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05-26-2007, 09:57 PM   #1
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645 vs 645N inputs Please

I am thinking about getting a medium format camera .

So 645 or 645N ? ( 645N II is too expensive for me now )

As I understand 645N is "newer " , AF .

I have been reading reviews but I would like to get some feedbacks from the "live" users . Info I found were quite a few years back !


Shooting : mainly B&W , some color, landscape , portrait , possible a wedding or two !


Thanks for your inputs !

05-27-2007, 10:30 AM   #2
Ole
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We have the 645 and the 645N II in regular use.

645N and N II are almost identical.

645N and 645N II have autofocus and the controls are laid out in the classic manner with two knobs on the body, one for shutter speeds, and one for exposure compensation. That's perhaps slightly faster and more intuitive to operate than the 645 which is operated via push buttons. I prefer the layout of the N and N II over that of the 645.

The focusing screen of the 645 is better for manual focus because it has the split screen circle surrounded by microprisms to aid focusing. A split image screen is/was available for the 645N and N II as an accessory, but not a screen with both types of focusing aid.

The N and N II have multi segment metering and autobracketing; the 645 does not. I don't consider those features terribly important. With negative film you rarely need to bracket, and if you do bracket you'll use a roll in no time!

The N II is the only one of the three with mirror lock up, and it can be combined with the self timer for a 2 second delay. I always use that when I have the camera mounted on a tripod, but I cannot say that I really can see any difference to the photos taken with the 645 without mirror lock-up but I haven't done any systematic tests.

On the N II the user can set a number of custom functions. The 645 has no custom functions, and the N has a few, but these can only be set at a Pentax repair center.

The N and N II can imprint the exposure data at the edge of the film (f-stop, shutter speed, focal length, etc).

The only features to consider when deciding which model to pick are, in my view:

Focusing screen (645 best by far)
Control layout (N and N II are "classic", 645 is push button)
Mirror lock-up (N II only)

Hope this helps,
05-27-2007, 03:48 PM   #3
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Thanks Ole

Hm... auto bracketing for medium format roll film ?? That 's just too much!

Man , I won't use that for sure

I don't like the idea of sending the camera away just to set up some custom functions

Look like 645N II is the best choice so far . But the best always come with a price


One more question : How is the auto focus on 645N vs. 645N II ?

I think the 645N II came out around 2001 ( vs 645N @ 1998 (? ) ) , but sometimes product came out later does not mean it is better .

Thanks again
05-27-2007, 10:09 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by dantuyhoa Quote
Thanks Ole

Hm... auto bracketing for medium format roll film ?? That 's just too much!

Man , I won't use that for sure

I don't like the idea of sending the camera away just to set up some custom functions

Look like 645N II is the best choice so far . But the best always come with a price


One more question : How is the auto focus on 645N vs. 645N II ?

I think the 645N II came out around 2001 ( vs 645N @ 1998 (? ) ) , but sometimes product came out later does not mean it is better .

Thanks again
I don't have the 645N, but I'd assume that autofocus on the N and NII are the same. And it's actually surprisingly fast on the N II.

The N and NII are mechanically the same camera. The NII was updated in the firmware giving it the mirror lock up and user selectable custom functions. I paid about $850 for mine, in mint condition. Yeah, I know, that was a steal...

06-04-2007, 10:14 PM   #5
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Just got a 645N with 75mm F2.8 , 120 insert for under 800 USD

I like the 645N II better but the same "system" would set me back around 1400 - 1600 USD !

I could wait for a few months but life is too short not to shoot ..film , medium format that is.. hahaha

So the choice is 645N with some "bread" left over for film , bean , rice and tequila . After all , man can't just live on film alone ..LOL

I will test it out , B&W at first . Trying to get some info on film/local labs .

Thanks again
02-18-2009, 06:10 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ole Quote
We have the 645 and the 645N II in regular use.
The only features to consider when deciding which model to pick are, in my view:

Focusing screen (645 best by far)
Control layout (N and N II are "classic", 645 is push button)
Mirror lock-up (N II only)

Hope this helps,

Oh no. The most important difference between the 645N and NII is that the former take 16 frames per 120 roll whereas the NII can be set to 15 frames (the default in fact). [in addition, the NII has user selectable custom functions: on the N it has to be programmed at a Pentax service facility]
This is an important feature as 16 frames may (will?) give film flatness problems. I had lots of problems with this with my 645N, and in fact had it three times at service trying to figure out the problem (with no luck). I found it out myself by studying the film transport mechanism. Pentax fixed it with the NII model and it is acknowledged in that cameras manual.
02-18-2009, 07:53 PM   #7
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Pål, could you explain the film flatness problem a bit more? Is it "just" on the 16th frame, on the 1st and the 16th, on all of the frames, or what?
02-19-2009, 04:58 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ole Quote
Pål, could you explain the film flatness problem a bit more? Is it "just" on the 16th frame, on the 1st and the 16th, on all of the frames, or what?


