Review: Pentax 6×7

Pentax 6x7

Thousand of pro use and have used this camera every days all over the world, so it has to be good, right?

And indeed it is.

But the real question is: it is good enough?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a professional tool without any doubt.

But, maybe because I used it at the same time as the Hasselblad (that I loved much more) I cannot “bond” with the Pentax as I wished.

On the plus side the 6×7 shown here, and even more the newest 67 models, I think that it is a great tool to shoot handheld, because it is heavy, but the weight itself helps keeping the camera stable, and the shutter, despite the huge noise, it is well damped.

I found myself using the Pentax 6×7 handheld at the same shutter speeds that I was capable of with the Nikon F4s, even if with the help of an handmade wood grip (kept in place by the two belt rings on the right side), and the results were always perfect; try to do this with a Mamiya RZ 67…

Sila lago Arvo Pentax 6x7 45mm f/4

The cons are mostly the bulkiness (but it is quite “skinny” for being a 6×7; again: look at the Mamiyas) and, most and foremost, the lenses.

I used to use the 45mm f/4, the 105mm f/2,8 and the 165mm f/2,8.

All the three of them are good from excellent lenses, but they lack a spark, something the german (read Zeiss here) lenses have and the japanese don’t.

Probably it is just a matter of preferences, because the german lenses will give you contrasty, 3d, colorful pictures, while the japanese ones will tend more versus a delicate, flat, pastel rendition.

For my tastes the german glasses win hands down, but this it’s your choice.

Summing up:

– if you are searching an amazing medium format camera I’d go for an Hasselblad, because I like their lenses more and because tomorrow you can get (at a steep cost, I know) a digital back without trashing your investment; more the quality difference between 6×6 (uncropped) and 6×7 it is pretty much invisible.

– if you don’t like squares and you insist on 6×7 then buy a Mamiya 7; it’s a rangefinder with truly amazing lenses that weights almost nothing (for the format that it covers), but it is a bit pricey and don’t accept digital backs.

– if you insist on 6×7, and you don’t have / want to spend the money for the Mamiya 7 or if you don’t like it, then buy a Pentax 6×7 with a couple of lenses; because with the price they are scoring on the used market the Pentax are really a steal.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Review: Pentax 40mm f/2,8 M Pancake

My sample came well beaten up, with the filter ring bented and the focus ring locked.

I repaired it by myself with a couple of hammer blows.

Now it works like a charm.

Unbelievably small and compact for a SLR lens it is, like every almost other normal lens, a wonderful performer. Even if, for compactness sake, it lose something compared to other normals.

pentax 40 pancake

Your mileage may vary, but I find the 40mm focal lens almost perfect. It is wide enough, and long enough, that you may go everywere with just one lens on the camera, for casual shooting, and cover pretty every photographic opportunity you may find during your rounds. Really a one lens band!

Rating: ★★★★☆ on film

Rating: ★★★½☆ on digital (full frame and Dx)