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.

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    Now, if only Canon’s 1200mm lens and 2x extender came in a Pentax mount, I’d be able to photograph events from my rooftop, in the middle of the night, seven states away.

  • CatfishSoupFTW

    the specs for the price seem very appealing.

  • Rodrigo De Anda

    I think you have the wrong impression, it´s a larger format so the focal lenght will be less than a DSLR.

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    No, I don’t have the wrong impression. I think my impression was further over your head than you initially thought and you lacked the proper amount of zooooooom to see it! :D

  • RBliss

    Cold be a D800 killer.

  • alexcookemusic

    One thing I really don’t understand: MF is infamous for struggling with high ISOs, so much so that most cameras are capped off well before their 35mm counterparts… how is this making such a leap into high ISO territory? I understand it’s a new model and the Pentax “MF” sensor is really only about 1.66x 35mm size , but this is a hellacious leap.

  • DLCade

    The leap is due to the CMOS sensor. Up until very recently all MF cameras used CCD sensors that just couldn’t perform at higher ISOs

  • ecardenas

    The leap is in the sensor. Most MF cameras run off of CCD sensors, this is a cmos, which happens to be what they put in 35mm only larger. I’m guessing the sync speed will be really slow though

  • Doc Fluty

    Looks like I will be selling a 5d mark iii and a few lenses and switching over.

    I hate the phrase… but this IS a game changer at that price point.

  • alexcookemusic

    Ah! I knew I was missing something. Thank you!!

  • Graham Marley

    The website mentions a new WB control in this camera that sounds really interesting, I’m just reserving judgement until I hear more. It appears to have some kind of separate “light source sensor” that combines data with the image from the CMOS to be able to adjust cross-casts in camera. Even if it worked half as well as I’d like it to, that could be pretty damn handy.

  • Sir James

    As a digital medium format user (Mamiya Leaf Credo) this is really interesting, looks like a real game changer. The price tag is just awesome…

    But there is one big thing wich was also an important part of the reason why I switched over to MF – and that’s hispeed flash sync up to 1/1600s with leaf shutter lenses.

    But again, for this price tag = awesome :)

  • Peng Tuck Kwok

    It will come eventually (well it has with this model). The drive to push these kind of features I think have a been a little slow and small.

  • Bob

    The Pentax body costs 3 times as much as a D800, but only gives you about 47% more pixels and 66% more sensor area. Law of diminishing returns I guess.

    Also, with only a 1/125 max sync speed, only landscape photographers are going to be interested in this. It would be silly to buy this as a studio camera.

    Sure, there are 2 leaf shutter lenses (giving 1/500 sync) for the 645 system that will mount to it (75/2.8 and 135/4), but both are manual focus only, manual aperture, and manual shutter (needs to be cocked before each exposure). They are also very old designs from 20 years ago that only have a PC port for connectivity (so your flash or strobe needs a PC port too, or you’ve got to adapt the signal somehow). Further, both need to be stopped down at least one stop to get decent sharpness, so that MF depth of field isn’t really that thin anymore.

    I’d really like to see Ricoh make some more leaf shutter lenses with autofocus, automatic aperture and shutters, and better connectivity.

  • Tfisher

    No leaf shutter, only 14 bit, slow sync, no compact flash, no swappable back, no professional services … not interested.

  • Gav

    Since this camera has a Sony sensor in it. I think I will wait for Sony’s rumoured MF Mirrorless camera to be announced…

  • Pete

    I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about.
    – Leaf shutter is in the lenses.
    – “Only” 14 bit?!
    – Why would it need a compact flash on a Pro body?

  • Gav

    Yep agreed… If the Pentax supported a range of Leaf shutter lenses…That would change the ball game.. At the moment it is just another camera…

  • whoopn

    This. This is what camera updates/refreshes are supposed to be. BIG changes and improvements. Are you taking notes Canon (you too Nikon!)? I remember the days when a company releasing an update meant there were some great new things and having version 2 instead of version 1 was like buying a pinto instead of buying the new .

    51MP AND high ISO? Color me impressed.

  • Nathan Parry

    But the name is misleading. It’s not a true 645. A 645 film frame is bigger than the sensor in there.

    Still, as has been said, that price point is sweet. That’s a lot of camera for the money. A true 645 sensor would probably double the cost.

  • Carlos Arango

    If I’m not wrong, pentax keeps their mount without many changes from iteration to iteration, and i believe there is an adapter for canon and Nikon mounts to be used in pentax bodies.

  • SeoulFoodNinja

    Damn! Rodrigo’s comment got f-stopped in its tracks!

  • Emil Nyström

    Same here. But this one does look hot with weather sealing.

  • Carlos Arango

    Don’t see why it can be used as a studio camera, with the knowledge of the zone system those are really simple stops, makes more demanding in part of the ability of the photographer. Flash is not everything, sometimes continious light is most preferable, easier to control and more manageable if you know how to use the zone system. The more manual the camera is the better.

  • Carlos Arango

    Yeah, actually would have preferred that they kept the same power of the sensor maybe going only to 1600 ASA and making it as large as a true MF 645, heck I still get more resolution by scanning my 120 negatives with a good quality light scanner, and I get to keep the film grain quality.

