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Thread: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

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    Senior Member Chris Giles's Avatar
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    I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Hi everyone, for any that are interested I just published a series of posts on the Pentax 645z.

    It isn't hugely technical but covers weddings and portraiture, CCD vs CMOS, Dynamic range, Image quality, Weatherproofing and the Flash solutions.

    If after reading you want to know anything else I've otherwise missed please ask away in the comments.

    Pentax 645z Review by Chris Giles Chris Giles Photography Blog
    Chris Giles Photography
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Great review and great images!

    A comment about the Hassy now when I'm about to become a fanboy; although Hassy is a somewhat "closed system", you can still use the back on a tech cam, so if you're into that thing the detachable back is useful for more than just simplify cleaning. I have a H4D-50 for that purpose. I've never shot the body (use the back on a Linhof Techno), and the previous owner had never detached the back...

    I'm also of the opinion that removing the AA filter actually doesn't improve the image quality but the other way around. When one has 50 megapixels I'd rather free them from aliasing artifacts than get a tiny bit of more micro contrast. But I realize that's a rare opinion, there's no coincidence D810 is only available without AA filter while the D800 existed in both versions...
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Great review! Just one more example of how fantastic the dynamic range of the Sony CMOS sensor could be, so that one could continue trolling the CCD users and the Canon users

    Dynamic range is not just important for landscape shots, but also more important for wedding shots - you have more fault tolerance with your exposure for the decisive moments (which you would never have a second chance to capture again)! This is another reason not to use Canon or CCD for wedding, besides the fact that the low-light auto-focusing performance of Canon is also behind Pentax / Nikon.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Chris:

    Thanks for the review.

    It's funny after reading it, I went back to some other reviews and was very close to the "submit" button at Lenrentals.com.

    I shot the 55mm FA, and 35mm FA for years on my Canon with a Zork and if I still had those lenses, I more than likely would move. I think I still could purchase my 35mm back, as I know the owner well and it's not in much use.

    Then I think about 2 other issues, and each time I stop.

    1. Total investment/and loss I would take to move from my current tech camera and various lenses. Even though I hate the workflow, I still love the output.

    2. Pentax's total lack of a service center in the U.S. or Canada. I know to many this is not an issue, but to me it is and probably the single biggest. The last DSLR I purchased at 8K was my 1ds MKIII, before I had a 1ds and 1ds MKII, loved them all, but each one made several trips to Canon's Jamestown repair facility. Some issues were my fault, others Canon's QA.

    Pentax as I understand it is all in Japan, 8 to 10 weeks to have it repaired and I am not even sure if there is a English speaking person on the other end of the phone. Plus many times 50% of Canon and actually around 35% of Phase One repairs I have had send back a 2nd time. So, I have stayed away, but it's tempting for sure.

    Paul
    Paul Caldwell
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Trolling or not, Canon's overaged sensor technology got me tired now. I do (mainly) interior photography among other things.
    In my digital beginnings (10 years ago), I was thrilled when I learned how to do exposure blending by layers.
    I'm a diehard ACR user and also being thrilled with the constant improvements over the years. But I had it now. Sony is to blame. Seeing now for a couple of years the amazing DR from Sony sensors have me praying for Canon to dump their fabs to the pacific ocean and use Sony's.
    The 645Z seems better and better with every review made.
    Thanks for this excellent review and great examples.
    Eduardo

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    Great review! Just one more example of how fantastic the dynamic range of the Sony CMOS sensor could be, so that one could continue trolling the CCD users and the Canon users

    Dynamic range is not just important for landscape shots, but also more important for wedding shots - you have more fault tolerance with your exposure for the decisive moments (which you would never have a second chance to capture again)! This is another reason not to use Canon or CCD for wedding, besides the fact that the low-light auto-focusing performance of Canon is also behind Pentax / Nikon.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    The 645Z looks like a great camera and you convey its merits very well - thanks for posting.

    Weddings and street/documentary are similar. There is a moment and no time to correct mistakes after the event. The more wiggle room the sensor can give you, the better.

    I've been looking at the 645Z with interest, but wonder if the size is beyond what I would feel comfortable with. Guess I will have to get my hands on one and see.

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Just wondering if there are any tilt/shift lens options for the 645z? (Obviously non-native)
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    The only shift solution I know of is the very old and long disco'd 75mm P67 lens, that adapts to the 645 mount.

    I had this lens and was not impressed, and I was using it on a 35mm Canon/Zork.

    Not that sharp on center and really bad on shifts, and a big lens.

    Of course I may have had a bad version.

    True TS lenses are a missing option at least for me, and another reason I have not made the switch, now that your post reminded me.

    But nodal shifting as long as level should be pretty easy.

    But this goes back to the whole reason I purchased the tech camera, i.e. being able to shift/tilt and not be level.

    The circle continues.

    Paul

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    Just wondering if there are any tilt/shift lens options for the 645z? (Obviously non-native)
    You can buy a Pentax 645 Mirex TS adapter and put a lens on it.

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by Michiel Schierbeek View Post
    You can buy a Pentax 645 Mirex TS adapter and put a lens on it.
    Michiel, as far as I know those adapters allow using Pentax 645, Mamiya M645 and/or Hasselblad V-System lenses on smaller sensor/film format cameras only.

    @ Chris: very well written review.

