Pentax Introduces the 645D – A Game Changer?

by Peter Zack


Press release image from Hoya Corp of the new Pentax 645D.
(Click for beautiful size.)

The new Pentax 645D is finally here, having just been officially introduced by Pentax. For the serious Pro (landscape, outdoor, portrait, fashion, etc.) shooter, this might be a game changer. That is, if they can get their hands on one. Pentax is initially only offering this model to the Japanese market and it remains to be seen what the plans are for the European, North American and worldwide markets.*

So Why a Game Changer?
It might just be for two big reasons:

  • Features:
    • Backward lens compatibility, a feature that has kept many Pentax shooters very happy over the years, is a fundamental part of this design. The earlier 645 series film cameras were quite popular by medium format standards and there’s a very good selection of used lenses around. It’s nice to see a manufacturer respect that a photographer may have a heavy investment in glass and wants to just upgrade the body.
    • Another simple little feature I personally like is the mirror lock-up. It’s a dial on the side of the prism housing you just turn to lock up the mirror. Not having to go into a menu for a feature that will be used a lot while shooting landscapes is a great idea. Many will shoot this camera on a tripod and lock up the mirror to take each shot.
    • Relatively high flash sync of 1/125th compared to earlier film versions (although the Hasselblad and Mamiya competitors do have higher sync speeds).
    • Weather sealed and cold-proof body for the landscape and outdoor photographer.
    • Dual card slots, which given the 40MP sensor is a great idea.
    • Again for the landscape shooter, a built-in HDR function for those scenes with dark foreground and bright skies.
  • Price: The competition at this tier are Hasselblad’s H3DII-39 and Mamiya’s DM40 MF cameras. They are similarly featured yet priced more than double the Pentax 645D’s MRSP of USD $9,500 (direct conversion from Japanese price in Yen). This camera isn’t that much more than the top full-frame 35mm Digital bodies from Canon and Nikon.
Pentax 645D Rear View

Pentax 645D Rear View.
(Click for beautiful size.)

Introduced along with the new body is the new weather sealed PENTAX D-FA 645 55mm F2.8 AL, which is equivalent to 43.5mm in the 35mm (full-frame) format.

This won’t be for the sports shooter (medium format cameras rarely are) but for the pro who’s looking at the top end 35mm format digital bodies and shoots subjects where a high frame rate isn’t a concern—they will be giving some serious consideration to this camera.

You can read the entire press release here: Pentax announces 645D, and the new SMC PENTAX-D FA 645 55mmF2.8 AL[IF] SDM AW. You can see some photos of the 645D at the 2010 CP+ trade show in Japan. Here is an interesting interview with Pentax Product Planning executive Yasuyuki Maekawa.

Now time to break open that piggy bank… Buy it at B&H (and help EtL by doing so).

A game changer? The jury is out at the moment and time will tell.

Cheers and good shooting.
–Peter Zack

Some more images from the 2010 CP+ trade show in Japan


645D Specifications
Type TTL autofocus, auto-exposure medium format digital SLR camera
Effective Pixels approx. 40 megapixels
Image Sensor Total pixels approx. 40.01 megapixels
Type CCD with a primary color filter
Size 44mm x 33mm
Pixel size 6.0 μm x 6.0 μm
Dynamic Range 11.5f – stops
Recorded Pixels Still JPEG: L[40M]7264×5440 pixels, M[32M]6528×4896 pixels [21M]5376×4032 pixels,
S[13M]4224×3168 pixels [7M]3072×2304 pixels
RAW: [40M]7264×5440 pixels
Formats Still RAW(14 bit): (PEF/DNG), JPEG: ★★★(Best), ★★(Better), ★(Good), RAW+JPEG: available
Recording file Format Still RAW (PEF/DNG), JPEG (Conforms to Exif 2.21),
Conforms to DCF (Design rule of Camera File system) 2.0

( Standard output sensitivity )
Auto:200-1000, Extension:100, 1600 (1EV steps or 1/2EV steps or 1/3EV steps)
Storage Media SD, SDHC memory card (Dual slot)
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Fluorescent Light ( D, N, W, L), Tungsten Light, Flash, CTE, Manual setting 1, Manual setting 2, Manual setting 3, Color temperature setting (3 types) with WB fine adjustment
Custom Image Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, Muted, Reversal Film, Monochrome
Viewfinder Type Trapezoid prism finder
Focusing screen Natural-Bright-Matte focusing screen
Field of view approx. 98%
Diopter adjustment approx. -3.5 – +2.0m-1
Magnification approx. 0.62 x (with D FA645 55mmF2.8 at infinity),
approx. 0.85 x (with FA645 75mmF2.8 at infinity)
Monitor Type TFT color LCD monitor, Wide angle view, Brightness adjustable, Color adjustable, AR Coating, Reinforced glass
Size 3.0 inch
Dots approx. 921,000 dots
Preview Method Optical preview, Digital preview
Playback 1 Image, 2 Image, 4 Image, 9 Image, 16 Image, 36 Image, 81 Image, Enlargement (up to 32X, scroll available), Image Rotation, Folder view, Slideshow, Histogram, Resize, Cropping, Bright/Dark area, Calendar view, Index view
Digital Filter Playback Mode Monochrome, Extract Color, Color, Base Tweaking, Soft
Focusing System Type TTL phase difference detection, 11-point autofocus system (SAFOX IX+)
Focus Mode AF-single, AF-continuous
Focus Point Auto, Select, Center
Superimpose available
Exposure Control Metering System TTL open-aperture 77-segment metering
Metering Mode (1) Multi-segment metering, (2) Center-weighted metering, (3) Spot metering
Exposure Range EV 2-21 (at Standard Output Sensitivity 200 with 55mmF2.8)
Modes (1) Program AE, (2) Sensitivity-Priority AE, (3) Shutter-Priority AE, (4) Aperture-Priority AE, (5) Shutter and Aperture Priority AE, (6) Metered Manual, (7) Bulb, (8) X speed


