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Thread: 645Z Went Wild!

  1. #1
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    645Z Went Wild!

    Back from a very thrilling trip to South Africa.

    Took the 645Z with three lenses, the Canon 1DX and 7D2 with three lenses, and the Sony A7R with one lens.

    The Pentax was used for about 31% of the shots, I deliberately used it as much as I could which was both good and bad. Almost 95% of the images were taken with the FA 150 2.8 lens and again almost all at wide open aperture. I had also taken the FA 300 5.6 and the FA 45-85 4.5.

    The 300 was a disappointment, at least for me, since it did not perform well without image stabilization and even at shutter speeds of 1/400 there was subtle shake.

    The 150 2.8 macro is a superb lens, but now looking at the images on a big 30" monitor, I wish I had stopped down to 4.5 or even 5.6 with it. Still, some of the images were quite sharp and of course the detail is incredible.

    Lessons learned:

    1. MF can work very well for wildlife, even for action provided it is not frenetic like the animals running or fighting.
    2. The lenses are a problem at the moment, hopefully Pentax will come out with DA lenses longer than 100mm focal length with a fast aperture. Would love to see what a 150 or 200 2.8 lens can do with IS built in. Would love to try the DA 90mm for some of this stuff.
    3. The camera has such a high resolution that images that look sharp on a laptop may not be that sharp on a bigger screen (yes, even when viewed at 100%) and more importantly, correct focus and shutter speed is much more important - I had done microadjustments on my lenses before leaving and happily there was almost minimal to no adjustment needed.
    4. There is significant CA with high contrast scenes, but that is a problem with older lenses anyway.
    5. On my wish list for Pentax is

    a) Larger buffer - many times I had to wait for it to clear before continuing and the animal had changed posture or disappeared altogether.
    b) Slightly faster frame rate (both, IMHO doable with more memory)
    c) Faster autofocus although it is quite good and certainly much better than what I had on my Phase DF645+ body.
    d) Newer lenses that have image stabilization and are sharper at wide open apertures.

    6. Finally, for Andy Biggs, yes, there are tigers in Africa and they sometimes do jump over water. This image taken with a 1DX though.

    Some images (still going through them).
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  2. #2
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    Re: 645Z Went Wild!

    Love the images.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pradeep View Post
    The 150 2.8 macro is a superb lens, but now looking at the images on a big 30" monitor, I wish I had stopped down to 4.5 or even 5.6 with it. Still, some of the images were quite sharp and of course the detail is incredible.
    The 150 is not a macro! But yes, it is a tad soft at f/2.8. It doesn't really reach very high levels of sharpness at least until f/5.6, but seeing as it's more of a portrait lens, I don't really expect it to be super razor sharp, so much as offer a nice out of focus rendering.
    2. The lenses are a problem at the moment, hopefully Pentax will come out with DA lenses longer than 100mm focal length with a fast aperture. Would love to see what a 150 or 200 2.8 lens can do with IS built in. Would love to try the DA 90mm for some of this stuff.
    Pentax *should* be coming out with an 80-160mm f/4.5 stabilized lens this year, at least based on patent images and the official roadmap, I think it would've been the ticket for this trip, but one can't wait forever for promised products either.
    3. The camera has such a high resolution that images that look sharp on a laptop may not be that sharp on a bigger screen (yes, even when viewed at 100%) and more importantly, correct focus and shutter speed is much more important - I had done microadjustments on my lenses before leaving and happily there was almost minimal to no adjustment needed.
    Well, this is a medium format camera after all, a few years ago you probably wouldn't have been able to pull this off at all.
    4. There is significant CA with high contrast scenes, but that is a problem with older lenses anyway.
    The older Pentax lenses do have a ton of CA wide open, but it is often fixable with the CA tool in Lightroom. The 150 LoCAs like crazy at f/2.8, even on subjects that aren't especially contrasty.
    5. On my wish list for Pentax is
    a) Larger buffer - many times I had to wait for it to clear before continuing and the animal had changed posture or disappeared altogether.
    b) Slightly faster frame rate (both, IMHO doable with more memory)
    The Pentax is pushing 153 megapixels per second, which is more than a lot of cameras can manage, it would need a lot more RAM and maybe a second processor to pull off more.
    c) Faster autofocus although it is quite good and certainly much better than what I had on my Phase DF645+ body.
    Particularly the continuous AF, as it is now, it's almost unusable.
    d) Newer lenses that have image stabilization and are sharper at wide open apertures.
    If the 28-45 is anything to go by, I think they'll have it covered.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Joe Colson's Avatar
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    Re: 645Z Went Wild!

    Welcome back Pradeep and thanks for sharing your experiences with the 645Z. I've been anxiously awaiting your trip recap.

