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01-03-2020, 06:30 AM   #16
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I kept dreaming about acquiring a Pentax 645D body for a long time but when I learned the shutter mechanism was rated for only 50 000 actuations, I changed my mind and got a 645Z instead. Better resolution, CMOS and a much sturdier shutter.

01-07-2020, 11:42 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
I have Pentax 6x7 equipment. Don't use very often since it is difficult to get transparency film developed anywhere locally. Bought a K-1 6 months ago. Always wondered about a digital medium format.

1. Would it be worthwhile to buy a 645D (can't afford a Z)?
2. Shutter is rated for half the life of APS-C cameras. Can 645D still be repaired?
3. Do 6x7 lens perform well on 645? Is there some kind of "green button" gymnastics involved?
4. Are the FA lenses decent and are they and DFA interchangeable on 645D and 645Z?
4. Do you miss not having live view for critical focusing?

Sorry for all the questions.

Thanks,
barondla
Here's my thoughts:

1) Yes, the 645D is a great camera to buy however it all depends on your intended usage. I bought the 645D used in Summer 2017 and made about 20-30K of photos since that time photographing my family / 2 kids and while we travel. I had been using a Nikon D800E for years and since the 645D, that camera has been collecting dust except for certain low-light occasions or when I went that big 1.4 aperture look or when I shoot video. I sometimes miss the low-light capabilities of the D800E and the really high dynamic range where I can recover highlights better but I've started integrating a small fill-flash when I'm indoors to get past the 645D's CCD limitations. A 645D and cheap flash still is way less money than a used Z body. So I don't necessarily agree with the opinion that the camera is limited to the studio or in very controlled situations.

In bright light you can push the ISO and the noise grain is pleasing. In low light, yes, the D is weak compared to the modern sensors and I tend to not even push the D past 400 or 800. I simply know it can't handle it without a flash.
A year ago I had a chance to use both the 645D and the Fuji GFX50S side-by-side for about 3 weeks. I loved the live view of the GFX and the lack of shutterslap. I could get it down to 1/30th of a second shutter without blur. The 645D is hit or miss once I start going below 1/60th or 1/125th for longer focal length lenses. The Fuji really showed me what the modern medium format sensors could achieve. It has a better dynamic range and can recover those highlights better. I assume the 645Z is the exact same since they use the same sensor. That said, to get that extra performance from a Z versus the D, you need to spend $1000-2000 more for a used system which could easily be used to be some nice 2.8 lenses like the amazing 90mm.

2) I live in Hamburg Germany and there is a repair shop, Rüdiger Maerz, that quoted me about 700 EUR for a shutter replacement back in 2017. Not small, but not crazy high in my opinion to keep the D going. That said, a few months ago, I scored a good deal on another 645D body to use as a backup. It required the shutter to have more oil added to it. Despite the low shutter actuations on the body, the shutter was getting stuck from lack of oil. That cost 200 EUR to fix. Even with the repair, the second 645D was still a steal. I figure as time goes, a good used body will be harder to find. So far it seems more Ds and Zs are being sold as people switch the Fuji System or a more recent full frame system.

5) I do miss liveview in certain instances but for my usage, taking photos of my kids, liveview wouldn't help me much. For landscape or studio shoots with controlled subjects, I'm sure liveview would be critical to have. I don't do studio work and for landscapes shots, I don't focus stack so the 645D's autofocus system works perfectly fine for me. I can take a photo and of course review it to see that its not off. So far, with all of the lens that I use 35 / 55 / 75 / 90 / 150 / 80-160, they all hit infinity focus nicely so I trust in its autofocus without thinking I need to zoom in afterwards.
01-07-2020, 01:33 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by carddassxx Quote
Here's my thoughts:

1) Yes, the 645D is a great camera to buy however it all depends on your intended usage. I bought the 645D used in Summer 2017 and made about 20-30K of photos since that time photographing my family / 2 kids and while we travel. I had been using a Nikon D800E for years and since the 645D, that camera has been collecting dust except for certain low-light occasions or when I went that big 1.4 aperture look or when I shoot video. I sometimes miss the low-light capabilities of the D800E and the really high dynamic range where I can recover highlights better but I've started integrating a small fill-flash when I'm indoors to get past the 645D's CCD limitations. A 645D and cheap flash still is way less money than a used Z body. So I don't necessarily agree with the opinion that the camera is limited to the studio or in very controlled situations.

