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Pentax 645D versus Pentax 645Z

The Pentax 645D and the Pentax 645Z are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2010 and April 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a medium format sensor. The 645D has a resolution of 39.5 megapixel, whereas the 645Z provides 51.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Pentax 645D vs Pentax 645Z

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Pentax 645D and the Pentax 645Z is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 645D – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Pentax 645D vs Pentax 645Z
Compare 645D versus 645Z top
Compare 645D and 645Z rear

In this particular case, the Pentax 645D and the Pentax 645Z have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the 645Z is markedly heavier (5 percent) than the 645D. 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 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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Pentax 645D» 156 mm 117 mm 119 mm 1480 g 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995- i Pentax 645D
Pentax 645Z« 156 mm 117 mm 123 mm 1550 g 650 Y Apr 2014 8,499 i i Pentax 645Z
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5DS R« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 5DS« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 1D X« » 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i Canon 1D X
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 156 mm 157 mm 80 mm 1230 g 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Hasselblad X1D« » 150 mm 98 mm 71 mm 725 g .. Y Jun 2016 8,995 i i Hasselblad X1D
Leica S Typ 006« » 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2012 21,950- i Leica S Typ 006
Nikon D850« » 146 mm 124 mm 79 mm 1005 g 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
Nikon D5« » 160 mm 159 mm 92 mm 1415 g 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Nikon D810« » 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 980 g 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i Nikon D810
Nikon D4S« » 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1350 g 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499- i Nikon D4S
Nikon D3S« » 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Sony A7R« » 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 465 g 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 645Z was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 15 percent) than the 645D, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Pentax 645D vs Pentax 645Z

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a medium format sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the 645Z is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 0.79. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Pentax 645D and Pentax 645Z sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the 645Z offers a higher resolution of 51.1 megapixel, compared with 39.5 MP of the 645D. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.30μm versus 6.06μm for the 645D). However, it should be noted that the 645Z is much more recent (by 4 years and 1 month) than the 645D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

645D versus 645Z MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the 645Z offers substantially better image quality than the 645D (overall score 19 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 2.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Pentax 645D» Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440-24.612.6126282Pentax 645D
Pentax 645Z« Medium Format 51.1 8256 61921080/60i26.014.74505101Pentax 645Z
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187Canon 5DS
Canon 1D X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682Canon 1D X
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074Canon 1D Mark IV
Hasselblad X1D« » Medium Format 51.3 8272 62001080/25p26.214.84489102Hasselblad X1D
Leica S Typ 006« » Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000-23.912.282476Leica S Typ 006
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100Nikon D850
Nikon D5« » Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388Nikon D5
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397Nikon D810
Nikon D4S« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489Nikon D4S
Nikon D3S« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382Nikon D3S
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695Sony A7R

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 645Z indeed provides for movie recording, while the 645D does not. The highest resolution format that the 645Z can use is 1080/60i.

 

Feature comparison: Pentax 645D vs Pentax 645Z

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 645D 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Pentax 645D, the Pentax 645Z, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Pentax 645D»optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 1.1 n n Pentax 645D
Pentax 645Z«optical Y 3.2 1037 tilting n 4000 3.0 n n Pentax 645Z
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS
Canon 1D X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n Canon 1D X
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark IV
Hasselblad X1D« »2360 n 3.0 920 fixed Y 2000 2.3 n n Hasselblad X1D
Leica S Typ 006« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 4000 1.5 n n Leica S Typ 006
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n Nikon D850
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n Nikon D5
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D810
Nikon D4S« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D4S
Nikon D3S« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D3S
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n Sony A7R

The 645Z is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the 645D has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 645D was succeeded by the Pentax 645Z.

Review summary: Pentax 645D vs Pentax 645Z

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Pentax 645D or the Pentax 645Z – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Pentax 645D:

  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (800 versus 650) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2010).


Advantages of the Pentax 645Z:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (51.1 vs 39.5MP), which boosts linear resolution by 14%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (19 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 921k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (15 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 1 month of technical progress since the 645D launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 645Z is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 2 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.

645D 02:12 645Z

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 645D or the 645Z. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Pentax 645D»---4.5/5- Mar 2010 9,995- i Pentax 645D
Pentax 645Z«--4.5/55/55/5 Apr 2014 8,499 i i Pentax 645Z
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 1D X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i Canon 1D X
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Hasselblad X1D« »rev---4/5 Jun 2016 8,995 i i Hasselblad X1D
Leica S Typ 006« »----- Sep 2012 21,950- i Leica S Typ 006
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
Nikon D5« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i Nikon D810
Nikon D4S« »--4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499- i Nikon D4S
Nikon D3S« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R

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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

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 your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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