Pentax 645D, 25mm f/4 AL (IF) SDM AW Lens, f/11, five frame HDR, ISO 200.

Lately, I’ve been exploring medium format photography. I recently rented a Pentax 645D digital medium format kit from This let me really test out the format and the camera.

What I Got

The kit I tried included the camera body and three lenses. I also found that the battery was really good. It lasted all day without dropping below half. It’s a wonderful setup, and LensRentals’ service was superb with phone calls to help me with a question, and clear instructions and a shipping label for returning the gear. I highly recommend their service.

The Costs of Medium Format

The question is, why would anyone spend the money for a medium format kit? First of all, the cost of entry varies incredibly depending on which camera you get. Some brands exceed $60K for the body only. Lenses on average are more expensive than for 35mm format.

The camera I used is the least expensive at just $6,500 for the body. Also, Pentax just announced their latest camera, the 645Z, and it’s amazing. My mouth waters every time I think about it, and at just $8,500 my wallet is starting to itch, too. It’s a lot of money, no doubt, but there’s one thing that makes me think it worthwhile.


Why Shoot Medium Format?

The simple answer?

It’s BIG.

As digital photographers, we love the “Full Frame” DSLR’s, which have sensors roughly 24mm by 35mm. The 645 has a 44mm by 33mm sensor. That means you get to see more of the world every time you put your eye to the viewfinder.

This is a difficult thing to explain, but it’s kind of like looking out the window in your kitchen above the sink and enjoying the view, and then going out on the porch and enjoying the view. It’s the same view, but the porch lets you see more all at once, and that’s all the difference in the world. As a professional photographer, I get paid more for the things that make me different.


First Thoughts

I made the above photographs at Ecola State Park in Oregon, and the larger sensor in the 645 really shows me a new world. Also, the four thirds ratio is energizing. I’ve been shooting my D800 in the 4×5 crop mode lately to emulate it and that’s been fun, as well.

My advice? Head over to and schedule this bad boy for yourself to try. In fact, with the new model coming out we may see a price drop on the current model…hmmm…I think I’ll go check the couch cushions for change…

I’ll share some more pictures next time.