Description image

Want That 70MM Look? Pentax Jumps Into Medium Format Video with the 645Z

04.16.14 @ 12:30AM Tags : , , , , ,

Pentax 645Z Front with LensRicoh, who now operates the Pentax brand, has just introduced the first sub-$10,000 medium format camera capable of shooting HD video, the 645Z. While it’s not going to be your everyday shooter for video, it’s certainly going to provide a very different aesthetic from even the large sensor 5D Mark II or Mark III. This is the first time it will be relatively affordable to acquire footage that more closely matches the angle of view of 65mm film.

Pentax 645Z Front with Lens

Here are the specs:

  • 51.4MP CMOS Sensor – 43.8 x 32.8 mm
  • Prime III Image Processor
  • Anti-Alias Filter-Less Design
  • 3.2″ 1037K Dot Tiltable Air-Gapless LCD
  • 1920 x 1080 — 60i/30p/24p Video Capture (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (MOV))
  • 1280 x 720 — 60p/50p/30p/25p/24p
  • ISO Sensitivity Range of 100 – 204,800
  • Dual Slot SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • SAFOX II TTL 27 Point Autofocus System
  • 3 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Weather Sealed Magnesium Alloy Body
  • Pentax Flucard and Eye-Fi Compatible
  • PENTAX 645AF2, 645AF and 645A mount lenses PENTAX 67 medium format lenses useable with adapter
  • Availability: June
  • Price: $8,500 Body Only

Pentax 645Z Back Screen Out


Pentax 645Z 8

Here is a sample image (many more posted over at Sony Alpha Rumors):

Pentax 645Z Sample Image

No, for the most part, this is not going to be your everyday camera, and most of you probably won’t be buying one, but it’s pretty fantastic that we are now getting Medium Format cameras for prices this low. The Sony CMOS sensor being used in this camera also gives far better low-light performance than previous Medium Format cameras that used CCD sensors, so these cameras will be far more usable in more circumstances.

The last big thing related to this announcement, is that this camera (and possibly all the other cameras that will use this Sony sensor), will shoot 1080 video. It’s likely that this is a sampling of the entire sensor to get down to this resolution, so while I wouldn’t expect the video quality to rival cameras made just for video, you’re going to get an extremely unique look with the video from this camera. It’s not going to be like shooting IMAX (since that’s a much bigger image area), but it will have a field of view similar to Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, which was shot on 65mm and projected in 70mm:

Color and image quality is an entirely different subject, but I’m sure people are going to find interesting uses for specific projects if the quality is at least passable. I have shot quite a bit of Medium Format, and the thing that stands out to me are normal focal length shots at low f-stops. You can isolate the background in a really interesting way, with the subject almost jumping out at you.


[via PetaPixel]


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 59 COMMENTS

  • It was only a matter of time, and I’m glad that this day has come!

  • David Acampora on 04.16.14 @ 12:45AM

    Still not nearly as big as IMAX.

    70.41mm x 52.63mm

  • I dont understand. It records in 1080p, same as canon 5d, but iT has a langer sensor. So even smaller dof. What exacly do we win here?

    • A (for the moment) unique visual style.

    • If I’m not mistaken, the fastest lenses available for the 645Z are f/2.8, compared to the f/1.2 and f/1.4 lenses available for full frame, so the Pentax camera would have deeper depth of field (even with the bigger sensor) than full frame. idk how it compares to Super 35.

      • F-stop isn’t the only factor in determining depth-of-filed. Another very important factor is focal length.

        Here is a ultra large format DOF adapter that shoots with a normal lens of 500mm at f5.6 or smaller apertures:

        The depth-of-field from the 500mm at f5.6 is likely shallower than that of a 50mm lens (on a 35mm camera) at f2.8.

        • Depth of field is not changed by focal length, it appears that way as the image has been magnified.

          • You just proved my point — Focal length = “magnification.” The longer the focal length the shallower the depth-of-field “appears.”

            However, that “apearance” is actual depth of field. One can shoot with a 20mm lens wide open and throw the foreground and/or background out of focus. That depth-of-field can be measured, and it visibly increases as one stops down to f5.6, but, compared to f5.6 on a 500mm lens, the 20mm will have noticably greater depth-of-field.

          • Ehm… Focal length does not have an influence on Depth of Field? Guys, that is just wrong. Simply take a picture with, say 50mm and another one with 100mm. If you crop the 50mm-pic to the exact framing of the 100mm-Pic, you’ll see the DoF actually HAS changed. I made a quick demonstration on that: (Light situation changed a little bit due to daylight as a source.)

