Its resolution is staggering, but there is much more to the 51.4-million-pixel Pentax 645Z medium-format digital camera. Richard Sibley finds out what it is like to use in our Pentax 645Z review
Pentax 645Z Review – Performance
Aside from the size of the 645Z, it is quite easy to forget that you are using a digital camera with a medium-format sensor. The camera’s metering behaves just like that of a Pentax DSLR, meaning that sometimes it underexposes to preserve highlight detail, though on the whole, it is very easy to work with in its evaluative settings.
Autofocus is quick without ever being fast enough to be described as snappy, but again, given that the Prime II image-processing engine and large file size only allow for shooting at 3fps, this camera is unlikely to be first choice for photographing action. For landscape, macro, still-life and portrait photography, the 27 AF points are more than fast enough, especially as 25 of these are the more sensitive cross-type points.
If you think about the size of the shutter in the 645Z, you can almost hear a loud clunk as you imagine it firing. However, this isn’t the case. Given the size of the camera, the shutter sound is actually quite subdued, and while you wouldn’t want to use it at a chess match, it shouldn’t draw too much attention during a wedding service.
It goes without saying that a tripod is always going to offer you far sharper images than shooting handheld, especially with a camera the weight of the 645Z. However, I managed to fire off a few images at 1/40sec, using the 55mm lens, that were still usable when viewed at 100%.
I even attempted to take some macro images handheld using the 120mm lens, and with a shutter speed of 1/1600sec and a bit of luck, I was able to take some good images, though I obviously had much more success when using a tripod.
The amount of detail that the sensor can produce is quite staggering. Combined with the macro lens, I was able to take some impressive close-up images of wasps and bees buzzing around trying to get the last of this summer’s pollen. Images taken at up to ISO 1600 are usable, though the image quality does start to break down when you push the camera beyond this sensitivity.