    Kind regards,
    Udo
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Great review - thanks!

    Time to dream.....
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by Udo View Post
    Michiel, as far as I know those adapters allow using Pentax 645, Mamiya M645 and/or Hasselblad V-System lenses on smaller sensor/film format cameras only.

    @ Chris: very well written review.

    Kind regards,
    Udo
    Ah, yes Udo, you're right. That is a pitty.

    And yes Chris, I really enjoyed your review and it even makes me think more about this camera, although I can't justify it right now.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    No personal experience, but I believe the following allows tilt and shift using 67 lenses:

    Zörk Pro Shift adapter
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    Great review! Just one more example of how fantastic the dynamic range of the Sony CMOS sensor could be, so that one could continue trolling the CCD users and the Canon users

    Dynamic range is not just important for landscape shots, but also more important for wedding shots - you have more fault tolerance with your exposure for the decisive moments (which you would never have a second chance to capture again)! This is another reason not to use Canon or CCD for wedding, besides the fact that the low-light auto-focusing performance of Canon is also behind Pentax / Nikon.
    One wonders how the hell all those wonderfully beautiful wedding shots using Canon and CCD cameras were done prior to all this new Sony tech

    Anyway, nice review of the camera. It most certainly is a consideration for stuff like weddings because it is reasonably priced for what it delivers compared to the competition ... weddings are a tough business these days.

    Good luck with the new set-up Chris!

    - Marc
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    One wonders how the hell all those wonderfully beautiful wedding shots using Canon and CCD cameras were done prior to all this new Sony tech
    People used to shoot incredible sports pictures with film. Do most people still shoot sports with film now?

    I can shoot the milky way landscape (with foreground) with a Canon fullframe and a fast wide angle lens in a single exposure. Can you do that with a large format?

    When technology advances, people can achieve what used to be difficult. CCD and current Canon CMOS are falling behind, and will be obsolete.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    People used to shoot incredible sports pictures with film. Do most people still shoot sports with film now?

    I can shoot the milky way landscape (with foreground) with a Canon fullframe and a fast wide angle lens in a single exposure. Can you do that with a large format?

    When technology advances, people can achieve what used to be difficult. CCD and current Canon CMOS are falling behind, and will be obsolete.
    Well, if photography is simply a technical problem, then new technology will make your photographs "better." But photography is also an aesthetic problem. And, unfortunately for the camera companies, that cannot be solved by just improving performance of the machines. No, I cannot shot (easily) a landscape with a sharp image of the Milky Way with a large-format camera. But why do I have to?

    Most people do not shoot sports with film, but some do. And what that means is some photographers understand that photography is also a creative problem and when you think in different terms, you come out with photographs different from others:

    David Burnett's Speed Graphic Photos of the London 2012 Olympics

    I think the advances in technology are great. They give photographers new tools. That does not invalidate the old ones.

    Yes, my Pentax CCD is old. CCDs will become obsolete. But the images from my camera will not be obsolete. No amount of technical innovation will diminish the value of my work.
    Will

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    People upgrade because they feel chased by the competition, in a technical aspect. I think the most cited reason to upgrade MFD stuff is to keep the distance from the DSLR crowd. I once thought tech cameras was about movements, but I've learnt that for most it's about sharpness and resolving power... but indeed I'm glad to see that the 645z's weakness concerning movements is pointed out

    That said I can see many creative and practical reasons to move from a H4D-50 to a 645z, and a very strong financial reason to go to the 645z instead of the similarly-performing H5D-50c. It's a huge difference in the possibility to work in available light, and for wedding photography it's not insignificant. For planned shots with flash the H4D-50 does great of course.

    In "my" genre, landscape photography, you do cut away some opportunities by not having high ISO, and some high dynamic range scenes become more difficult to shoot, but for my style a 645z would make me feel more limited than my Linhof Techno + H4D-50 back. I also kind of like that my camera is impossible to shoot hand-held, as it makes me more selective about images, but that is also a personal thing. Some feel limited by having a camera that "can't do it all", others (people like me) feel stressed and fragmented rather than focused.
    Last edited by torger; 27th January 2015 at 23:53.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    People used to shoot incredible sports pictures with film. Do most people still shoot sports with film now?

    I can shoot the milky way landscape (with foreground) with a Canon fullframe and a fast wide angle lens in a single exposure. Can you do that with a large format?

    When technology advances, people can achieve what used to be difficult. CCD and current Canon CMOS are falling behind, and will be obsolete.
    Shashin says it well.

    Anything associated with technology will become "obsolete" eventually. How much an artist or craftsman should be concerned about that depends on their very personal and specific creative needs, and how much time they may wish to devote to staying abreast of every technological advancement ... or whether they even need more than they already have.

    After all, most digital cameras made in the past 5 years are very competent ... in competent hands.

    After shooting upwards of 250,000 wedding images over my career, I learned that technology is not a replacement for skill. I rarely missed an "of the moment" image, or blew out a wedding dress due to the camera I was using ... even an obsolete Canon or CCD camera.

    I'm not a Luddite, nor am I an early adopter of every new advancement touted to be the end-all solution anymore, because in my expensive experience ... it never is.

    Gaining experience, improving shooting skill and mastering what you have is both fun and free, the latest technology is not.

