Pentax’s New Medium Format 645Z Packs a 51MP CMOS Sensor and Max ISO 204,800


It’s here. The Pentax 645Z Medium Format camera has arrived just as the rumor sites said it would, and the camera’s release date was far from the only rumor that has proven to be 100% true. In fact, we’ll have to look hard to find anything they got wrong.

Unveiled just a couple of hours ago, the 645Z looks almost identical to the 645D that came four years before it. But looks are about the only thing that hasn’t changed.

Inside you’ll find a brand new 43.8 x 32.8mm 51.4MP CMOS sensor that can handle live view, record 1080p video and crank the ISO up to 206,800… or as they would say in Spinal Tap, eleven.

On top of that you have 3fps continuous shooting, a 3.2-inch 1.037M-dot tiltable LCD, 10-frame raw buffer, SAFOX 11 phase-matching AF module with 27 sensor points (25 cross-type sensors) and 76 weather seals that make it cold-resistant, dustproof and weather-resistant.

Here’s a closer look at the camera:








In addition to the camera, Ricoh is also making 13 additional FA 645 lenses available in the US that previously were not. Those are:

  • 75mm f/2.8 $839.00
  • 45mm f/2.8 $1,319.00
  • 150mm f/2.8(IF) $1,679.00
  • 300mm f/4 ED(IF) $4,799.95
  • 400mm f/5.6 EDIF $3,479.00
  • 45-85mm f/4.5 $2,879.00
  • 120mm f/4 MACRO $1,679.00
  • 200mm f/4 (IF) $1,319.00
  • 80-160mm f/4.5 $2,519.00
  • 33-55mm f/4.5 AL $3,239.00
  • 150-300mm f/5.6 ED $3,239.00
  • 35mm f/3.5 $1,919.00
  • 55-110mm f/5.6 $2,039.00

The 645Z is slated to arrive in June for the very competitive (and very leaked in advance) price of $8,500 for the body only.

Ricoh is calling this one a ‘game-changer.’ And while not everyone will agree, those specs paired with that price point certainly does make this an incredibly compelling option for anybody who has every considered taking the leap into digital medium format.

To learn more about the camera, check out the full press release over on the Ricoh Imaging press page or preorder yours now at B&H Photo.

  • Jeremiah True

    I agree, my only wish is that the back was removable so it could be used in other applications. Either that or I need to find a way to put a Pentax bayonet mount on my technical camera.

  • Stephen

    I think we can all agree, this camera is really going to shine in fast-moving sports photography.

  • Stephen

    “Untested equipment.” Ha. Yes, because that is exactly how the market works. A bunch of engineers at Pentax design and build a camera, taking it from paper to retail in thirty days, and then it’s in the consumers’ hands and the engineers just kinda sit back with their fingers crossed hoping everything works okay. Hey, remember that time Sony accidentally put a screw right in the middle of the eyepiece and nobody noticed until after 4,000 products had already been sold? SO FUNNY.

  • Peter Böszörményi

    Except that most of your picture would be vignette

  • Peter Böszörményi

    I can’t wait for the first video test. Medium format 1080p? Should be interesting.

  • markz

    I do like… but not my cup of tea for scoot and shoot street work… now if I got back in to street portraiture? I’d maybe hang up the Mamiya 7 for one of these

    Obligatory facetious jibe:
    “that’s not medium format…. 6×12 or GTFO”


  • whoopn

    This is kind of my point. Stop releasing small updates. We didn’t need a D7100 nor the D4S (sure huge ISO but cmon, the DF scored better than it on DxO for ISO sensitivity). Also the DF took 4 years to create, why? They recycled parts from other cameras they create (mostly). Canon is guilty of updating a little too quickly too. I wouldn’t say wait 10 years but when I see the updates from Canon and Nikon my reaction is something like “hmm…so it has more pixels and marginally better ISO response…yay *waves small flag*” (best example I have is between the D7000 and D7100).

  • Mike


    Try this though experiment. Imagine being at a rented location where there’s per minute cost of renting equipment, the location, the lighting gear, catering, wardrobe, vehicles, and lots of people are involved.

    You have two choices. You can go with camera equipment supplies whose equipment is used daily in such circumstances, and has been for decades, and has easy availability of compatible gear, parts and supplies….

    …or you can go with a minor supplier who’s been bought and sold several times over the last few years, and has no parts supply chain or distributors, professional services-level support and has unknown build quality.

    Your call.

  • Mike

    Yes, let’s compare the two leaf enabled lenses to all of the lenses available for Hassy, Phase and Contax. No problem.

    The industry standardized on 16 bit sensors years ago. I guess Pentax is going retro in image quality.

    Compact flash is a storage format used on pro gear. It has a microprocessor in the card to better manage I/O processes. That you don’t know this tells us a lot. That Pentax engineers have chosen to not include it knocks them out of being a serious contender in high-volume shooting.

  • Mike

    Please tell me this was a troll.

