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04-29-2010, 02:36 AM   #1
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The time has come ... for 645N

Hello,

this is my very first post here. The reason to join this forum is very simple - I have decided to get a Pentax 645N (or NII should I find one reasonable priced) with some lenses and it is very obvious that this forum is the best place to search for information.

I have some background in analog photogrpahy (some 35mm, Roleiflex T, Tachi 4x5). While I do like my Rolleiflex (which will sadly have to go once the 645N is there) .

I often found the need for different focal lengths and better close-up possibility than my Rolleiflex can offer and 4x5 can not always be used for different reasons. That is also the reason why I (after long considerations) excluder MF rangefinders. I do realize the bigger weight and bulk and have decided that it can be done. I have also excluded the 6x7 SLR cameras as I the weight and bulk grows further and the cameras become less hand-holdable.

So - why I chose Pentax 645N:
- (relatively) low weight of the 645N and reasonable price (compared to Contax 645).
- lens selection
- AF can be helpful
- 2 tripod mounting points (really clever)
- well damped mirror
- bright viewfinder

Type of photography planned:
- landscapes, cityscapes, macro, portraits (here and than, I would probably get the leaf shutter lenses for that)

Reason or 645 over 35mm:
- larger prints (up to about 16x20")
- I do not have a 35mm SLR (though use here and then the Minotla Dynax 7 my wife has)
- I keep the 35mm RF for the times when 645SLR is not feasible to use.

I have searched around a lot - on this forum and elsewhere and arrived to conclusion that I would like to get following lenses:
- A 55/2.8 or FA 75/2.8 (55 is closer to what I like, 75 is lighter)
- FA 45-85/4.5 or FA 33-55/4.5 (33-55 hard to find, but would be great for travel, 45-85 seems to be great, but is heavier)
- FA 150/2.8
- 1.4x converter
- FA 300/4 or FA 400/5.6 (would come later also because of the price)
- FA 35/3.5 (maybe later - if I do not get the 33-55)
- angle finder

Business question:
- what is a good source of used Pentax 645 gear in Europe? I am of course aware of eBay , then there is ffordes in UK but that would be it.
- what would you consider a fair price for the gear listed above (in a good condition)?

Gear questions:
- 33-55/4.5 - how are the distortions through out the zoom range? How does this lens compare to the 45-85 ?
- how is the hand hold-ability of 645N + 45-85? I do not only mean weight, but how it feels in hand?
- which bag/backpack would you use for a body and 45-85 + 150/2.8 + acc?

thank you

04-29-2010, 05:45 AM   #2
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Hello Matus! Nice to see you here, welcome. Lots of great advice here.

Yuri
04-29-2010, 06:22 AM   #3
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I don't shot enough with mine to be an expert, but it seems you've done your research and know what you are doing. Buying in Europe seems to be a problem. I have found very little and got my kit from eBay. I really think you will be happy with any of the lenses since they all seem quite amazing comparing to the variety of quality for APS-C.
04-29-2010, 07:49 AM   #4
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Welcome to the club, Matus. You won't regret it, I promise. If anything I'm surprised you already want so many lenses... but great choices all around.

One little point I'll make is that you'll be even to print even larger than 16x20" with 645 negs / slides. I've made several in the 20-24" x 30-36" range that show there's even more detail than my 4000 dpi scanner (Nikon Coolscan 9000) can pick up.

04-29-2010, 08:04 AM   #5
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Welcome. And a fine camera to be looking at. As a 67 owner, I find no problems with handheld. But I use a WLF and with that it weights almost the same as my Hasselblad 500C/M both with their standard lenses on and no one complains about a Hasselblad being too heavy.
04-29-2010, 02:05 PM   #6
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Thank you for kind words.

No - I am not going to get all the lenses at once! That is just how I imagine a nce kit. I would preferably start with 45-85/4.5 and 150/2.8. How fast I would get 55 or 75 depends on how I find the zoom (weight, handling)

So - now I am just looking for a nice sample of these.

Oc course I will appreciate any supporting comments and advices

Apart from others I would love to hear your experience with teleconverters - especially with 1.4x with different lenses.
04-29-2010, 04:31 PM   #7
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I use the 645N almost as a point and shoot with the manual focus version of the 35mm f/3.5, the only lens I've got for it (and a niche where 645 really shines). This lens has almost no distortion whatsoever, with an equivalent FOV of a 21mm on 135. (The lack of AF is no problem on a lens this wide, as I am often shooting at hyperfocal distance anyway for the near-far/small to large views). The camera is very ergonomic, made moreso with a Tamrac wrist-strap attached to the lugs. I can handhold to 1/15 consistently and occasionally 1/8s.

The Markins Q/R plates for it are really nice if you have Arca system (you'll likely want two, one for verticals). This all fits in a little LowePro TLZ bag with an outer pocket big enough for a spare insert, Refconvertor, wireless remote and headlamp. The bag rides on a ThinkTank belt.
04-29-2010, 05:46 PM   #8
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I have to agree on the A 35mm, it's a great lens - and who needs autofocus with such a wide angle. It's the telelenses where you want that. Moreover, it's the FA wide angles that will be improved for the 645D. Do not forget the 120mm. I never was a Macro fan—technically interesting, usually, but otherwise not—until I got this lens. Much more useful, even as a portrait lens, than I anticipated.

