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Pentax 67 6x7 SLR Camera and Lenses

An Informal Review by Hamish Reid, 1995


Introduction

I've been a Pentax 67 user for many years now, and in response to the inevitable "what's it like?" queries, here's a long-promised review (as first published in the Medium Format Digest ).

Background

The Pentax was my first non-35mm camera. After several years of 35mm photography, I was dissatisfied with the grain and overall quality of 35mm when used for streetscapes, landscapes, buildings, and portraits (35mm's grain can, however, be quite a plus for portraits and street scenes). I wanted a camera with interchangeable lenses that I could lug around the place but still use hand-held if I had to. After renting several medium format cameras from Gasser's in San Francisco I decided I prefered the 6x7 format to 6x4.5 or 6x6 (6x7 seemed to fit my standard print sizes with less cropping than 6x6, and 6x4.5 always seems a smidgeon too much like 35mm for me...).

I decided on the Pentax mostly because 1) the price was right (much cheaper than its competitors at the time, the Mamiya RB and RZ systems, or the Bronica SQA); and 2), it felt easier to use hand-held than the Mamiyas or the Bronica (but more on this later...).

Summary

excellent

If, on the other hand, you want a versatile studio camera that can also be used outdoors, I believe you'd be better off with the Mamiya, Hasselblad, or Bronica systems. Similarly, if you want a medium format camera for mostly hand-held work, you're probably better off with a good rangefinder - the Pentax is surprisingly bad at hand-held shots, despite its looking like the proverbial 35mm on steroids.

Equipment Reviewed

  • Pentax 67 6x7 body with mirror lockup (MLU)
  • Pentax 55mm/f4 lens
  • Pentax 90mm/f2.8 lens
  • Pentax 165mm/f4 lens
  • Pentax non-metered prism finder

Overall Feature Review

The P67 body looks, of course, like a large 35mm SLR, and comes with mirror lock up (MLU), focal plane shutter with electronic shutter timing (1/1000 to 1 second, B, T with fiddling...), and flash sync outlet. Both metered and non-metered prisms are available, as is a waist-level finder. The body takes 120 and 220 film - there's a backplate switch for this which also affects the winder and frame counter. Several different viewing screens are available, including split, plain, and grid.

A large variety of lenses is available for this camera, including the usual fisheye, shift (75mm), long lenses (the longest is 1 metre, corresponding roughly to a 500mm lens for a 35mm camera), and at least one lens with a leaf shutter (one of the 165mm lenses).

Mechanics & Mechanical Quality

excellent

The Pentax has now survived the usual treatment, having been dragged around and through the mountains and deserts of California, Nevada, Arizona, the streets of Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville and San Francisco, and nothing has ever broken or gone wrong.

Optical Quality

I haven't done any scientific tests (and never will), but assuming a system mounted on a good tripod (I use a Bogen 3036) and the use of MLU and a cable release, optical quality with the 55mm and 90mm lenses is excellent on prints of 16x20 or 20x24. Several of these prints come close to 4x5 quality; all of them are much better (in terms of tonal range and lack of grain) than corresponding 35mm cameras. Side-by-side comparisons with the same shot using similar Hasselblad gear shows no detectable difference for the sort of work I do (however, this means little about the results with things like close-ups or long-exposure photography that I don't do, so take this with a pinch of salt). Both lenses work best at about f/11, of course, but shots taken at f/16 do not show any easily-detectable distortion or lack of sharpness. Contrast appears to be high on both lenses.

I'm less sure about the 165mm lens. Results seem to indicate that this lens (or at least my version of it) has a softer contrast and overall sharpness than the other two. I'm still fairly happy with it - it's produced a few great-looking shots in the mountains - but I have to admit that I often end up using my 4x5 with the 300mm lens for landscape shots I would otherwise have used the 165mm P67 lens on. Having said this, it's a great lens for portraits and people shots.

Film flatness has never been a problem for me with this camera; I have yet to hear of it being a problem for any P67 user. I suspect the design makes it harder for the film to bow than for other cameras, but this is only a suspicion....

Several people on Usenet have complained about shutter (as opposed to mirror) shake with this camera with shutter speeds between about 1/30 and 1/2 second, but I haven't found this to be a problem with the shots I do (I usually work in full daylight with speeds above 1/30). The shutter is certainly large, and I can well believe it can cause problems, but with a good tripod I suspect it's not a big problem.

Hand-Held Work

This was where the Pentax turned out to be a bit of a disappointment: despite its looks, this is not an easy camera to use for hand-held shots - but it can be done.

The most obvious problem is the mirror. The mirror is huge, and without a tripod, if you don't use MLU the camera has a tremendous and very obvious turning moment with shutter speeds slower than about 1/250. Of course, "hand-held" means you aren't using a tripod, and MLU is tricky at best hand-held (see below).

There are two ways around this problem:

1) Use faster film; or, 2) Learn to use MLU hand-held where possible.

Faster film certainly helps - if you can get the shutter speed up to 1/250 or 1/500, the mirror's effects are usually not a problem (but still noticeable if you really look); this is fine for certain shots. In any case, ISO 400 shots at 6x7 certainly look as good as ISO 100 shots at 35mm.

Using MLU hand-held is tricky, but doable. The obvious approach is to frame the shot, fire the MLU, hold the camera as steady as possible for the next few seconds, then fire the shutter. If you can do this reliably, good luck to you - the rest of us probably get the desired shot about 25 - 50% of the time, the most usual problem being camera "wander" rather than any shake. Over the years I've sort of got this down rote, but it's still hardly an exact science.

Another potential problem with the Pentax for hand-held work is that it's not exactly a small camera. The body and a full complement of (say) three lenses take up a lot of room, and this is not the best or most compact camera for things like backpacking, or, indeed, trying to walk through a city looking inconspicuous.

The obvious alternative is to buy a range finder... (the Mamiya 6 comes to mind for some reason).

Tips

Some of these are obvious, but they probably still need to be said:

  • Always use a tripod with this camera. This is obvious, but modulo the comments earlier about hand-held shots, this camera, like most medium format cameras, cries out for a tripod. And not just any tripod - a heavy, steady tripod, with a good head on it. Don't skimp on the tripod - you'll pay for it later in overall picture quality.
  • Use mirror lock up whenever possible (the P67 makes this easy). Again, this might strike oldtimers as obvious, but MLU (with tripod) is essential to coaxing technically good shots from this camera.

Advantages

  • It's cheap! Even with the latest price increases, the Pentax 67 is still one of the cheapest medium format SLRs around. It's still true that the body can be bought for the price of a single 120 Hasselblad film holder, and that lenses cost considerably less than their Mamiya, Bronica, or Hasselblad equivalent. You can also find good gear second hand at swap meets or reputable shops for pretty good prices.
  • High quality. This is a pretty basic system, but what's there is usually high quality. Sure, it looks kinda clunky and doesn't have Zeiss glass, but the results I've seen speak for themselves.
  • It's a system. Apart from lacking a few things like motor winders, this is a complete system - there's a full range of lenses and accesories available for this camera.
  • It's widely used. This is not an obscure camera, and it's possible to buy lenses and bodies on the used market at reasonable prices. People are pretty familiar with it.

Disadvantages

  • No motor winder: this camera has a manual winder only, a limitation that can be critical in a studio.
  • As sold straight out of the box, the Pentax's MLU uses the battery - the MLU is fired and held by solenoids, meaning that it uses battery current whenever MLU is on. This won't be a problem for most users, but if you're doing the sort of work (like astronomy) where MLU needs to be on for more than a few seconds at a time, Pentax can modify your camera to keep the mirror mechanically locked up.
  • The highest flash sync speed is 1/30 second. This is OK for some studio work, but quite unnaceptable for things like flash fill outdoors. This has never bothered me, but it's quite a limitation for certain types of photography.
  • No removable back. This is a pain - there's always a time when you want to switch films half way through a film - but two observations here:
    1. Film is cheap - just change it and be damned!
    2. Pentax 67 bodies are (relatively) cheap - they cost about as much as a Hasselblad film back, so go on, buy two bodies.

    Neither of these is ideal, but the lack of a removable back turned out to be less of a limitation than I'd suspected.