  • Matt

    Try a Sigma DP2 Merrill or wait for the quatro, you would be impressed. But, I am really thinking about getting this camera!
    And, I’m more of a 6×9 guy…

  • Me

    Translation: I don’t know how to use a flash.

  • punku

    Yup.. It’s like the APS-C of the 135mm format..
    That 645z is a bang for the buck..

  • Me

    Not so sure. The frame rate everyone’s waving their hands about and cheering is the jpegs per second. What sort of a ding-dong spends $8k to shoot Jpeg?

  • Me

    >”Only” 14 bit?!
    All of the other medium format suppliers are at 16 bit.

  • Jimmy

    What would be the advantage of that? If you’re looking for shallow DoF, you can get the same by investing into a fast full frame lens. If you’re looking for low-light performance (which this camera will certainly excel at), the solution is something like the Sony A7s which doesn’t do line skipping. An 50 MP camera will surely do line skipping when recording video.

  • Jimmy

    What it *does* give you for stills is excellent resolution, but that’s already restricted to 2 MP for 1080p video.

  • Peter Böszörményi

    Gamut and dynamic range are my main concerns.
    DOF is not affected by sensor size if you use the same lense and are the same distance from the subject.
    As for line skipping if you record 1080p (roughly 2MP) it doesn’t really matter if it’s 50MP or 17MP both will do it (or crop, like the REd cameras do).

  • plonked

    LMAO! plonker

  • Mike

    Tip: You don’t need to upgrade with each new model, just skip a few.

  • Graham Marley

    The jpeg continuous shooting is touted over and above the raw because it can go for about 300 exposures. The RAW will shoot at 3fps for 10 sequential shots.

  • tttulio

    A missed opportunity to make it mirrorless and therefore as compact as a DSLR.

    With all the benefits of a Mirrorless.

  • Ovidiu

    This is so good, can’t wait for the next model, i bet it will be even better.

  • Ken Elliott

    I suspect they are doing this in several phases. First, use an existing (debugged) body design and only change the sensor and associated electronics. Second, develop a mirrorless platform for mass market (APS-C). That drives down costs. Third, use the mirrorless platform with a MF sensor to deliver the MF mirrorless camera.

    If you take a look at Sony, this is the path they took. Mirrorless APS-C, then FF (three different sensors). If Sony decided to produce a mirrorless medium format camera, it would happen pretty quickly. I’ll bet Pentax thought the same thing and decided they needed to get this new CMOS sensor to market quickly. Having done so, they can focus on the lens lineup (currently a Sony weakness), giving them time to develop the mirrorless platform.

  • Lee

    tell that to Hassy and other MF camera that uses the same sony sensor.

  • TheGloriousEnd

    Most of the 645 lenses are in the f/2.8 to f/4 range to start with.
    So the faster sync doesn’t matter quite as much as it would with 35mm.

    Not to say that’s an answer, but it is something to think about.

  • imajez

    It matters just as much. You are still limited to the same aperture which would be f16 at 100 ISO on a sunny day.
    And if you want to freeze action 1/125th is as useless on this camera as with a 35mm sized camera.

  • Jared Polin

    That’s right. Smaller sensor just crops the image more.

  • Eddie Smith

    you can use any Pentax 645 lens ever made and any pentax 6×7 lens via an adaptor. this is a medium format camera not based on 35 mm lens registration distances. I know of no adaptor that even lets you use other Medium format lenses (I’d love to be able to use my Bronica lenses but an adaptor isn’t possible even custom machined as the registration is shorter)
    As for Canon Nikon etc on Pentax K bodies (Like the K3 etc) no to Canon, leica minolta etc as the registration distance is shorter. Nikon is almost the same registration distance too little for adaptors but some older ones will sort of fit provided you don’t need to focus at infinity. Any m42 or K mount lens will work though. There are also adaptors for the Pentax 645 and 6×7 lenses to the K mount 35mm standard

  • Eddie Smith

    mamiya will not fit neither will rollie or hassleblad …. Pentacon 6 can be adapted sort of (it’s not a clean adaptation and requires mount replacement)

  • Eddie Smith

    what planet are you from, the pentax medium format has long been the durable beast for outdoors and inclement weather (take a hassey out in the weather this is designed for and you’ll be spending another 30 grand on a new boduy that uses the same sensor btw) Pentax Medium format has never been a studio based system though it is capable enough for that, it’s always been the outdoors, landscape , adventure high end. still is and it’s extremely well built. As for company stability lets see how many times has hassey been propped up/ sold, or leaf or mamiya/phase schneider. they are all tiny companies in a very niche market. Ricoh has massive capitalization by comparison and has made a commitment to the brand (they need to diversify that copier money ast the copier business is stagnant) . They do need to get the rental support though – and haven’t in the last generation due to lack of lense support. that seems to be changing with the lens announcement that went along with this

  • Eddie Smith

    you do realise the only reason they did that was to enter the market faster for their old systems, and that Pentax was never a swappable back brand yet did very well in the medium format market in the past. swappable backs are great if you are just a studio shooter but not very bloody rugged are they