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11-21-2019, 05:51 AM   #1
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645nii Reliability

Hello All,

Quick question - I'm getting back into film photography and have basically decided the 645nii would be a good fit for me (plus my first ever camera, back in the day, was a Pentax ME so it feels appropriate to start again here, as it were).

My one concern is reliability as, having done a little googling on repairs to these, it seems they are now impossible. However, this isn't so much of a concern if the nii tends not to be a problematic camera. I did a forum search and didn't turn up to many instances of complete failure.

Any thoughts on this, please?

Thanks.

11-21-2019, 10:06 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I have a bit of experience with the 645N II and about ten years with the 645N. I have shot with the same 645N body for a little over ten years now in a variety of conditions - Andes, Amazon and the Catskill Mountains (in the dead of winter) and it just keeps on working. There are a lot of wedding photographers who are jumping on the 645/645N/645NII wagon and some have experienced issues with their bodies (e.g. buying a defective one from Japan or dropping their body) and seem to have been able to get them repaired. One repair shop that I have sent others to for their 645N/645NII issues is Bill Moretz (About Bill Moretz ? ProCamera) who is an amazingly capable technician and really good photographer too.

QuoteOriginally posted by Ektachrome Quote
Hello All,

Quick question - I'm getting back into film photography and have basically decided the 645nii would be a good fit for me (plus my first ever camera, back in the day, was a Pentax ME so it feels appropriate to start again here, as it were).

My one concern is reliability as, having done a little googling on repairs to these, it seems they are now impossible. However, this isn't so much of a concern if the nii tends not to be a problematic camera. I did a forum search and didn't turn up to many instances of complete failure.

Any thoughts on this, please?

Thanks.
11-21-2019, 04:07 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply, thatís really helpful, so I wonít worry so much about reliability as long as I get a good one to start with.

Does buying from Japan tend to be troublesome, then? Naturally all the ones Iíve found are on ebay from Japan - I cant seem to find one with any of the UK shops Iíd normally trust.

The repair information is very good and nice to know theyíre not necessarily just bricks if something does go wrong!
11-21-2019, 07:03 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Sorry, I don't think there is a plethora of defective ones coming from Japan - only that folks that have bought one from there (and shipped to US) that just happened to be defective and stated they did not want the bother of having to return it or the seller offered to help pay for repairs.

I've had generally very good experience with buying from Japan eBay sellers and the few instances where something was not right, I was able to work with the sellers to fix it to my satisfaction. The ratings seemed to have changed over the last few years and become somewhat ambiguous -- but when reading carefully through the descriptions and looking closely at images and asking clarifying questions I am finding what I want (regardless of it being listed as EXC or EXC+++ or whatever they mark it as the key is in the descriptions as their EXC rating is not matching with EXC ratings from a well established seller like KEH.com).



QuoteOriginally posted by Ektachrome Quote
Thanks for the reply, thatís really helpful, so I wonít worry so much about reliability as long as I get a good one to start with.

Does buying from Japan tend to be troublesome, then? Naturally all the ones Iíve found are on ebay from Japan - I cant seem to find one with any of the UK shops Iíd normally trust.

The repair information is very good and nice to know theyíre not necessarily just bricks if something does go wrong!


---------- Post added 11-21-2019 at 09:05 PM ----------

One thing that does come up somewhat often are the shutter speed dial being broken off and then re-glued back on. I would ask about the history of the dials as that is one thing that I have seen and heard most with 645N / 645NII bodies coming from Japan. Not an epidemic, but if there is one thing to look for and ask questions about I would point to the shutter speed dial. The other dial seems much, much less problematic.

11-22-2019, 05:19 AM   #5
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Thanks for your help, much appreciated.

OK that makes sense, so it won't put me off buying one from Japan - and I'll be sure to ask about the dials! I admit I'm not an eBay expert at all, have tended to buy all my new gear from UK or an excellent dealer in Hong Kong, and my used gear from well established shops here in the UK.