In bright light you can push the ISO and the noise grain is pleasing. In low light, yes, the D is weak compared to the modern sensors and I tend to not even push the D past 400 or 800. I simply know it can't handle it without a flash.
A year ago I had a chance to use both the 645D and the Fuji GFX50S side-by-side for about 3 weeks. I loved the live view of the GFX and the lack of shutterslap. I could get it down to 1/30th of a second shutter without blur. The 645D is hit or miss once I start going below 1/60th or 1/125th for longer focal length lenses. The Fuji really showed me what the modern medium format sensors could achieve. It has a better dynamic range and can recover those highlights better. I assume the 645Z is the exact same since they use the same sensor. That said, to get that extra performance from a Z versus the D, you need to spend $1000-2000 more for a used system which could easily be used to be some nice 2.8 lenses like the amazing 90mm.

2) I live in Hamburg Germany and there is a repair shop, Rüdiger Maerz, that quoted me about 700 EUR for a shutter replacement back in 2017. Not small, but not crazy high in my opinion to keep the D going. That said, a few months ago, I scored a good deal on another 645D body to use as a backup. It required the shutter to have more oil added to it. Despite the low shutter actuations on the body, the shutter was getting stuck from lack of oil. That cost 200 EUR to fix. Even with the repair, the second 645D was still a steal. I figure as time goes, a good used body will be harder to find. So far it seems more Ds and Zs are being sold as people switch the Fuji System or a more recent full frame system.

5) I do miss liveview in certain instances but for my usage, taking photos of my kids, liveview wouldn't help me much. For landscape or studio shoots with controlled subjects, I'm sure liveview would be critical to have. I don't do studio work and for landscapes shots, I don't focus stack so the 645D's autofocus system works perfectly fine for me. I can take a photo and of course review it to see that its not off. So far, with all of the lens that I use 35 / 55 / 75 / 90 / 150 / 80-160, they all hit infinity focus nicely so I trust in its autofocus without thinking I need to zoom in afterwards.
I appreciate the work you put into this reply. It gives me lots of things to consider. I am a little unclear on one point. After pointing out the negatives of high ISO, lower dynamic range, and other things, you still prefer using the 645 over the D800E. Is this because the 645 has some other image qualities that are better, or perhaps you prefer the handling of a larger camera?

Thanks for all the user information,
barondla
01-07-2020, 03:36 PM - 1 Like   #19
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It depends on whether Pentax brings back 645 line to life with y new body anytime soon.
It would bring prices down a bit more especially 645Z which could appeal you more than 645D

01-07-2020, 03:57 PM - 1 Like   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
I appreciate the work you put into this reply. It gives me lots of things to consider. I am a little unclear on one point. After pointing out the negatives of high ISO, lower dynamic range, and other things, you still prefer using the 645 over the D800E. Is this because the 645 has some other image qualities that are better, or perhaps you prefer the handling of a larger camera?

Thanks for all the user information,
barondla
Yes. The quality is a big jump in my opinion compared to a full frame. The images the 645D produces simply look and feel better than what I used to achieve with the D800E. Even if the D is slower and it causes me to sometimes miss the shot that maybe a full-frame would have gotten in the same situation, the majority of photos I do get with the D feel more like keepers and are more satisfying to have gotten that it outweighs the disappointment of the ones I missed. I think the bigger sensor and the debatable qualities of the CCD sensor is what creates that wow effect for me. I also shoot with a Mamiya 7 (not so much now with the 645D around) and for a while dabbled with a 4x5 and those have informed my liking of the image quality produced by the D. I don't think any medium format system can achieve the versatility of a full frame camera's weight / ergonomics / price / size / UI / lens selection and once I realized that the negatives of the 645D aren't that major to me. That said, I'm not a pro living on my camera though, it's just a hobby for me, and under other criteria I can see those negatives being deal breakers which the mirrorless medium formats seem to address nicely.