  • No cheap polaroid back. Coupled with the above limitation, there's no cheap removable polaroid back for this camera. Yes, you can get a polaroid back, but it involves mods to the body, and isn't cheap.

Where to Buy

The USA version of this camera is stocked by Adorama, a retailer that pays photo.net a referral fee for each customer, which helps keep this site in operation. For additional retailer information, see our recommended retailers page and the user recommendations section.


Review Copyright © 1994, 1995 Hamish Reid. All Rights Reserved.

Article created 1995

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



John Hartung , March 18, 1997; 08:54 P.M.

There are two leaf shutter lenses available for the Pentax 67. They are the 90mm and a 165mm. Anyone have these lenses with input on their quality? I'm looking to perhaps buy one of these lenses soon.

Roy L. Jacobs , September 01, 1997; 11:44 A.M.

I must disagree in part with the comments about hand holding the Pentax67. While it is not easy to follow action, I have shot a number of handheld scenic shots with no difficulity. I have shot many handheld shots at 1/125 of a second with no compromise in image quality. Fine detail is tack sharp in the negatives with a 10x loup. I have occasionally gone down to a 1/60 of a second, where the results are more difficult, but it is possible to get very sharp pictures at this speed. While I generally use the camera ona tripod where possible, the camera is hand holdable when necessary.

Brian Ellis , October 06, 1997; 01:46 P.M.

I have two minor additions to this excellent review. First, with respect to ruggedness and reliability, I purchased my Pentax 6x7 new about 2 1/2 years ago and have had it in for repairs three times - once the TTL meter stopped functioning and the other two times the film wind/shutter cocking crank broke.It is currently in the hands of Pentax for the second repair of the crank, at a cost of $210. I know other people have not had similar reliability problems so perhaps I just have had the misfortune of buying a lemon, but I thought I would mention my experiences for whatever they may be worth. Secondly, with respect to the system of lenses, I agree that the lenses are excellent (at least the ones I own, which are the 45mm, the 75mm shift, the 105mm, the 135mm macro, and the 200 mm (the 135mm macro was a bit of a disappointment because it only goes down to a 1:3 or so magnification ratio, but the optical qualities are excellent and extension tubes can be purchased which let you go down to 1:1). For the benefit of anyone contemplating the purchase of the Pentax 67 because of the availability of longer lenses, you should be aware of the fact that the lenses longer than the 200mm are really huge, and really heavy, lenses. The Pentax home page (www.pentax.com)gives all of the specs for all of the lenses so you can see the weight and size for yourself. Personally, I wouldn't consider it very feasible to carry anything longer than the 300mm very far in the field, and even the 300mm is stretching it a little, assuming I was carrying three or four other lenses as well. Also, the 400mm and longer lenses are very expensive - $2,500 to $7,300. The 200mm lens is feasible both from a weight and price standpoint and I have used the 1.4 teleconverter with it and obtained very good results. Neither of these points is intended to be criticisms, just some things to be aware of when purchasing the camera.

Benson -- , January 04, 1998; 12:03 P.M.

I just bought into the P67 system in mid 1997 and now own a 45mm, a 135mm macro, and most recently, a 90mm. The results obtained from the first two have been great; the 90 should prove superb as well judging from what I've read.

Anyone using the 67 should know that the Really Right Stuff plate and the Arca-Swiss ball head is REALLY RIGHT STUFF. Just make sure you crank the main tension knob down really well. "Big Bertha" tends to pan on you.

Would this be a good place to mention that I've started a LUSENET Q&A forum just for P67 users?

http://users.vnet.net/btw/pentax67.htm

Eugene Crumpler , May 20, 1998; 05:29 P.M.

Two comments

First, I think heading this section with a big honker is misleading. It is a big camera, yes. The lenses are some the finest available in MF. I find the camera easy to use and the results incredible all at about 1/3 the $ for the highly touted "Blad" Second, the section should be headed,"Big Image Quality Without a Second Mortgage"

Allan Jamieson , November 07, 1998; 11:53 A.M.

I use the Pentax 67 for professional Landscape Photography in Scotland, producing work for Calendars and Tourist Boards etc.

Although, I really like the camera, sometimes there can be a bit of a problem with shutter induced camera shake, even when locking the mirror up. To avoid the problem you really only have two options, either use a really solid and very heavy tripod ( which isn't much good if you are going to have to carry it all day up and down mountains etc as I do ). Or, weigh the centre column of the tripod down and push down on the prism as you release the shutter manually.

Otherwise, you will very likely experience some degree of softness in your images from the shutter. Although it often takes a good look through a strong loupe to work out that there is a problem. A lot of my earlier shots when I first got the camera, were a touch softer than I would have liked them to be.

I would be interested to see if the new Pentax 67 II is any better in this respect.

I currently have 6 lenses for my camera, a 45mm, 55mm, 75mm, 105mm, 135mm and the 200mm. I particularly like the 55mm and the 105mm lenses, they both give excellent results. Even after on one occasion when I accidentally dropped my 55mm lense into a river, luckily it had it's back cap and lense cover on, which probably saved it. By the next day it was perfectly fine, although I wouldn't advise anybody else to repeat this experiment !

It would be handy if the camera had exposure compensation of say 1/3 of a stop, rather than the current 1/2 a stop that you can get by setting between two aperture settings.

All in all it is a very fine camera, but it does take a bit of getting used to after coming from 35mm. Everything takes just that little bit longer to do. But, I think that it makes you think that bit more carefully about taking a photograph than you might do with a 35mm camera.

Elliott Alan Frederick , February 03, 1999; 07:40 P.M.

Alan Elliott.

I agree with most of the comments. I have two P67 bodies, the first is the original version purchased in about 1972 and does not have MLU. This is really a distinct limitation. The only fault I have experienced was a broken circlip in the mirror housing of the first body. I inadvertently gave the second body with the 105 lens attached a severe test for ruggedness. It fell off my big Manfrotto tripod at full height because the mounting plate plate lock was not properly secured. The camera bounced onto a concrete floor. Far from being a write-off my repairman was able to replace three damaged parts at a very reasonable cost.

My comment is that the P67 is hard on the rather expensive batteries as there appears to be a slight drain even when not in use so I make a point of removing the battery after a shoot. The design of the battery holder makes this easy to do. I have the 75, 105, 135 macro, 165 and 200 mm lenses and have found all of them to be very good. I have done a lot of copying with the 135 (and extension tubes as required)on a copy stand with superb results - always using the MLU of course.

Joel Pickford , February 15, 1999; 05:04 P.M.

As a user of both large format view cameras and 35mm cameras, I have found my P67 to be a rather poor compromise between the two. At best its a relatively cheap and convenient solution for assignments requiring better-than-35mm quality without view camera movements. But for my personal work I've found it to be a disapointment, chiefly due to the mediocrity of the lenses and poor handholdability (did I just coin that word?). The reviewer who compared the P67 lenses side by side with Hassleblad lenses failed to test them at wide aperatures (which are neccessary for handheld photography and are sometimes aesthetically preferable to stopping farther down). The Zeiss lenses of 80mm or longer tend to be blazingly sharp and contrasty at f:2.8 to 4.0, whereas the P67 lenses are Coke bottles at anything less than f:8. If you want proof of this latter claim about the Hasselblad lenses, see the book "I Dream A World: Black Women Who Made A Difference." It is filled with stunning square-format portraits in black and white, many of which are shot at very wide aperatures with correspondingly soft backgrounds; they are as cracklingly sharp as they are beautifully lit and composed. Try getting results like that with your P67! I recently shot a portrait of a painter for a book dust jacket. I used a P67 with a late model 200mm lens and also shot 35mm with an AF Nikor 85mm. Desiring a soft background, I made exposures at 4.0, 5.6 and 8 on the P67 and varied the Nikon between 2.8 and 4.0. The film in both cameras was TMAX 400 CN rated at 250. Since it was an important assignment, I made 8x10's of several full-frames from each camera. Despite the greater degree of enlargement, the Nikon prints just blew the P67 prints out of the water; they had far greater edge sharpness and contrast against a softer background. For someone looking for a truly hand-holdable medium format camera, I'd reccomend going with a late model Rollei TLR, Hasselblad, Fuji rangefinder or Mamiya rangefinder.