    I'm not surprised at your lens feedback. The 150mm, as others have noted, is a bit soft unless stopped down. It's an ideal portrait lens, but my preference for other situations would be the FA 80-160mm.

    As you know from shooting with the DF+ and an IQxxx MFDB, a 50MP camera with a 300mm lens (240mm equiv. in 35mm terms) needs a high shutter speed (>1/2xfocal length) and a very stable platform (tripod or bean bag, and vehicle engine turned off) to get sharp images without noticeable motion blur. I'm less convinced that IS/VR/OSS/SR would be a substitute for any of these blur mitigation measures. I'd welcome SR as a supplement.

    So far, though I've seen CA with the Pentax legacy lenses, I've been able to correct it easily in LR. YMMV.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pradeep View Post
    d) Newer lenses that have image stabilization and are sharper at wide open apertures.
    That would be on my wish list for the Z. I just bought the 28-45mm and it's a beauty. It's huge, but a very good lens.

    Thanks for sharing your feedback and photos. I especially like the tiger portrait (last photo). More please.

    Joe
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    Re: 645Z Went Wild!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kolor-Pikker View Post
    Love the images.


    The 150 is not a macro! But yes, it is a tad soft at f/2.8. It doesn't really reach very high levels of sharpness at least until f/5.6, but seeing as it's more of a portrait lens, I don't really expect it to be super razor sharp, so much as offer a nice out of focus rendering.
    Oops, my mistake, yes, it is the 120 that is a macro.

    On my initial tests, the 150 did perform very well wide open. The first few shots I took with it did look very sharp to me and hence I stuck with it at 2.8. The other issue was that it was my fastest lens overall since my Canon lenses were all f4 at that focal length and I needed the fast aperture for the low-light that was an issue throughout. The animals were most active just after sunrise or just before/after sunset, in the shade the light was really low.

    Pentax *should* be coming out with an 80-160mm f/4.5 stabilized lens this year, at least based on patent images and the official roadmap, I think it would've been the ticket for this trip, but one can't wait forever for promised products either.
    Waiting to see what else is possible, and I am sure a lot is.

    Well, this is a medium format camera after all, a few years ago you probably wouldn't have been able to pull this off at all.

    The older Pentax lenses do have a ton of CA wide open, but it is often fixable with the CA tool in Lightroom. The 150 LoCAs like crazy at f/2.8, even on subjects that aren't especially contrasty.

    The Pentax is pushing 153 megapixels per second, which is more than a lot of cameras can manage, it would need a lot more RAM and maybe a second processor to pull off more.

    Particularly the continuous AF, as it is now, it's almost unusable.

    If the 28-45 is anything to go by, I think they'll have it covered.
    Agree with all the above.

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    Re: 645Z Went Wild!

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Colson View Post
    Welcome back Pradeep and thanks for sharing your experiences with the 645Z. I've been anxiously awaiting your trip recap.

    I'm not surprised at your lens feedback. The 150mm, as others have noted, is a bit soft unless stopped down. It's an ideal portrait lens, but my preference for other situations would be the FA 80-160mm.

    As you know from shooting with the DF+ and an IQxxx MFDB, a 50MP camera with a 300mm lens (240mm equiv. in 35mm terms) needs a high shutter speed (>1/2xfocal length) and a very stable platform (tripod or bean bag, and vehicle engine turned off) to get sharp images without noticeable motion blur. I'm less convinced that IS/VR/OSS/SR would be a substitute for any of these blur mitigation measures. I'd welcome SR as a supplement.

    Thanks Joe.

    I took a handheld shot with the D FA 55 2.8 at 1/15 sec and it was absolutely fine. Will post it again here if I can find it. I do have some images taken with the 300 on this trip that were sharp enough even at 1/150 sec, but I agree that overall the old rule of 1/focal length or perhaps 1/2Xfocal length should be used whenever possible unless you have a tripod or bean bag.

    However, it would be interesting to see how well the DFA 90 performs at 'slow shutter' speeds.

    So far, though I've seen CA with the Pentax legacy lenses, I've been able to correct it easily in LR. YMMV.



    That would be on my wish list for the Z. I just bought the 28-45mm and it's a beauty. It's huge, but a very good lens.

    Thanks for sharing your feedback and photos. I especially like the tiger portrait (last photo). More please.

    Joe
    Not getting much luck with CA correction in LR. It seems to be helping but not at full size, when it is quite obvious. However, It is not that bothersome to me. I may just convert some of the images to B&W.

    Pradeep

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    Re: 645Z Went Wild!

    Joe, here are two images, one of which I had posted a while ago. They are both handheld, with the 55mm 2.8 lens. The first is at 1/5 sec (ISO 400, f8) and the second at 1/15 sec (ISO400, f5.6). These are 100% crops from the upper left part of the image.

