Canon 5D Mark III vs Pentax 645Z
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Pentax 645Z are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2012 and April 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (5D Mark III) and a medium format (645Z) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 22.1 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 51.1 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Pentax 645Z? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark III and the Pentax 645Z is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax 645Z is somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark III. Moreover, the 645Z is substantially heavier (63 percent) than the 5D Mark III. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|2.||Pentax 645Z||156 mm||117 mm||123 mm||1550 g||650||Y||Apr 2014||8,499|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|4.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|8.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|9.||Hasselblad X1D||150 mm||98 mm||71 mm||725 g||..||Y||Jun 2016||8,995|
|10.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|11.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|12.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|13.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|14.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|15.||Pentax 645D||156 mm||117 mm||119 mm||1480 g||800||Y||Mar 2010||9,995|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 5D Mark III was launched at a markedly lower price (by 59 percent) than the 645Z, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D Mark III features a full frame sensor and the Pentax 645Z a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the 645Z is 66 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 0.79. The sensor in the 5D Mark III has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the 645Z offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 51.1MP, the 645Z offers a higher resolution than the 5D Mark III (22.1MP), but the 645Z has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.30μm versus 6.25μm for the 5D Mark III). Yet, the 645Z is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 1 month) than the 5D Mark III, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the 645Z has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax 645Z implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 645Z for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 41.3 x 31 inches or 104.9 x 78.6 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 33 x 24.8 inches or 83.9 x 62.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 27.5 x 20.6 inches or 69.9 x 52.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 5D Mark III are 28.8 x 19.2 inches or 73.2 x 48.8 cm for good quality, 23 x 15.4 inches or 58.5 x 39 cm for very good quality, and 19.2 x 12.8 inches or 48.8 x 32.5 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax 645Z are ISO 100 to ISO 204800 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the 645Z offers substantially better image quality than the 5D Mark III (overall score 20 points higher). The advantage is based on 2 bits higher color depth, 3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|2.||Pentax 645Z||Medium Format||51.1||8256||6192||1080/60i||26.0||14.7||4505||101|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|4.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|6.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|8.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|9.||Hasselblad X1D||Medium Format||51.3||8272||6200||1080/25p||26.2||14.8||4489||102|
|10.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|11.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|12.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|13.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|14.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|15.||Pentax 645D||Medium Format||39.5||7264||5440||none||24.6||12.6||1262||82|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the 645Z provides a faster frame rate than the 5D Mark III. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 5D Mark III and the 645Z are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the 5D Mark III offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 645Z (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the 645Z has a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.71x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D Mark III, the Pentax 645Z, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||n||n|
|2.||Pentax 645Z||optical||Y||3.2 / 1037||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|4.||Canon 5DS||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Canon 6D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5/s||n||n|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9/s||n||n|
|8.||Canon 5D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|9.||Hasselblad X1D||2360||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||Y||1/2000s||2.3/s||n||n|
|10.||Leica SL||4400||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D600||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D800||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D800E||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Pentax 645D||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.1/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
The Pentax 645Z has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 5D Mark III writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the 645Z uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. The 645Z supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the 5D Mark III cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Pentax 645Z and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Pentax 645Z||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon 5DS||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 6D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 5D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Hasselblad X1D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Leica SL||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D600||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D800||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D800E||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Pentax 645D||Y||stereo / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the 5D Mark III has a headphone jack, which is not present on the 645Z This port makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
The 645Z is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. In contrast, the 5D Mark III has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 5D Mark III was succeeded by the Canon 5D Mark IV. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Pentax websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 5D Mark III and the Pentax 645Z? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 600g or 39 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (950 versus 650) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (59 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2012).
Reasons to prefer the Pentax 645Z:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (51.1 vs 22.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 49%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (20 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.71x).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 1 month of technical progress since the 5D Mark III launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 645Z is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 9 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 5D Mark III and the Pentax 645Z place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 5D Mark III or the 645Z perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|2.||Pentax 645Z||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||8,499|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||4/5||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|4.||Canon 5DS||..||+||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||..||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|8.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|9.||Hasselblad X1D||..||o||..||81/100||..||4/5||Jun 2016||8,995|
|10.||Leica SL||4/5||..||4/5||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|11.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|12.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|13.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|14.||Nikon D800E||..||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|15.||Pentax 645D||5/5||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2010||9,995|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon SX730
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Kodak AZ901
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Nikon 1 V2
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Olympus E-420
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Panasonic GF1
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Sony RX0
- Canon G7 X Mark III vs Pentax 645Z
- Canon M50 vs Pentax 645Z
- Leica SL2 vs Pentax 645Z
- Nikon D1H vs Pentax 645Z
- Panasonic S1H vs Pentax 645Z
- Pentax 645Z vs Sony H400
Specifications: Canon 5D Mark III vs Pentax 645Z
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 5D Mark III||Pentax 645Z|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Pentax 645 mount lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2012||April 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 3,499||USD 8,499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Pentax 645Z|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Medium Format Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||43.8 x 32.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||1436.64 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||54.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||22.1 Megapixels||51.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5760 x 3840 pixels||8256 x 6192 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.25 μm||5.30 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.56 MP/cm2||3.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 204,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 102,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5+||PRIME III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||81||101|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.0||26.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.7||14.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2293||4505|
|Screen Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Pentax 645Z|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Pentax 645Z|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Pentax 645Z|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Pentax 645Z|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||950 shots per charge||650 shots per charge|
152 x 116 x 76 mm
(6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
156 x 117 x 123 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 4.8 in)
|Camera Weight||950 g (33.5 oz)||1550 g (54.7 oz)|
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