While I haven't been able to shoot outside with the camera, and although I wasn't allowed to inspect or keep my images, I thought that some first impressions of the camera might still be of some use. I am certain that the Pentax 645D will go on sale in the UK and in Europe, as it is inconceivable that the company could possibly hope to recover its costs by selling solely to an enthusiastic, but ultimately limited, market in Japan. A further clue perhaps is that the camera I used was loaded with menus in most European languages.
There is always a danger when developing a new system camera that what has been learnt over a lifetime will be thrown away with the bath water in a clean-sheet policy. Often completely new operating systems are invented that are simply not as good as those that went before, and which fail to recall the mistakes that taught us all lessons in the past. Despite the time gap in sales that stretches back to about 2005 (the last time the UK imported a Pentax 645 film camera) Pentax has had a 645 system before, and I am delighted to be able to report that the new digital version is very much like the old.
In size it seems being digital adds a few inches to the breadth of the pentaprism housing, but either by proportions or actuality the new camera does not seem that much bigger. It is certainly not much heavier, and is extremely well balanced in the hand – feeling far more like a 35mm style SLR than a bulking 120 roll film machine. In fact, after checking I discovered that the digital body is bigger and heavier, but only by 9mm in length, 6mm in height and 2mm in width – and it is 80g heavier.
Pentax 40MP 645D Medium Format DSLR is aimed mostly at photographers working within a studio, so most of the features are pretty standard, but there are some interesting ones, like built-in HDR. The Pentax 40MP 645D comes with a 40-megapixel sensor, 44 x 33 CCD sensor, 921k pixel 3-inch LCD and is compatible with existing 645 system lenses. Other features dynamic-Range Expansion function to compensate for both whitewashed (excessively overexposed) and blacked-out (excessively underexposed) areas, automatic compensation of distortion and lateral chromatic aberration (available in combination with the D FA 645- and FA 645- series lenses), versatile white-balance control system, including the CTE mode designed to emphasize the dominant color components of the captured images, which works especially well with such scene like sunset and much more. Pentax 40MP 645D Medium Format DSLR is available in Japan for ¥850,000 or about $9,400 in May 2010.
ABOUT PENTAX 645D
A 40 Megapixel medium format (44x33mm) CCD sensor provides a top resolution of 7264x5440 pixels, which is ideal for ultra-high resolution imaging, exceptionally large printing applications, and outstanding cropping flexibility.
Magnesium alloy body
Magnesium alloy covers around a rigid aluminum diecast chassis adds durability and thermal stability while minimizing weight.
Fully weather sealed
Fully weather sealed and coldproof design resists rain, snow, dust, and other environmental hazards during field use, to keep the camera operating at peak performance levels.
Large 3 inch LCD
Large, 3 inch LCD screen, with anti-reflective coating and reinforced glass surface, features 921,000 dots of resolution, wide angle viewing, and 32X image review magnification for easy on-camera image proofing.
Compatibility with new D FA autofocus lenses as well as older 645 lenses ensures a wide selection of PENTAX glass for a wide range of photographic applications.
11 point SAFOX IX+ autofocus system
Highly responsive and accurate 11 point SAFOX IX+ autofocus system features a light wavelength sensor for improved focus speed and reliability, even within different lighting environments.
77 segment metering system
Highly accurate 77 segment metering system for perfectly exposed images even in difficult lighting.
14 Bit RAW files in PEF and Adobe DNG
Deep, 14 Bit RAW files in PEF and Adobe DNG formats retain great detail in highlight and shadow areas of an image, and offer a high level of flexibility when processing RAW files.
Dual slot SD/SDHC memory card
Dual slot SD/SDHC memory card support ensures fast and reliable storage for high resolution image files, simultaneously saving in multiple formats, assigning images to different cards based on their original format, or easily holding one memory card in reserve.
ISO 100-1600 provides great existing-light photo capture with outstanding noise performance.
Highly flexible white balance
Highly flexible white balance options include several common presets, 3 Kelvin color temperature settings, and 3 manual saves, each with WB fine adjustment tuning.
All-glass, trapezoid pentaprism viewfinder
All-glass, trapezoid pentaprism viewfinder with interchangeable focusing screens offers a 98% field of view viewing angle for accurate framing applications.
Multiple JPG image processing modesMultiple JPG image processing modes include Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Vibrant, Muted, Reversal Film, and Monochrome, for high quality JPG output without extensive computer enhancement and manipulation.
Lens Correction function
Lens Correction function automatically compensates for lateral chromatic aberration, as well as barrel and spool distortion common to wide angle lens photography, with select PENTAX 645 lenses.
1.1 frames per second at full 40 megapixel resolution
Consecutive shooting up to 1.1 frames per second at full 40 megapixel resolution, enables action photography in a medium format camera system.
In-camera HDR image capture
An in-camera HDR image capture function blends 3 consecutive frames of varying exposures into a single, perfectly blended image, maximizing detail within all tonal ranges.
Mirror dampening hardware
Mirror dampening hardware applies a braking action to the mirror swing, minimizing the effect of camera shake and noise levels to the image capture process.
Mirror Lockup function
Mirror Lockup function prevents blur caused by the movement of the mirror during the exposure, ensuring the sharpest possible image capture for professional-caliber applications.
HDMI output for high resolution image display on HDTVs.
Digital Level function
A Digital Level function displays the vertical and horizontal inclination of the camera, ensuring captured photos remain level to the horizon.
High capacity Li-Ion battery
High capacity Li-Ion battery provides up to 800 shots in typical shooting conditions.