We've just had a religious experience; we finally got my hands on the new Pentax 645D, and what an amazing bit of kit it is. At its core is a 44 x 33mm Kodak CCD sensor (1.7x the size of a full-frame 35mm SLR) with a resolution of 40 megapixels, feeding a high-performance Pentax PRIME II processing engine with 14-bit A/D conversion, producing Raw image files of around 50MB, and the kind of image quality that owners of full-frame DSLRs can only dream about.
Other features include SAFOX 9 AF system, 800 shot battery life, in-camera HDR, automatic distortion correction, and a magnesium alloy body with weather-resistant seals. Body-only dimensions are 156 x 117 x 119mm, and weight is 1480g including battery and dual SD cards.
Although the 645D is launching with only a 55mm prime standard lens it is compatible with most of the existing lenses for the highly-regarded Pentax 645 film camera system.
Our initial impression of the camera is overwhelmingly positive. It is lighter and more manoeuvrable than we were expecting, with a large and very comfortable handgrip. For such a big camera it is surprisingly easy to handle, and would be easy to use hand-held, rather than on a tripod as medium-format cameras usually are. The controls are large, well positioned and easy to use, and the massive LCD data screen is superb, as is the 3.0-inch 9211k monitor. The optical viewfinder is simply fantastic, like looking at an IMAX cinema screen. I’ve never seen a larger, clearer viewfinder.
It has finally been confirmed that the 645D will be coming to Europe in October, including the UK, although it will only be available through a select few high-end outlets. It will sell for around £9,000 including the standard 55mm lens; while this sounds like a lot (it is, ask for a pay rise now!) when you compare it to the £20k price tag of a Hasselblad digital system it’s actually remarkable value for money.
More news later from the Sony press conference.