Lance Gross , March 24, 1999; 11:48 P.M.

I switched to all pentax 35 and med. format 15 years ago. I had been using Nikon and Blads. Best move I ever made. I've never had an art director or printer complain of soft images. Most important, Pentax makes an adapter for 6x7 lenses to 35mm bodies. Leaf shutter lenses on your 35mm, try doing that with anything else. I shoot industrial. Saves the day quite often.

Sky Walker , April 04, 1999; 11:28 P.M.

In response to Joel Pickford, I am a user of Hasselblad system, no complaint on the open-aperture performance; indeed it is excellent. If you survey thru' the Hasselblad and Pentax threads in this forum, you will find there are a few discussions of the lens quality in the Hasselblad threads whereas there are many good and bad votes for the Pentax Optics quality, especially on the open-aperture performance. So I infered that Joel may be right. To my impression, landscape pictures call for closed down aperture performance i.e. no much difference between the two. But for portrait and moody shots, soft image might not be appropriate for some. But you have the choice for CZ lens performance of being soft or hard. As for color rendition, these two systems must be different in some way. This topic is not addressed. Can anyone comment. As Pentax 67II bodies seem very good esp with metered prism and I like the format, I am thinking of the move. In the near future,I will try the 200mm esp concerned on the open aperture performance. If the lens is not good, I will sell it. And I will hand the body to a machine shop for MOUNT SURGERY so that A CZ lenses can be mounted onto the excellent body PENTAX. It costs about USD600-1000. Yes I know I have to close down the aperture for metering. But no problem if you make the both ends meet(2 second lagging only). Please comment on the Pentax lens open-aperture performance and my move, in search of an uncompromised solution.

Richard Laroche , April 13, 1999; 09:58 A.M.

I acquired a Pentax 67 system in 1991, comprising a body with TTL prism and four lenses (55, 90, 200 and 300). I always use the heaviest Manfrotto tripod I could find (model 028), MLU and a cable release. I shoot landscapes at mid and small apertures on 50 and 100 ISO film (mostly negative or slide if needed). I make 8X10 and 16X20 prints. Most are ultra-sharp and these lenses would be hard to fault. The 55 and 200 give beautiful contrast and render details surprisingly well. The 300's best aperture so far has proved to be 5.6 when focused on faraway subjects and it is excellent. Only the 90 doesn't seem to be in the same league as the other three. I've tried a 105 recently and I'll trade my 90 soon. This camera system's only drawbacks are its weight (40 pounds including the tripod) for field photography and lack of a tilting semi-wide lens (something like a 70 mm that would be terrific for near-far pictures). All in all, the best optics I've ever used. Best regards!

Ron Rosenzweig , April 17, 1999; 10:35 P.M.

As a professional architectural photographer, I used the P67 from 1988 through 1994 when I sold the system. The worst mistake I made in my photo career. Appealing to very discerning clients, the P67 with the 45 & 75 shift lense, I achieved results nearly equal to 4X5. Using the mirror lock up, sharpness was never a problem. During those years I am sure I put near a thousand rolls of film through that rugged camera. The one and only problem I had was with the film advance which broke once. I am planning on going back to a P67II. What a beautiful camera. Value for the dollar, the P67 can not be beat.

Roy L. Jacobs , May 16, 1999; 12:50 P.M.

It is interesting that there is a fair amount of controversey over lens quality. Personally I have found the 55 and 105 outstanding, and the 75 and the 165 very good. As to their quality at wide apertures, it is hard to make this determination from taking people portraits. This gets hung up with depth of field and focusing errors. Better to tape a newspaper to a wall and photograph it at the same distance at various f-stops, using a 2x magnifier so as to eliminate focus error. (Use the mirror lockup.) TMax 100 is a good choice for this, and you do not need to contact the negatives. Just get an uncut roll and keep a log of the order shot, e.g. 2 frames at F.4, 2 frames at F. 5.6, etc. Use a 10x and 15x loupe to determine how sharp the lens is at each opening. If the lens is soft throughout, then it may be a bad copy. If all your lenses are soft, then the camera needs adjustment, as it is not focusing properly. (Apparently there is such an adjustment.) Also, I have noticed that there is quality variation in 67 equipment. This being the case, it is necessary to carefully film test every lens and body acquired. If it is not up to your specifications, then return it for a replacement if new, or try a different used one. Also, the newer optical formulations of the 55, 200 and 300 are supposed to be superior to their predecessors. It is not unreasonable to assume that Hassey lenses should have at least some superiorities over Pentax lenses, based on cost. Assuming this to be true, some of this will be lost if the Hassy frames are croped to a rectangle. In any event, it is apples and oranges. As long as Pentax lenses are of excellent quality, create excellent pictures, and one is satisfied with the results, then the fact that others lenses may be "better" is not determinative of the quality of images one creates. Bear also in mind that the Hassy is a studio camera and the 67 is not. Studio work is not a good use for the 67. Comparing flash shot high contrast closup pictures of models (e.g. high detail subject matter) to avaliable light photos of outdoor scenes (low detail subject matter) proves nothing. The 67 is a great camera for scenics and outdoor work. Finally, lens sharpness is only one factor in image quality. There is a subjective element in assessing photo reproduction, that defies quantification. If you like the pictures you get then be satisfied. If not change systems.

Bruce Gavin , May 21, 1999; 01:49 P.M.

I am a wedding photographer who wound up with the 6x7 after a long run with other gear. I started with the Graflex RF series, loved the CZeiss lenses, hated the rangefinder. Bought a Hasselblad 500C, enjoyed the quality, freaked at the price of the lenses and backs. Went to a Mamiya C330 TLR with pentaprism, loved the quiet shutter, easy multiple exposure and the uninterrupted view during the moment of exposure. Had all the C330 lenses and used most of them for every session. Here was when I found out I really didn't like 6x6 because I think/print in 6x7. Went to the 6x7 years ago, and have done nothing except change the battery. The 45mm, 90 shutter, 135, and 200 all perform well for me. 1/30 sync is a drag with sync/sunlight but ok otherwise. I miss the Hasselblad locked shutter/aperture for sync sun. I still really miss the C330, but the 6x7 wins.

Peter Saucerman , May 25, 1999; 11:57 A.M.

My college photography mentor was William Garnett, reknown aerial photographer. Bill always used P67's with a hose clamp on the focus ring to keep it at infinity. As I moved into aerial photography I skated by with my Nikon 35, used a Mamiya 645, then scraped together money for a Fuji GSW690 - a "sail" hanging out of an airplane. Finally, I bought the Pentax 67 - at last! The RIGHT tool for the job. >>Peter Saucerman

Tom Turner , May 29, 1999; 12:23 A.M.

I bought my Pentax 67 in '93 for a landscape camera. Since then I have used it for portraits,weddings, commercial,copy work and aerial photography. It has performed great in all uses. I have the 55, 105, and 165mm lenses... I often enlarge to 16x20 and 20x30 and the results are great. Most of the time it's on a Gitzo tripod and I use MLU. It sure comes close to 4x5 without all the hassels! I'm sure there are better cameras for specific uses but for an all around workhorse my 67 is the tops!!

bee fee , July 01, 1999; 02:02 A.M.

I have allways lusted over 67's. They get me hot to shoot! P.S The remark about the Hasselblad is extremly gay!

Andy King , July 08, 1999; 12:46 P.M.

I own a Pentax 6x7 and love it. Use it for aerials, landscapes, etc. I'm interested in adapting zeiss hassy lenses for my Pentax 6x7 body. Where would I find out more about that? I heard that some shops will adapt lenses over 100 mm and they'll cover the 6x7 area.

nathan leo , August 14, 1999; 11:24 P.M.