    - Marc
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    Senior Member Chris Giles's Avatar
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    One of the hardest things to get over was that is wasn't a 'full' medium format sensor like the 50mp CCD is. When I had ISO issues I 'could' of bought the H4D40 but didin't because the sensor size wasn't large enough for me.

    It's the main reason I held off for so long before moving on the Z and why I rented it first. But I've no regrets at all now. I guess if Phase or Hasselblad wanted to there might be a larger CMOS in the future. If so that would be a selling point beyond what they already stand out for.

    Could you fit a larger sensor in the Z?
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    People upgrade because they feel chased by the competition, in a technical aspect. I think the most cited reason to upgrade MFD stuff is to keep the distance from the DSLR crowd. I once thought tech cameras was about movements, but I've learnt that for most it's about sharpness and resolving power... but indeed I'm glad to see that the 645z's weakness concerning movements is pointed out

    That said I can see many creative and practical reasons to move from a H4D-50 to a 645z, and a very strong financial reason to go to the 645z instead of the similarly-performing H5D-50c. It's a huge difference in the possibility to work in available light, and for wedding photography it's not insignificant. For planned shots with flash the H4D-50 does great of course.

    In "my" genre, landscape photography, you do cut away some opportunities by not having high ISO, and some high dynamic range scenes become more difficult to shoot, but for my style a 645z would make me feel more limited than my Linhof Techno + H4D-50 back. I also kind of like that my camera is impossible to shoot hand-held, as it makes me more selective about images, but that is also a personal thing. Some feel limited by having a camera that "can't do it all", others (people like me) feel stressed and fragmented rather than focused.
    IMO and direct experience, selling off a H system to buy a something else is "not strong financial reasoning". It is simply a huge loss. The difference between a H4D/50 and H5D/50C would most certainly be less than swapping systems, and you'd have True Focus for candids as well as a excellent range of leaf shutter lenses you already have.

    The notion that one will magically be able to shoot in low available light with MFD skips the fact that in most cases the available light at a wedding is poor in quality and direction because we usually don't have control over when and where ... unless one plans the shots ... in which case a leaf shutter camera with lighting is better anyway because you are in control of the light's quality, quantity, and direction.

    Again, need has to be evaluated. How many candid, available light wedding shots will be printed larger than 8X10 (if they are printed at all)? A poll study on a major wedding site says almost none.

    There is no such thing as a camera that can do it all. "Horses for courses" is still valid.

    - Marc
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    One wonders how the hell all those wonderfully beautiful wedding shots using Canon and CCD cameras were done prior to all this new Sony tech
    Absolutely.

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    There is no such thing as a camera that can do it all. "Horses for courses" is still valid.
    While I certainly agree that there is no camera that is best at all aspects, I do believe that there today more than ever exists cameras that can cover a particular photographer's needs and desires within his/hers shooting style.

    The Pentax 645z provides a something new, reaching further into classic MFD grounds, while keeping more of the DSLR feature set. For some photographers it can be the perfect mix of features to cover all their needs.

    I don't know what the cost to upgrade a H4D-50 to a H5D-50c is, but it's probably not too bad, $10k perhaps? You can however sell all your Hassy gear and get a decent amount of money for it and invest that in your Pentax 645z system, so it's sort of a cross-grade. I actually bought my own H4D-50 from someone that switched to Pentax. I think they think a bit longer term, if you want more DSLR-like behavior, weather proofing, cheaper upgrades etc I think Pentax has more credibility than Hasselblad right now among many photographers (not all though obviously).

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    Senior Member Chris Giles's Avatar
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    The notion that one will magically be able to shoot in low available light with MFD skips the fact that in most cases the available light at a wedding is poor in quality and direction because we usually don't have control over when and where ... unless one plans the shots ... in which case a leaf shutter camera with lighting is better anyway because you are in control of the light's quality, quantity, and direction.
    A lot of wedding photographers would strongly disagree with that. You have to work with what you have and experience teaches you how to deal with it.

    The very last thing I would want in poor quality ambient lighting is a fast shutter speed, unless I wanted kill the ambient completely, in which case I'd reduce the aperture anyway.

    On the subject of flash though Marc, was any progress ever made with TTL flash for the H series? I used the SCA3902 (I think that's the module number) and a Metz flash but there seems to be no solutions beyond that. Not that I've looked for quite a while.

    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    I don't know what the cost to upgrade a H4D-50 to a H5D-50c is, but it's probably not too bad, $10k perhaps? You can however sell all your Hassy gear and get a decent amount of money for it and invest that in your Pentax 645z system, so it's sort of a cross-grade. I actually bought my own H4D-50 from someone that switched to Pentax. I think they think a bit longer term, if you want more DSLR-like behavior, weather proofing, cheaper upgrades etc I think Pentax has more credibility than Hasselblad right now among many photographers (not all though obviously).
    I got everything below for £8000

    Edit: Used lenses
    Last edited by Chris Giles; 28th January 2015 at 03:22.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Found a 2014 hassy price list, trade-in H4D-50 body to a H5D-50c body is £10195+VAT.

    Comparing it to a Pentax system where many of the lenses have been bought second hand is not entirerly fair though . New Pentax lenses are quite expensive, not quite as expensive as new Hassy lenses though.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by torger View Post
    Found a 2014 hassy price list, trade-in H4D-50 body to a H5D-50c body is £10195+VAT.

