About two decades ago, I shot with a medium format Pentax 6×7 film camera that seemed like a SLR on steroids. I loved that camera, which had such exceptional quality. Fast forward to 2017 and look here what we have: the Pentax 645Z; fully equipped with a larger sensor and a great selection of razor sharp lenses.

Credit: Pentax

I was surprised at how easily the Pentax 645Z DSLR camera was to handle. The 645Z is slightly larger than a full frame DSLR. Even fitted with the excellent 28-45mm 2.8 wide angle lens, I felt that it was very hand-holdable. I could hold it at a very slow shutter speed in what I call the “Danger Zone” – in low light. I got very sharp images with no evidence of camera shake.

If you are a landscape of fine art photographer, these large crisp image files will make your prints sing.

28-44mm F/4 28mm = 22mm | 2 seconds F/32 ISO 100 | Credit: Ralph Elliott Starkweather

For architectural subjects where a wide angle and reproduction of detail is required, this blows many others away.

King’s Highway – ACE Hotel Palm Springs | 28-45mm F/4 | 28mm=22mm | 1/500 F/8 ISO 200 | Credit: Ralph Elliott Starkweather
Church San Miguel, California | 28mm – 45mm F/4 | 38mm =29mm | 1/640 F/8 ISO 100 | Credit: Ralph Elliott Starkweather

What about street photography? Unfortunately, I did not take it downtown or the pier, or Venice Beach my street testing grounds but I will guarantee you will be producing work on another level with a look harkening back to the old days when many street photographers used medium format film cameras.

German Tourist in San Francisco | 90mm 2.8 macro = 70mm | 1/125 F16 ISO 400 | Credit: Ralph Elliott Starkweather

This camera will satisfy amateur and professional alike, especially at the price point at Samy’s Camera. Here are just perks the Pentax 645Z has to offer:

  • Solidly built, weather sealed 51.4 mega-pixel camera.
  • 43.8 x 32.8 medium format CMOS Sensor
  • 3 Frames Per Second 
  • Tiltable LCD Panel
  • Excellent what they call SAFOX 11 Autofocus Module 
  • Not only a larger sensor but an Anti-Aliasing Filterless Design for maximum resolution and also moire prevention
  • Dual SD Card Slots – assigning different formats to either card
  • In-Camera HDR Image Capture
  • ISO from 100 – 204800
  • Full HD Movies (1920 x 1080 60I/30P)

If you are near one of the many Samy’s Cameras in California, go in with your SD card and check it out. Hold this camera and try the slower shutter speeds. If you are ordering online, check out the wealth of lenses Samy’s Camera offers at very reasonable prices. I used the 28-45mm F/4 for most of my tests and also on assignment for a very popular magazine for publication. They also made large prints on display for a two week festival they were sponsoring. WOW!

Check out the portrait I made at Samy’s San Francisco of salesman Steven Foon with the 90mm 2.8 Macro.

90mm 2.8 Macro = 70mm | 1/80 F/11 ISO 800 | Credit: Ralph Elliott Starkweather

For me, it was the perfect combo for people. Whether a family member, bride/groom or the billionaire, you have 2 minutes to photograph for that magazine or publicity client.

Credit: Ralph Elliott Starkweather

So many lenses, too many to list here.

There are a few players in this medium format market; but, if price matters as well AS fantastic quality, this is a very strong contender because of price and bang for your buck with so many lenses to choose from to cover whatever you photograph.

I have been so fortunate to try so many amazing cameras at Samy’s the last few months. The problem is I have bought several of the products I have tested. This is one I would love to have with several lenses. I can honestly say this is such a great camera to shoot with. The results are simply stunning. 

Check out the Pentax 645Z here.