1.Wonderful to read this site by photographers actually using their equipment unlike the Leica collectors. 2.Have the 67 since 74 ,used little but always enjoyed using it.Finder is dark compared to 35mm but acceptable.The weight and size have probably contributed to its mostly staying at home....75mm lens plus the 135mm macro ,ext. tubes,2x converter and a 1954 Rolleiflex rest in a Rox case.The Rollei is for flash work.Gives me a spare body in a small package.Film loading is easy and automatic.The Pentax took at least two rolls to get familiar.The Rollei I worked out WITHOUT instruction book.The Hassie requires both book,instructor and patience.3.Sharpness,My 35 mm lenses on Pentax are all sharper and definitely flare free compared to my Nikons and Leicas.How sharp is enough? I think the Zeiss lenses on Hassie are sharper than Pentax.Portraits would be unacceptable for a client,so Softars are reqd.The Pentax is fine.My Leicas photos though not that sharp are distortion free and always preferred by clients.The Pentax 67 must be the longest run of a camera.The Leicas have had more models.Thanx Pentax.

Michael Suppinger , August 28, 1999; 06:31 A.M.

I bought my Pentax 6x7 15 years ago. I purchased it with the now discontinued 90mm f:2.8 w/ leaf shutter lens. According to the instructions, you are suppose to be able to use the in-the-lens shutter by setting the camera shutter to 1/8 or slower and both shutters will be in sync with the flash. This lens only briefly performed like this. The only way I can use it is by firing the camera shutter on 'B', while holding down the shutter release (and hoping my subject has not moved), I then trip the shutter on the lens. I sent the lens into Pentax (14 years ago) and it still did not operate correctly. Pentax has since discontinued service on the shutter of that lens. Has anyone had similar problems? Is there a repair shop that could fix it?

Edward Thomas , September 12, 1999; 03:29 A.M.

1. There is less discussion re: Hassy lens quality, because everyone "assumes" the expensive lenses are better based on a 40 year old track history. The Pentax lenses started out somewhat suspect (1969) but are now of world class optical quality. The new incarnations of all the lenses are as good as any, period.

2. The "wide open quality" of Pentax 67 lenses is proven by the consistent and loyal following of many professional NYC model photographers. (There is quite a cult following in the big apple for this camera! Has been for years. They are doing the job and making the money.)

3. Color saturation and contrast for all Pentax lenses is very high, and very consistent.

4. The 67II is a formidable machine. The multi-segment metering is absolutely spectacular. I can spend 5 minutes taking spot readings and doing the Zone thing or I can just shoot Multi-segment and get superior results in a milisecond and concentrate on COMPOSITION! The new battery is great. The beefed up wind mechanism eliminates any concerns about trouble in the future, the new prism and screens are 60% brighter, on and on, etc. etc...

Bradley Zimmerman , November 17, 1999; 09:59 P.M.

I own the Pentax 67 MLU with the 45mm,55mm,90mm,135mm,200mm and 300mm lenses, the rightangle finder, 2x magnier and extention tube set. I absolutely love them! With over 5 years of experience with this camera I have learned a few things for sure. To get the highest quality from this equipment use the biggest tripod possible! Lock the mirror up and use a cable release gently. With the longer focal lengths, a bean bag set atop the body and lens will help increase sharpness. Use F8-F16 when applicable. With these tips coupled with your film of choice and you will get extremely high quality enlargements. Quit comparing your equipment to other medium format systems! Enjoy what you own! The Pentax 67 and 67II bodies with the latest lens designs will give you all the quality you'll ever need. Period!

Walter Bibikow , December 15, 1999; 07:51 P.M.

Would like to add what I hope is the final word on the Pentax 67 shake problem. I had bought two bodies new in 1995 and found that I could not get shake-free results at slow speeds with tele lenses despite using mirror lock, a cable release, and a Gitzo 410 with the really big Linhof Profi 3 head. Sold the system and bought a couple of Mamiya RZ's. I shoot for a living and the RZ's, while shake free, are very heavy. Bought a 67II in Hong Kong while on assignment last month and the shake was still there. Finally, a few days ago got an Arca Swiss B-1 with their clamp AND a really Right Stuff plate for my camera (#B68B for the 67II, #B68 for the older 67). Shot two tests with the camera and a 200mm at 1/60-1-sec. ALL of the exposures are tack sharp. The body plate's design keeps the action of the camera's big focal plane shutter from "torquing" ever so slightly to give un-sharp images in the slower speeds. The unsharpness/shake was never a problem w/ strobe or at speeds shorter than 1/60 or longer than 1-sec. The Really Right Stuff plates REALLY work, if someone had told me of this five years ago it would have saved me a lot of ruined film and money!

Lawrence Beck , January 04, 2000; 02:19 A.M.

I was surprised to read comments about Pentax 67 lenses being soft. Then I read the last comment in the thread by Walter Bibikow. Walter is absolutely correct in his assessment of the Arca B1 head... though he seems to attribute the lack of camera shake to the Really Right Stuff plate. The plate has nothing to do with it! The Arca plates (or any other aftermarket plate for that matter) will give the same exact result. The shake was eliminated by the best tripod head in the industry...the Arca B1. I personally tested them all with a 560 Leica lens w/2X APO converter and the Arca was the ONLY head that revealed the seam on top of plastic push pins 125 feet away! Arca is the ticket!

Lawrence Beck , January 04, 2000; 02:21 A.M.

I was surprised to read comments about Pentax 67 lenses being soft. Then I read the last comment in the thread by Walter Bibikow. Walter is absolutely correct in his assessment of the Arca B1 head... though he seems to attribute the lack of camera shake to the Really Right Stuff plate. The plate has nothing to do with it! The Arca plates (or any other aftermarket plate for that matter) will give the same exact result. The shake was eliminated by the best tripod head in the industry...the Arca B1. I personally tested them all with a 560 Leica lens w/2X APO converter and the Arca was the ONLY head that revealed the seam on top of plastic push pins 125 feet away! Arca is the ticket!

Walter Bibikow , January 05, 2000; 07:45 P.M.

Just would like to follow up on the last letter as regards the Pentax 67 camera shake problem. Yes, the Arca B-1 is a very good head BUT when a Linhof Profi II or III is topped with an Arca-type clamp and the Pentax 67 is attached, the results are the same. What keeps the camera from moving is the plate (either RRS,Kirk or anybody who makes a good anti pivot plate) as it is fitted to the contours of the camera body and as such keeps the camera from pivoting. The lens test on the Leica 560 is great, but I had perfectly sharp pix from 600mm lenses on 35mm cameras mounted to Linhof and Graf heads. The amount of shutter shake in a good 35mm camera is not of the same proportion as the amount of shake produced by the big "honker" in the Pentax. The Arca head is great but the performance of the camera is best when it is mounted to the head with a good anti-pivot plate!

Andrea Corazza , January 31, 2000; 03:09 P.M.

You have to forget using tripods when you're shooting to models, to animals and to children...so, put the Pentax with 1/250 speed, use your muscles and you'll have great 6x7 pictures... It's the best "ready to go" medium format camera, expecially with the magical 135/4 macro lens. Andrea sbriso@hotmail.com

Les Jackson , April 26, 2000; 03:27 A.M.

I just finished reading all the viewpoints on the Pentax 67 format. I own two 67 bodies, one MLU and another circa 1969 non MLU. I have the 45 the 75 and 105. The Pentax is a great camera. I use it for landscapes and I have noticed many fashion photographers using it also. One day in Death Valley I saw French Elle magazine with a zillion 67 bodies doing a model shoot on the salt flats. I don't have time for lens test but there is truth in everyones comments, either pro or con. I used a hassy outfit for about 6 months because my friend who owned it would rather use my Cannon A2 and a 28-70L lens. Not because it was a bad system but a rather a expensive system. He felt like he was limited to the studio with it. I almost had a heart attack when the sand started to blow on the sand dunes with the hassy. I would have just keep shooting with my pentax. I paid $750 used for my 45, the hassy lens would cost $4500. I get great result using the heavy tripod, mirror lock up, hold my breath and hand down on the prism technique.

Ok and now the truth. Every image I make still has to got through my Omega D2 enlarger with my El-Nikor 105 enlarging lens. Its silly to spend $4500 on a lens then print through a $300 enlarging lens. If your shooting cromes then most likely its for a magazine. Who cares the final product in off-set press at 150 linescreen. Its all digital anyways and nothing a little unsharp mask in photoshop cant fix.