      • The depth of field is exactly the same from any normal or zoom lens at the same field of view. Period.


    • From video perspective there is really no advantage seeing how pixels do not equate to a sharper or higher resolution on the big screen i.e ( nikon d800).

      However on the stills side, this is an amazing camera, the previous digital model was a poor mans version of hassleblad’s digital backs.

      I definitely love to rent one for huge priting projects or billboard work, there is nothing like that medium format look that you get on the stills side.

      • More pixels allow you to oversample your image a la F-65 or C 100/300 for a better color rendering or a full stated resolution image. (a typical 1080p sensor image is anywhere from the mid-700′s to mid-800′s after debayering, so with 50 MP’s, you can downsample from 8K 33 MP to 4K 8.8MP, provided enough computational power) You can also insert more auto focus points as in A6000, etc. It doesn’t look like this model will be doing it but it can be done.

    • Larger sensors allow larger photosites (pixels), which can lower noise (increase dynamic range/signal-to-noise ration).

      However, this sensor appears to have typically sized photosites but just more of them. So, if the many pixels are properly binned down to 1920×1080, there could be a little less noise than that of a 35mm full frame camera.

  • HD mode near useless. 1920 x 1080 — 60i/30p/24p Video Capture (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (MOV))

    What is the bitrate going to be 24mb/s? This will be a great stills camera, but for video, forget it.

    • If it is 24mbps as you say, that’s not all that different from a whole lot of sub-$5k cameras on the market. So what’s the big deal? This is not supposed to be a cinema camera, it’s the first of what will hopefully be a long line of successors and improvements – just as we saw with DSLRs.

      • External recorder??? Higher bitrate duh

        • William Koehler on 04.19.14 @ 11:12PM

          Using an external recorder assumes the HDMI out is live while in Preview & Record mode. In a number of recent Pentax cameras it has been live ONLY in Playback mode, so an external recorder may not be on the option list. Needless to say, this would also kill using an external monitor.

          Something to verify first.

  • It looks like Pentax is crippling this camera on Sony’s demand. The body is certainly large enough and the price is high enough to offer, at least, a 2.5K internal recording and a 4K HDMI out (Sony’s own A7 series body is a relative pipsqueak, by comparison). With this sensor, they could have offered anything from a center crop 2.5K/4K to a line skipper and/or pixel binner and/or oversampler a la Canon Cinema series. Plus, a 2.4 or even 1.66 formats. Maybe, Sony’s own dMF camera will have it when it comes out later on.
    PS. Sony A7 weighs 416 gram or less than one pound. Pentax 645D (looks like the same body) weighed in at 1,400 gram.

    • Things needn’t be so conspiratorial. Ricoh/Pentax is a small company. They have limited video experience and limited R&D resources. Video was never a big part of the market for this camera. The feature is an afterthought, likely added because the CMOS sensor supported it and they could implement their DSLR video code with minimal effort. If this sensor supports the various exotic means of video processing you mention, Pentax was never the company to implement it.

      But at least they offer it. Phase One and Hasselblad both offer much pricier cameras with this sensor, and they couldn’t be bothered. Nor should they. They do well enough supporting their customers with the features they need, and video isn’t one of them.

      Sony may well put this sensor in their own body and deliver a really great implementation of video. Of course, if Sony needs anything, it’s a third lens mount to support with far too few lenses. I hope they’re not that stupid, much as I like the idea of medium format video.

      • Not conspiratorial. Product crippling is par for the course in the photo-video industry. All Sony had to do was to offer Pentax a slightly greater discount on the sensor with the stipulation to keep 4K in a time-lapse rather than a continuous mode. In order to do it 24/25p, it may have needed to add more memory and an additional processor (probably on the former, questionable on the latter). The 4K enabled Canon 1D C has twin processors in a similar weight (1.5kg) and that’s a two year old product and even older processors. New processors should have enough processing power as it is without the need to be doubled, as you can see with GH4. And this is a far more expensive camera to boot.
        As to codec –
        a) they could have subcontracted the process to almost any company. If a small fry like KineFinity can bring a 6K cam to the market, so can Ricoh;
        b) they could have simply hired a few more software engineers, if they needed to, something that could have helped them across their entire line of Pentax cameras since those other cameras (K5, K3, K500, K50, etc.) also happen to record video at various bit rates;
        c) they could have just licensed an established codec like ProRes. Sony, who also has own codecs like XAVC, did just that with their recent upgrade on the F5/F55 lines..
        And those are just some of the reasons and explanations.