AE Lock availiable
Shutter Shutter Type Electronically controlled vertical-run focal plane shutter
Shutter Speed Auto:1/4000 – 30 sec, Manual:1/4000 – 30 sec (1/3 EV steps or 1/2 EV steps), bulb
Drive Modes   Single-frame, Continuous (Hi, Lo), Self-timer (12s, 2s), Remote control (0s, 3s ), Remote Continuous Shooting, Interval, Multiple Exposure, Exposure Bracketing, Extended Bracketing

<Both 1 slot and 2 slot>
approx. 1.1 fps, RAW(PEF)+JPEG(40M at ★★★): until approx. 13 fps, RAW(PEF): until approx. 13 fps, RAW(DNG): until approx. 13 fps, JPEG(40M at ★★★): until approx. 15 fps
Mirror Lock-up

available by dedicated dial
Flash Synchronization Hot shoe, X-sync socket, sync-speed: 1/125 sec., P-TTL, high-speed-sync, wireless-sync with PENTAX dedicated external flash
Dust Removal   Image sensor cleaning function by supersonic vibration (DR II) with dust alert function
Time World Time 75 cities (28 time zones)
Data Folder Folder Name Date (100_MMDD···), PENTX (100PENTX, 101PENTX···) ,
File Name Standard, User customize
Power Sources Rechargeable D-LI90 lithium-ion battery
Optional AC adapter also available.
Battery Life Number of
recordable images
approx. 800 (23°C) *, approx. 700 (0°C), approx. 650 (-10°C)
Playback time approx. 440 minutes (23°C) *, approx. 400 minutes (0°C), approx. 380 minutes (-10°C)
Interfaces USB2.0 (Hi-Speed:mini B type), Video output (mini phone type), HDMI output (type C mini), DC input , Cable switch, X-sync socketc
Video Output Compatible with NTSC and PAL formats
Lens Mount PENTAX 645AF2 bayonet mount
Usable Lens PENTAX 645AF2, 645AF, and 645A mount lenses
Dimensions approx. 156(W) x 117(H) x 119(D)mm (6.1 x 4.6 x 4.7 inches)
Weight approx. 1480 g (52.2 oz.) loaded and ready with battery and two SD memory cards
approx. 1400 g (49.4 oz.) without battery and SD memory card.
Bundled software PENTAX Digital Camera Utility 4 (Ver.4.20)

* Recording capacity shows approximate number of shots recorded during CIPA-compliant testing. Actual performance may vary depending on operating conditions.

  • PENTAX, 645D, and smc PENTAX are trademarks of HOYA CORPORATION.
  • PENTAX Digital Camera Utility and SDM are trademarks of HOYA CORPORATION.
  • This product supports PRINT Image Matching III. PRINT Image Matching enabled digital still cameras, printers and software help photographers to produce images more faithful to their intentions. Some functions are not available on printers that are not PRINT Image Matching III compliant.

    Copyright 2001 Seiko Epson Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
    Print Image Matching is a trademark of Seiko Epson Corporation.
    The PRINT Image Matching logo is a trademark of Seiko Epson Corporation.

  • HDMI, the HDMI Logo and High-Definition Multimedia Interface are trademarks or registered trademarks of HDMI Licensing LLC.
  • All other brands or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.
  • Designs and specifications are subjects to change without notice.

*initially I had posted that there were only going to be 200 units available [in the first product run] and the source of that information appears to be incorrect. There does not seem to be any firm numbers published as to how many of these will be available per month or how many is planned for the Japanese market. Sorry for any confusion this incorrect statement may have caused. Peter Zack


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Related posts:

  1. Fujifilm Introduces FinePix X100 Official Specs
  2. Pentax Finally Announce New Equipment
  3. Pentax Announce More Equipment
  4. It’s Official, Pentax Has Been Sold to Ricoh
  5. Review – Pentax K-x Part 1: First Look

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