    In the first, camera shake is obvious, in the second there is none. I have sharpened both images equally (slightly) in LR and have done nothing else.

    I was totally blown away. It suggests to me that you CAN take handheld shots at slow speeds without SR. In addition, if one can stop down by even 1 stop it would make a difference too.

    Pradeep

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    Re: 645Z Went Wild!

    Here is another image from South Africa. I like this one quite a bit. Have done nothing to it except darken the sky in the upper part a bit and add an extra tint of blue. Shutter speed is 1/160, f2.8, ISO 1600. Taken with the 150 2.8 on autofocus.

    The sun had gone down about 20 minutes earlier and we were headed back to the lodge when we spotted these beautiful creatures against the horizon. They were moving slowly and yet fast enough that I did not have the time to fiddle about with the camera settings too much. Wanted as much light as possible so had to shoot wide open. I was worried about DOF, but the subject was far enough away to be sharp.

    The other two photographers in my vehicle were shooting Canon, one had the 300 f2.8 MkII lens on the 1DX body. She could not get a shot as good as I did.

    To me this further validates my decision to go with the Pentax as a viable option for wildlife photography. These are the kind of images I prefer, where the animal is a part of the habitat, what I call 'Scenic Wildlife'.

    Pradeep

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    Re: 645Z Went Wild!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pradeep View Post
    I took a handheld shot with the D FA 55 2.8 at 1/15 sec and it was absolutely fine. Will post it again here if I can find it. I do have some images taken with the 300 on this trip that were sharp enough even at 1/150 sec, but I agree that overall the old rule of 1/focal length or perhaps 1/2Xfocal length should be used whenever possible unless you have a tripod or bean bag.
    I tend to try and stay above the focal length in shutter speed, on my Canon it used to be enough to use 1/100th SS with an 85mm lens for example, but the 645Z has a higher pixel density, equal to about a 30mp FF35 camera, so I set my shutter higher to compensate (1.5~2xFL).
    However, it would be interesting to see how well the DFA 90 performs at 'slow shutter' speeds.
    I've heard figures of 1/15th on Pentax Forums, which puts it a little above the "2 stops" in the marketing, this is kinda impressive seeing as it's a Macro. Optical stabilization performs worse the closer you focus, and as with the Canon 100L, the SR is basically useless at 1:2 magnification.
    Not getting much luck with CA correction in LR. It seems to be helping but not at full size, when it is quite obvious. However, It is not that bothersome to me. I may just convert some of the images to B&W.
    It depends on where the problem area is, I was out at the park a while ago trying to find a worst-case scenario for the 150mm, and found it in the form of this image: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...6/_IMG1991.jpg (shot at f/4)
    The CA is SO bad here, that it can't be removed without manually painting the original colors in with a brush in Photoshop, even the bark has fringing around it... But on just about every portrait I took it was never bothersome. At worse there would be some CA on a person's glasses or jewelry that was gone in a click. I wish that Pentax would make at least one really good apochromatic lens.

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    Re: 645Z Went Wild!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kolor-Pikker View Post
    I tend to try and stay above the focal length in shutter speed, on my Canon it used to be enough to use 1/100th SS with an 85mm lens for example, but the 645Z has a higher pixel density, equal to about a 30mp FF35 camera, so I set my shutter higher to compensate (1.5~2xFL).

    I've heard figures of 1/15th on Pentax Forums, which puts it a little above the "2 stops" in the marketing, this is kinda impressive seeing as it's a Macro. Optical stabilization performs worse the closer you focus, and as with the Canon 100L, the SR is basically useless at 1:2 magnification.
    I agree, the higher pixel density of the 645z would demand a higher shutter speed, perhaps even 2X focal length. Which is why I was really surprised at my own shot from the example above, where at 1/15 second on a 55mm lens it is super sharp handheld. So there is also the lens that is perhaps important.

    It depends on where the problem area is, I was out at the park a while ago trying to find a worst-case scenario for the 150mm, and found it in the form of this image: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...6/_IMG1991.jpg (shot at f/4)
    The CA is SO bad here, that it can't be removed without manually painting the original colors in with a brush in Photoshop, even the bark has fringing around it... But on just about every portrait I took it was never bothersome. At worse there would be some CA on a person's glasses or jewelry that was gone in a click. I wish that Pentax would make at least one really good apochromatic lens.
    I found the most CA to be when the foliage was directly backlit and therefore had extreme contrast. In one image with two tigers on a rock, the sun was rising behind the bush on one side and there was severe green color fringing in that area. I converted the image to B&W to cancel it out.

    Pradeep

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