Pentax 645Z Diagram


The chart above is there not to strain your eyesight, but rather to give you an impression of the strongest first impression that the 645Z gives – that is of their being a single dedicated external control for virtually every major and most minor functions. Whereas the smaller a camera gets the more controls have to be placed onto menus and custom functions, with a large camera such as the 645Z there is physical space to be allocated so that direct control is available.

Depending on your age and experience in photography this may be seen as either a good thing, or abad thing. Lovers of simplicity (the Leica S approach) will likely find the 645Z to be confusing and even intimidating. On the other hand, a photographer who wants to have every control at his or her fingertips, will consider the new Pentax to be just the ticket.

That said, we found a hard-to-quantify but nonetheless palpable ‘thickening‘ of the control interface from the previous 645D.  While there are only a couple more buttons, a number of the core controls lacked the transparency and fluidity of the original camera.  It may be that over a period of time this will disappear for experienced users, but Pentax did over do it a bit here.  The ‘Green’ button on the back is a prime example.  It is a shamelessly modal control, and badly out of place on a camera where virtually every control is first-order obvious.  The presence of JPEG WB controls on the four-way controller is another fail and a hold-over from  the company’s consumer APS-C cameras (Pentax is not alone in including ridiculous controls like this on the ubiquitous four-way).   Auto ISO is a particularly badly implemented control, and we mention that below.

But we have to put these relatively minor critiques in context:  the 645Z is light-years ahead of any other MF-class camera, and frankly better than just about all of the FF 35mm machines in user interface.  Using a Phase or Hassy body is pure agony after handling a “Z”. Many of the controls are blessedly well done, such as the pop-up menu that appears when one hits “INFO” during image review, which displays thumbnails of the four review options (eg: with or with histo, 3-colour histo, etc), between which one can quickly scroll.

The “Z” is still a great user’s camera.                                                                                                                                          Source: