Pentax 645--Tell Me About Your's

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by wjlapier, Aug 24, 2018.

  1. wjlapier

    wjlapier Subscriber

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    I must have been living under a rock for a very long time. I just found out about this camera! I decided to purchase one with the 45mm lens since I like 28mm FOV.

    Tell me about your experience with the Pentax 645 and what do you consider the must have lenses from the lineup and why that/those lens(es). Any photos to share are welcome as well.
     
  2. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I have the P645N and it would quite likely be the one camera I could be buried with over all my others. I have the manual version of the 45mm and the AF 75mm and 120mm (macro). I can get reasonable results handholding the 75mm but need a tripod for the 120mm. If you've been mostly a 35mm shooter, then the bigger negative will be great. If you've shot other formats, the bigger negative and 16 shots per roll will still be great, imo. A fairly decent number of the shots in my gallery here were shot with my P645N. Lens-wise, I'm happy with my assortment. I used just the 75mm and 120mm for several years and I think GAS was mainly responsible for my purchasing the 45mm, though I do use it. The meter is good, though I do tend to use an incident meter much of the time, but that is partly habit.
    If you got the original P645 and not the N, I don't know all the major differences. I love mine, though.
     
  3. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I have not gone bigger than the 75mm with my 645N but had thought that a 120( only about 75mm in 35mm terms) would be fine handheld so this has me worried a bit
    I'd appreciate if you could expand on the "need a tripod" part. Is this at all speeds etc or is it simply that you find a 75 pic as good handheld in all conditions as with a tripod but that the 120 is OK handheld but you can detect a difference with a tripod and above certain enlargements?

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
  4. benveniste

    benveniste Subscriber

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    I have the following Pentax 645 gear:
    • Pentax 645n -- Oddly, my Pentax 645 broke immediately after I decided to buy it.
    • 45mm f/2.8 Manual Focus
    • 75mm f/2.8 Autofocus
    • 120mm f/4 Macro
    • 135mm f/4 LS (manual focus)
    • 200mm f/4 (manual focus)
    • 45-85mm f/4.5 zoom (autofocus)
    • 80-160mm f/4.5 zoom (autofocus)
    • 300mm f/4 Pentax 67 lens and adapter.
    • 120, 220, and 70mm inserts.
    • Metz 45 Digital Flash and SCA module.
    As with any system, there are no "must have" lenses. I love the handling of the system in general. As usual the "normal" 75mm lens is sharp and cheap. The 135mm leaf shutter is interesting, but a bit shorter than I'd like. The 120mm is wonderful as a macro lens, but I find the focal length to be neither fish nor fowl for other purposes. As might be expected the 80-160mm zoom and 300mm are big and heavy, so I find myself using them more deliberately than the primes. The Metz potato masher works well, but since I use Arca-Swiss support gear it's a bit of pain to set up.
     
  5. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    benveniste, while awaiting an answer from Bethe, can I ask what is the biggest focal length that you use and at what sort of shutter speeds without a tripod and without problems of low speed camera shake. I have had to amend my original post just now as I read it again and realised I needed to say I have not used a bigger lens that 75. It made no sense without the word "not" in my opening line

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  6. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    I've owned Pentax 645, 645n and 645nll cameras. I've owned quite a few of the original 645 bodies. I used to buy whole kits, part them out and then sell them on eBay.

    Must have lenses depend upon the photographer. I mostly shot people with mine so the 75mm and 150mm were must haves for me. Mine were FA autofocus versions for the Nll and N. I really liked both of them. The 120 macro lens is said to be really nice if you do macro. One of the most sought after lenses is the 35mm wide angle. They are a peach but pricey. I had the manual focus version myself. I parted out a kit and kept the 35mm so I ended up with it for free. I later sold it for $500. I don't know what they are going for now.

    I preferred the N and Nll over the original camera for autofocus, brighter view screen and Matrix metering. You also get a traditional shutter speed dial instead of the buttons. The FA autofocus lenses really shot up in price after the 645 digital cameras came out though. The original manual focus lenses are a bargain.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
  7. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    If I were shooting at 1/500, it would likely be ok, but I rarely am as I tend to shoot in the woods and/or on cloudy days and with slow film. It really has nothing to do with flat out focal length - it's the size and weight of the lens added to the weight of the camera. I'm not exactly muscular and the 120mm macro is almost three times the size of the 75mm. I have handheld it around 1/60, but while bracing myself solidly on other surfaces (like rocks and trees).
     
