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08-26-2016, 04:35 PM   #1
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Pentax 645, good buy or wasted money?

Hi,
I found a mint Pentax 645 for around 300USD and I am resisting the urge to buy it. Comes with the 75mm lend, film backs, flash and boxes! I want to have your opinion considering my experience... or how deep I am already addicted.

My main gear is a K-3 II, Sigma 18-50 F2.8 Macro and a couple of other lens, Basic filters, 3 flashes and triggers. Have been shooting manual around 3 years as a hobby.

This is where it gets to my obsession. I have kept my old K-30 with the defective aperture control box for manual Lens. I have bought (for display and fun) a Spotmatic SP500, ME Super, Super Program, MZ-50, PZ-10 and SFXn. With those I have bought the SMC Takumar 55mm F1.8 screw mount (the radioactive one), Pentax-M 50mm F1.7, Pentax-A 28mm F2.8, Vivitar 70-210 F3.5 series 1 and Pentax-M 35-70mm F2.8-3.5.

Now I read all about how better is medium format compared to 35mm and I am still on my first roll of (expired, for art purposes) 35mm film.

The addition would look nice next to the other film cameras. But will it see any use? Is it worth the trouble? Should I just add a film look to my digital pictures?

I hope you have time to reply before I make a mistake... of close a good deal.

08-26-2016, 05:00 PM   #2
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If it comes with at least one 120 insert (220 film is pretty much a thing of the past), and the body and lens really are mint or at least excellent condition, US$300 sounds like a good price. However, given that this would be an entirely new system for you, you should look at other medium format options as well. That is, if you really do want to try medium format. The big negatives are beautiful and better for scanning (at least on a flatbed scanner) or enlarging (if you're set up for that), but how important is that to you?

I really like my Pentax 645n bodies and lenses, but there are times I wish I had a system with film backs (i.e., interchangeable mid-roll) instead of inserts. And sometimes I hanker after 6x6 or 6x7 format instead of 645. And I certainly wish for a quieter system -- the Pentax 645 film advance noise is quite something. No system is perfect and I'm happy with my choice, but you should be aware of the particulars before jumping in.
08-26-2016, 05:02 PM   #3
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I know nothing of meduim format excepting that the price sounds good with what you have said is in the deal. As for whether you use it is up tp you.
08-26-2016, 06:48 PM   #4
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You will need to undertake checks of operational integrity of any MF camera that has been discontinued and which has seen professional use in the past (often, heavy professional use). The price of US$300 with lens is very good. The 6x4.5 format is a moderately larger format than 35mm with better resolution and enlargement capacity, but it is still small-ish. You probably need a shift in the mindset of the cameras you fancy using, compared to the cameras that can provide potentially better imaging, less automation, and medium format is known for that. Bigger still above 6x4.5 is the Pentax 6x7 (1960s era) / Pentax 67 (1990s era) with a number of superb lenses but with a quantum jump in weight and attendant idiosyncracies. When I started on MF many years ago, I initially was resistant to it, preferring 35mm, because that is where my beginnings lie as a photographer 40 years ago. Now it would take me 36 years to expose a single roll of 35mm film! The power of psychology is a wonderful thing. So too, downing a few coffees to help along...

08-26-2016, 07:10 PM   #5
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Go for it. I bought a 645 a couple of months ago and it is my favorite camera. I like the results better than from the k-5... I want to be shooting it all the time
08-26-2016, 08:16 PM   #6
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Price sounds okay. Trivial to convert Pentax 220 back to 120. And 645 is a lot bigger negative than 35mm Rehearsal in Studio A.
08-26-2016, 10:16 PM   #7
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I've shot Pentax since my first decent camera (ME Super in the early 1990s), so I'm pretty loyal to the brand... that said, for 645 format I preferred the Mamiya version, with the amazing 80mm f1.9 (yes, 1.9) lens. They can be had for similar money these days.
08-27-2016, 01:09 AM   #8
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That seems to be around the average price for the 645 (with a lens & some accessories) online. If it has a 120 Film back, your set! Not that many places sell 220 MF film (unless you buy old-new stock or expired film on ebay)

08-27-2016, 04:46 AM   #9
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The 645 is a wonderful camera and if you look online, there are far fewer complaints of problems than with many other similar cameras such as Bronicas, Mamiya, Pentacon etc etc - it just works. Of course, with any old camera you need to make very sure that it's working properly before buying.

