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Pentax 645Z versus Canon 5DS R

The Pentax 645Z and the Canon EOS 5DS R are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2014 and February 2015. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a medium format (645Z) and a full frame (5DS R) sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 51.1 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 50.3 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 645Z vs Canon 5DS R

The physical size and weight of the Pentax 645Z and the Canon 5DS R are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 645Z – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Pentax 645Z vs Canon 5DS R
Compare 645Z versus 5DS R top
Compare 645Z and 5DS R rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 5DS R is somewhat smaller (3 percent) than the Pentax 645Z. Moreover, the 5DS R is substantially lighter (40 percent) than the 645Z. 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.

Concerning battery life, the 645Z gets 650 shots out of its D-LI90 battery, while the 5DS R can take 700 images on a single charge of its LP-E6 power pack.

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)
Pentax 645Z» 6.1 in 4.6 in 4.8 in 54.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2014 8,499 i i
Canon 5DS R« 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 6D Mark II« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 5D Mark IV« » 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Hasselblad X1D« » 5.9 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 25.6 oz .. Y Jun 2016 8,995 i i
Leica SL« » 5.8 in 4.1 in 1.5 in 29.9 oz 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450 i i
Nikon D850« » 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D750« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299 i i
Nikon D810« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D4S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.6 oz 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499- i
Pentax 645D« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 4.7 in 52.2 oz 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995- i
Sony RX1R II« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.9 oz 220 n Oct 2015 3,299 i i
Sony A7S« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 17.2 oz 380 Y Apr 2014 2,499- i

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 5DS R was launched at a markedly lower price (by 56 percent) than the 645Z, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 645Z vs Canon 5DS R

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Pentax 645Z features a medium format sensor and the Canon 5DS R a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the 5DS R is 40 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.79 and 1.0. The sensor in the 645Z has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the 5DS R offers a 3:2 aspect.

Pentax 645Z and Canon 5DS R sensor measures

With 51.1MP, the 645Z offers a slightly higher resolution than the 5DS R (50.3MP), but the 645Z nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.30μm versus 4.14μm for the 5DS R) due to its larger sensor. However, the 5DS R is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 months) than the 645Z, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. 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.

645Z versus 5DS R MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the 645Z provides substantially higher image quality than the 5DS R, with an overall score that is 15 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Pentax 645Z» Medium Format 51.1 8256 61921080/60i26.014.74505101
Canon 5DS R« Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
Canon 5D Mark IV« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187
Hasselblad X1D« » Medium Format 51.3 8272 62001080/25p26.214.84489102
Leica SL« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100
Nikon D750« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
Nikon D4S« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
Pentax 645D« » Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440-24.612.6126282
Sony RX1R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53041080/60p25.813.9320497
Sony A7S« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28321080/60p23.913.2370287

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the 5DS R provides a faster frame rate than the 645Z. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/60i.

 

Feature comparison: Pentax 645Z vs Canon 5DS R

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 645Z and the 5DS R 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 645Z, the Canon 5DS R, 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 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
Pentax 645Z»optical Y 3.2 1037 tilting n 4000 3.0 n n
Canon 5DS R«optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n
Canon 5D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Hasselblad X1D« »2360 n 3.0 920 fixed Y 2000 2.3 n n
Leica SL« »4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 8000 11.0 n n
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n
Nikon D750« »optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 4000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D4S« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Pentax 645D« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 1.1 n n
Sony RX1R II« »2360 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 4000 5.0 n n
Sony A7S« »2400 n 3.0 921 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n

Both the 645Z and the 5DS R are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The 645Z replaced the earlier Pentax 645D, while the 5DS R does not have a direct predecessor.

Review summary: Pentax 645Z vs Canon 5DS R

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Pentax 645Z or the Canon 5DS R – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Pentax 645Z:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1 stops ISO advantage).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2014).

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5DS R:

  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 620g or 40 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (56 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (9 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (6 points each). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

645Z 06:06 5DS R

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 645Z or the 5DS R. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. 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 cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Pentax 645Z»--4.5/55/55/5 Apr 2014 8,499 i i
Canon 5DS R«Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 5D Mark IV« »HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Hasselblad X1D« »rev---4/5 Jun 2016 8,995 i i
Leica SL« »-84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450 i i
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D750« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299 i i
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D4S« »--4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499- i
Pentax 645D« »---4.5/5- Mar 2010 9,995- i
Sony RX1R II« »-82/100-rev4.5/5 Oct 2015 3,299 i i
Sony A7S« »-86/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2014 2,499- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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 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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