The Pentax 645N is that rarest of beasts, an autofocus medium format camera. I’ve wanted one for a while, especially when my kids were younger and wouldn’t stand still. I missed one on eBay and thought “don’t worry, there’ll be another one along in a minute”. Er, no as it happened. I saw another online, but it was more money than I could justify, so I let the dream die for a couple of years. Then, whilst browsing the internet, I saw one at a good price and bought it. Upon opening the box, the shutter speed dial pinged off (apparently this is a weakness in the design), so before I’d even loaded a roll it went back to the shop for a fix. A couple of weeks and one fix later it was back in my hands.
So, what do I think? It’s a great camera, with an 75 mm f/2.8 autofocus lens that captures focus faster than the slow, 1980’s-era whirring I had expected. It operates very much like my Canon A-1 in terms of selecting one of its four exposure modes (Programme, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority and Manual) and it has a full complement of metering and winder modes. Exposure compensation is easy too. It also has a neat trick of printing picture data in the gap between the negatives. It’s even clever enough to squeeze sixteen 6×4.5 shots out of a roll of 120, rather than the standard fifteen that most 645 cameras manage.
Loaded with a roll of recently expired Kodak T-MAX 100 (that had spent its life in the fridge) the family and I went out to Flatford in Essex, the site of John Constable’s Haywain painting, just before the Great Coronavirus Isolation. The lens wasn’t wide enough to capture the Haywain scene itself, but here are five shots from the surrounding area, just as it was recovering from some recent flooding.
The film was developed in Ilford DD-X and scanned on my Epson 4870 flatbed scanner.
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