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06-25-2019, 06:16 PM   #1
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Pentax 6x7 vs 645 systems Advantages and Disadvantages?

Hi everyone! In the next couple of years (funds allowing) I want to move up to a film medium format solution. I decided against moving to full frame digital since I want to invest more into the APSC side of things since the KP has been working out so well. I've been pretty enamored by medium format though, I spend a lot of time looking through the pictures here and on flickr and am always wow'd by the capabilities even by such old gear.

The question is then of course do I invest in a "dead end" system like 6x7 but get a substantially larger frame? Or do I go with a system that potentially allows me to move up to the digital realm with 645? For me I'm not even sure if I'd even go to digital so I'm here to ask what other advantages or disadvantages I could expect between both systems?

Btw I have held both 645 and 6x7 cameras at my local camera store so I'm quite aware of the ergonomics of both, though I've never held a 67II.

06-25-2019, 07:09 PM   #2
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If a system has all the components and functionality you need, why does it matter if it is "dead"? If anything, a dead end system has lower risk because you are not waiting/hoping/praying that the company will someday the next promised body or lens with a specification and price that you hoped for. A dead system is nicely WYSIWYG.

A 6x7 negative is almost 10X the area of a APS-C sensor (about 3X the width & height of APS-C). And you could use those 6x7 lenses on a 645 film or crop-digital body with an adapter.

Both options are a big step up in size and a big step sideways in the workflow of film vs. digital so they aren't that different from each other. The choice might also be influenced by which system falls into your hands at a decent price.

Have fun!
06-25-2019, 07:13 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
If a system has all the components and functionality you need, why does it matter if it is "dead"? If anything, a dead end system has lower risk because you are not waiting/hoping/praying that the company will someday the next promised body or lens with a specification and price that you hoped for. A dead system is nicely WYSIWYG.
Yah a system being dead really isn't a huge concern for me (my Spotmatic still works great after all), and you're right I could always use the Taks on the digital medium format like I use my 35mm Taks on my KP. Thanks for your insight.
06-25-2019, 07:42 PM   #4
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Just my thoughts, I used both the 6x7 & 6x7ii as well as 2 645's for over 20 years, both brilliant cameras, sold because of difficulty with getting film, when I was in France and Spain I used the 645's to shoot CORRIDA, and the 6x7 as my walk around, wish I still had them, good luck with your decision and enjoy, regards Ian

06-25-2019, 08:51 PM   #5
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I hope Tim, aka blackcloudbrew, weighs in here. He is the guy to ask.
06-25-2019, 09:38 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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This sort of decision essentially comes down to if you're an idealist or realist.
The 67 is bigger and has a gorgeously large negative significantly larger than 645. The idealist choice.
The 645 is lighter, has lenses that work easily with digital MF, and is a big step up from FF/35mm. The realist choice.

For me, I have carried my 645 on long hikes and walks. I can't imagine doing that with a 67.
06-25-2019, 10:27 PM   #7
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Hi,

Should you wish to go down the 645 path a fellow member of my local camera collectors club, namely Cameraholics, has a 645n outfit for sale. He purchased it from a fellow member, with my assistance in Japa.

Regards,
Gordon.
06-25-2019, 11:20 PM   #8
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I certainly don't see the 6x7 system as a "dead end" system. It goes far too back and still has currency for both amateur and professional users.

The beauty of the Pentax 6x7 system is that so very many high quality optics are available, both backward and forward (Takumars from the 60s and 90s as well as new-gen SMC Pentax 67-designated optics will fit all cameras), as opposed to the considerably narrower and much less versatile 645. That big 6x7 size is, as a reference point, 400% bigger than the postage-stamp sized 35mm, and thus embarrassingly bigger again than 6x4.5. And the freedom it affords in flexible cropping just about any size (my fav crop is 6x6) is a big bonus.

The 6x7 format is of enduring appeal to those who take imaging to the next level, and so very seriously. The ability to print almost to the maximum size afforded by the still larger 4x5 format is a definite tantaliser, though doing so requires refined shooting technique (which means not necessarily hand-holding with single-digit shutter speeds!).

I've noticed a lot of 67II cameras -- the considerably more automated and electronic version of the old trooper 6x7 /67 cameras, popping up with faults that cannot be repaired because facilities do not repair them. This is more or less the same with the 6x7 / 67 cameras, with legacy parts swapped out of like-bodies for repairs.

It will be necessary for you to scout around very carefully and astutely for a camera, or cameras, plural, which are in excellent, little used or preferably mint condition (not necessarily boxed/NOS). I would definitely not recommend the quite ancient Pentax 6x7 cameras (or the even earlier Honeywell models), and the later Pentax 67 is a good improvement, but will still require careful judgement, especially if there is a pre-existing fault, of which many can be itemated. The same thing can be said of the 67II too.

Digital is a straight-through process in terms of workflow, but using the Pentax 6x7 / 67 cameras, means you must put in the same amount of dedication to the task of vetting your images on the lightbox, seeking out very high quality scanning that does not compromise the baseline image quality that is so evident in the format, and printing (where the sky is the limit in terms of what is available and at what cost!). The business of dumping a billion digital images in the web's proverbial black hole is one of the great failings of our time.

