Thursday, September 18, 2014

Updated! Camera Gear Choices Late 2014 - Part 1


Well a lot has changed in the past year since I wrote my previous blog posts regarding my camera gear choices in January of this year. If there is once constant in the tech industry it is change. As a consumer of high end camera gear that constitutes a substantial dollar investment, I make it my business to keep up to date on the latest medium format camera introductions and prices. In August of this year Pentax introduced its new Pentax 645Z medium format camera with a 51 megapixel CMOS sensor. This new sensor is the same one used in the Hasselblad H5D 50c and the Phase One IQ 250. Both of these cameras cost upwards of  $27,000 (without lenses).  The Pentax 645Z costs $9000, with lenses ranging in price from a few hundred dollars used on ebay up to $5000 for a top of the line 28-45mm zoom.  I was very interested in the new 51 megapixel CMOS medium format sensor due to its higher iso capabilities. Previously, if there was wind or other conditions requiring a higher  iso to get a higher shutter speed, I had to rely on my Nikon D800E for those shots, as explained in my previous post on this topic. This is primarily because of the base iso of 50 in my Hasselblad h5D50 with CCD sensor. As technology is prone to do, the new CMOS medium format sensor leapfrogged the CCD sensor in terms of high iso capability and opened up a whole new realm of medium format photography. With the Pentax 645Z I can now shoot at much higher iso values (I have found up to iso 1600 usable for large fine art print reproduction). As an outdoor / landscape photographer this is very important for me since I am constantly dealing with the wind and blowing vegetation, which I want to capture without blur.

So, after trying out the new Pentax 645z in the field for a few weeks I decided to make the transition to the Pentax system and sell my Hasselblad gear and My Nikon D800e, since one camera can now do what those two cameras did for me. I have been a Hasselblad shooter since 2005, and have gone through many different body/back upgrades. I may have stayed with the Hasselblad system had the H5D50C not been priced at about $9000 more for an upgrade price than the purchase of the new Pentax. I do love the leaf shutter lenses of the Hasselblad system, but those are more critical for high flash sync speed photography and I do not do much studio or flash work. The Pentax 645Z body is much more durable and weather resistant, and a few of the new Pentax lenses are weather sealed as well. The main reason was a combination of price point (I always see my camera gear as an investment that may need to be sold if needed, so as to avoid taking a "haircut" on my investment), much better high iso capability, and better field durability. The constant is a large sensor that provides the megapixels and image quality I need for making large prints. One can find quibbles about the Pentax lens quality online, however my personal testing has determined that the lenses hold up well with the 51mp sensor, and most importantly, the image files hold up to making very large prints (up to ten feet in size).

I have taken my new Pentax on a backpack trip in the Sierra to capture Cathedral Peak at sunset, and it works well in the Clik chest strap system attached to my Osprey Backpack. I will be writing more posts about some additional observations and experiences, so please subscribe to my blog to be notified of new posts. I purchased my 645Z at B&H, and am a registered affiliate there, so feel free to use this link to check out the various lenses and gear I have for this new camera system.

Cathedral Peak Sunset - Taken with the Pentax 645Z & 45-85mm Zoom

Morning Star, Emerald Bay - Taken with Pentax 645Z and 28-45mm zoom

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