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5 Days Ago - 2 Likes   #1
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The 645 as the best all-around camera

Around the time of the digital revolution I was writing an article on why the Pentax 645 was the best all-around camera in existence. My reasons:
All the advantages of medium format, but still quite hand-holdable

Excellent Pentax lenses (I had, and still do, 55, 75, and 150mm)
The 55 and 75 mm focused close enough for good enlargements of small subjects

Great aerial camera (most of the time I used the 150mm lens for aerials)
Projected transparencies were awesome, if you had a suitable projector. I did, but to be really spectacular you needed a big room and a really big screen.
Maybe best of all, you could trim a 645 transparency, and mount it in a superslide mount that would fit into a regular 35mm projector. That was a lot of fun.


After digital came along, I thought nobody would be interested, so I quit writing. It took a while, but eventually I bought a 645Z Also eventually, I'll probably get around to scanning some of the 645 negatives and transparencies.


JT

5 Days Ago   #2
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I bought recently Pentax 645 and 55mm lens. I would be happy to read your article. Is it on-line somewhere?
4 Days Ago   #3
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I never finished writing it after digital began to replace film. The brief message that you read contains the essentials. The rest was examples and anecdotes.


I appreciate your interest. Enjoy your 645 and lens.


JT

---------- Post added 05-18-18 at 10:45 AM ----------

One thing more. In this forum some time ago there were discussions about how one could digitize large transparencies, like 645, by photographing them on a light table, with a macro lens. I've intended to try the method, but haven't gotten around to it. You might find the discussions interesting.


JT
3 Days Ago   #4
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Actually that's how I am scanning my negatives. Here is the example. Shot with 645-a 55 mm (Portra 160). Scanned with K-01 (35 mm limited), converted with ColorPerfrect and later edited with Exposure 3.

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3 Days Ago   #5
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I'd say you can hand hold a 645 just as easy as small format especially a rangefinder. I shoot a 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 and 6x17 and I'll hand hold them all except the 6x17. Oddly though I don't have a 6x4.5.
3 Days Ago   #6
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Just started experimenting with a 645. It came with a set of lenses and a 645>K adapter that I wanted to try on the K-1. So far itís about as useable as the K-1, so, good.
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QuoteOriginally posted by jumbleview Quote
Actually that's how I am scanning my negatives. Here is the example. Shot with 645-a 55 mm (Portra 160). Scanned with K-01 (35 mm limited), converted with ColorPerfrect and later edited with Exposure 3.
Well, that's impressive. Thanks for sharing it. I know I should get around to doing that or something like it with my 645 transparencies and negatives.


JT
5 Hours Ago   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Trammell Quote
Excellent Pentax lenses (I had, and still do, 55, 75, and 150mm)

After digital came along, I thought nobody would be interested, so I quit writing. It took a while, but eventually I bought a 645Z Also eventually, I'll probably get around to scanning some of the 645 negatives and transparencies.


JT
There are some of us for whom digital has still not come along and even a few who still use enlargers and chemicals in a darkroom. I am one such person and certainly would be interested in both your views and writings. I have the P645N and the FA 75mm and A 45mm but I am still toying with idea of a longer lens such as the 150mm or 200mm

For instance I have just read the articles on lenses by Rick Denny. Very good they are but I was left wondering how his findings would translate into prints done by an enlarger. I possess no scanner nor have any scanning knowledge

Thanks

4 Hours Ago   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by asahijock Quote
There are some of us for whom digital has still not come along and even a few who still use enlargers and chemicals in a darkroom. I am one such person and certainly would be interested in both your views and writings. I have the P645N and the FA 75mm and A 45mm but I am still toying with idea of a longer lens such as the 150mm or 200mm

For instance I have just read the articles on lenses by Rick Denny. Very good they are but I was left wondering how his findings would translate into prints done by an enlarger. I possess no scanner nor have any scanning knowledge

Thanks
Doing stuff with film and optics means understanding resolution in terms of line pairs. A print that looks sharp even to the guy who pokes his nose into it needs about 5 lines/mm of resolution on the print. If a lens delivers 50 lines/mm at reasonable contrast, a 10x enlargement will look great. 10x times the 24mm height of 35mm means a little over 9 inches. So, basically 8x10.

645 film has a width of 56mm. 10 times that is 560mm, or 22 inches wide. So, with a bit of cropping, 645 can deliver very sharp 16x20 prints, IF:

1. The lens can deliver 50 lines/mm with good contrast. This is not easy for any lens.

2. The film has fine grain--not a problem these days.

3. The enlarger holds the film flat, and parallel to the print bed.
4. The enlarger uses condenser lighting (which helps preserve contrast in fine detail).

5. The enlarging lens is capable of more than 50 lines/mm of resolution across the frame. That means using it at the correct aperture, as determined by using a good grain focuser. It means a good, multicoated, modern enlarging lens (modern being designed since the 80's, probably).

On the camera end, it means tripods, tripods, tripods.

Now, that is a very high standard--lots of great prints have been made at somewhat lower print resolutions and they still look very good. But my point is that it takes great technique to make a very sharp 16x20 from 645, just as much technique as it takes to make a great 8x10 from 35mm. If you think 11x14 prints from 35mm always meet your standards (and usually they meet mine), then you can probably go to 20x24 from 645 negatives, if your technique is precise.

I don't have the 45, but look at my test images for the 200. Those crops are from a print that would be 7 feet wide if your monitor resolves 100 pixels/inch. Stand back about 3 feet. Does it look critically sharp? Then it will look sharp on a 2 or 3-foot print, if all the other parts of your system are up to snuff.

I created a black-and-white portfolio on the San Antonio Missions many years ago. Most of it was done using 4x5, but a few prints came from roll-film negatives made in a Mamiya C-33. At 11x14, it was nearly impossible to distinguish between the medium and large format. At 16x20, it was not easy to do so. The Pentax is a better camera, with better lenses.

But for a film-based system, the Pentax 67 is even better.

Rick "size matters" Denney
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