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Pentax 645Z Comparison Review

The Pentax 645Z is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was revealed to the public in April 2014 and is equipped with a medium format sensor. It offers a resolution of 51.1 megapixel.

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Is the Pentax 645Z a good camera? The 645Z has a Camera Elo of 2262. This rating puts the 645Z among the top 30 percent of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (medium format cameras), the 645Z ranks below average. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 3.5-star performance rating.

Headline Specifications
Pentax 645Z
Digital single lens reflex
Pentax 645 mount lenses
51.1 MP, Medium Format Sensor
1080/60i Video
ISO 100-204800
Optical viewfinder
3.2" LCD, 1037k dots
Tilting screen (no touchscreen)
3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed body
650 shots per battery charge
156 x 117 x 123 mm, 1550 g


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Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Pentax 645Z vis-à-vis a credit card 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.

Pentax 645Z vs credit card front
645Z versus credit card top view
645Z and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Pentax 645Z alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side 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 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 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« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
 
Hasselblad X1D« » 150 mm 98 mm 71 mm 725 g .. Y Jun 2016 8,995 i i Hasselblad X1D
 
Leica SL« » 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450 i i Leica SL
 
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 D7200« » 136 mm 107 mm 76 mm 765 g 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200
 
Nikon D4S« » 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1350 g 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499- i Nikon D4S
 
Pentax 645D« » 156 mm 117 mm 119 mm 1480 g 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995- i Pentax 645D
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Pentax 645Z was launched in the US market at a price of $8,499. 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.

Pentax 645Z:
Check Amazon price

Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tent to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

The Pentax 645Z features a medium format sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 0.79. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Pentax 645Z among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.

Pentax 645Z sensor measures

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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 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« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.712.4238187Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
 
Hasselblad X1D« » Medium Format 51.3 8272 62001080/25p26.214.84489102Hasselblad X1D
 
Leica SL« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188Leica SL
 
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 D7200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387Nikon D7200
 
Nikon D4S« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489Nikon D4S
 
Pentax 645D« » Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440-24.612.6126282Pentax 645D

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

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 645Z has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 98% and a magnification of 0.78x. The tables below summarize some of the other core capabilities of the Pentax 645Z in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Pentax 645Zoptical Y 3.2 1037 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 n n Pentax 645Z
 
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
 
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
 
Hasselblad X1D« »2360 n 3.0 920 fixed Y 1/2000s 2.3 n n Hasselblad X1D
 
Leica SL« »4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n Leica SL
 
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 n n Nikon D850
 
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n Nikon D5
 
Nikon D7200« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n Nikon D7200
 
Nikon D4S« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n Nikon D4S
 
Pentax 645D« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 1.1 n n Pentax 645D

One useful feature of the 645Z is a presence of a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

 

Connection comparison

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 Pentax 645Z and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Pentax 645ZYstereomonoY-mini3.0---Pentax 645Z
 
Canon 1D X Mark II« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 1D X Mark II
 
Canon 5DS« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS R
 
Hasselblad X1D« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--Hasselblad X1D
 
Leica SL« »YstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--Leica SL
 
Nikon D850« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D850
 
Nikon D5« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D5
 
Nikon D7200« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Nikon D7200
 
Nikon D4S« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D4S
 
Pentax 645D« »Ystereo----2.0---Pentax 645D

It is notable that the 645Z has a microphone port. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

 

Expert reviews

While the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 645Z in practical situations. 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 adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

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 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« »+83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« »+83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
 
Hasselblad X1D« »o81/100--4/5 Jun 2016 8,995 i i Hasselblad X1D
 
Leica SL« »-84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450 i i Leica SL
 
Nikon D850« »+ +89/1004.5/55/55/5 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 D7200« »+ +84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200
 
Nikon D4S« »--4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499- i Nikon D4S
 
Pentax 645D« »---4.5/5- Mar 2010 9,995- i Pentax 645D
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Pentax 645Z FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the 645Z.

What technology is the imaging sensor in the 645Z based on?

The camera features a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Pentax equipped the 645Z with the PRIME III image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the 645Z?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 204800.

What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Pentax 645Z?

Pentax mentions a shutter rating of 100 000 actuations for the 645Z. This number represents a Mean Time before Failure, that is an average value. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust the expected shutter life of the 645Z over, say, three years, one would have to take about 100 pictures each and every day.

How do I find the shutter count on my Pentax 645Z?

Pentax embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your 645Z has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the online shutter count app.

Do I need to purchase an external camera trigger to shoot time-lapse sequences?

No, the Pentax 645Z has an intervalometer built-in, so that low frequency shooting (for example, flower blooming, sunset, moon rise) can be undertaken without the need to purchase a separate external intervalometer and related software.

Is it difficult to use manual focus lenses with the Pentax 645Z?

The 645Z offers focus peaking as a manual focus aid. This feature works by placing a colored highlight on in-focus zones within the image.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

The 645Z's flash sync speed is 1/125 sec.

Does the Pentax 645Z support the Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus interface for SD cards?

Yes, the camera can indeed use UHS-I cards (data transfer speed of up to 104 MB/s).

Which battery does the 645Z use?

The camera gets its power from the D-LI90 (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Camera to camera comparisons

In case you are interested in seeing how this camera compares to another one, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Pentax 645Z
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Pentax 645 mount lenses
    Launch Date April 2014
    Launch Price USD 8499
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS
    Sensor Format Medium Format Sensor
    Sensor Size 43.8 x 32.8 mm
    Sensor Area 1436.64 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 54.7 mm
    Crop Factor 0.79x
    Sensor Resolution 51.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 8256 x 6192 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.30 μm
    Pixel Density 3.56 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100-204800 ISO
    Image Processor PRIME III
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 101
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 26.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 14.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 4505
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 98%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.78x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2 inch
    LCD Resolution 1037k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peaking
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer Built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots
    UHS card support UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 3.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed body
    Battery Type D-LI90 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)650 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 156 x 117 x 123 mm
    (6.1 x 4.6 x 4.8 in)
    Camera Weight 1550 g (54.7 oz)

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