With Dynamic range, the 645D is frustrating in certain extreme landscape situations when the sun is in the frame or the sky is simply really bright compared to the ground. Exposure bracketing could overcome that but I just like shooting one shot. After a while I can tell which scenes will be too much for the D to handle and I will underexpose accordingly to save the highlights. For most other situations, I don't find the lack of dynamic range to be an issue.

Also of note regarding quality, the D800E is 36MP and those images, even at ISO 100, just feel jagged and noisy now compared to an ISO 200 or 400 645D shot. That's probably all to do with the bigger sensor. I haven't used larger 40-50 MP full frames with ISO 64, so don't know if those cameras will fair better in comparison, but I suspect they will simply scale up that jaggedness and noise proportionally from the full frame sensor.

The physical / ergonomic handling of the 645D is great too and for a big camera it's my favorite. It feels balanced from the deep hand grip due to the bigger mirror and longer body. The D800E is also good in many ways and I don't have any issues with it except that maybe the body is not always balanced with certain lenses. The Fuji on the other hand feels unbalanced to me but it is great at firing away at the shutter button which is a bit quicker than the 645D, which is probably the closest in speed to full frame. That job also had a Phase One body with a IQ180 back and that felt like a tank compared to the svelt Pentax. I tried using that over a weekend once as a walkaround camera when I considered an old back but almost immediately found it to be a studio / flash camera only and promptly decided to go all-in on a 645D which I had tried years earlier and remembered fondly.

And lastly at my job we did a IQ pixel peeping shootout with the D800E, Pentax 645D and the Fuji GFX 50S. We didn't use the Phase One since that's in a different class altogether. The Fuji is technically sharper at 50MP and has more dynamic range however the 645D, for costing thousands less at the time and being years old, actually looked pretty darn good in comparison. The in-house photographer, who personally owned the Nikon D800 and had no bias towards Fuji or Pentax, preferred the output from the 645D over the GFX50S. I concurred with his findings but I had a horse in the race against the Fuji

Last edited by carddassxx; 01-07-2020 at 04:31 PM.
01-07-2020, 04:27 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by carddassxx Quote
Yes. The quality is a big jump in my opinion compared to a full frame. The images the 645D produces simply look and feel better than what I used to achieve with the D800E. Even if the D is slower and it causes me to sometimes miss the shot that maybe a full-frame would have gotten in the same situation, the majority of photos I do get with the D feel more like keepers and are more satisfying to have gotten that it outweighs the disappointment of the ones I missed. I think the bigger sensor and the debatable qualities of the CCD sensor is what creates that wow effect for me. I also shoot with a Mamiya 7 (not so much now with the 645D around) and for a while dabbled with a 4x5 and those have informed my liking of the image quality produced by the D. I don't think any medium format system can achieve the versatility of a full frame camera's weight / ergonomics / price / size / UI / lens selection and once I realized that the negatives of the 645D aren't that major to me. That said, I'm not a pro living on my camera though, it's just a hobby for me, and under other criteria I can see those negatives being deal breakers which the mirrorless medium formats seem to address nicely.

With Dynamic range, the 645D is frustrating in certain extreme landscape situations when the sun is in the frame or the sky is simply really bright compared to the ground. Exposure bracketing could overcome that but I just like shooting one shot. After a while I can tell which scenes will be too much for the D to handle and I will underexpose according to save the highlights. For most other situations, I don't find the lack of dynamic range to be an issue.

Also of note regarding quality, the D800E is 36MP and those images, even at ISO 100, just feel jagged and noisy now compared to an ISO 200 or 400 645D shot. That's probably all to do with the bigger sensor. I haven't used larger 40-50 MP full frames with ISO 64, so don't know if those cameras will fair better in comparison, but I suspect they will simply scale up that jaggedness and noise proportionally from the full frame sensor.