  8. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks Bethe. I have now read the dimensions of the 150 and 200 A lens on Pentax Forums and while dimensions don't always give a good impression of how easy or difficult a lens is to handhold I had thought it should be possible. I have just had another look at the 120 Macro and now realise how big the 120 Macro is compared to the 150 A. It virtually matches the 200 A in size and is another 125g heavier than the 200 so its a bit of a beast for 120. Yes we are spoilt by the compact size of the 75

    pentaxuser
     
  9. choiliefan

    choiliefan Member

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    The NII is probably the finest camera I've ever used.
    The 75mm and 35mm wide-angle AF lenses are phenomenal.
    Camera body is light. Viewfinder bright. AF locks on and power advance is fast enough.
    The ability to print exposure information between frames is a nice feature as well.
    The ability to use P67 lenses via an adapter is a bonus.
    Lack of interchangeable backs is a minor annoyance.
    I don't use flash much so a slow sync speed is trivial to me.
     
  10. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I suspect that most flash with the likes of a MF camera such as the P645 is the typical "watch the birdie" type i.e the people are either posing or relatively static at least so the slow sync speed is still adequate. Certainly mine is

    pentaxuser
     
  11. mklw1954

    mklw1954 Member

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    As for background I have been a serious amateur for nearly 50 years, develop my own b&w and color film and prints, make 8x10 and 11x14 darkroom prints. 10 years ago I purchased an original manual focus P645 from KEH in EX+ condition and have the 45mm, 75mm, 120mm macro, and 200mm lenses and a P645 1.4x teleconverter, all also in EX+ condition. I shoot nearly everything hand-held. Film used is typically Kodak Ektar 100 and Tri-X or Fuji Acros 100.

    In my opinion it is a superb system, reliable, and the lenses provide excellent image quality. Some find the inability to change film holders mid-roll, full stop exposure compensation, and the locations of the controls to be negatives but I don't. It's described reliability, excellent metering and mirror damping, and lens quality are what caused me to purchase it.

    On the lenses, the 45mm, 75mm, and 120mm macro are all excellent. The 120 macro is special and I have taken many beautiful flower shots with it, again hand-held. I had read the 200mm lens is not considered as good as the other lenses but I have gotten very good results with it. I've found reduced sharpness using the teleconverter on the 200mm but results are still good.
     
  12. Paul Manuell

    Paul Manuell Member

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    I use the 645NII and love it. The viewfinder is as bright as that of any camera I've used over the years, it has 2 tripod mounts - one for portrait orientation, the other for landscape - so with quick release plates permanently attached to each, switching between the two takes seconds and without having to tilt the tripod head through 90 degrees. Autofocus is really fast, though I find I still have to stop down to get good sharpness on eyes if shooting people full length, despite looking sharp through the viewfinder. The shutter and mirror action is lovely and fairly quiet. I also love the custom function that lets you set mirror lock up combined with 2 second delay. The biggest downside, for me, is the lack of interchangeable back.
    I have 4 lenses - 45mm, 75mm, 120mm macro and 200mm. Most of my photography is portrait so I use the 200 and 120 the most. The 120 can give exceptionally sharp results. I occasionally use the 75 but hardly ever the 45.
    If only there was a 67 camera with these specifications.
     
  13. benveniste

    benveniste Subscriber

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    I've used the 80-160mm without a tripod, using the reciprocal rule to try keep the shutter speed above 1/125th. But around 80-90% of the time, I'm at least using a monopod with this system. For hand-held shooting, I tend to gravitate to 35mm film or (*gasp*) digital.
     
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    wjlapier

    wjlapier Subscriber

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    I appreciate the comments. The 45mm lens arrived last week while the body should arrive today. Looking forward to shooting it.
     