You give all the right reasons to go for the 645N—the viewfinder not being the least among them. One more thing for me is the 4:3 ratio: I unexpectedly find it much more pleasant than the 3:2 of 35mm cameras.

04-29-2010, 05:50 PM   #9
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BTW, I never was a zoom fan, partly because it would give me too much choice. I tended to think in focal lengths - and the advantage of faster and better primes made it easier. I suppose it all depends on what your preferences are.
05-02-2010, 12:38 PM   #10
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Thanks. I agree about the AF with wide lenses.

I also do not know whether the 45-85/4.5 is the right thing for me (hey, I have NEVER had a MF SLR in hand!), but it covers a very usable (for travel) range, is supposed to be very good AND the 45/2.8 (both A and FA) are often reported as "not as sharp as ..." (please no offense to happy users). And all users seems so swear on the zoom concerning the image quality.

The 33-55/4.5 is supposed to have more distortion and while very good it is "supposed" to be not as good as the 35/3.5 and 55/2.8. Also hard to find.

I have just agreed with my friends to visit a large Safari park - so a long lens would be great. Would you mind to give me an idea about the price of the FA 300 & 400 mm lenses? Just to have an idea whether I have a chance.

For range between 100 - 200 - the 80-160/4.5 zoom is also supposed to be very good but it is even heavier than the 45-85/4.5 and I do think that I need zoom in this range - so I am looking for the 150/2.8

Concerning the 4:3 versus 3:2 - I find sometimes the 3:2 too "long" so I guess the 4:3 should work for me :-)
05-02-2010, 01:00 PM   #11
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Used lenses in the UK? I usually watch London Camera Exchange or T4 cameras.
Right now T4 has some used 6x7 lenses in Swindon.
05-02-2010, 08:01 PM   #12
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The FA 35 is way sharper than the 33-55 and has nearly no CA which is clearly seen on the 33-55- I preferred the 35 therefore. But I have to give up my 645NII equipment so it is for sale as well as other 645 FA lenses and bodies. Just have a look at my website Good thinking to evaluate the system. You cannot go wrong with the 645 system. All lenses are top notch compared to other brands.

Peter Weimann Photography

Greetings
phootoholic2

Last edited by photoholic2; 05-02-2010 at 08:31 PM.
05-03-2010, 05:25 PM   #13
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Hi Matus,

I was able to try and photograph a rabbit that was just outside my window with the FA 400mm f/5.6 with and without the 1.4x converter. Hopefully the film will be ready in a day or two. Unfortunately, not much light, so the shutter speed was a little slow and I was distracted by a three year old wanting my attention. But hopefully one or two sharp images will be on the roll. I will post here when I get the film back.

As to price, the FA 300mm seems to sell for about 20-30% more than an FA 400mm in the same condition. I have seen excellent examples of the FA 300mm sell for $1200 or so.

Yuri

QuoteOriginally posted by Matus Quote
I have just agreed with my friends to visit a large Safari park - so a long lens would be great. Would you mind to give me an idea about the price of the FA 300 & 400 mm lenses? Just to have an idea whether I have a chance.

For range between 100 - 200 - the 80-160/4.5 zoom is also supposed to be very good but it is even heavier than the 45-85/4.5 and I do think that I need zoom in this range - so I am looking for the 150/2.8
05-03-2010, 05:32 PM   #14
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This was a tough one for me. Initially I had the FA 80-160mm, but wanted something faster and sold it when I got the FA 150mm f/2.8. Well, of course I missed the versatility of the zoom in some situations, so ended up getting the FA 80-160mm again (for a really nice price too). So, right now I have both. When I travel far the FA 150mm comes with me and the FA 80-160mm stays for more local opportunities.

QuoteOriginally posted by Matus Quote
For range between 100 - 200 - the 80-160/4.5 zoom is also supposed to be very good but it is even heavier than the 45-85/4.5 and I do think that I need zoom in this range - so I am looking for the 150/2.8
05-06-2010, 11:29 AM   #15
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by opfor Quote
Used lenses in the UK? I usually watch London Camera Exchange or T4 cameras.
Right now T4 has some used 6x7 lenses in Swindon.
Thank you! This is the kind of help I am looking for right now

- yuri -
I am eagerly waiting on you shots.

Actually - I have passed on a few lenses/bodies that looked interesting but the prices are higher than I have hoped for. So I keep looking.

If you would not want too many lenses than the Contax 645 could still be an option I have to admit I really liked the shots I have seen taken with the 80/2.0 (found them somehow more pleasing than what I managed to find with the 75/2.8 on Flickr) - please no pun to happy users(!) - I just can get rid of thinking about the Contax (its price and weight makes it easier though) ...

The 150/2.8 must be a sweat lens and perfect for portraits - there are not too many photos to be found, but I have seen some really nice once.

There is one FA 400/5.6 @ ffordes (probably for a reasonable price), but out of my budget now. It is not exactly a starter lens either.

what do you find to be a decent price for some of the following lenses?
- FA 45-85/4.5
- FA 150/2.8
- FA or A 35/3.5
- 1.4x converter
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