The physical / ergonomic handling of the 645D is great too and for a big camera it's my favorite. It feels balanced from the deep hand grip due to the bigger mirror and longer body. The D800E is also good in many ways and I don't have any issues with it except that maybe the body is not always balanced with certain lenses. The Fuji on the other hand feels unbalanced to me but it is great at firing away at the shutter button which is a bit quicker than the 645D, which is probably the closest in speed to full frame. That job also had a Phase One body with a IQ180 back and that felt like a tank compared to the svelt Pentax. I tried using that over a weekend once as a walkaround camera when I considered an old back but almost immediately found it to be a studio / flash camera only and promptly decided to go all-in on a 645D which I had tried years earlier and remembered fondly.

And lastly at my job we did a IQ pixel peeping shootout with the D800E, Pentax 645D and the Fuji GFX 50S. We didn't use the Phase One since that's in a different class altogether. The Fuji is technically sharper at 50MP and has more dynamic range however the 645D, for costing thousands less at the time and being years old, actually looked pretty darn good in comparison. The in-house photographer, who personally owned the Nikon D800 and had no bias towards Fuji or Pentax, preferred the output from the 645D over the GFX50S. I concurred with his findings but I had a horse in the race against the Fuji
Thanks again for the highly informative reply. My take away is there's more to picture quality than megapixels and dynamic range. Also that ergonomics are quite important. Amateurs are allowed to shoot the equipment they like...have fun.

thanks,
barondla
01-07-2020, 04:33 PM - 1 Like   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Thanks again for the highly informative reply. My take away is there's more to picture quality than megapixels and dynamic range. Also that ergonomics are quite important. Amateurs are allowed to shoot the equipment they like...have fun.

thanks,
barondla
No problem. Hope it helps you figure out which direction to go in.
I definitely have alot of fun with the 645D. It helped me slow down my shooting and let me savor the results more than when I was looser / sloppier with the Nikon.
01-07-2020, 07:31 PM - 1 Like   #23
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I haven't had the chance to try other medium format cameras, apart from a one minute look at an X1D - the EVF didn't work for me (maybe I didn't give it a fair chance as it was way over any budget I could attempt to justify).

The lower ISO of the D isn't a problem for me, I have little interest in anything over 800 on any camera. The ergonomics are good, the weight isn't a problem (I also shoot a P67). It's not as responsive as FF or even a Z, but I'm not a sports shooter.

Easy access to a comprehensive native lens selection (and seemless operation of 6x7 glass with the adapter), mostly at reasonable cost. Compatible with loads of older Pentax accessories, weather proof construction and a vertical tripod mount on the side (saves $300 on an L bracket) are all really useful benefits.

I brought my D before my K-1, of the two I prefer using the D for everything other than family holidays. By all accounts the Z's a better camera, but they were firmly over my budget at the time (and only high mileage ones are creeping into it now).

As with any new system, it's the system costs that you need to think about, not just the camera body. I used my P6x7 lenses exclusively for a while before buying any 645 FA glass to smooth the costs out a bit.

01-07-2020, 08:20 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by carddassxx Quote
No problem. Hope it helps you figure out which direction to go in.
I definitely have alot of fun with the 645D. It helped me slow down my shooting and let me savor the results more than when I was looser / sloppier with the Nikon.


---------- Post added 01-07-20 at 09:29 PM ----------

[/COLOR]
QuoteOriginally posted by johnha Quote
I haven't had the chance to try other medium format cameras, apart from a one minute look at an X1D - the EVF didn't work for me (maybe I didn't give it a fair chance as it was way over any budget I could attempt to justify).

The lower ISO of the D isn't a problem for me, I have little interest in anything over 800 on any camera. The ergonomics are good, the weight isn't a problem (I also shoot a P67). It's not as responsive as FF or even a Z, but I'm not a sports shooter.

