When DPP learned that Super East Asia, the local distributor of Pentax, had a demo unit of the new 645D medium format camera, they immediately placed themselves on the waiting list. The last time Bella Luce Studios shot medium format was for a clothing brand’s advertising campaign in 2001. The campaign was photographed using film and an analog format medium camera. Exposure had to be dialed in using a Polaroid camera prior to shooting the film rolls.
Imagine DPP’s excitement when they finally had the opportunity to shoot medium format again, with the convenience of a digital system. The first thing they needed was a subject. Fortunately, the popular band, Sinosikat? needed a new concept for their photos since they mostly had traditional environmental photos of themselves. DP proposed something different: a studio shoot using rim lighting that would give an edgy, “glamorized” look. The band agreed and the date was set. Unfortunately, DPP couldn’t just do one shoot with the 645D, so they scheduled a beauty shoot to test the camera’s resolution.
Two days before the photo shoot, they learned that the three of Sinosikat’s? musicians would not be able to attend the shoot. Only lead singer, Kat Agarrado was available. DPP decided to push through, but they had to change the concept from a group shot to a composite shot. Their plan was to “glamorize” the lead singer and make her the center of attention. She would be photographed using the 645D, while drummer Reli de Vera, bassist Noel Asistores, and keyboardist Nikki Cabardo would compliment their leading lady in the background. Although, they would have to be photographed by a regular DSLR, since they would no longer have the 645D during their scheduled dates.
Four lights were used for Kat’s shoot. Two lights that were controlled at the back by barn doors provided a rim for her shoulders. The hair light was a strip box located four feet above Kat’s head. The diffused beauty dish acted as the main light.
Being used to a DSLR, shooting with the Pentax 645D required a little adjustment. Thankfully, the medium format felt lighter than expected. They managed to shoot both Kat’s glam portraits and the model’s beauty shots handheld. In hindsight, they would probably set the 645D on a tripod if they were to use it again.
The incredible power of the medium format was fully realized during the photos’ editing stage. DPP’s iMac 2.7 Ghz i5, 4GB, 1333 MHz took longer when rendering the files in Lightroom; fortunately, it was able to handle several layers while compositing on Photoshop. Editing the beauty image was a different story—every imperfection and skin pore was visible. DPP saw why professional photographers and retouch artists prefer the medium format: it gives their clients the best quality files. This also meant added work in post processing, but it’s the price one must pay to achieve professional quality. An equivalent upgrade in the computer’s power is also recommended to correspond to the image’s upgrade in resolution. Processing the photos would have been faster on an iMac with an i7 processor and 8GB RAM.
For the professional advertising, fashion, or landscape photographer, quality is key to delivering the best images. The Pentax 645D medium format camera offers such superiority by giving a resolution of 40 megapixels through its large image sensor. The sensor is 1.7 times larger than the standard 35mm, and measures 44mmx33mm. A wide dynamic range results in each image, accurately depicting the subject photographed. The PENTAX-original PRIME (Pentax Real Image Engine) II is what allows the rich gradation and color reproduction to come out in each photo. Files end up being as large as 50MB when saved as RAW.
The medium format’s camera is lighter than expected, made of lightweight, durable magnesium steel alloy. This material allows one to shoot comfortably both handheld and on a tripod. Its durable body is also dust-proof, weather-resistant, and cold-resistant. In terms of shooting performance, the 645D can achieve as much as 50,000 shutter releases via a top shutter speed of 1/4000. Photographers on long assignments can even store two memory cards via its dual SD/SDHC memory card slots. Photos can be separately saved per card as either JPEG or RAW.
Whatever the genre or however high the quality, the Pentax 645D is sure to achieve any photographic goal, and surpass one’s expectations.
Working with a medium format proved to be a rewarding experience and redefined DPP’s view of resolution. The Pentax 645D is priced quite attractively—a little above Php 600,000—while manufacturers who offer similar solutions or digital backs run upwards from Php 1,500,000. This is definitely not your every day camera, but DPP foresees photographers would greatly benefit from the quality. Advertising photographers can easily pay off the camera with one good advertising campaign and can set themselves apart from competition by providing quality images in ultra high resolution. DPP can also foresee studio owners going into medium format if they want to offer their clients the clarity in portraits. The Pentax 645D delivers more than enough quality for the ambitious photographer, and will definitely take the most excellent images a notch higher.
more than medium
The camera controls of the Pentax 645D are similar to the DSLR, with its important buttons on an easy access area.
A closer look at the model’s eye and lips proves that the 645D keeps incredible detail. The image on the left is zoomed in at 50% in Photoshop. The close up of the lips is at a 100% view. Because of the camera’s resolution, the quality is retained no matter how large the zoom. Using a 645D is great if you want images enlarged while still retaining full detail.
Makeup: Angelique Dinglasan
Hair: Glaiza Tolentino