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08-18-2016, 12:02 PM   #1
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Pentax 645 Film LCD Screen and Setting Photographic Mode

Hello to all. I'm new to this forum and Pentax in particular. I just purchased a used Pentax 645 film SLR. I popped some batteries into the grip and everything came to life. However, when I turn off the main switch, I still see the LCD screen display. Is this normal? I'm reading through the manual now. I don't have film in the camera, but I don't seem to be able to select the proper aperture priority mode. I get Auto F----in the LCD display. Will this change once I have film in the camera? Sorry for the naive questions, but I'm very new to this camera.

08-18-2016, 12:06 PM   #2
Ole
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I seem to remember that the LCD is always on.

What lens is mounted on the camera?
08-18-2016, 12:25 PM   #3
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Loading in film should fix this, I believe.

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08-18-2016, 01:03 PM   #4
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You can download manuals for cameras in the Pentax 645 series from the Butkus site. He provides them for free, but if you find one helpful, a few dollars donation via PayPal is a worthy act.

Pentax camera instruction manuals, Pentax professional instruction manuals


Steve

08-18-2016, 06:23 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ole Quote
I seem to remember that the LCD is always on.

What lens is mounted on the camera?
75mm 2.8 Pentax-A
08-18-2016, 06:23 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Loading in film should fix this, I believe.
I have loaded film and the LCD screen is still on, but thanks for giving it a shot!
08-18-2016, 06:24 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
You can download manuals for cameras in the Pentax 645 series from the Butkus site. He provides them for free, but if you find one helpful, a few dollars donation via PayPal is a worthy act.

Pentax camera instruction manuals, Pentax professional instruction manuals


Steve
I have the manual, and it's pretty uninformative with respect to the LCD screen. I think the screen is always on, at least in this old beast!
08-18-2016, 06:39 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by photojunkie Quote
I have the manual, and it's pretty uninformative with respect to the LCD screen. I think the screen is always on, at least in this old beast!
Yes, that is how it appears from the manual. As for the F---, I believe that shows in the viewfinder when the aperture ring is off the "A" position (Av mode).


Steve

(...have shot with the 645N, but never with the original 645...)

08-18-2016, 09:16 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by photojunkie Quote
Hello to all. I'm new to this forum and Pentax in particular. I just purchased a used Pentax 645 film SLR. I popped some batteries into the grip and everything came to life. However, when I turn off the main switch, I still see the LCD screen display. Is this normal? I'm reading through the manual now. I don't have film in the camera, but I don't seem to be able to select the proper aperture priority mode. I get Auto F----in the LCD display. Will this change once I have film in the camera? Sorry for the naive questions, but I'm very new to this camera.
The LCD will continue to stay on. There is a button cell battery at the base of the camera that lasts over 10 years to keep the memory on, even if you lose AA battery power.

As far as aperture priority: You need to set your aperture on the lens to A and change f/stops with the buttons. And without film or the false back on the camera, many functions will not work.
08-18-2016, 10:21 PM   #10
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Alex645 has it covered.
08-19-2016, 04:38 AM   #11
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Thanks to all for the informative advice. It's been VERY helpful and I have solved the issues! The 645 is a bit quirky, at least in my mind with these settings, etc. I'm getting more comfortable with it by the minute. I'm really looking forward to making some images. The research I've done suggests that this is a timeless classic and some of the photos I've seen are just outstanding. Thanks again to all for your help, guidance and patience!!!!
08-19-2016, 11:09 PM   #12
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Iʻve kept and continue to use my 645 because of that 75mm prime and the 35mm prime. Yes, the camera can be quirky, but the payoff are those excellent primes.
08-20-2016, 05:44 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
Iʻve kept and continue to use my 645 because of that 75mm prime and the 35mm prime. Yes, the camera can be quirky, but the payoff are those excellent primes.
Thanks for this, Alex. I'm really excited to see the results of my first attempts. I understand that there is a learning curve here, but I really want to slow down, and think about making an incredible image.
08-20-2016, 08:02 PM   #14
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Here are few pointers from my 30 years with the same 645 relative to other makes, models, formats, media, etc:

The mirror slap causes a lot of vibration. Therefore:
a) I rarely use this camera on a tripod with long exposures.
b) With medium format, grain and resolution from higher ISO film still holds up well, so Iʻve given up using low ISO like Velvia 50 or 100, and will only use Ektar 100 if I absolutely want intentional blur or shallow depth-of-field. 400 ISO is so much more forgiving and versatile and thus I try to keep the shutter speed around 1/250" just to eliminate vibration from the mirror slap.

With nearly 4x the size of the 35mm or FF formats, that gives us so much more potential to crop without sacrificing too much IQ. Because of that and the concern for shutter speed (greater telephoto requires faster shutter speed to eliminate camera movement), I usually crop loosely in camera and rarely use anything greater than 75mm unless I want compression.

My 645 does not seem to be weather-sealed and will often stop working (temporarily) when I go from a cool air conditioned dry air to warm humid outdoors. The key is to give it time to "acclimatize" when transitioning from indoors or a car to outside, and in the winter the reverse.