Easy access to a comprehensive native lens selection (and seemless operation of 6x7 glass with the adapter), mostly at reasonable cost. Compatible with loads of older Pentax accessories, weather proof construction and a vertical tripod mount on the side (saves $300 on an L bracket) are all really useful benefits.

I brought my D before my K-1, of the two I prefer using the D for everything other than family holidays. By all accounts the Z's a better camera, but they were firmly over my budget at the time (and only high mileage ones are creeping into it now).

As with any new system, it's the system costs that you need to think about, not just the camera body. I used my P6x7 lenses exclusively for a while before buying any 645 FA glass to smooth the costs out a bit.
I have more trouble focusing manually via optical viewfinder with the K-1 than the K-7, K10D, or K20D. The K-1screen seems very bright but low in contrast. Since the 645D doesn't have live view I will have to manually focus or use af, if the lens is af. Think part of my K-1 focusing issues is due to brighter lenses. There aren't any f1.8 645 lenses. How does manual focusing on the 645 compare to the K-1?
thanks,
barondla

Last edited by barondla; 01-07-2020 at 08:31 PM.
01-08-2020, 03:56 AM - 1 Like   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
---------- Post added 01-07-20 at 09:29 PM ----------

[/COLOR]

I have more trouble focusing manually via optical viewfinder with the K-1 than the K-7, K10D, or K20D. The K-1screen seems very bright but low in contrast. Since the 645D doesn't have live view I will have to manually focus or use af, if the lens is af. Think part of my K-1 focusing issues is due to brighter lenses. There aren't any f1.8 645 lenses. How does manual focusing on the 645 compare to the K-1?
thanks,
barondla
I can't compare to the K-1 but I could never quite successfully manual focus with the 645D. I even installed the AB-82 split prism viewfinder and tested it on some static subjects. The results were that my manually focusing was slightly off and the AF did a better job. Since a 2.8 aperture is even shallower on a 645 system, I think the conversion is that it's a 1.8, hitting that focus is a challenge for me and I typically stick with the AF. Sometimes the DFA 90mm and FA 150mm are too slow to autofocus in lower light situations and I use the manual focus to try and get faster results which is helpful on moving subjects.
01-08-2020, 06:54 AM - 1 Like   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
I have more trouble focusing manually via optical viewfinder with the K-1 than the K-7, K10D, or K20D. The K-1screen seems very bright but low in contrast. Since the 645D doesn't have live view I will have to manually focus or use af, if the lens is af. Think part of my K-1 focusing issues is due to brighter lenses. There aren't any f1.8 645 lenses. How does manual focusing on the 645 compare to the K-1?
thanks,
barondla
I'd have to check the K-1 to make a comparison, however I usually rely on the 'in focus' indicator with P6x7 lenses. After first buying the D I found no problems focussing optically on the screen - it was faster and more convenient than the 'in focus' indicator if shooting moving objects with my P67 200/4. I bought a 645N micro-prism screen which I saw no need to fit.

Since then my eyesight prescription and glasses have changed, making it more difficult to focus optically on the screen. I now use the 'in focus' indicator mostly with manual focus lenses on the D & K-1 (I may consider the micro-prism screen in the future).
01-08-2020, 08:18 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by carddassxx Quote
I can't compare to the K-1 but I could never quite successfully manual focus with the 645D. I even installed the AB-82 split prism viewfinder and tested it on some static subjects. The results were that my manually focusing was slightly off and the AF did a better job. Since a 2.8 aperture is even shallower on a 645 system, I think the conversion is that it's a 1.8, hitting that focus is a challenge for me and I typically stick with the AF. Sometimes the DFA 90mm and FA 150mm are too slow to autofocus in lower light situations and I use the manual focus to try and get faster results which is helpful on moving subjects.
Thanks. Knew medium format has less dof, but hadn't considered the affect on focusing.

---------- Post added 01-08-20 at 09:29 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by johnha Quote
I'd have to check the K-1 to make a comparison, however I usually rely on the 'in focus' indicator with P6x7 lenses. After first buying the D I found no problems focussing optically on the screen - it was faster and more convenient than the 'in focus' indicator if shooting moving objects with my P67 200/4. I bought a 645N micro-prism screen which I saw no need to fit.