    Comparing it to a Pentax system where many of the lenses have been bought second hand is not entirerly fair though . New Pentax lenses are quite expensive, not quite as expensive as new Hassy lenses though.
    This is true.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Giles View Post
    Could you fit a larger sensor in the Z?
    The camera is based on the Pentax 645 film camera, so Pentax could build a camera with a larger sensor. I am sure the shutter gate for the Z is optimized for the 44x33 format. Pentax also seems to be designing most of their new lenses for the 44x33 format.
    Will

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Giles View Post
    A lot of wedding photographers would strongly disagree with that. You have to work with what you have and experience teaches you how to deal with it.

    The very last thing I would want in poor quality ambient lighting is a fast shutter speed, unless I wanted kill the ambient completely, in which case I'd reduce the aperture anyway.

    On the subject of flash though Marc, was any progress ever made with TTL flash for the H series? I used the SCA3902 (I think that's the module number) and a Metz flash but there seems to be no solutions beyond that. Not that I've looked for quite a while.



    I got everything below for £8000

    Edit: Used lenses
    Working with what you have depends on ... what you have. Personally, I designed my wedding kit around the lighting conditions I most frequently face. That's the experience I learned to draw from in order to deal with it.

    Poor quality ambient doesn't necessarily mean low ambient Chris. One can be forced to shoot in outdoor locations at a time when the background is nuclear and the subject in shade (happens frequently due to wedding itineraries). 1/800th sync with a skillfully used strobe system will beat the best DR camera ever made. DR is in my control, not limited to what a camera may or may not be able to manage.

    Not to give you a lesson, since you are a very accomplished photographer, but for clarification ... one doesn't kill the ambient when working with lights by reducing the aperture ... you increase the shutter speed which has no effect on the strobe lit subject because the strobe's duration is (usually) faster than the top sync speed. So, the very first thing to do to kill the ambient is use a faster shutter speed .. if you have one

    For many years I used the Metz TTL speed-light on the H cameras at weddings which was totally controlled in camera ... a strobe directional key light on a painter's pole, with the Metz providing TTL fill. No brainer, worked like a charm.

    This in no way is intended to diminish the Pentax which is a personal choice. It just gets irritating how new tech seems to bring out the "Obsoleters" in droves.

    For wedding work my choice was (Hasselblad H), and continues to be (Leica S) ... a leaf-shutter camera with a CCD sensor. I use a fast DLR for other stuff, and all of my second shooters use ... gasp!... Canons.

    My technological philosophy is now ... if it ain't broke, don't fix it. ...

    - Marc

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    1/800th sync with a skillfully used strobe system will beat the best DR camera ever made. DR is in my control, not limited to what a camera may or may not be able to manage.

    - Marc
    There are moments when the flash does not fire. If it was shot with a Sony CMOS sensor, you may still use that image and print it in small. If it was shot with a CCD or a current Canon CMOS (not the upcoming one to be announced in a few weeks), then it is freaked up beyond repair.

    This is what fault tolerance means. With better gear, you have *more* control.

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Well, if photography is simply a technical problem, then new technology will make your photographs "better." But photography is also an aesthetic problem. And, unfortunately for the camera companies, that cannot be solved by just improving performance of the machines. No, I cannot shot (easily) a landscape with a sharp image of the Milky Way with a large-format camera. But why do I have to?

    Most people do not shoot sports with film, but some do. And what that means is some photographers understand that photography is also a creative problem and when you think in different terms, you come out with photographs different from others:

    David Burnett's Speed Graphic Photos of the London 2012 Olympics

    I think the advances in technology are great. They give photographers new tools. That does not invalidate the old ones.

    Yes, my Pentax CCD is old. CCDs will become obsolete. But the images from my camera will not be obsolete. No amount of technical innovation will diminish the value of my work.
    Of course photography is more about aesthetic problem. Why not shoot with an iPhone and enjoy life?

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post

    Not to give you a lesson, since you are a very accomplished photographer, but for clarification ... one doesn't kill the ambient when working with lights by reducing the aperture ... you increase the shutter speed which has no effect on the strobe lit subject because the strobe's duration is (usually) faster than the top sync speed. So, the very first thing to do to kill the ambient is use a faster shutter speed .. if you have one


    - Marc
    I'm aware of this. If I were using the Pentax, that's what I'd do in response to a low sync speed, as I have done with Canon for the last few years. I'm sure you quite rightly know, you CAN reduce ambient light by shutter, aperture or ISO, it's Exposure basics

    It just means cranking the strobe instead.

    If I'm in bad lighting it's usually mixed and if it's too bright, I have 5 stops I can underexpose by or I just move somewhere else.

    Let's not forget the Pentax HSS which goes right up to 1/4000 sec.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    Of course photography is more about aesthetic problem. Why not shoot with an iPhone and enjoy life?
    Because I enjoy shooting other cameras more. But some like the iPhone too. I have also enjoyed seeing iPhone photography.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Because I enjoy shooting other cameras more. But some like the iPhone too. I have also enjoyed seeing iPhone photography.
    If you have reasons to love a specific camera gear that is not with state-of-the-art performance then just enjoy it No need to join into discussion regarding performance

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    If you have reasons to love a specific camera gear that is not with state-of-the-art performance then just enjoy it No need to join into discussion regarding performance
    This is an open discussion. Members are free to add comments as they see fit. You brought up a point and I simply commented on it. You don't get to limit nor censor member participation.

