So What Did I Decide to Do?
The conclusion I drew here is that, assuming I could afford the camera and 28-45 f4.5 DA SR, the rest would fall into place nicely, if I was prepared to be patient and perhaps go through a few used samples of a given legacy lens. Clearly some of the A and FA lenses are superb and worth hunting down. I had noticed, however, that depsite some of the sample variation issues, there were full-rez samples from legacy lenses that looked spectacular. There was a crispness and depth to images from the likes of the 200mm f4 that really impressed me. I felt encouraged and willing to take a leap of faith and so I did.
I found a great deal in the Netherlands on the following new items, at The Photo Specialist, saving a bunch over main UK retailers, but with a good warranty.
- Pentax 645Z body
- 28-45 DA
- 75mm FA.
Additionally, I picked up the following used (for less than the cost of a new Sony FE 28mm f2 and a third the cost of the Zony 55mm FE Sonnar, when it was released). I also knew I could resell with little if any loss if need be!
- 120mm Macro A series lens from a dealer for £190
- 80-160 A series on ebay for £130.
But how did it work out? I have to be honest, I had a real ‘oh dear, what have I done’ moment, after the funds left my bank account and once again when everything arrived in the mail. I feared achieving very little over the A7R for a lot more money, but in the end the reverse was true. I was impressed very quickly with initial tests and of course I took it to Iceland this May. I was very happy with how everything in my bag performed on this trip and the fact that I shot the entire 11 days on this equipment and barely touched the Sony A7, tells you something about how ‘grabbable’ the Pentax is. Heavy and large, yes, but that was the only negative. I’m a fit and strong 39, so this did not faze me at all, at least not in the moment, but awkward handling or other niggles would have steered my hand towards the Sony more than it did. I did get tired arms at points, though – I’m not gonna lie! But the results… oh, my…
In future parts, I will go through how I felt about the camera ‘in use’, image quality, lens performance and more.
Before moving on, however, I will address two questions very concisely:
Q. Does the 645Z significantly outperform the Sony A7R in terms of image quality?
A. Yes, absolutely and in every parameter.
Q. Can you really expect decades old A and FA series lenses that in some cases can be had for under £100 to keep up with the latest and greatest 51.4 MP sensor from Sony, as featured in other brands’ £20,000+ cameras?
A. Yes… actually (some, but not all).
Q. Is it hard to hold such a heavy camera and lens steady?
A. No, not in the short-term, but fatigue can set in.
Q. Is the Pentax 645Z a dinosaur DSLR in a world of mirrorless mammals?
A. Yes, but everything still runs from a T-Rex 😉 It is also brilliantly evolved and has plenty of life left in it. It does so much so well.