Since then my eyesight prescription and glasses have changed, making it more difficult to focus optically on the screen. I now use the 'in focus' indicator mostly with manual focus lenses on the D & K-1 (I may consider the micro-prism screen in the future).
Thanks for the info. Have to admit manual focusing is sounding a little daunting with the 645. Apparently the viewfinder has been tuned more towards bright viewing than manual focusing. Guess this makes sense on an af camera. Lots to think about.

Thanks for all the help guys,
barondla
01-10-2020, 12:03 AM - 1 Like   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Thanks. Knew medium format has less dof, but hadn't considered the affect on focusing.

---------- Post added 01-08-20 at 09:29 AM ----------





Thanks for the info. Have to admit manual focusing is sounding a little daunting with the 645. Apparently the viewfinder has been tuned more towards bright viewing than manual focusing. Guess this makes sense on an af camera. Lots to think about.



Thanks for all the help guys,

barondla


Medium format cameras with glass prisms always have a bright finder, and an expansive one, too. The area being viewed is bigger, and requires less eyepiece magnification to get a the same overall effective magnification, which means a larger exit pupil in the eyepiece, which makes for a superior view.

My 645 N and NII focus very easily, and so do my 67’s. Of course, the N has focus confirmation, and so do the D and Z.

Generations of photographers accurately focused generations of pre-AF cameras. I reckon we can, too.

Rick “especially on a tripod” Denney
01-10-2020, 02:05 AM - 1 Like   #29
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I agree with Rick, if you've got good eyesight or are within the dioptre adjustment range or have corrected eyesight manually focussing for general subjects should be fine. It should still be fine for most action subjects if you're fast enough (as was always the case).

My problem is my glasses prescription now uses progressive lenses where it changes across the lens - I have to line the finder up with a certain part of my glasses for perfect results. Thus I prefer focus confirmation which I've had no problems with (it's easier than the K-1 because the highlight is red around the AF point rather than black). The black surrounded is my only complaint about the K-1, it's quite significant as I use focus confirmation a lot.

Last edited by johnha; 01-10-2020 at 09:04 AM.
01-11-2020, 12:10 PM - 2 Likes   #30
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I own a 645D along with a Nikon D800 and Sony a7riii and have a few thoughts to share about the Pentax.

For portraits the colours produced by the ccd sensor are unsurpassed by any other system I've owned. The closest camera I've previously owned that produced the most natural and beautiful colours similar to the 645D is the first in the Canon 5D series.

Thought the 645D iso is limited to a min/max of 100-1600 it handles noise exceptionally well compared to other ccd sensors, particularly in decent light. I've been able to push underexposed images further than I thought I could and was pleasantly surprised as to how well the overall quality of the image held up.

As for the ergonomics the 645D with its deep grip is by far the most comfortable body I have held, even during long sessions it never lost the feeling of being comfortable to hold.

The bright viewfinder brought back memories of my Canon 1DSMIII days. Enough really can't be said about how you feel when looking through such a big and bright viewfinder.

The lenses, used ones anyway can be found at such cheap prices that a complete system can be put together for less than some single body/single lens combos. My a7riii/105 1.4 cost more than the 645D with the used FA versions of the 45-85, 75, 120, 150 and 200 I own. The optical quality of those lenses is excellent and couldn't be happier with the sharpness and rendering ability of these older lenses. My two favourite lenses to use and the ones I count on the most in my work are my Nikon 200 f2 and the Pentax FA 75 2.8.

What I think are weaknesses when comparing the 645D to the other systems that I currently own or have own is the 1.1fps and the slow review time after taking a photo. However since I know what I plan on shooting before grabbing it off the shelf I already am expecting to deal with both the pros and cons of using it.

Since I shoot anything from weddings to street photography if I were only going with one system it would likely be the most practical do everything Sony a7riii. If I were doing only portraits or slow moving photography along with landscapes it would be hands down the Pentax 645D or Z.
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