The 6 AA batteries can last a very long time, but if left in the grip, will eventually leak and corrode. So every year, I will just go ahead and replace the batteries. I donʻt think itʻs a good idea to just take out the batteries. It drains the internal button cell and the ʻold schoolʻ electronics seems to like to have some juice in the tank.

As an electro-mechanical device, it does not like dormancy. Every 6 months, if you havenʻt been shooting, put the false back and shoot it at all different shutter speeds. Put the buttons through their paces. It should not take more than 5 minutes.

The quirkiest aspect of this camera is that now and then, it will just not fire. My top suspicion is low power (use a volt meter on all 6 batteries). Sometimes humidity will cause something to prevent firing, and usually the solution is taking out the batteries, cleaning the contacts, and then just being patient for something to dry out. Iʻm not an engineer, but it could also be an old capacitor/resistor/chip that is taking a siesta. It fixes itself in time.

I once had mine totally shut down on a trip. It was, of course, the one time I didnʻt bring a back up camera. So I took mental pictures and enjoyed the first trip in years when I was camera free. When I got home, I was about to send the camera in for repairs, and it worked perfectly. I tried everything to duplicate the problem (unseated lens, no film, weak batteries, etc), but it refused to fail, and that was 3 years ago and it has worked fine ever since.

Last note: The camera is LOUD. Ok, not Polaroid loud; not a booming Bronica; but when you fire, everyone will know something was shot. I take one of two approaches if this is an issue:
a) Own it; at first youʻll see everyone react....dang son, youʻre a real photographer? Give them that Usain Bolt smile. Sorry, mine is bigger AND louder than yours.
b) Desensitize them; Put on the fake back and shoot nonstop until they ignore you. Then load film, and they will mostly ignore your noisemaker 645.
08-21-2016, 05:42 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
Here are few pointers from my 30 years with the same 645 relative to other makes, models, formats, media, etc:

The mirror slap causes a lot of vibration. Therefore:
a) I rarely use this camera on a tripod with long exposures.
b) With medium format, grain and resolution from higher ISO film still holds up well, so Iʻve given up using low ISO like Velvia 50 or 100, and will only use Ektar 100 if I absolutely want intentional blur or shallow depth-of-field. 400 ISO is so much more forgiving and versatile and thus I try to keep the shutter speed around 1/250" just to eliminate vibration from the mirror slap.

With nearly 4x the size of the 35mm or FF formats, that gives us so much more potential to crop without sacrificing too much IQ. Because of that and the concern for shutter speed (greater telephoto requires faster shutter speed to eliminate camera movement), I usually crop loosely in camera and rarely use anything greater than 75mm unless I want compression.

My 645 does not seem to be weather-sealed and will often stop working (temporarily) when I go from a cool air conditioned dry air to warm humid outdoors. The key is to give it time to "acclimatize" when transitioning from indoors or a car to outside, and in the winter the reverse.

The 6 AA batteries can last a very long time, but if left in the grip, will eventually leak and corrode. So every year, I will just go ahead and replace the batteries. I donʻt think itʻs a good idea to just take out the batteries. It drains the internal button cell and the ʻold schoolʻ electronics seems to like to have some juice in the tank.

As an electro-mechanical device, it does not like dormancy. Every 6 months, if you havenʻt been shooting, put the false back and shoot it at all different shutter speeds. Put the buttons through their paces. It should not take more than 5 minutes.

The quirkiest aspect of this camera is that now and then, it will just not fire. My top suspicion is low power (use a volt meter on all 6 batteries). Sometimes humidity will cause something to prevent firing, and usually the solution is taking out the batteries, cleaning the contacts, and then just being patient for something to dry out. Iʻm not an engineer, but it could also be an old capacitor/resistor/chip that is taking a siesta. It fixes itself in time.

I once had mine totally shut down on a trip. It was, of course, the one time I didnʻt bring a back up camera. So I took mental pictures and enjoyed the first trip in years when I was camera free. When I got home, I was about to send the camera in for repairs, and it worked perfectly. I tried everything to duplicate the problem (unseated lens, no film, weak batteries, etc), but it refused to fail, and that was 3 years ago and it has worked fine ever since.

Last note: The camera is LOUD. Ok, not Polaroid loud; not a booming Bronica; but when you fire, everyone will know something was shot. I take one of two approaches if this is an issue:
a) Own it; at first youʻll see everyone react....dang son, youʻre a real photographer? Give them that Usain Bolt smile. Sorry, mine is bigger AND louder than yours.
b) Desensitize them; Put on the fake back and shoot nonstop until they ignore you. Then load film, and they will mostly ignore your noisemaker 645.
This is really appreicated, Alex. I have one question I'm a bit hesitant to ask the group. Is it possible to load the film incorrectly? From the videos I've watched it looks like the film should be loaded in a way that opposes the way it's wound on the spool. I can't recall exactly, but when I loaded my first roll it seemed like it wanted to follow the natural contour. I did see the Start markings on the roll and they lined up with the arrow on the spool holder. I'm trying to decide if I waste this unexposed roll and go back to see if I did this right, or just forge ahead. Thoughts?
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