06-25-2019, 11:30 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Silent Street Quote
I would definitely not recommend the quite ancient Pentax 6x7 cameras (or the even earlier Honeywell models), and the later Pentax 67 is a good improvement, but will still require careful judgement, especially if there is a pre-existing fault, of which many can be itemated. The same thing can be said of the 67II too.
Could you expand on this a bit? What exactly is wrong with the old 6x7 cameras?
06-26-2019, 01:35 AM   #10
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I wouldn't buy into the 6x7 ecosystem. It may not be dead but it is certainly past the sell by date. If you can get one at a good price it might be fun. But if anything goes wrong with the camera, finding a repairman and spares could be a headache. So I would say get a 645, in film or digital. You can use 6x7 lenses with an adapter. And if you go for the film version now, digital always remains an option for the future.
06-26-2019, 07:57 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ZombieArmy Quote
Could you expand on this a bit? What exactly is wrong with the old 6x7 cameras?
the 67 paired with the 105 can produce neg absolutely stunning.

BUT the old 6x7 are camera that need regular use to be OK. And often they sat unused for a time and have either sticky shutter, faulty advancement film system (that allow 9 frames and not 10 per rolls).

The 67II far more recent seems less prone to have those same problems.

IF you find somehow that can CLA completely a 6x7 or 67, this will be a good joy to use. It's absolutely massive system on it's own (2Kg for a 6x7 with 105), but the rendering is still the best there is out there. The 105 alone is already worth it.
06-26-2019, 09:44 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ZombieArmy Quote
Pentax 6x7 vs 645 systems Advantages and Disadvantages?
For me it was the interchangeable viewfinders that the 6x7 has, as well as the bigger negative over the 645 format. The 67II also has interchangeable focusing screens and that is a real help in critical focusing situations.

Phil.
06-26-2019, 03:02 PM - 1 Like   #13
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The original Pentax 6x7 had no mirror lock up and goes by the name Honeywell for the US market but Asahi in the rest of the world. These non-lock-up bodies are getting quite old at this point and many have film spacing issues etc. Mirror lock up (MLU) started approximately at serial number 406xxxx. If you are interested in this camera, I would suggest getting the 67 version in mint or near mint shape. The reason why I chose the 6x7 over the 645 many years ago was because I didn't feel there was enough difference in film size above 35mm with the 645. There were 30 optically different lenses made for the 67 system; less for the 645.
06-26-2019, 03:30 PM   #14
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You can see in my sig that I shoot all kinds of formats. I shoot a lot of film and post a lot of pictures. I still own my first P6x7 I purchased new in 1989. I don't have a 6x4.5 format yet. I purchased a Fuji 645 earlier this year but it had problems and I had to send it back. I want one for a couple reasons. One, just to complete my lineup of formats projected onto 120 film. And secondly I want one for travel where I'd want more frames per roll and compactness in the form of a fixed lens 645.
06-26-2019, 03:47 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ZombieArmy Quote
Could you expand on this a bit? What exactly is wrong with the old 6x7 cameras?
  • Frame spacing/winding mechanism faults (age related, but can also be a result of prolonged aggressive professional use)
    (winding mechanism failures are especially prevalent in the 1969-vintage Pentax 6x7 bodies)
  • Sticky/intermittently operative mirror solenoid -- a temporary 'fix' does exist, but the solenoid ideally should be replaced;
  • Faults in shutter speeds e.g. inaccuracies at any or many speeds; can be caused by leaving the dial on any shutter speed other
    than B when not in use over a long period of time (both 6x7 and 67)
  • Corrosion of the battery compartment -- not all that common, but many unscrupulous sellers try and hide it.
  • Light seals of the TTL/non-TTL prism deteriorate with age; they are a pain to replace, but replacements kits are available (Japan)
  • Derangement of the TTL meter; either gross over- or under-exposure or erratic operation (--> replace the TTL meter)
  • Inoperative battery check button
  • Cracked surrounding of the tripod socket, caused by aggressive tightening (e.g. using pliers to tighten!)
  • Dirt/corrosion under the shutter speed dial; easily fixed, but corrosion requires more work
  • Incorrectly collimated focusing screen/lens mount after DIY fix of broken TTL meter coupling chain. --> results in focus error
  • Rust/corrosion inside the back cover...

A very well looked after camera will hopefully not have any of this (but even long term idle storage is not good for the camera), and as the years go buy, the best specimens will be snapped up either by collectors or those who are moving into the big 6x7 system from the smaller 'ticker-tape' formats. Japanese online sellers are asking a king's ransom for (supposedly) mint/excellent condition bodies.

Mirror lock-up featured cameras are an excellent choice as this function successfully separates mirror movement and shutter inertia during the exposure, both of which introduce blur at slow (single-digit) shutter speeds. This method also implies using the camera on a tripod, not handheld.

It is essential you not buy blind, e.g. online at text value only, and instead get to thoroughly examine and hold the 1990-era Pentax 67; the others are just too old, have seen too much service and show too many faults which cascade over time. As I mentioned in the previous post, it's not impossible to find a body in excellent to mint condition, just make sure you go prepared and have an honest and knowledgeable seller, not a backyard hobbyist after a quick buck.

Finally, invest also in a separate hand-held meter, whether it be incident/multispot of a combination meter as the TTL meter only operates to 1 second, and if you are shooting around dawn or dusk, you must be prepared to do the 'thinking' and stand-in ops for the camera!

Last edited by Silent Street; 06-26-2019 at 04:00 PM.
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