z.

I have never felt limited by the lens selection for 645 and 67 mount, but I often appreciate a manual focus lens with a long focus throw over a short throw AF lens. I have a mix of various lenses, all vintages and on the whole have never felt the lenses are not up to the task of support the 50MP sensor. Some lenses are standouts, but i have never been disappointed with my present rig. I do understand you may be wanting a wide shift lens for your interior and that is understandable.

good luck!
Your right Mike, I am thinking of renting it. The main concern I've had is the quality of lenses however after seeing many results and hearing the testimonials, that is becoming less of a concern.
08-14-2016, 08:49 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by y0chang Quote
Blog - Mark Kitaoka Photographs

Mark kitaoka is prob the best resource for high end commercial work with the z. And yes capture one doesnt play nice with the z, but that is to be expected since it made by a direct competitor to the z
Yes,the 645z has been a pain for C1, I think they feel threaten by the 645z after reading their forums.
I have been looking at Capture One Fix for the 645, seems like it has potential.
http://www.alexmunoz.net/capturefix/

08-14-2016, 08:49 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
In no way do I want to derail the thread here ...... I too am not the person you want to hear from either -


... but the 645z was successful beyond the expectations of Pentax that it pushed the K1 full frame body announcement out by a year (they also had a K3II GPS design/rework problem) - because of production capacity limitations. Pentax planned for a 10,000 unit lifetime run, and pre-orders were 20,000 units with 2,000 from institutions. To put that in perspective, B&H alone had pre-orders for the D800 of 50,000 units.

I can only surmise that Pentax now has both a lens design and production problem - designing lenses for both the 645 and the K1, and once designed their production. The K1 was announced with 3 new lenses that were in production and available for instant delivery. I suspect to do that that Pentax had to slide the design/production of 645 lenses to the right, by some time period.

The various reviewers have been writing, that a limiting factor to adopting the K1, is the lack of new digital lenses (even with 3 new FF lenses available for the K1 release). That coupled with Sigma saying that the Pentax user base is too small to produce for, and Pentax apparently making a deal with Tamron for some of their lens designs (and Tamron is not producing any lenses for Pentax). That effectively puts Pentax in a bind - as to what do they design/produce when, for what appears to be two extremely successful camera body lines. That puts a real strain on their low production, high margin business model. To rectify this problem, Pentax probably would need additional new capital from Ricoh - while the camera business is in somewhat of a decline.

Here is the 2016 645 lens road map

.... and here is the 2015 645 lens road map - for comparison

Not much change - still the two zooms, but no further information on them - and we are essentially nearing the 4th quarter of 2016.

PS - Welcome to the Forum!!!

Thanks for the update!
08-15-2016, 01:42 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by OldHickory30 Quote
Your right Mike, I am thinking of renting it. The main concern I've had is the quality of lenses however after seeing many results and hearing the testimonials, that is becoming less of a concern.
While it's a shame that the 645Z doesn't have any tilt/shift lenses yet, unless you count the Hartblei 45mm, the 28-45mm is without equal in terms of optical performance, it's on the level of the new Phase blue-ring lenses.
With the 25mm having been discontinued, I really do hope that Pentax starts on a new TS super-wide after they do those new zooms. A 24mm with at least 10mm of shift would be just fantastic.

Last edited by Kolor-Pikker; 08-15-2016 at 01:50 AM.
08-16-2016, 08:06 AM   #11
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One thing that has started to concern me is the lack of support if your 645z needs service, I have heard horror stories directly from camera stores and consumers, waiting weeks if not months for completion of repair.
The other thing that concerns me, is the turn-over at their HQ here in Denver, after chatting someone there yesterday, I found there is no one in the office that can provide any detailed information, all "key personnel have been reassigned," I was informed. Makes it difficult as someone who counts on their equipment as a primary source of income, to put my trust in a company with this kind of support. IMHO.
08-16-2016, 09:23 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by OldHickory30 Quote
The other thing that concerns me, is the turn-over at their HQ here in Denver, after chatting someone there yesterday, I found there is no one in the office that can provide any detailed information, all "key personnel have been reassigned," I was informed. Makes it difficult as someone who counts on their equipment as a primary source of income, to put my trust in a company with this kind of support. IMHO.
Yes, that could be bad news....or it might not. As I said, I have been pretty underwhelmed with the Pentax people I've encountered save one. Hoya gutted this operation, and I wonder who was left after that. The best people? hmmmmm....in other situations I've seen (and been in!) like this sometimes----and I repeat, sometimes---the ones left are survivors who decided for a variety of reasons not to leave the sinking ship. Sometimes the real go-getters....go.