Lets get paranoid for a while. ( dont get me wrong the Zeiss len's are sharper) You buy the hassy outfit and spend 15 to 20 thousand. Well now you need a APO mega doller enlarging lens. What !!! you dont have a full color darkroom, well off to the lab for you. So does your lab have a Mega Doller APO enlarging lens, does it have finger markes on it. Does the big darkroom fan cause vibration etc. Has the enlarger been properly aligned, etc I could go one forever.

Ok, I just shoot transperiences, I dont have to think about the enlarging process. So off to the design studio with your work. If your lucky they will use a drum scanner. I don't think Ziess makes drum scanners so your already down to japanese glass. For the most part you will get a scitex scanner, (I think they are an american company). Anyways its still going off-set at 150 lpi, not exactly the high resolution stuff.

You just cant win, somewhere along the line your image will go throgh coke bottle glass. Most of the time turning out perfectly. Except the time at the lab where the tech was wearing a walkman and the little read light fogged all my film.

Roy L. Jacobs , June 23, 2000; 01:21 P.M.

Recently I have had the opportunity to test a bunch of 67 lenses. The 45mm, the 200mm and the 400EDIF. The 45mm is a very good lens, and is fairly sharp wide open. Much better at 5.6 and great at f8-f16. The 200mm is sharp wide open and gets better and better, a fine lens. The 400 is tack sharp wide open and stays that way thru f11. All in a a good crop of tests. However, I also tested a second 45mm and it was not so hot. Pentax 67 lenses vary from sample to sample. WARNING: test all lenses including new ones, and obtain a return privledge.

Mark Tsang , August 28, 2000; 01:18 P.M.

I thought the review was interesting. I own a new 67II and have some experience w/ the original. However, the new 67 takes the 67 leenses. I have heard much complaint about the shutter and the shake and the need for a tripod. Let me say that I got the 67 for it's ability to hand hold, and I often hand hold at 30th of a sec. I am amazed at the commnet that this camera needs to be held at 25oth -500th. I think that is ridiculous. The camera is large and if too much for yo, I do not believe that it is a universal problem. I like to tripod at times to do long exposures from 1sec. and longer. If you want utterly sharp shots then I think it is reduntant say that you need a tripod and a cable release. I think that we forget that w need to be creative and use the camera and not rely on the camera to do everything for us. I also own and use a Hassleblad for over ten years, and et me stat that the P67 lenses are on par w/ the Zeiss optics. This is why I got the camera after years of researching. Yes, th camera has its disadvantages, so do they all. If you want absolute convience, light eight and ease of use and light weight to hold, then go back or stay w/ 35mm.The Pentax is "Getto" and gets little respect due to the slow flash sync and no interchangble backs. I always say that you need to weigh the options and decide on how you shoot and how much you are willing to spend. I have several cameras for that reason for different situations and effects. I think that is important to remember. 250th-500th hand held, gimme a break!

Harold Pfohl , September 02, 2000; 06:28 P.M.

Some thoughts on 1) hand held 2) sharpness 3) troubles (very few) Background: Pentax 6X7 since 1987, about 1400 – 1500 rolls of film, photography as an art form is personal and life long passion. Almost exclusively B&W. Film of preference is Agfa’s APX 25 rated at 16 and developed in Pyro. I do not make my living in photography. I have something in excess of 10,000 hours shooting and in the darkroom over a 30 year period, and have a background in chemical engineering.

1) Hand held – I use tri-x, wide angle 45 or 75 mm lens, shoot at fastest possible speed, outstanding sharpness at 1/250, workable at 1/30. The considerable mass of the camera, prism and lens provides a great deal of inertia and helps to minimize shake. While hand holding works ok, I don’t really like tri-x. So, when traveling and not able to take tripod along, I use a Bogen 3218 monopod (purchased in ’95) with Ilford Delta 100. Instead of screw tightening for 2 extensions, it has 2 flip levers. I preset the camera for anticipated conditions, walk along with the camera mounted on the pod with the pod resting on my shoulder – from shoulder to hitting the shutter release literally is as short as 3 seconds. I achieved satisfactory and in some cases very nice shots in China at night with the 90 mm wide open at 1/15th of a second. The black monopod is also relatively inconspicuous vs tripod. 2) Sharpness - I have never had any problems with long exposures tripod mounted with lens through the 105. I had considerable trouble with tripod mounted telephotos, especially the 300mm for exposures longer than 1 sec, but then, I had a lousy tripod. I have just picked up a sturdy Gitzo G1329 mk2 carbon fiber with a Manfrotto 3047 head, and am eager to try several long lenses on it with long exposures. I have seen a great deal of Hasselblad work and believe that the Hasselblad lens with neg cropped to match the 6X7 proportions loses vs Pentax 6X7 because of the considerable reduction in negative size. Maybe the Hasselblad lens yields a 1 or 2% improvement for a 300 – 400% increase in cost? and a huge sacrifice in negative size? I think the trade off is a net loss. I’m not that anal about the lens itself, and the lower cost of the Pentax lenses has enabled me to have a substantial range of them. I believe that I get more excellent shots by having the right lens for the right situation, whereas if Hasselblad were the system, I would often not have the right lens and would have a runt of a negative when cropped to a rectangle. A friend in photography for many years had a Hasselblad and feels that the two most overrated commodities in the world are Hasselblad cameras and BMWs. Many of my shots should be done in large format for finer grain and sharpness, but I don’t like the constraints and slowness imposed by the cumbersome nature of the system. If my percentage of good shots with large format are about the same as with roll film, then the ease of use of the roll film system is likely to result in many more good shots over time as one can quickly and more readily explore various viewpoints and shoot without fretting about using up filmholders and without the great loss of time in setting up. Regarding the technical advantage of larger format, I have a 75mm shift for the Pentax that I use in the city with very satisfactory results. With APX 25 at iso 16 in Pyro, the quality of negative is superb, the detail is astonishing. 3) Troubles – hardly any. One incident was painful but was the fault of my favorite repairman. I planned a trip to Germany, wanted to make sure the camera was in first class condition and was concerned about the take up spool which was a bit creaky, so asked him to put it up on the hoist, give it a lube job and overhaul the advance mechanism. I guess creaky advance mechanisms have been a chronic problem with this camera judging from other comments. Arrived in Munich with 80 rolls of film in double strength lead bags, hit the Hofbrau House, warmed myself with some great beer on a soggy March night, loaded the Pentax with a roll of 220 Tri-X, popped on the monopod and walked out into the drizzle for some marvelous night shooting. Did about five shots, next morning it jammed on frame # 12. Turns out the gears had not been quite properly aligned when the advance mechanism was reassembled. This was not a good morning for me. I also destroyed the rubber nose piece on my glasses, and brushed my teeth with Cruex. I had fungus free teeth and saw the world through cockeyed lenses. There was no local solution to the camera problem – including buying another body. Looking on the bright side of things, I had a nice inventory of 79 rolls of fresh film when I arrived home. Within a month I had a second body which I find very useful for alternative films as well as simply a backup. The repairman pleaded mea culpa mea culpa fixed the problem and we are still friends.

Wrap up – I have seen a great deal of medium format work by others, and am very comfortable with the excellence of my lenses. I can’t imagine a better system for wandering off for serendipitous shooting. It may not be the best camera for studio work, but I don’t do any of that.

Mike Dodd , October 22, 2000; 02:42 P.M.

I would like to agree that the Pentax 6x7 II is a great camera but does have a few niggles. On mine one or two things don't work quite as they should but there are ways round it. My comment is really about lenses, my favourite is the recent 45mm wide angle, the one slight disadvantage is that its not completely sharp at the edges when fully stopped down to f22 - its fine in the centre at f22 and fine at f16 all over. Don't understand why is should loose something when going down to f22 (which I use frequently for landscapes) since at the same magnification of the slide (using a lupe) my 35mm lenses at f22 are sharp so it can't simply be diffraction. Perhaps its as one of the previous contributors said that the quality control is not as good as it should be and there is some variation in lenses. One question, has anyone used the new 300mm and if so what is it like, I've only had a quick look at it but it does seem rather better than the old 300mm.

Michael Spilotro , May 12, 2001; 07:11 P.M.

The Pentax 6x7 II is a really great camera if it fits YOUR NEEDS!!