I hear another thing to check with these is they have the 120 back and not the 220? Anything else obvious to look out for?

Thanks again, now I can start narrowing down lenses - I hear the 33-55 isn't so hot, so might have to use primes in that range then possibly go for the lighter tele-zoom for the long end.
11-26-2019, 12:39 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by yurihuta Quote
I've had generally very good experience with buying from Japan eBay sellers and the few instances where something was not right, I was able to work with the sellers to fix it to my satisfaction. The ratings seemed to have changed over the last few years and become somewhat ambiguous -- but when reading carefully through the descriptions and looking closely at images and asking clarifying questions I am finding what I want (regardless of it being listed as EXC or EXC+++ or whatever they mark it as the key is in the descriptions as their EXC rating is not matching with EXC ratings from a well established seller like KEH.com).
I second this sentiment. Overall, in my personal online buying experience at least in terms of numbers, my "overall level of satisfaction" (I guess you could call it) is actually quite a bit higher for purchases from Japan and a couple other Asian locales when compared to Europe and N. American origin sales. There is a often a greater language barrier for some sellers, so ask very specific questions and phrase them simply and clearly (anticipating that Google translate will often factor into the conversation at some point with some sellers whose English is limited). But beyond that, I've found that the overall attention to detail is greater, the packaging for shipping is more careful, and even the ratings given for particular equipment are more conservative and fair. In short, the only real worry is not catching something before it's bought and shipped to you, because even a very cooperative seller is a long return-shipment away.

I shoot a 645nii - and it came from Japan. I have yet to have any issues. (Though that's clearly just one camera in the wild.)
5 Days Ago - 1 Like   #7
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For critical work, always have two cameras at hand.

3 Days Ago   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by chickentender Quote
I second this sentiment. Overall, in my personal online buying experience at least in terms of numbers, my "overall level of satisfaction" (I guess you could call it) is actually quite a bit higher for purchases from Japan and a couple other Asian locales when compared to Europe and N. American origin sales. There is a often a greater language barrier for some sellers, so ask very specific questions and phrase them simply and clearly (anticipating that Google translate will often factor into the conversation at some point with some sellers whose English is limited). But beyond that, I've found that the overall attention to detail is greater, the packaging for shipping is more careful, and even the ratings given for particular equipment are more conservative and fair. In short, the only real worry is not catching something before it's bought and shipped to you, because even a very cooperative seller is a long return-shipment away.

I shoot a 645nii - and it came from Japan. I have yet to have any issues. (Though that's clearly just one camera in the wild.)
Thanks, this is reassuring and good advice. Iíve had an unexpected and unavoidable large expense, so the purchase has been pushed back a little, but Iíll be ready to go when funds recover!

---------- Post added 12-03-19 at 11:44 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by torashi Quote
For critical work, always have two cameras at hand.
Absolutely.

My wife always carries another camera with us on our hikes, but in this case itís likely to be digital, not another 645nii.

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QuoteOriginally posted by Ektachrome Quote
My wife always carries another camera with us on our hikes, but in this case itís likely to be digital, not another 645nii.
No surprise there. Two 645's can get a bit bulky and heavy. Although they save some with (high quality, of course), plastic. Even so, it's the lenses that are the heaviest part.
Have you considered a foldable medium format camera?

2 Days Ago   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by torashi Quote
No surprise there. Two 645's can get a bit bulky and heavy. Although they save some with (high quality, of course), plastic. Even so, it's the lenses that are the heaviest part.
Have you considered a foldable medium format camera?
Yes, very bulky/heavy - my entire Fuji X-T2 and 4 primes weighs around the same as one 645nii body!

I have considered them, but would need interchangeable lenses, so that would probably mean a Mamiya 6 (although a 7 would be fine) but the prices are getting silly on those for cameras which weren't necessarily built bulletproof to begin with and can now no longer be easily repaired (parts NLA, etc.).

Also, using ND grads on rangefinders isn't the easiest, for the times I might need to.
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