One of the Best Entry-Level Medium Format Cameras: Review of the Pentax 645N

The Pentax 645 is undoubtedly a great camera. It can be had at a relatively low cost while boasting great features with an excellent lens lineup, making this camera one of the best entry-level medium format cameras on the market.

In this video, Kyle McDougall reviews one of the most famous medium format film cameras of all time, the Pentax 645N. The Pentax 645N came out in 1997 and was succeeded by the 645Nii in 2001. They are the younger brothers of the original 645 (1984-1997). The Pentax 645 system was and still is a great entry-level medium format camera. Relative to other medium format cameras, the price is reasonable (at the time of writing, a 645 body can be had for about $200-250 and the 645N is about $550-650). Further, there is a large lens lineup, with many of the manual focus lenses to be had at a reasonable price. 

Years ago, when I was looking for my first 645 camera, I was convinced that I wanted a Pentax. Had there been one available at the time, I'm sure I would have purchased one. Instead, I was able to pick up a Mamiya 645 Pro-TL just before a trip to Arizona, and that's what I stuck with. As you may have recently seen, I do love Pentax and hope that they return to making film cameras. The Pentax 645 series would be an excellent camera to be remade.   

Have you ever shot with the Pentax 645N or any of its siblings? What were your thoughts? If you've used it in addition to other 645 cameras, how did the Pentax compare?

James Madison's picture

Madison is a mathematician turned statistician based out of Columbus, OH. He fell back in love with film years ago while living in Charleston, SC and hasn't looked back since. In early 2019 he started a website about film photography.

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Yes, I've shot with the first generation P645. A beautiful piece of rented gear. I opted for a pair of P67 bodies, 55, 90LS, 105, 135, 160LS and 300 mm lenses when it came to owning my gear. 6X7 called me more than 645. Additionally, I have a fleet of RB67 bodies and 11 lenses.

Love my 645, perfect entry into the world of medium format. Price wise it's just perfect, both body and lenses. And it's so easy to use!

Please... stop making me want to buy more xameras.. 😢😢😢

right?! I keep telling myself, the 7 I have are enough.

I've always loved 645, the 4:3 ratio for portraits is perfect. Had a Mamiya 645AF and a Contax 645. Sold them both at the top of the market, can't wait to pick them up at the bottom of the market when all the wedding folks stop shooting film and pick up used GFX's.