I own and use Nikons (4 - bodies and 10 lenses) and Hasselblads (2 - 500CM bodies, 5 lenses) and lately I have been getting battered by Creative Directors, Art Directors and Photo Editors who want to see 6x7 because of the larger aspect ratio to the magazine page. So I decided that it was time to invest more money in equipment; when I really needed to work on my web site and self promotional pieces.

Through out my early years as an assistant, and my 10 years as a professional photographer; I have been spoiled by both the Nikons and the Hasselblads because I always knew in my opinion, I would get the best images around from their respective optics, so image quality is a very important factor for me. But I did know that I DID NOT want to buy a Pentax 6x7 because I had worked as an assistant for a photographer in the middle to late '80's; and those things were just ugly and you needed to buy an extra body to do Polaroid tests because the backs were not removable; and the shutter sync was 1/30th of a second, and on and on......... What a mess!

I grab a couple of camera catalogs and prepare to order what I thought would be the best 6x7 on the market today. The Mamiya RZ 67. Wow, I read the adverts by my numerous colleagues about how truly wonderful the Mamiya RZ67 is and how the optics are really sharp, and how the system changed their lives. At this point I knew that I HAD to buy this product. Until I started to see what the Mamiya prices were like. OUCH!! You talk about sticker shock, and this is even during a promotion where Mamiya tossed in a lens when you made a purchase, and with what was being charged for the lenses (in some cases I was quoted higher prices than an equivalent Hasselblad lens). I thought this is just crazy.

At this time I was working and living in New York City, so I decided that I would ask some of my less famous colleagues (but working photographers) about their choice of 6x7 products and then rent what I needed for my tests. After my tests I would then purchase the system that would work best for me and my shooting style.

I was shocked at what I discovered. The guys and gals that used the Mamiya including a person who does work for Pepsi, really liked the product in the studio; on a tripod, but few told me that it was hard to hand hold. One really famous colleague (he does Victoria's Secret) told me that he has 2 Pentax 6x7 bodies and 3 lenses, and ALWAYS hand holds his cameras and would "NEVER" use anything else. This was an important factor to me; handholdability and portability; I oftentimes find my self rushing around not having time to put the camera on a tripod and moving around with my subjects during my photo sessions; I wanted a camera that would be easy to work with on the fly. The Pentax 6x7 worked like a "35mm on steroids" people told me. It was a little big, but really easy to hold in the hands.

But what about the 1/30th strobe sync, in the studio when shooting at f11 or 11.5 to f16 it does not matter, in a dimmly lit studio the effective shutter speed is the speed of the light coming from the strobes. But what about shooting with balanced strobe outside in daylight, not a problem for the RZ67 because the lenses have the shutters built-in. Well the Pentax has one lens the 165mm f4, I tested it and although it is a bit limiting it still worked; and well.

The Mamiya and Pentax lenses are both really sharp to my eye. Did I use a scientific resolution chart to do these tests? NO!! But I shot my tests just as I would shoot during an assignment, just as I shot my Hasselbalds in the past and the film looked fine to my eyes.

I've just made the investment. I bought a Pentax 6x7 II and the 105, 135, 165 LS, and I found a used 90 LS that works great. I'll never give up the Hasselblads, but the Pentax allows me to offer my clients the flexibility of the "larger" format and the ability to get into the 6x7 format without breaking my bank account.

The most important thing that I learned from all of this: Regardless of what equipment your colleagues use in this business, the best equipment to invest in; is the equipment you need to give the best results to your clients.

Paul Shambroom , October 15, 2001; 11:12 A.M.

The 45mm lens alone is a reason to buy this system. I shoot in a lot of artificial light environments. In addition to being sharp and contrasty, this lens is compact enough to use 75mm color correction gels in its elegantly designed matched filter holder (which also accomodates a special clip on shade.) I know of no other MF super-wide rig that can be used this way. It is VERY hand-holdable, and with the waist level finder can be easily clamped or held in restrictive shooting positions. Yes, you must often use mirror lock-up (either hand-holding or on a tripod), but when shooting with flash (not camera mounted) it is very comfortable and flexible to hand hold. I definately make better photos because of this. The lenses all seem good with the possible exception of the 165 f/4 LS, which is still pretty OK stopped down a few clicks. I would like to see more leaf shutter lenses. I also have the 90mm, which has been mechanically reliable, but I lose an average of 30% of my frames due to mistakes such as forgetting to cock the shutter or forgetting to plug the flash cord into the lens instead of the body. The 165 shutter design is much better, blacking out the viewfinder if you forget to cock it. If only they made a 55mm leaf shutter lens......

Tarn Faulkner , October 19, 2001; 01:29 P.M.

I've had a Pentax 67 II for six months now and have been quite happy with it compared to my old Canon 35mm gear. Being able to do the large prints is well worth the extra weight and shots with MLU and closed down to F8-F16 have been very sharp. I have run into three issues though.

Making vertical shots as sharp as horizontal shots is hard, even with a relatively heavy tripod and head, since the body is flipped to the side. Kirk's new L-Bracket for the Pentax 67 seems to have solved this for me, letting the camera be be directly above the ballhead even for vertical shots.

A weird one. I have the new 100mm f4 macro, which generally seems good. However, sometimes I get a 1/2 stop overexposure with this lens. That is, I can spot meter a gray card through multiple lenses (set at infinity focus to avoid other issues) and get the same reading from all of them. Shooting at that reading with the 100mm macro gives me a 1/2 stop overexposed shot one time out of four, compared to the other lenses. Any ideas?

Finally, something to be careful of for those of us using hand held meters. The Pentax lenses need more correction for extension (when not focused at infinity) than I expected. For example, the 55mm f4 needs an extra 1/3 stop when focused at 2ft and 2/3 stop when focused at 1.2 feet. The 100mm f4 needs 1/3 stop when focused as far away as 10 feet. This is probably just my lack of familiarity with medium format but something to take into account.

Doug Webb , November 30, 2001; 10:09 P.M.

I read with interest the comments on the Pentax 67 and lenses. I have had a 67 body for eight years with the 45, 75, 135, and 165 2.8. I would be willing to bet that many of you who have had problems with the camera handheld (or with a tripod) are unable to get sharp results because of the focusing screen on this camera. I had the focusing screen professionally upgraded and focusing is now much easier and much more precise. I know a lot of people believe that they can focus well in low light, etc., but if you have ever had a focusing screen on an older camera professionally upgraded, you know what I am talking about. Now I get sharper results with and without a triopd. I consider the lenses to be exceptional. I use them all but when photographing people, I almost always use the 165 2.8. The extra stop really helps. The results I get with the 67 absolutely blow the work I have done with 35mm out of the water.

I have heard that the 67II has a bright modern focusing screen, but I have not used it. The model I have is the newer "67" as opposed to the older model that was called the "6x7" and an even older model that didn't have mirror lockup.

I would be willing to bet that most professionals could not differentiate between photographs made by any of the more modern medium format cameras if they were asked to compare them without knowing which photo had been made by which camera.

Bill Bowden , December 07, 2001; 01:24 P.M.

In response to Michael Spilotro's post:

Yes, but we all can' t afford a 10,000-watt HMI light like Sante D'Orazio. I assume that's who you're referring to concerning the Victoria's Secret catalog. He gets around the slow flash sync speed of 1/30 sec. by bringing in a gigantic, constant light source and several assistants to push it around on a set of wheels when shooting for Victoria's Secret (according to an article I read in American Photo). That way he can hand hold the big Pentax at 1/250 sec. and move around without cords in the way. That's fine if you're making the kind of money that company pays, but for most of us it's just not practical. Of course, the results he gets are stunning. I've seen some of his pictures lately (the photo of Jennifer Lopez on the cover of Britain's Practical Photography magazine) using traditional studio strobes and a large soft box. Don't know if that one was shot with a Pentax 67 camera, though.

