5 Frames with the Pentax 645N and Kodak T-MAX 100 – By Malcolm Myers

By Malcolm Myers

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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About The Author

By Malcolm Myers
I have enjoyed photography since my teens in the 1980s. Like most people I do a mixture of digital and film nowadays and I process my own film both 35 mm and medium format. I prefer portrait photography and so end up taking shots of my family. However, I am trying to work on a panorama project that is not people-oriented. I live in the East of England.
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Comments

jeremy north on 5 Frames with the Pentax 645N and Kodak T-MAX 100 – By Malcolm Myers

Comment posted: 23/05/2020

I hate to state the obvious but while it may produce good images, this is probably the ugliest and most poorly designed 645 SLR ever. Thankfully it is a rare beast, unfortunately not extinct but given the build quality that may be sooner rather than later. That's all a bit sad given that they made superb lenses and came out with the ground breaking and amazing MX
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Malcolm Myers replied:

Comment posted: 23/05/2020

Hi Jeremy. I have to agree that it's not the prettiest of cameras! Neither is it inconspicuous. And I certainly hope it lasts long enough to pay for itself in enjoyable images :)

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Marcelo on 5 Frames with the Pentax 645N and Kodak T-MAX 100 – By Malcolm Myers

Comment posted: 23/05/2020

Great location and fine pictures!
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Malcolm Myers replied:

Comment posted: 23/05/2020

Thank you Marcelo. Looking forward to when we are allowed to go out again!

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Roger B on 5 Frames with the Pentax 645N and Kodak T-MAX 100 – By Malcolm Myers

Comment posted: 23/05/2020

Thank you for a fine and thoughtful review. I've shot a manual focus first generation Pentax 645 for a few years. It followed a Pentax 67. Both accept superb legacy Takumar glass. My preference is for the larger format, though: If one is going to tote a carpal tunnel-inducing large SLR, and invest in a three lens kit, why not go straight for the bigger image size and the more natural horizontal format? Plus, one can view 6x7 'chromes satisfactorily just by holding them up to a window, they are that large and lovely. Just my opinion, no offense intended to 645 fans!
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Malcolm Myers replied:

Comment posted: 23/05/2020

Thank you Roger. I've always fancied a go with a 67, partly because the negatives are perfect for 8x10 prints. However, I have enough cameras now and my money has to go elsewhere.

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David Allen on 5 Frames with the Pentax 645N and Kodak T-MAX 100 – By Malcolm Myers

Comment posted: 23/05/2020

Great cameras! Like a lot of Pentax gear, overlooked and underrated. I wish I'd never sold mine. It was really fantastic for portraits as well as landscape stuff. Maybe time to look at eBay again...........
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Malcolm Myers replied:

Comment posted: 23/05/2020

Thank you David. It took me several years to find one and my kids stand still now, but I still think it was worth getting.

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