It is random. The lower part of the image is out of focus due to the lack of film flatness. The film "remembers" the sharp bend over the filmtransport rolls from the previous frame. With 15 frames per roll this bend is located between the frames and has no effect.

02-28-2009, 10:55 AM   #9
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The 645N film flatness issue is more noticiable when the film has sat in the roller before advancing to the frame for a period of time. This usually happens after a partial roll is left after a day or two.
Shooting in the studio where the roll is finish almost immediately I did not find any issue with flatness. When film is left for a while I just "waste" a frame.

Besides the autofocusing I found the dials on the 645N easier to use and change as opoosed to the push buttons.
03-02-2009, 02:22 PM   #10
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How prominent is this lack of film flatness -- would it be noticed if not shooting wide open? I have a 645N with the SMC-A 35mm f/3.5 and haven't seen the issue crop up in the year that I've owned it. Then again, I'm typically shooting at f/8 or f/11.
03-03-2009, 06:49 AM   #11
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I have owned both the 645 and 645N. I decided to keep the 645N because of the much brighter viewfinder in the 645N, which I find more helpful for focusing manually. The 645N will give a signal (green light in viewfinder when manually focusing as well as an audible signal you can turn off). This was enough for me to decide to stick with the 645N.

As has been mentioned the 645N has a multi segment metering system, it is a dual six segment system which I have found to be very good in the field.

I have seen the 645 bodies selling for between $125 and $200 used, whereas the 645N bodies have been selling for $350+. The 645NII bodies sell for considerably more, with the lowest recent price was for the $700 range.

They all take AA size batteries. You can use manual or autofocus lenses on either of the three bodies (although manual focus lenses are always manual focus, regardless of the body, and autofocus lenses need to be manually focused on the 645 body).

QuoteOriginally posted by Ole Quote
The focusing screen of the 645 is better for manual focus because it has the split screen circle surrounded by microprisms to aid focusing. A split image screen is/was available for the 645N and N II as an accessory, but not a screen with both types of focusing aid.

The only features to consider when deciding which model to pick are, in my view:

Focusing screen (645 best by far)
Control layout (N and N II are "classic", 645 is push button)
Mirror lock-up (N II only)
03-03-2009, 06:52 AM   #12
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One word of advice. Don't fixate too much on which body to start with. Perhaps think about lenses instead. You can always upgrade/downgrade the body. Since it sounds like money might be tight right now, consider the original 645 body to save some money and go after some nice lenses. You can use all of the lenses on all of the bodies, so you will not be painting yourself into a corner optics-wise.
03-03-2009, 11:20 AM   #13
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For primarily B&W work or color neg work the plain vanilla P645 might be more than adequate.

I happen to dislike the up/down button interface myself, and the dim finder image. Much prefer the 645N's brighter grid screen option, shutter speed and compensation dials. The Multi Segment metering gives extremely accurate exposures with color transparencies in most conditions, though I do prefer spot metering for snowy situations. Here both the exposure lock and exposure compensation indicator bar in the viewfinder can be rather useful.

You might also want to consider that any original 645 could be as much as 25 years old and can be no newer than about 12. While they're rather robust cameras, if you do decide on a 645 rather than a 645N the condition of the light seals best be inspected.
03-03-2009, 03:04 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ivan J. Eberle Quote
How prominent is this lack of film flatness -- would it be noticed if not shooting wide open? I have a 645N with the SMC-A 35mm f/3.5 and haven't seen the issue crop up in the year that I've owned it. Then again, I'm typically shooting at f/8 or f/11.

It was noticable at F:11. It was a big problem for me at least.
03-03-2009, 06:21 PM   #15
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I remember doing a test. when I left a roll of partial shot film in the camera for 10 day.

I then forward the film by one frame and to my horror you can notice the curve where the film sat against the roller before advancing to the frame.

So as a force of habit I just wind the roll to finish and start with a new roll later. OR I just waste a frame where the film curve would be.
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