I was originally looking for the Mamiya with 80/1.9 to enter into the world of MF but they're hard to find and pricey so I went with Pentax and I'm very happy with the results it's capable of. Maybe I'll add a Mamiya one day, just so I can use that lens on it.

$300 sounds like a reasonable price for the body and 75mm (which could be the only lens you'll ever need for it), though I wouldn't consider it a bargain.

PS - the 55mm Takumars are not radioactive, only the 50mm ones are

PPS - adding a film look to digital is not at all easy, not to say nigh-on impossible. Unlike adding a blatantly false fake film look, which is very easy indeed. If you want a film look, shoot film.
08-27-2016, 05:37 AM   #10
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The condition is stated "as new" and I cannot see any dents or even wear marks on the images! On one I can see 2 film backs so I guess a 120 and a 220 one.

From the Ken Rockwell website: " 645 film (56 x 41.5mm) has 2.6 times the area of full-frame 35mm (36 x 24mm)", I found that considerably bigger! I intend to use my Epson V500 scanner for the negatives.

The price on EBay for 6X7, 67 and 645 cameras are all higher, used, for parts, body only, etc. That was my reference to call this offer a deal. Maybe I am not looking at the right places?

As for the film look, it was a joke, I am not in the cheesy filters like dust, glitters, flare, etc. My bad, sarcasm is funnier to when spoken.

From the info I found on the 55mm F1.8 seems radioactive, but I did not test it. see
I have this exact lens.

As for the film look, it was a joke, I hate cheesy filters like dust, glitter, flare, etc. My bad, I guess sarcasm works better when spoken.
08-27-2016, 08:56 AM   #11
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645 is a big jump in size, as you note. (Of course 6x7 is an even bigger jump, around 60% two thirds more area than 645, hence around 4x 4.5x the area of 35mm.) Not just that, but the Epson holders for 120/220 film are easier to deal with than the 35mm holders. I also picked up a Lomography "Digitaliza" 120 holder, which I prefer for dealing with curled film.

There are lots of options for a MF system camera. You could also look at a fixed-lens camera. I went with Pentax 645 thinking I might someday want to acquire or rent the 645D or 645Z. Now I'm not so sure; I'm enjoying film more all the time. I'm still happy with my choice; reasonable value, great optics, reasonable size and weight, a pleasure to use. If I weren't also shooting large format I'd be taking a harder look at moving up to 6x6 or 6x7, though. I have two of the 645n bodies; they cost a bit more than the older 645, but from the reviews it's a significant upgrade.

Last edited by baro-nite; 08-27-2016 at 01:10 PM. Reason: Math is hard!
08-27-2016, 09:39 PM   #12
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Ugh—! Radioactive Pentax lenses are favourite fodder for the conspiracy theorists and the proverbial "brightest brains in the room" to nash their teeth and chew their nails over and generally try their darndest to wet their nappies. Move along, nothing to see here. The lenses if nothing but a conversation piece, are harmless. If you don't want to be "poisoned" or spooked by 'yellow' lenses (btw, there are 3-4 early lenses and right angle finders that have thorium in the glass), then move to the modern-era SMC Pentax 67-designated equivalent lenses.

Avoid purchasing Pentax 6x7 or 67 cameras from Japan. Gouging and collusion among dealers, especially on eBay, is rampant. Many bodies are considerably over-priced and not strictly in the condition described.
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