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Giles View Post
    I'm aware of this. If I were using the Pentax, that's what I'd do in response to a low sync speed, as I have done with Canon for the last few years. I'm sure you quite rightly know, you CAN reduce ambient light by shutter, aperture or ISO, it's Exposure basics

    It just means cranking the strobe instead.

    If I'm in bad lighting it's usually mixed and if it's too bright, I have 5 stops I can underexpose by or I just move somewhere else.

    Let's not forget the Pentax HSS which goes right up to 1/4000 sec.
    I understand what you meant now Chris. I used to work with a Contax 645 that had a slower sync speed and had to do the same thing in certain lighting conditions.

    Personally, I still like higher sync speeds with MFD because IMHO the point of it is better IQ ... so the lower the ISO, and the broader choice of aperture for creative reasons that using shutter-speed to control light balance affords me is my preference. I now sync full flash up to 1/1000 using Profoto AIR to control background exposures.

    HSS with what lighting? I presume on-camera speed-light flash which is a pulsed light and very limited in output from a small sized, weak source. My MFD camera does HSS to 1/4000 also, which I usually find almost useless.

    Actually, I currently envy your Canon ... for location work I'm working with the Profoto B1 now, and wish I had your Canon to try the TTL transceiver ... plus, Profoto just added HSS via firmware ... with a much larger source and waaaaay more pulsed output. Can't do that with my Sony A99 SLT, A7R, or any MFD camera

    Enjoy the Pentax. Nice review

    - Marc

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    There are moments when the flash does not fire. If it was shot with a Sony CMOS sensor, you may still use that image and print it in small. If it was shot with a CCD or a current Canon CMOS (not the upcoming one to be announced in a few weeks), then it is freaked up beyond repair.

    This is what fault tolerance means. With better gear, you have *more* control.
    You act as if there was no DR from other cameras. An extra stop to two of DR isn't going to make that much difference if you take a blank frame. BTW, I have Sony cameras with Sony sensors and have used Nikon cameras with Sony sensors ... so exaggerations are met with a healthy dose of skepticism.

    The moments when flash doesn't fire is pretty rare if you know what you are doing. Technology is NOT a substitute for prep, knowledge and skill. IMO, fixing it in Photoshop is NOT crutch one should become reliant on.

    Better gear is NOT a guarantee of better photographs. Never was. Never will be.

    Just saying'


    - Marc
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I understand what you meant now Chris. I used to work with a Contax 645 that had a slower sync speed and had to do the same thing in certain lighting conditions.

    Personally, I still like higher sync speeds with MFD because IMHO the point of it is better IQ ... so the lower the ISO, and the broader choice of aperture for creative reasons that using shutter-speed to control light balance affords me is my preference. I now sync full flash up to 1/1000 using Profoto AIR to control background exposures.

    HSS with what lighting? I presume on-camera speed-light flash which is a pulsed light and very limited in output from a small sized, weak source. My MFD camera does HSS to 1/4000 also, which I usually find almost useless.

    Actually, I currently envy your Canon ... for location work I'm working with the Profoto B1 now, and wish I had your Canon to try the TTL transceiver ... plus, Profoto just added HSS via firmware ... with a much larger source and waaaaay more pulsed output. Can't do that with my Sony A99 SLT, A7R, or any MFD camera

    Enjoy the Pentax. Nice review

    - Marc
    Thanks Marc,
    With the Canon I used HSS using the on camera flash as a wireless trigger then multiplying the number of external flashes to negate the power loss.

    At around 1/4000 sec, 4x 600ex's in HSS on a quad stand will kick out about the same as a single full power flash. I did run the numbers once but no longer have a record. But even in HSS as soon as you start grouping flashes you get your power back. One flash in HSS is never enough for anything though. On my manufacturer wishlist would be someone coming up with a single 'Fat Flash' that has the power of 4, can be used as a studio head as well as in HSS. I guess there's possibly solutions like this already but getting the Canon or Pentax to work with it is something else.

    I'm not overly into my flash. It seems every 2 months there's something new and exciting in that regard.

    I prefer speedlites in truth because there is no powering down as with the heavier external packs. I have a Safari 600w pack and each time you changed the power setting you had to fire a discharge shot before testing the setting.

    The Pentax system appears the same with wireless HSS. It's just not something I could test owning only one of their flashes. I've tried to find out who the Pentax rep is to source kit for further testing but I'll be honest, I've not tried too hard yet. If anyone knows who the guy to speak to at Pentax is, I'd love to know.
    Last edited by Chris Giles; 29th January 2015 at 02:04.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    You act as if there was no DR from other cameras. An extra stop to two of DR isn't going to make that much difference if you take a blank frame. BTW, I have Sony cameras with Sony sensors and have used Nikon cameras with Sony sensors ... so exaggerations are met with a healthy dose of skepticism.
    It's a 3-stop advantage of DR for the current Sony CMOS sensors. You can easily observe the difference if you print the pictures at A4 size when you needed the DR.