  • Very promising. Can’t wait to try it.

  • The extremely shallow depth of field and potential for great exposure latitude are what’s interesting about this. All the other qualities are yet to be determined; until we actually see unprocessed footage from the 645Z, it’s probably best to reserve judgement.
    Remember when Leica first added video to one of their digital cameras not too long ago? It ended up not being of the greatest quality. With this camera, and with its chosen form of compression, there’s a lot up in the air. It could sample from the whole image sensor, use well-developed compression, and then provide amazing-looking video at decent bit-rates, or it could line-skip all over the place, have funky compression and look like shallow-DOF 550D footage. Who knows?
    It’s still interesting, though.

    • Jorge Cayon on 04.16.14 @ 9:20AM

      I’m leaning towards it looking like shit. It’s great that stills cameras can shoot video, I’ve owned quite a few. Was really happy with my GH2 and GH3. But after using a “serious” video camera, I can never go back to vDSLR land for video. It isn’t worth the rigging headache or the post production nightmare of working in a 4:2:0 color space. The quality just isn’t there.

      • ….because you were using GH cameras?
        Sorry, couldn’t resist.
        I’ve actually started using my 5D3 MORE lately; there are definitely times when dragging an F55 (etc) around is a pain, and a C300 won’t cut it for me picture wise.

  • People mad about the video on this thing is funny to me, this is a photo camera I dont understand why they added video really and Im huge fan of DSLR.

  • This is fantastic news!!! Interval recording for time-lapse videos is supported with an output of UHD 4K resolution. RAW files can be recorded at 14-bit and saved using either the proprietary PEF format or Adobe’s DNG format for greater post-production control and flexibility.

  • Please, STOP mixing up photography and film calculations!

    ASP-C is actually the closest to a s35 film field of view (cropfactor of x1,1). The 5D already has the 70mm film stock look, which is, in fact, shot through a sensor that is about 35mm – watch any Shane Hurlbut video and he’ll tell you that “this baby has a VistaVision sized sensor in it”.(like here, around 2:40 (which is s35 x0,7)

    So, the Pentax camera described here is more like a 6×6 camera (Hasselblad/Rolleiflex etc.. which, indeed, is ‘medium format photography’) with video option. Which is probably cool and might be a look of its own.

    MFT may have 2x cropfactor in regards to 35mm PHOTOGRAPHY, but it is only x1,4 to s35 FILM FOV. Please NoFilmSchool, drop an article on this to end the nonsense.. please check out and get your calculations sorted out once and for all.

    • Mikko Löppönen on 04.16.14 @ 6:25AM

      You are completely forgotting anamorphic s35 which a vast majority of good looking films were shot on. It actually has more surface area than a fullframe 5d so a 7d without anamorphic won’t match the dof anyways. Fullframe does look way more proper for the anamorphic s35 look without actually going anamorphic.

      • Your opinions are hilarious sir.

      • Cameron Glendinning on 04.18.14 @ 9:53AM

        Cinemascope / Panavision etc use a film frame slightly smaller than the super 35mm frame (which is super because exposes on the soundtrack area). So a 7D has a similar but slightly larger sensor than a Cinemascope film camera.
        Super 35mm is used for Cinemascope sized films like Titanic, without the anamorphic lens and distortion. eg the7D sized sensor.

    • VistaVision isn’t 70mm, it’s 35mm run horizontally through the camera. Medium format is equivalent to 65mm…and IMAX is 65mm run horizontally.

    • Cameron Glendinning on 04.18.14 @ 9:39AM

      Yes the 5D does have the vista vision sized sensor which is also the same size as 70mm (5 perf /70mm) which the classics like 2001, Baraka and Laurence of Arabia was filmed. This is no where as big as IMAX (15/70mm). I guess it might be close to 8/70mm which was used in some smaller giant screen cinemas and in IMAX productions where a smaller camera was needed.
      This articles head line is certainly not correct and is misleading.

  • The fastest lenses for this system are f2.8. A full frame 35mm camera like a 5D with a f1.4 lens will have shallower depth of field than this camera so I don’t expect anything special for the look.

  • A missed opportunity to make it mirrorless and therefore as compact as a DSLR.
    With all the benefits of a Mirrorless.

