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Pentax 67 vs Pentax 645

Larry Menzin , Feb 11, 2004; 07:33 a.m.

I am looking to buy a Pentax MF body and fall into the price- sensitive category (I shoot primarily 35mm digital). I have access to 2 P67 lenses which can be used on both bodies (with an adapter).

The P67 appears to be entirely mechanical and matrix metering is only available with the expensive P67 II. It has a bigger negative but I had film advance problems with a rental. You really don't know where the film is on this camera because it has no electronic sensors.

The 645 is more electronic with multiple metering modes and electronically controlled film advance. I don't need AF. The negative is smaller than the P67.

My photography is primarily outdoor nature and landscape.

Is there anything else I'm missing on the list of trade-offs?

Within my $500-750 budget, is one preferable over the other?


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Ken Ng , Feb 11, 2004; 08:16 a.m.

P67 is available with mirror lock up - unavailable on the P645 - may be a consideration as you do landscape work...

Mirror slap has been an issue for some on the P67 - the mirror is HUGE!!! - but a good tripod and head should solve those problems...

i think the P645 is more versatile, but you give up the bigger negative... if you ONLY plan on doing landscapes and can afford a good tripod/head combination the P67 is probably the better choice... however, if you want easier handholdability, P, Av and Sv, then the P645 is the better choice... as always trade offs!

Keith Merrill , Feb 11, 2004; 09:25 a.m.

I do use the manual focus version and the new Nii version of the pentax 645 with the mirror lock up and can tell you that it makes very very little difference. In fact, if I haven't stacked extention tubes to get a really close macro shot, I don't even bother with the mirror lock up. The mirrors on these cameras are well dampened. The 67 is a camera I have only played with in the store but felt really cool, like a big, really big, version of my pentax mx. The mirror sounds loud, and I would say that mirror lock is essential, but for landscape with a good tripod, probably all you need for great pics. I went down the 645 route because it is the best compromize in size and quality and handling, I don't have to reload as much, and the camera can easily be handheld.

Since these are two separate formats, I would base my decision on that, and the fact that you already have two 67 lenses. I find working with an adaptor to be a pita, but you may not. If you are doing your own black and white printing, remember that the 67 format can fit on a sheet of 8x10 without cropping, where the 645 leaves room at the long side. BTW, here is a shameless plug. If you decide to go the 645 route, check out ebay because I am going to list a 645 camera, film holder and 80-160 lens soon that I don't use because I use the 645nII :-)

Paul Utkin , Feb 11, 2004; 10:10 a.m.

The only reason to go with 645 format may be to go digital within next several years. From what I see you probably need a Fuji 6x9 with wide lens.

Guy Tal , Feb 11, 2004; 10:38 a.m.

For landscape photography your main concerns are weight (if you plan to hike with it) and film size (the bigger the better). Speed, metering, electronic features etc. are all "nice to have" but not really necessary.
I started with the 645 and replaced it with the 67 - one of the best decisions I ever made. I then moved to 4x5 - an even better decision. Not sure what you mean by "You really don't know where the film is". It's in the camera. The counter tells you how many exposures you have left. I never had a problem with mine.
Neither camera has interchangeable backs so this is not a consideration. The 67 is heavier but not too heavy compared with other 6x7 systems.
If you're using matrix metering for landscapes, you will do well to study exposure, get a handheld spotmeter, and not let the camera do the thinking for you. Once you get the hang of it you'll never trust another method of metering again.
The 67 gives you a choice of finders (the lightweight WLF is an excellent choice for landscape field work), a huge array of excellent lenses at bargain prices, and is built to survive a nuclear meltdown. If you get one - definitely go for the MLU models (the earlier ones are marked 6x7, the newer models are marked 67 - go for the latter).

Then, just before you spend your money, think long and hard about Large Format. All things considered you can probably get a decent 4x5 system for about the same price. If you're willing to put the time and effort into your photography, why not go all the way?


Bob Cook , Feb 11, 2004; 10:39 a.m.

Larry - I can offer a few comments since I am a long time user of both cameras. The adapter works fine for P67 lenses on the 645, but you have only spot and center weighted metering available - you lose the matrix metering with the adapter. You still retain the electronic rangefinder which is nice, especially with wide angles. I can also tell you that the two zooms, 45- 90 and 80-160 are great lenses for the 645. If you use MLU on the 67, there is no problem. What has been reported is shutter vibration at slow speeds, generally from about 1/30th down to one second. Personally I think it is highly over rated as a problem. I have been using my P67 for 10 years, shooting primarily landscapes and routinely use those shutter speeds. There is a simple technigue of damping the camera with your hand when on the tripod that eliminates any potential for problems. I agree with the previous poster that it is really a format issue. I find the 67 size to be significantly better than 35mm, and the difference between 645 and 35mm not enough to bother with anymore. Most people say that the 67 format has to be cropped to be printed, but of course that simply isn't the case. I let the image determine the final size, not the paper. Hope this helps.

Larry Menzin , Feb 11, 2004; 11:11 a.m.

There were some good answers. I am tending towards the 67 solution because I have two 67 lenses (which are now being used on a Nikon mount with a Zork shift adapter). I thought that since I already have the lenses, why not get a body and try out MF photography.

I rented a 67 II body about a month ago and had problems with the film advance. Some 120 rolls only got 8 shots and the spacing was inconsistent. Film loading was a huge hassle, especially in the sub-zero cold. This is apparently a weak spot with the 67. Although I began using a hand-held spot meter, the P67 II matrix metering was so good that the spotmeter became redundant after a couple of rolls.

It seems like the P67 is the way to go. Can you get by without MLU if a sturdy tripod is used? During the rental, I shot about half with MLU and half without using a Gitzo 1325 and a large ballhead and couldn't see a difference in the final chromes.

Although I've been having fun stitching together panoramas with the 35mm format and can get more detail stitching together 9 35mm frames, the P67 shots, scanned on an Imacon 646 at a service bureau, just had a great "look." Maybe there is a MF mystique!

If I choose to pursue this, it may require dropping a couple of grand on a film scanner. Since I went digital to get away from the times required to scan film, it feels that I may be going backwards!

Would it be possible to get decent results with a flatbed like the new Epson 4870? Otherwise it is on to the new Nikon 9000 (when it finally arrives) and a big hole in my pocket. The Imacon gave such great results that perhaps a desktop scanner won't cut it and the hole could be 5 grand. Any experience in scanning 67 chromes?

Bob Katz , Feb 11, 2004; 12:01 p.m.

"The P67 appears to be entirely mechanical..."

No, it isn't - it has an electronic shutter. If the battery dies, the camera doesn't work.

Jay . , Feb 11, 2004; 01:23 p.m.

I used to shoot P67 for landscape and detested it mainly because it has no interchangeable backs. I remember shooting sunrises and missing half the good light while reloading.

I now use Hasselblad, which was a pricey gambit at the time I switched but with prices the way they are now that's the only way I'd go.

Steve Rasmussen , Feb 11, 2004; 02:11 p.m.

"Can you get by without MLU if a sturdy tripod is used? During the rental, I shot about half with MLU and half without using a Gitzo 1325 and a large ballhead and couldn't see a difference in the final chromes."

You generally can get by without the MLU but I wouldn't suggest it. There are certain lenses that are more susceptible to vib(from either mirror or shutter)than others. I suggest locking up the mirror for all lenses 200mm and above, even with a 10 lb tripod. I use my MLU for all tripod work for all lenses as a matter of habit. For handheld work, it is not necessary due to the higher shutter speeds used.

You might find Photo.Net's Pentax 67 site interesting.

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