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post

    The moments when flash doesn't fire is pretty rare if you know what you are doing.
    Creative underexposure with Nikon DSLR camera


    With a Sony CMOS (e.g. IQ250 with 1/1600 sync or H5D-50C with 1/800 sync) you still have DR in your control but you also gain the flexibility of not having to rely on the lighting system when you are not allowed to.

    Imagine a situation where you would have to do a burst of continuous shots and capture the best emotions so you have a picture of the decisive moment (remember that the most natural and real emotions cannot be captured unless your subject is unaware of the photographer's presence). The strobe will draw their attention immediately, and the recharging rate may not hold up long against your frame rate.

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Technology is NOT a substitute for prep, knowledge and skill. IMO, fixing it in Photoshop is NOT crutch one should become reliant on.

    Better gear is NOT a guarantee of better photographs. Never was. Never will be.

    Just saying'

    - Marc
    If this is the case then why not shoot with an iPhone?
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Voidshatter hits upon a really good and often overlooked point with flash and weddings.

    They're never professional models and we capture emotion. We need to fire off shots in quick succession as the moment happens. Waiting for a flash to recharge is a pain and it can also spoil the moment. I've generally 15 minutes with a couple in three locations around the venue.

    It does depend on your shooting style though. I tend to work alone without assistants and try to be as unobtrusive as possible.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    It's a 3-stop advantage of DR for the current Sony CMOS sensors. You can easily observe the difference if you print the pictures at A4 size when you needed the DR.



    Creative underexposure with Nikon DSLR camera


    With a Sony CMOS (e.g. IQ250 with 1/1600 sync or H5D-50C with 1/800 sync) you still have DR in your control but you also gain the flexibility of not having to rely on the lighting system when you are not allowed to.

    Imagine a situation where you would have to do a burst of continuous shots and capture the best emotions so you have a picture of the decisive moment (remember that the most natural and real emotions cannot be captured unless your subject is unaware of the photographer's presence). The strobe will draw their attention immediately, and the recharging rate may not hold up long against your frame rate.


    If this is the case then why not shoot with an iPhone?
    I suppose we could go on for a month of Sundays debating this ...

    The term is "decisive moment" not decisive moments ... which is a matter of timing rather than hosing off shots hoping to get the right emotion. That was proven long ago when film cameras could be motor-driven up to 10FPS. Didn't work then, and still doesn't.

    It is about observing human nature and anticipating, and paying attention to one's surroundings ... not machining gunning off shots like a movie camera hoping to get a keeper. Decisive moment photography was born and reached its height when none of these wonder cameras was even a dream of photographers.

    I do a lot of shots without lighting ... rarely need more than ISO 1600/3200 which almost any modern camera can do just fine ... If you expose correctly.

    I will refrain from commenting on your "photoshop save", and not reply to the cell phone comment since the answer is remedial.

    My whole point is that digital photography gear reach a very usable level some time ago, and all the rest is subtile improvements that aren't all that critical to shooting something like a wedding. The exception perhaps is the advent of very small cameras with super high resolution FF sensors ... which has nothing to do with MFD.

    Personally, even IF a MFD camera could do it all at a wedding, who the hell wants to lug around a big-assed camera/lenses for 8 hours? I use mine for formals and portraits and then put it away.

    Plus, I use a little rangefinder for "decisive moment" work ... not some giant camera with huge lenses.

    - Marc
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Giles View Post
    Thanks Marc,
    With the Canon I used HSS using the on camera flash as a wireless trigger then multiplying the number of external flashes to negate the power loss.

    At around 1/4000 sec, 4x 600ex's in HSS on a quad stand will kick out about the same as a single full power flash. I did run the numbers once but no longer have a record. But even in HSS as soon as you start grouping flashes you get your power back. One flash in HSS is never enough for anything though. On my manufacturer wishlist would be someone coming up with a single 'Fat Flash' that has the power of 4, can be used as a studio head as well as in HSS. I guess there's possibly solutions like this already but getting the Canon or Pentax to work with it is something else.

    I'm not overly into my flash. It seems every 2 months there's something new and exciting in that regard.

    I prefer speedlites in truth because there is no powering down as with the heavier external packs. I have a Safari 600w pack and each time you changed the power setting you had to fire a discharge shot before testing the setting.

    The Pentax system appears the same with wireless HSS. It's just not something I could test owning only one of their flashes. I've tried to find out who the Pentax rep is to source kit for further testing but I'll be honest, I've not tried too hard yet. If anyone knows who the guy to speak to at Pentax is, I'd love to know.
    Hey Chris, as mentioned, the Profoto B1 does do TTL, and now will do HSS up to 1/8000 with your Canon.

    Most newer heads have auto dump, so when you power up or down it's ready to go. The B1 is 500W/s which would require 6 Canon 600EX-RTs in a group to equal. It is not cheap, but cheaper than 4 600EX-RTs. Plus the light quality is much better.

    I gave up on Speed-Lights sometime ago because I kept hitting the thermal limits when working rapidly especially in hotter conditions. A strobe will go and go until the battery is depleted. Plus, it was beating the snot out of my speed-lights to use them that way.

    Just a thought to consider.

    - Marc

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I suppose we could go on for a month of Sundays debating this ...

    The term is "decisive moment" not decisive moments ... which is a matter of timing rather than hosing off shots hoping to get the right emotion. That was proven long ago when film cameras could be motor-driven up to 10FPS. Didn't work then, and still doesn't.

