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The Camera Store Field Tests the Pentax 645D

October 14, 2010

News continues to percolate about the North American availability of the Pentax 645D. For those who may not know, this is a new class of digital camera from Pentax. While a lot of justly deserved attention is focused lately on small format interchangeable lens cameras like the Micro Four-Thirds system from Olympus & Panasonic, or the Sony NEX, Pentax is going the other way — bigger. The 645D takes Pentax 645 format lenses, and sports a 40MP CCD sensor that’s physically larger than any available in 35mm format cameras: 44 x 33 mm, about 1.68 times the surface area of a 35mm “full frame” sensor. Despite being a medium format type camera, it has shooting and handling features much more akin to a contemporary 35mm DSLR in a package that is not much bigger or heavier than a high-end pro 35mm body.

But in addition to its feature set, what really makes this camera a potential game-changer compared to other medium format SLR cameras such as the Leica S2 or Mamiya ZD, is the combination of its price and (hopefully) the marketing program that Pentax has put together. With an announced retail price of around $10,000 USD, and global availability set to begin this coming December, this camera is positioned to bring medium format image quality into the price range of the upper end 35mm DSLR cameras such as Nikon D3x and Canon 1Ds Mk III. The 645D is a different kind of animal, for sure, and will not appeal to everyone. But for those like me with a specialty in subjects such as landscape or architecture and targeting high quality, commercial grade image files for big prints, the Pentax 645D promises to be a very interesting development.

I’m definitely hoping to get my hands on a 645D. In the meantime, I troll the web looking for information about the camera. Here is a roughly 6-and-a-half minute video by Chris Niccolls of The Camera Store in Calgary, who recently got the opportunity to take a 645D out for a field test.

Thanks to Chris and the team for creating this 645D teaser! Now I have another reason to look forward to December…

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