  16. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks for the reply, benveniste

    pentaxuser
     
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    wjlapier

    wjlapier Subscriber

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    Nice camera. Hefty and kinda loud! But I like the feel of the camera in my hands. I read the viewfinder was dim--mine seems fine. Looking forward to finishing this roll and see what it looks like.
     
  18. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Hefty and kind of loud? I guess it all depends on what you are used to shooting. Compared to my RZ67 the Pentax seemed small and light. Compared to my Bronica EC's it was quiet as a mouse! :D

    The viewfinder is dim compared to the later 645N and 645Nll but not compared to some TLR's.

    Have fun!
     
  19. mklw1954

    mklw1954 Member

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    If you have the original manual focus version, check the backup lithium battery (CR1220) that maintains the LED settings if the AAs run down. Snap ring pliers will remove the small battery cover on the bottom of the camera - just make sure your AAs are good and in place before doing this. According to the manual, Pentax should do this but it's not necessary (and the service is probably no longer available). The lithium battery is supposed to last 5 years; I just checked 5 years after installing a new battery and it's still at full voltage so I will check every year. This applies only to the manual focus version, not the N or Nii.

    The Pentax AF280T flash is a nice TTL flash for this camera, typically available for around $50.

    Enjoy.
     
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    wjlapier

    wjlapier Subscriber

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    Loaded a roll of 220 Velvia 100 and the camera wouldn't fire after the 15th image. In fact the counter stopped at 16. The insert was purchased from KEH and from a visual inspection it is a 220 insert. Anything I'm missing to get the full roll to expose?
     
  21. abruzzi

    abruzzi Member

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    There is a way to convert a back from 120 to 220. It doesn’t change the pressure plate, but it does change the stop. Maybe that has been done to your back? If you google it, you can find images of the change.
     
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    wjlapier

    wjlapier Subscriber

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    I found it. There was a video and some photos of how some 220 backs can be converted to 120. I'll run another roll of 220 Velvia 100 at the fair. Plenty of colorful things to photograph. I'd like to get this figured out before we transition into fall colors.
     
  23. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    Many years back, I accumulated a Pentax 67 system with 45 through 300 lenses. I stumbled into a 645 system that I impulsively bought (a 75 and 150 came with it). I got a 67 to 645 adapter and then could use all of my accumulated glass (worked well). I liked the 645 vs the 67 as the finder was much brighter and I could focus it much easier. My son was involved in sports at the time (soccer and downhill ski racing) and the 645 was a dream compared to 67 for those duties. I found that sample to sample Pentax lenses could vary in quality. I was almost always buying used so some of the lens history and care could have affected that, too. I bought a new 45 that was a dog, right out of the box, though. It was from Rbt White in the UK and returning/swapping seemed more grief than it was worth at the time.

    The camera is very capable and should return some fine images and with the right technique and materials can handle large print projects, too.
     
  24. braxus

    braxus Member

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    When I started to shoot medium format, I used the Pentax 6x7. I eventually got my own of that camera. But I always was aware of the 645 camera. I just wanted the bigger negative. Then some years later I eventually got the 645. Sold it a few years later, then sold the 6x7 too. Missing film, I bought myself a 67II camera and a 645N. My 645N is my go to camera now. My 35mm cameras sit more now as I just like the 645N. It is auto focus on lenses that apply, which helps me. My eyesight isn't what it used to be. But most of the lenses I have for the 645 are still manual focus. I don't have many lenses for the camera, but I have all I need. I still occasionally bring out the 67II, but not very often. I like everything about the 645N as its a good compromise between 35mm and 67 formats.
     
  25. abruzzi

    abruzzi Member

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    I know what you mean. I still occasionally shoot 35 when I want a camera that fits in my pocket, but my Bronica ETRSi (6x4.5) and Pentax 67 are my go-to cameras 90% of the time. The bigger negatives are so much nicer. I'm not quite printing yet, but with scanning, I feel like good images are a tighter balancing act, while the medium format film gives me a lot of leeway to to fix problems (due to my inexperience) caused by exposure problems, developing problems, etc.
     
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    wjlapier

    wjlapier Subscriber

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    The good news is that my 220 insert works as it should. Seems someone had converted it to shoot 120 but it's easy to fix. Two screws and the insert is working as it should.
     
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