    It is about observing human nature and anticipating, and paying attention to one's surroundings ... not machining gunning off shots like a movie camera hoping to get a keeper. Decisive moment photography was born and reached its height when none of these wonder cameras was even a dream of photographers.
    Assault rifles exist as the main combat weapon for a reason - otherwise one would only need sniper rifles / shotguns / pistols or other slow weapons. The American way of war is to shoot as many bullets as possible to hit the enemy.

    When I had my own wedding (a very short one), my friends brought their gear and were equipped with two Phase One IQ260s, one Nikon D4S, one Nikon D800, one Sony A7S, one Sony A7, one Leica M240, one Panasonic GH4. I received 6000 pictures (RAW files). The main photographer did not need to decide which decisive moment to capture. He just captured all moments, because the Nikon D4S with the 400MB/s XQD card is insane in terms of stamina when you do continuous shooting. These were all invaluable memories for us and our parents enjoy picking the best pictures out of these many.

    Of course, when you shoot professionally for your clients, very few photographers dump such effort like this unless they use an automated software to pick the pictures. If you haven't seen how Tang shoots wedding sessions with his Nikon D4 then you would only laugh about this "madness".

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I do a lot of shots without lighting ... rarely need more than ISO 1600/3200 which almost any modern camera can do just fine ... If you expose correctly.

    I will refrain from commenting on your "photoshop save", and not reply to the cell phone comment since the answer is remedial.

    My whole point is that digital photography gear reach a very usable level some time ago, and all the rest is subtile improvements that aren't all that critical to shooting something like a wedding. The exception perhaps is the advent of very small cameras with super high resolution FF sensors ... which has nothing to do with MFD.

    Personally, even IF a MFD camera could do it all at a wedding, who the hell wants to lug around a big-assed camera/lenses for 8 hours? I use mine for formals and portraits and then put it away.

    Plus, I use a little rangefinder for "decisive moment" work ... not some giant camera with huge lenses.

    - Marc
    Since you only need a single exposure per decisive moment, why not show us some examples with your rangefinder? I would be interested to see the sharpness of the eye at pixel peeping level (for snapshots, not formals or portraits). As far as I am aware of, continuous shooting is the only reliable way to maximize the chance of getting a focused image with razor-sharp details on the eye, because I am fairly clear about the hit rate of the current AF/MF when the lens is wide open. Why not teach me how your skills rule over our gear performance?

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    (remember that the most natural and real emotions cannot be captured unless your subject is unaware of the photographer's presence).
    I'm sorry, but this is rubbish. It has more to do with editing, both in the field and after the fact than the subject being unaware of the photographers presence.

    As for so called professional photographers not bothering to edit their photographs before giving to a client – by selecting pictures – I'd say that's being the opposite of professional. Anyone with a camera, any camera, can run and gun. :dh2:

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Chris, enjoyable review, and your wedding photography is gorgeous!
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Nice review Chris. I downloaded the RAW files of your review and when I played with the settings of this image I was blown away with the DR of the Pentax, so much detail in the shadows after pulling the image 5 EV stops in LR and it has so little noise. Even your watermark appeared



    I had a H4D-40 for a couple of years and the Pentax 645z has at least 2-3 stops more DR. That's extremely useful and a also a time saver. You could only get this result filling the shadows with a flash/reflector and compressing the scene but sometimes you change the mood of the scene when doing that and you could also loose an unique moment meanwhile you are setting up the strobe/reflector. The H5D-50c and the IQ 250 should have the same DR but $8,500 it's definitely a bargain... and I don't know what to say about the $4,500 Pentax 645D!
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Thanks Aldo, it's great to have your feedback and observations on the raw files.

    I couldn't believe it myself. With the above image there were a few people right in front of them so I was pretty much forced into that position for a shot. The 645z was still new to me so thought this would be a good time to test the exposure push.

    I knew of Nikon's dynamic range on their Sony sensors but always found a pushed file a bit degraded and noisy. But not with the Z.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Interesting review thanks Chris.

    I'm so in love with Hasselblad's True Focus that I can't imagine a move, but clearly the Pentax brings the added flexibility of being better suited to work outside the studio (even the CMOS Hasselblad would not compete well with respect to weather seals etc).

    I was talking to a Leica rep who told me their S-series has done very solid business for these kinds of reasons (outselling Phase One in Australia last year I'm told). The Pentax certainly is a "bargain" by comparison to Hasselblad, Phase One and Leica - and while I suspect the Schnieder lenses and Leica lenses are cream of the crop, there's a lot to like in this Pentax package. Good luck with it, and thanks for sharing your review.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    Imagine a situation where you would have to do a burst of continuous shots and capture the best emotions so you have a picture of the decisive moment (remember that the most natural and real emotions cannot be captured unless your subject is unaware of the photographer's presence). The strobe will draw their attention immediately, and the recharging rate may not hold up long against your frame rate.
    Are you a photographer? There are so many assumptions that are simply not true here. I have never met a working photographer have any of the "problems" you think exist. Certainly, the idea that the person needs to be unaware of the photographer to show "real" or "natural" emotions is just not true. It has never been my experience nor for plenty of fine documentary and portrait photographers working today and most of the history of photography. You don't need to fire off shots in quick succession to get the best emotion. It is better to watch and interact with your subject than leave it to a random blast of frames. Working within your recharge rate is not hard either.