And, it's true, Pentax told me they no longer will repair the leaf shutter in the old 90mm leaf shutter lens for the 6x7. They'll repair the rest of the lens, but not the leaf shutter. I've seen wonderful photos from photographers using this lens, like Pamela Hanson (see American Photo magazine, March/April 2001, page 47), but the cutomer service representative told me to "avoid it like the plague." They said they didn't know if anybody repairs them and directed me to Shutterbug magazine, which lists repair shops. If the leaf shutter stops working, though, you've still got a good 90mm lens that you could use with the camera's focal-plane shutter.

In response to Doug's comments above, I'm glad to hear the focusing screen can be upgraded because I have had trouble focusing at wide apertures. Sounds like that might have been fixed in the Pentax 67II. My question is, why do they sell the Pentax 67II kit with a non-metered prism?

Kate Dugan , November 30, 2002; 12:10 P.M.

I've had the Pentax 67 for 2 years. I've had no problems with it until recently when the shutter got stuck and was released only after I turned the shutter dial. The manual says this is because the shutter was set between speeds and will only release when it is set to the exact speed. Seems there should be a click to designate that the shutter speed is correctly set. Since this incident I've had a lot of trouble with the shutter locking, even after several shots are ok at one speed and I haven't moved the shutter. Seems like the shutter speed dial is slipping by itself.

Scott Pickering "25 ASA" , August 02, 2004; 01:53 P.M.

Originally posted March 1st, 1999: (editted)

I have rented this camera 4 times over 3 years and am concidering a purchase of a used unit down the road. I have used other formats including 4x5 and 6x6, as well as my own T-90. I have heard conflicting comments on the quality of the lenses. Some say they are quite good, others say the sharpness and quality is not the best compared to other 6x7s including Mamiya. I have used the 55, 135, and 200 on the Pentax. The 55 (I used version 2 at that time) is a great lens as most shots with it using a tripod were sharp. I could see the fine cables on a bridge at night with an 8x loupe. I did however have a few shots where the outer edges of this lens went soft at lower f numbers, so it may have problems there. The 200 though I barely used it at that time seemed fine as all pictures with it were sharp. I found practically all shots need to be on the tripod for me as I tend to use low grain slow films and the mirror shock is too much. I hate the fact of when locking the mirror, if for any reason you need to release it, you have to blow off a picture to bring the mirror down again. The camera is balanced quite well. The grip really helps here. With a large flash attached to the side things get a little awkward and really slows you down. Its still a great camera for the price, but I'm not sure on the optics yet. I'd like to see how the new 67II works out, but will not be getting one myself. The price has jumped quite dramatically on the 67 over a ten year period which is why I will not buy a new one. I've seen the price double on both lenses and the body in the 11 years I've looked into this camera. I wonder why an external power winder could not be incorporated. And could they not redesign the large shutter using now common 35mm blades instead of one large cloth shutter? I'm sure the shutter speed could then be increased above 1000 and flash sync would be higher than 1/30 which is a pain. Still a solid camera though. It may not be the perfect camera for some serious pros, but for serious amateurs I'd say yes. Its a great walk-around camera though, but keep in mind this with some lenses in a bag will be heavy.

Scott Pickering "25 ASA" , August 02, 2004; 01:56 P.M.

I now own this camera (version 6x7) dated late 80s. I must admit after some use I have not had any problems with the camera. Its solid as a rock and takes abuse. I've even heard the story of a guy that dropped this camera hundreds of feet up from a plane into a farmers field, retrieved it, and it still worked with only a small dent. My metered prism had problems working, but this was because all this was bought used, and has since been repaired. The meter is accurate. I own the 105 dated mid 70s, and 200 dated early 80s. Both are sharp. Focussing the 105 gives a weird compression look when looking through the viewfinder. Im told this is normal. Sometimes I fumble with loading, but its acceptable. Loading on a tripod helps. Its sad Pentax will not upgrade to a version 3 that uses a digital back or encorporated chip to keep this camera line going. They could even make the chip removable for future upgrades, and just do a firmware update. The picture quality would be better then any digital back made today. There was mention the cost to convert this camera to digital in design may be too high to do so. So when 120 film dies, these cameras will go with it. I still think a 25 megapixel Pentax 6x7 version 3 digital camera that takes all previous accessories and lenses would be the best way to keep this bruiser going, and gives the digiback Hassies a run for the money. And we'd finally have a file size big enough for those huge enlargements which is what medium format and this camera are all about.

Collarge dave , November 20, 2005; 05:27 P.M.

I love this camera a real joy to use, just flick up the mirror and fire have had great shots at 30sec, only used the 45mm hope to try the 55mm everyone is talking about, light meter works very well and is on par with my eos 1. Found I can change film on the move cause there is no back to fiddle with. check out some of my work in china with it on http://www.collarge.com/locations/CHINA/

Paul Chaplo , February 26, 2006; 02:27 P.M.

This is the perfect camera for aerials, and with the 165mm leaf shutter lens, and 75mm shift, it can is versatile for a wide range of terrestrial photography applications including architecture and people photography with 1/500 sec synch for daylight strobe fill. It handles well in the air, and cant be beat for shoot color transparencies for drum scans.

I made some studio photos of my Pentax 6x7 67 system if you havent seen this camera and many of the P67 specialty lenses. See the link below in the links section. Shown are: Pentax 6x7 gear, 55mm, 75mm shift, 165mm LS (leaf shutter), and a 135mm macro.

Happy Landings ;-) Paul

Chris Willson , January 09, 2007; 08:10 P.M.

I have used the Pentax 67ii almost exclusively for the past 5 years while living in Japan. The bigger film size gives me the quality the stock agencies and magazine photo editors prefer and although heavy the weight it still acceptable. I use the 35mm fisheye, 45mm, 75mm shift, 100mm macro, 105mm, 165mm and 400mm. When I travel I always take the 45, 105 and 165 and then vary the others depending on the situation.

If you want to see what the camera can do the easiest way would be to look at the images on my website www.travel67.com all the photos were taken with the Pentax 67ii.

I love the camera and continue shooting with it while my colleagues are now using the Canon EOS 1Ds MarkII or the Nikon D2X.

In Japan the Pentax 67 is nicknamed Gulliver because it looks like an oversized 35mm camera. Just as apt would be The Terminator: it's a tough piece of equipment, it makes nearly every other camera out there look like "girly-men" and when you press the shutter it echoes like a shotgun blast.

Hope this inspires others to set out on travels with Gulliver.

Chris

www.travel67.com

Jaime Muldoon , May 15, 2007; 06:09 A.M.

The one thing I would add after 10 years of using one of these beasts is that investing in a brighter focusing screen (Beattie or something similar) was incredibly useful. The standard screen is very dark and focusing in low light is a nightmare.

Vlady Madejczyk , June 13, 2007; 09:40 P.M.

I had nighmare concerning choice between Hasselblad, Mamiya RB67/RZ67 and Pentax 6x7, and I think that my comment can help some people. Several days ago I bought an used Pentax 6x7 with 90mm LS lens, in an average condition. Actually I didn't expect miracles with the 90mm lens. But after some shots I find, that Pentax optics is really good. At the below links you can see an example of resolution of the lens and influence of the mirror and shutter shake on the film. It is visible, that from 1/250sec up Pentax 6x7 can be used handheld, without MLU. Film, fuji acros neopan 100 was scanned with resolution under 2400dpi which is - probably - still not the limit for the lens (in this "test"). I don't think my example is scientific. It is not. But I am sure it can show that Pentax 6x7 is very good equipment. http://www.photosilver.com/pentax6x7/

Andrew Prokos , September 08, 2007; 02:39 P.M.

This camera is big and heavy compared to the 645N, but you also get those wonderful big chromes! It is very popular with fine art photographers who shoot on location as opposed to studio work. I have used one for my own NYC fine art photography and you can make very large prints from the 6x7 film size. The lenses for the 67 are very sharp, but that mirror slap is a big issue, so locking it up is a must. I finally sold mine and downsized to the Pentax 645 which I found more compact and versatile.

Bryan Soderlind , September 21, 2008; 11:20 P.M.

I own the 165 LS and the quality is unbelievable, some of the other 67 lenses like the older ones have a "vintage" look while the 165 will blow you away with sharpness in transparencies. I pretty much shoot exclusively with the 67, action, portrait, whatever, it is an amazing camera www.bryansoderlind.com

Image Attachment: fileVgOoxt.jpg

Rothelle Cooke , January 24, 2009; 09:42 P.M.