I may be deluding myself, but 4 facts, and they are facts, give me hope, while two don't: Fact one: Ricoh is a big company with deep pockets. 2. They have a good support reputation, AFAIK, in the business printer biz (ummm, you have to, although Epson doesn't...). 3. Pentax has been having some real success of late---the D was a success, the Z was a success well beyond their imagining, and it's looking like the K-1 is a success, and a couple of the APSC cameras have gotten good reviews. 4. Hoya left the U.S. operation in a shambles, gods only know how it was elsewhere.

So, those facts give me hope that Ricoh will in fact turn the support problem around.

The 2 facts that discourage me are that it has taken Ricoh way too long to turn this around, and there seems to be some kind of weirdness at the Japan end of things. As in, what's up with these products needing to be sent back to Japan for service in the first place, and why, in 2016, does it take so flippin' long???? This last bit is especially mystifying to me. I have ordered things from Japanese eBay sellers more than once and it has never taken longer than a week for the shipping, and usually inside of a week. So why the super long shipping delays? Why no info on the status of your pro-grade camera that's in for repair? There's no email in Japan? Among other things. It's all just mind-boggling
08-22-2016, 10:30 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
Yes, that could be bad news....or it might not. As I said, I have been pretty underwhelmed with the Pentax people I've encountered save one. Hoya gutted this operation, and I wonder who was left after that. The best people? hmmmmm....in other situations I've seen (and been in!) like this sometimes----and I repeat, sometimes---the ones left are survivors who decided for a variety of reasons not to leave the sinking ship. Sometimes the real go-getters....go.

I may be deluding myself, but 4 facts, and they are facts, give me hope, while two don't: Fact one: Ricoh is a big company with deep pockets. 2. They have a good support reputation, AFAIK, in the business printer biz (ummm, you have to, although Epson doesn't...). 3. Pentax has been having some real success of late---the D was a success, the Z was a success well beyond their imagining, and it's looking like the K-1 is a success, and a couple of the APSC cameras have gotten good reviews. 4. Hoya left the U.S. operation in a shambles, gods only know how it was elsewhere.

So, those facts give me hope that Ricoh will in fact turn the support problem around.

The 2 facts that discourage me are that it has taken Ricoh way too long to turn this around, and there seems to be some kind of weirdness at the Japan end of things. As in, what's up with these products needing to be sent back to Japan for service in the first place, and why, in 2016, does it take so flippin' long???? This last bit is especially mystifying to me. I have ordered things from Japanese eBay sellers more than once and it has never taken longer than a week for the shipping, and usually inside of a week. So why the super long shipping delays? Why no info on the status of your pro-grade camera that's in for repair? There's no email in Japan? Among other things. It's all just mind-boggling
Number two concerns me, especially when I have little to no response from Pentax regarding questions about the camera and or software as a pro shooter. Seems to me if they are trying to capture the pro market they would make answers to questions, more accessible, offer a test drive as do Phase or Hassy, tracking info on repairs with a loaner. These short-comings along with the fact of calling Pentax's Corporate office and being told everyone has been reassigne, is driving me away from what I consider to be a great medium format camera.
09-06-2016, 02:48 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by OldHickory30 Quote
One thing that has started to concern me is the lack of support if your 645z needs service, I have heard horror stories directly from camera stores and consumers, waiting weeks if not months for completion of repair.
The other thing that concerns me, is the turn-over at their HQ here in Denver, after chatting someone there yesterday, I found there is no one in the office that can provide any detailed information, all "key personnel have been reassigned," I was informed. Makes it difficult as someone who counts on their equipment as a primary source of income, to put my trust in a company with this kind of support. IMHO.
I had the same concern with my 645D, but talked with a rep from Peachtree Camera Repair, in Atlanta, and he assured me he could repair the lenses and body in house. He said for example he could replace the shutter, because I was concerned about passing the 50k mark sooner than it has actually happened, and he said he could have it back in a couple of weeks, cost $250 or so. But I haven't had to service it yet, have had it for 11k actuations over two and a half years.
09-07-2016, 10:38 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by OldHickory30 Quote
One thing that has started to concern me is the lack of support if your 645z needs service, I have heard horror stories directly from camera stores and consumers, waiting weeks if not months for completion of repair.
The other thing that concerns me, is the turn-over at their HQ here in Denver, after chatting someone there yesterday, I found there is no one in the office that can provide any detailed information, all "key personnel have been reassigned," I was informed. Makes it difficult as someone who counts on their equipment as a primary source of income, to put my trust in a company with this kind of support. IMHO.
If you make money from the camera you either need a top notch service plan like Canon has or you need backup gear. You might want to look into a couple K1 bodies with backup lens if you can't afford two 645Z bodies along with backup lens as well.
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