    • Jorge Cayon on 04.16.14 @ 9:22AM

      Then it would be a toy and not a professional stills camera.

      • I may have misunderstood you, you’re saying mirrorless cameras are toys and not for professionals?

        • Jorge Cayon on 04.17.14 @ 12:28PM

          Yes. Exactly what I said. When a production of over 40-50 people are hired for a gig and the DP shows up with a small Mirrorless Camera, what will the producers think? Where does the Audio Guy sync sound or send audio to? Is all that grip gear for bigger cameras really worth it? Producers are now asking why did they spend all this money for a little camera. Don’t get me wrong, I was one the first folks in my neck of the woods with a GH2, then hacked, and then a GH3.Then when I started to get hired for serious work, on serious budgets, there was no way that a small mirror less camera would be acceptable to producers. Believe me I tried to sell it. They just couldn’t sell the camera to McDonalds, Gatorade or any other client. I made great little movies, while in college and a year or two after graduation, for small time clients, but in the world of paying mortgages and every other expense life entails, those cameras do not belong in the professional world. The rigging and workflow headaches are not warranted on $100k/day shoots.

          As your experience and skills move up so should your gear. You will never get a high paying, serious production gig with a small vDSLR, mirror less or not. Those years are long gone as better, more well suited S35mm censored Video Cameras have arrived. Now granted, this is the world “I” want to work in. And I get it that there is a market, and users for these cams. They are very capable in the right hands. But they will never be taken seriously on big budget shoots, not anymore. And please don’t link me to Shane Hurlbut or any other indie film shot on DSLR. I’ve seen them.

          This is my working opinion for mirror less cameras in the video world. I’d be more than happy to link to serious, professional Photographers who will also not shoot with mirror less for various technical reasons, all warranted. And I’m not talking about a wedding or event photographer. Actual Fashion and Automotive dudes who I have worked with from time to time.

          • About the only thing I use the 5D gets used for is personal still photography or time lapse. I love it when I tell a bro with a 5D or even GH2 that the camera package I often use on set rents for $4,000 a day. Their response is always ” Thats a 5D with a kit lens!”, My response is always “Bitch please.”

  • Hmmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was uper long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any suggestions for beginner blog writers?
    I’d really appreciate it.

  • Where is it possible to see the video sample??? I googled and no one there….

  • And where is 4K?? :)

  • Happy line skipping on 50MPix sensor?

  • I love reading comments from 5D fan boys who covet the super shallow DOF look. Let me give you a clue, nobody actually takes your work seriously when the majority of your shots are out of focus. Yes this can be done effectively, to obtain a look, but chances are you’re on a still lens because hey its cheap! and didn’t budget for a focus puller to keep it all sharp at that such shallow DOF. I suppose this is what separates the men from the boys. Yes, it is nice to shoot on a larger sensor, but please for the love of God make it look good at least.

  • john jeffries on 04.16.14 @ 2:45PM

    It shoots crappy line-skipped 8bit DSLR-style video, but the sensor makes up for it.

    Put some zeiss jenas on this, convert your footage to 444 in post, and you can totally make something nice

    • Um…. You do realize that “converting” your chroma sampling to 4444 won’t do jack shit right? You can’t make shitty 8bit 422 magically better with a button in post.

      • john jeffries on 04.18.14 @ 12:54AM

        That is true but at least you dont get choppy playback in the timeline like h.264 does

  • Spec spec show some spec….. All yall care about is spec omg is it 4k omg is it 2k omg can I cook it. But not worry about light, color composition. The real magic of film making not nagging over which spec is better. Yell are the reason why in a couple month there will be noob with 4k camera running around shooting shitttttty Video

  • [inappropriate sounds intensifies]

  • So you shoot with an expensive camera and that makes you a “man”. I suggest you hang out in other more manly forums because this is a website mainly for aspiring filmmakers, trying to get into business. we don’t need to hear your bragging about your expensive equipment.

  • Pierre Samuel Rioux on 04.25.14 @ 1:24PM

    Why they do not cut this capture chip a way to shot directly with a medium lens
    a anamorphic ratio with out ana lens.

  • Wow, is it just me reminded of the Olympus E10 looking at this camera?

  • Does this sensor have 16 bit quanitization or 14 bit quanitization. This is one very important detail to find out. One of the big advantages of medium format cameras is the amazing tonality of 16 bit quantitization for skin tones etc. That is one reason why I will pay to rent a medium format camera such as phaseOne or Hasselblad.