Ricoh Unveils Next-Generation Pentax 645Z Medium Format Camera

Grab a cutting-edge CMOS sensor for less than $10k.

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Ricoh finally took the wraps off its new medium-format camera, introducing the Pentax 645Z to the world. While we got a sneak peek at what this camera might entail at CP+, when the company showed off its concept for a 645D Mark II. At long last, the prototype has made it to the product stage, pairing a huge sensor with a surprisingly affordable price.

The 645Z's sensor is a 51.4-megapixel CMOS sensor, replacing the 40-megapixel CCD unit that was inside its predecessor. While this new medium-format DSLR might look like a light refresh, the sensor and new image processing will net you previously unattainable ISO sensitivity (the 645Z maxes out at ISO 204,800) along with 3 FPS burst shooting (good for 10 RAW and 30 JPEG). The 645Z is the least expensive way to get this new sensor, which is also featured inside the Hasselblad H5D-50C and Phase One IQ250 digital back. The Hassy is $29k, and the Phase One back is $37k, camera not included.

But, as they say on TV, that's not all. The 645Z is also weathersealed with 76 gaskets, cold-resistant, and built around a sturdy aluminum chassis. New to Pentax's digital medium format offerings is an articulated LCD, a feature the company's APS-C DSLRs have never offered. Full-HD (1080/30p and even a 4K interval video mode) video recording and a compliment of two SD card slots (yes, the Pentax FLU Card is supported) round out what looks like a complete package.

Alongside the 645Z, Ricoh has announced its intent to bring its still-in-production FA medium-format lenses to the US market. The new lens lineup for our region will include 13 SMC-FA lenses alongside the three available D/D-FA lenses currently on sale.

Finally, we get to the question of price and availability. Even though the last digital 645 camera hit camera shops at a cool $10,000 at introduction, the 645Z will ring the till at a staggeringly reasonable MSRP of $8,499.95 when it's available in June of this year.

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