In 2006 I got my hands on a Pentaxt that I got off ebay for $100 buck with a prism and I got my hand on a 105mm lens and I took it to China with me. 2008 and I'm back for 2009 New Years with the same cheap camera I got off ebay. When I return back to the US I will get another body as I have also added a 150mm lens from KEH. Not heavy at all to me as I do use it hand held even at 1/15 Just me.

Damon Hunt , March 30, 2009; 05:35 P.M.

Rothelle, you're a giant among men, so no doubt this camera is light to you. I'm new to the Pentax ranks. Bought a 67ii in 2004, used it for a couple of years, went digital and sold it. I was mad as hell at myself for doing that, so two years later I replaced that gem 67ii and will never get rid of it again. This year I've added an old 67 with a newly purchased polaroid back. If I hold this beauty long enough I might get some muscles like Rothelle Cook. haha!

Jim Peterson , October 14, 2009; 09:02 P.M.

In the old user's manual that came with my recently purchased 6x7 they list the TTL viewfinder and it is shown with a small ring that appears to fit somewhere near the shutter speed dial.

I've come across a used TTL viewfinder but I don't see that ring with it. I was able to attach the viewfinder to a body and it seemed to link up properly with the shutterspeed dial...

Can anyone fill me in on what the ring is for.

JAMES CONSTANTINIDES , January 16, 2010; 01:50 A.M.

I am not a pro. I used a clunky 6x9 cm. Graflex revolving back for years when I wanted a sharp 11x14. I did some good street work with it, plus landscapes. I developed a photo project (documentary) in Greece and found, of course, that the old graflex was useless. Then, I discovered the Pentax 6x7. I handle it just like a 35. 125 asa in the Greek sun and 400 asa for interiors. This piece inspires me. I am almost 70 years old and this camera makes me wish that I could work with it for the next 40 years. What a feeling! I had this Greek profect in my head for 40 years and I have been running around the mountains and through the villages for 7 summers. The film crank broke on the 6x7 and could not get it repaired for lack of parts. So, I got two 67 bodies and I am off again. This is not just a camera, it is a machine. It is tough and strong and reliable. Your most trusted friend should be that way.

I do a lot of hand held at slower speeds to gain depth of field and I used a rather flimsy tripod down to 1sec with mlu and did fine. I took a heavyweight tripod this summer. We are allright now, like a pro!

Paul MD , January 29, 2010; 08:50 P.M.

@Jim Peterson: What you spotted is a speed-wheel ring. The prism covers the camera's shutter speed wheel almost completely. You can change speeds but you have to press your thumb into the wheel fairly hard. The wheel allows your finger to grip and gives you extra leverage to make turning it really easy. You just press it onto the speed dial, there is no trick or catch.

I don't know what the technical term for it is, though.

bruce mckelvie , February 07, 2010; 01:46 P.M.

does anyone know how the focal length of a pentax 67 lens changes when used on a 35mm body?

in other words does a 100m medium format lens become a 200mm lens when placed on a 35mm body?

many thanks

James Koopman , February 28, 2010; 11:57 P.M.

I have two Pentax 6X7 Cameras I need to know how to use the the Leaf Shutter. I put the Canera on X and Cock the Lens and I don't get a Sinc. "I get Half a Frame" I put The Shutter speed at 30th and I get the same problem. I hook the Flash Cord into the Lens. I get this Problem The Flash does not go off. I plug the Flash into the Body Sinc outlet and the Flash works fine. With the Non Leaf Shutter Lens. Can someone help me with this problem. Where Can I get a Split immage finder screen? Thank You James La Habra California USA

Dennis Ng , May 24, 2010; 10:34 A.M.

Good review even after 13 years!  I have just added the 7th lens to my Pentax 67 built up plus the extension set (1, 2 and 3 and the adjustable one) in the last two month.  It is a very good system.  I wish I have not bought the old (and cheap) Hassey last year as I tried to sell it over the ebay but no success.  I knew this system through Luminous Landscape site in 2004 (?) and should have tried this then.

Still better late than never, I guess.

Daniel Högberg , June 18, 2010; 06:22 A.M.

I never use a tripod with my Pentax 67 and it works perfect down to 1/60. I have much more shake problems with my Hasselblad.

Mike Mike , October 29, 2010; 11:10 A.M.

Am new here. Sorry if wrong place to post a help...

Just got a Pentax 67. Fired few shots w/o film after placing a new battery. Noticed the adance level not very smooth, but did not force it either. Then, shutter stopped cocking, adance level feels loose...cloth shuter not moving AND it curled up at right corner loooking from the back open. I hope I did not break it?! I followed manual on cock shutter w/o film on p8 on making the film counter pass 1....but does not move and stays before 0.

I will get film to try in a week so. Can anyone help please?

Thanks!

John Evans , November 27, 2010; 07:20 A.M.

is it possible to source a digital back for the 67?

Cheers John

Sam Hiser , February 28, 2011; 08:22 A.M.

Hamish's article has been a great help to me.

The mirror slap is so loud it actually makes me giggle, but concern is exaggerated.  It occurs AFTER the shutter has closed.  (One would not recognize this unless working well below 1/60th.)

I have, surprisingly, gotten acceptable B&W press images handheld at 1/30th and 1/15th (ISO 400) on a cloudy day.  These are adequate for the newspaper.

The problem of the Pentax 6x7's bulk is ameliorated through technique or with the help of a very good support system.  (Arbus used this camera for a short while at the end; she was a very small person.)

@John ... no digital back for the 67, I'm afraid.

Don Bright , September 21, 2011; 10:13 P.M.

I've been using the Pentax 6711 for several years now for landscape work. Velvia 50, Tripod, mirror lockup, cable release, arca swiss B1 monoball. 45,55,75, 75 shift, 105, 135mac, 200, lenses. Love this system. It's not going anywhere in the foreseeable future. The 135 macro not that great. The 75 shift, great, but not as sharp as the 75 latest version. The rest of the lenses are awesome. Never handheld this camera. The tripod slows me down to focus on the scene, I need that. I could go 4x5, but why?I drum scan my images, and have had tremendous results. Big, saturated, sharp pictures with the tonal gradation of film that rivals 4x5. Who knows. Maybe the mirror slap will scare off the mountain lion thinking of a Photographer lunch! You know, we've heard so much about what something isn't so often, we forget what something is. Its all about the picture and the impact it has on the viewer. The viewer of the picture doesn't care about what the picture taking machine looks like, or sounds like. 6x7cm transparencies from a Pentax 6711 on a light table are truly awesome. I don't really know what kind of problem to respond to or reveal with this Camera. It all works. Its me, the Camera, tripod, hiking shoes, backpack, and the trail. The 6x7 transparency RVP 50 has enough information in it to rival a 50mp back 16 bit. The Heidelberg tango drum scanner wont get in the way of that, so save the cost outlay for the back, for the few usable images from a field trip and get the scan.

With the AE finder, it shows only 90% of the frame. One could get in a little trouble with that, so I just replace it on location with the magnifier finder, that show 100%, then move back to the AE finder. A little work, but that goes with the territory when making big pictures.

     As for the issue of shutter shake, it's an issue that goes away with a large Gitzo Studex tripod and an Arca Swiss B1 Monoball. Problem solved.

Don Bright , September 22, 2011; 12:28 A.M.

Responding to the question of lens focal length equivalency from 67 to 35mm, as follows:

45mm=24mm...

55mm-28mm...

75mm=35mm...

105mm-50mm approximately..

135mm=85mm...

200mm=105mm....

I would be happy to answer any questions one might have regarding the Pentax 6711 system.

 

Sam Hiser , October 22, 2011; 08:45 A.M.

Ergonomics are a challenge (6x7).  But the results are so good that there's very little space between here and my 4x5.  Perhaps only movements and carry-ability.

Mirror slap does not affect my results.

Colm Maguire , October 23, 2011; 05:10 P.M.

I think I have one of these for sale with the wooden handle and 3 lenses. Can you guys give me a ball park figure of what you would pay for it? It's my father in laws, and he has gone digital finally. Looking to move some of his old stuff.


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