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    No, you’re quite right. However, this camera doesn’t use the standard Pentax mount, it uses the “FA” mount. I’m not really sure what the largest size is. Either way, I don’t know if a FF lens would function properly on a camera with a larger sensor.

  • Carlos Arango

    Well usually you should be able to use the 645 lenses, hope they can, after all those are the ones designed for medium format. Will need to look into it, but I expect them to remain that point alive. After all one point that always make pentax stand out in the MF was the ability to keep using glass without the need of an adapter for the new line in the system

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    Oh yeah, I’m sorry about that, it’s the “FA 645″ lens system. I didn’t think it would make a difference if I shorthanded it to just “FA.”

  • Graham Marley

    The x-sync was frowny-face for me too, but it appears that it’ll crank a pretty crazy frame rate for such a huge file, and since you can get decent ND filters I’ll take that trade for a sub-10k price. I know an ND filter isn’t an exact trade, but you can’t fake a faster frame rate.

  • Hys

    Older lenses for Rolei, Mamiya, Pentacon Six …, will do.

  • RussianPhotographer

    OMG! I am so happy I didn’t buy and stuck with Canon 1Dx. I think I am changing the systems. It’s time to grow up. while Canon couldn’t care less. Thank you, Pentax!

  • sshoihet

    The only reason for the huge improvement is because they were using ~10yr old technology…they’re just catching up to Nikon now. There isn’t much further for current technology to go so don’t expect Canon and Nikon to make big improvements any time soon.

  • Adam Cross

    “It would be silly to buy this as a studio camera.” … unless you shoot with continuous lighting…

  • Nikola Ovcharski

    Sexy beast

  • German

    Focal length does not depend on the format.

  • Gavin Lister

    Yeah Gav. I’m with you on this one! Whilst this is evolutionary I have a feeling the Sony will be truly revolutionary. If it has the ability to accept different lens mounts plus being mirror less in a small size then….wow!!

    Also hoping it will be 16bit :-)

  • Frank

    >they’re just catching up to Nikon now.

    Go home – you’re drunk.

  • Rob S

    Not quite. The mount is 645AF2. FA is a lens lineup. On the 645 you have FA, D FA and DA lenses. On the K series you have FA, FA Limited, DA, DA Limited, DA* and D FA. Previously there were FA-J and FA* lenses.

  • AmyLee

    It’s called “Multi-Segment AWB,” where the 86k pixel metering system individually assesses the scene across the entire metering system and assigns AWB per section. i.e. you are shooting a room that has tungsten lamps mixed with sunlight coming through the window.

    It’s newly implemented in the Ricoh GR and Pentax K-3. And it works astoundingly.

  • Rob S

    You do realize that digital makes swapping backs unnecessary right? We used backs for film because MF film was such a pain to load and unload. Doing so in the middle of a shoot would have taken too much time. So backs were invented to allow photographers to quickly swap film in and out. Digital backs were created to allow pros with huge lens/body investments to shoot digital.

    Memory cards are the equivalent of film and take no time to change. There is ZERO logic to a digital back when you can build an entire camera for less.

    But of course you were not a serious customer for this camera anyway, just an internet drone talking smack…..and not even doing it well.

  • Rob S

    And with LED continuous giving bright light, controllable color and almost no heat compared to “hot” lights, its a real option.

  • CatfishSoupFTW

    meh, D800 is a different catagory though. I mean, sure work slow can be the same at times, but the larger sensor already puts it in a different field. The D800 sales I think wouldnt be impacted at all by this.

  • imajez

    “Also, with only a 1/125 max sync speed, only landscape photographers are going to be interested in this. It would be silly to buy this as a studio camera.”

    Actually it’s fine for studio as ambient light can be so low it’s irrelevent. Where it is a real problem is for outdoor shooting with flash because you are limited to very small apertures and low ISOs.

  • BillBob

    That’s is the stupidest comment of the day!

  • Oj0

    I think you’ll find he means compact flash as in CompactFlash memory cards, not a poppy-uppy flash ;)

  • tfisher

    Let’s compare lens line ups from Hassy, Schneider, Phase, et cetera that have leaf. And, this is a related point, have a build quality that people are confident in. Untested equipment should never be trussed on a client job.

    Only 14 bit? It’s the only medium format with a colour space that small. The rest are at 16 bit.

    Compact Flash a storage medium with its own microprocessor for better handling of Input-Output. One day, when you’re older, and someone lets you touch pro equipment, you’ll see it.

  • tfisher

    You do realize that digital makes swapping backs unnecessary right?

    You do realize that the industry has standardized on digital backs right? This means no existing infrastructure works with it.


    The whole industry is changing and Canon and Nikon (Kodak and Polaroid) are watching it go by. Sales of SLR are way down, the internet is flooded with stories of terrible experiences at repair centers and costs….people will spend their money elsewhere.


    BTW…who makes the sensor for the Pentax, Phase One, and the Hasselblad? I wish Sony could figure out how to make lenses now!

  • Jimmy

    Prediction: this is going to get a DxOMark low-light score of about 4700. ;-)