Large Landscapes With The Pentax 645Z

Environmental landscapes are one of my passions in photography.  The focus on environmental landscapes tells a story of our human existence and the impact we have on our natural environment.  Some of what I shoot is to highlight for others, the incredible natural beauty that surrounds us.  Additionally, urban landscapes can point out how well we are maintaining or trashing our own contributions to the natural world.  Shooting landscapes for me is always taking into consideration just how large of an image I can produce.  I’m not solely creating “big” images for the sake of big, but more for the ability to convey the grandeur of the landscapes beauty to the viewer of the image.  As a landscape photographer my tool chest utilizes a variety of lenses and different format cameras.  Different format cameras are solely categorized by the size of the sensor found in the cameras I use.  Simply put.  The larger the sensor, the larger the image you can print.  My go to cameras for landscapes have always been Nikons.  Currently, I’m using the Nikon D810 for its 36mb image resolution.  It’s a full frame camera that easily replicates the old and still current 35mm film format for those of us who remember and still use film.  The Nikon 810 has easily allowed me to print images in the 40 x 60 inch range, and from what I understand; you can print billboard-sized images with it as well.  The high mega pixel count of the 810 allows you to capture tremendous detail in your images.  The D810 is a great camera that would serve any landscape photographer well. yellowstonhayden-091As in all things, we constantly look to do more with more.  Despite the 810’s prowess, I’ve always wanted to try medium format.  The easiest way to currently segue into medium format territory is by buying an older film analog medium format camera.  Bargains can be had with older medium format film cameras, like Bronica, Hasselblad, Pentax, and Maimya.  I started with an older Hasselblad 501c camera and two lenses.  The medium bug format bit me pretty hard, and since acquiring the Hasselblad, I’ve now sold it and bought what is considered the low end of the digital medium format camera world – the Pentax 645Z.  key_largo_back_bay-231The Pentax has a 50mb size senor that not only provides greater resolution than the Nikon D810, but a much larger sensor that allows for larger sized pixels that can do more than the Nikon.  Don’t get me wrong, the Nikon still knocks out amazing images, and most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference once they saw an image made by either camera.  The Pentax however allows you to crop images down and show off more detail than the Nikon can.  It also allows for lager sized more detailed printing too.nyc-072

The Pentax 645Z is a designed camera that resembles a smaller DSLR in handling.  The Z had great ergonomics with a deep handgrip and easy access to buttons that help you customize your shooting.  One of the strong design elements is that the 645Z has two tripod threads for both vertical and horizontal shooting without having the added expense of buying an L-bracket.  There are a ton of reviews on the Pentax 645Z out there in the world of Goggle searches.  I’m not going to reinvent the wheel on creating a whole new review on this camera, but suffice to say for a landscape shooter, or for studio work, the Pentax is truly a remarkable camera.  I’ve enjoyed it so much, that I’ve even have taking it out to do some street shooting.  Yeah, it’s on the large size, but I use a wrist strap with it, and hold it behind me before I pull it out and take my shot.  The Z shoots really well in low light, matches the Nikon D4 for low light photography, it has an articulating rear LCD panel for waist or low level shooting, and it has live view to really aid in focusing.chimenyrock-129_copy  Weather sealed, dust resistant, what’s not to like about it.  And for a medium format camera it has the lowest price out there.  Granted it will set you back $8500, but compare that to a digital Hasselblad or Phase One that can start at $15K for just a digital back with a similar 50mb sensor, then you realize the just how affordable the Z can be.  I’m not giving up on my Nikon’s.  Nikon has too many lens options that just can’t be beat.  The Z has a smaller set of lenses, but enough to get you by.  I just wish they would come out with a tilt shift lens that takes advantage of the Z’s sensor.  Now that would be a landscape shooter’s dream come true.  All of the images in this blog were shot with the Pentax 645Z.  Lenses used include the 25mm f/4, 35 mm f/3.5, 55mm 2.8 and the 150mm 2.8.  The 150mm and 35mm are older lenses and meant more for their film cameras, but still do a decent job on the new digital cameras.  The 25mm and 55mm were built for Pentax’s new digital cameras, and for some inexplicable reason Pentax dropped the 25mm lens.  Which in my opinion was the best lens they made.  Enjoy and keep shooting pictures.skokielagoon