    If that is your working style, that is fine. It must give you what you want. But what you do is not what others do. To present it as some sort of absolute truth is not right

    BTW, I assume the images you took from the Nikon creative exposure post are not yours. I would be more interested in seeing examples with your work. That might be more illustrative of your points.

    This person was certain aware of me, is not a model, and the first time we met:



    Obviously not a digital camera with a fast burst rate and lots of DR.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Some of you might be taking Voidshatter's message away from it's intended context.

    You can set up an area to shoot in, the couple will obviously know you are there but you do need fast operating kit to shoot the moments between two people if you have little time to do so.

    I don't think he's talking about shooting in burst mode.

    An example is that in any one place with a couple I only have 5 minutes. So it's position, interact and capture the moment. I'd like the resulting image to be as organic and natural as possible. But I'd also like to give the couple as many of those moments as I can.

    A convoluted setup or a slower system is a drag. Sure, you can get the shots but you can get so much more with a faster system. Nobody is saying using a slow method is wrong but for the majority of wedding photographers out there I get the feeling they need a quick and accurate system.

    The biggest proof of this was when I shot a couple last July. I took 5 or 6 good frames of them together and once I had enough shots I pulled out the 5D3 and captured Raw DNG at 30fps. In a 20 second video of them interacting I pulled another perfectly good 9 frames out and I could get the exact moment I wanted.

    It is totally down to how each individual works though. I'm more reportage so this works for me. I don't consider myself a run and gun photographer either. An average wedding will gross 1400 frames and I'll deliver 400-600 of those.

    1 fps is fine for weddings.
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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Giles View Post
    Some of you might be taking Voidshatter's message away from it's intended context.

    You can set up an area to shoot in, the couple will obviously know you are there but you do need fast operating kit to shoot the moments between two people if you have little time to do so.

    I don't think he's talking about shooting in burst mode.

    An example is that in any one place with a couple I only have 5 minutes. So it's position, interact and capture the moment. I'd like the resulting image to be as organic and natural as possible. But I'd also like to give the couple as many of those moments as I can.

    A convoluted setup or a slower system is a drag. Sure, you can get the shots but you can get so much more with a faster system. Nobody is saying using a slow method is wrong but for the majority of wedding photographers out there I get the feeling they need a quick and accurate system.

    The biggest proof of this was when I shot a couple last July. I took 5 or 6 good frames of them together and once I had enough shots I pulled out the 5D3 and captured Raw DNG at 30fps. In a 20 second video of them interacting I pulled another perfectly good 9 frames out and I could get the exact moment I wanted.

    It is totally down to how each individual works though. I'm more reportage so this works for me. I don't consider myself a run and gun photographer either. An average wedding will gross 1400 frames and I'll deliver 400-600 of those.

    1 fps is fine for weddings.
    Chris, how you work is ... well ... obviously up to you and no one else. However, to say "you" (as in the collective "you") can get so much "more" is a quantitative statement, not necessarily a qualitative one.

    Shooting 20 sec of video at 30fps = 600 images to yield 9. To me, that is an "after the fact" astute editing talent as opposed to a highly observant, huministically sensitive photographic talent. Both may lead to the same end, but many vastly prefer the latter including me ... and my wedding work was born of reportage and is still the core of it, just like you. Like most wedding shooters, we have less time with a captive client than we'd like ... but I've found that not having them captive has always worked better for those truly "interactive moments" anyway.

    My end aim has never, ever been lots of images ... as Jeff Ascough said, 200-300 is his goal ... when asked the inevitable "how many photos will we get?", he used to tell them less than they expected, then throw 200 4X6 prints on the floor to show potential clients just how many that really was. Seems to have worked for him. I rarely breach 800 pre-edit for a full wedding, and that is usually also using a second shooter. I feel I have failed when I go over 1,000, and strive to re-sharpen my observational powers.

    Personally, my real goal has always been to tell a cohesive and revealing story at each wedding ... few story telling slide-shows needed more than 100 shots and usually 70 to 80 were more than enough for a large wedding album. The remainder are the formals/portraits the client requested. One can cull that story from 6000 shots like Voitahatter mentioned, or from 600 well timed images ... depending one's approach. I prefer spending time behind the camera, not in front of a computer.

    IMO, clients these days are overwhelmed by the total photo output from their hired photographer(s), plus all the cell-phone friends and Uncle Bob/Cousin Fred/Aunt Milly "Canon Rebel" shots that are thrown at them right after their wedding. IMO, even though they say they "like" that, this Tsunami of images is a mind-numbing, desensitizing experience where truly insightful images can be and are lost in the rush to see all the social and content driven stuff ... where ANY photo of the couple is a good photo even when it is a horrible image.

    To each his or her own I suppose. Yet, I resist claims that "more is better" ... to me it is simply less.

    - Marc

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    Re: I just wrote up my experiences with the Pentax 645z

    Quote Originally Posted by voidshatter View Post
    Assault rifles exist as the main combat weapon for a reason - otherwise one would only need sniper rifles / shotguns / pistols or other slow weapons. The American way of war is to shoot as many bullets as possible to hit the enemy.
    Sigh....
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