5 frames with...

5 Frames with the Pentax 67 – By Louis Sousa

August 24, 2018

The Pentax 67 is perhaps a little out of character for 35mmc with it being big and hardly pocketable. My mirror lockup model was sourced from Bellamy at Japan Camera Hunter. Since obtaining the camera I’ve run about a dozen rolls of film through her. Female gendering for this massive hunk of metal?  Why not?

Image quality is outstanding. The Pentax 67 system is a Spotmatic system swelled to densely muscular bulk, sporting pumped up Takumar glass.

Load her with a mounted and spare lens into a backpack and the weight will mission to aspirin.  I use Upstrap’s most hefty strap capable of hauling a long gun. I mount the strap on the left side so the camera hangs vertically for over-one-shoulder carry.

She is not a camera for shooting nervous wildlife. The shutters pronounced kerplop from the giant mirror will set a flock of birds to early southern migration.

The meter on my model works and seems accurate, powered by a single 3 volt battery.

I own the massive dedicated left side handle  but don’t use it, preferring a right side hand grip purchased on the net from Malaysian craftsman. This grip makes for easier handling with less bulk. All of the displayed shots were handheld. If one is mindful of shutter speed vis-à-vis focal length, sharpness is achievable.

The featured image shows my 67 gripped up and ready for battle. The unmounted auxiliary left hand grip is shown, along with a roll of Ektar for scale.

Mounted to her is the 105mm f/2.4 Super Takumar lens used for all but the window image (90mm F 2.8). I have shot many high quality lenses and the 105 takes the cake, giving no quarter at all. Using my wide angle lens, a 50mm f/4.5 Tak, I have generated lab-based prints 4 feet wide and 3 feet high with superb resolution.

Three of these images were taken on a trip through my favorite country, darting on and off of Route 77 in Tiverton and Little Compton, Rhode Island, USA. It was a very bright mid-day sun and Kodak Ektar was spooled. None of the images were edited but for straightening some cockeyed horizons. The lifeguard stand, shot with Ektar, is in my hometown, Bristol RI.  The shot from inside of my favorite coffee shop was made with Portra 400 with the Beast resting on a table.

If you have the medium format bug, I highly recommend the Pentax 67, and as your first lens the 105mm f/2.4. Source a good body as I did, and then explore the lens map. Superb lenses can be purchased from auction sites for much less than comparable Hasselblad or similar lenses. The camera is a true heavyweight in the creative sense of the word.

I photograph with both film and digital cameras.  Film gives me the most satisfaction.  If you would like to see my  evolution, a blog link is here:  https://victoriaslight.blog.  I am glad to contribute to the efforts of Hamish and his community in this small way.

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  • Reply
    evan bedford
    August 24, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Do you tame the beast with a monopod?

    • Reply
      August 26, 2018 at 1:50 am

      I have not but it would be a good tool for this camera. I have generally shot it in bright sunlight so shutter speeds have been fine handheld. Thanks for the comment.

  • Reply
    Richard Alton
    August 24, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    I used a Pentax 67 for stock photography in the 1990s. Even then, shooting slide film, I calculated that it cost more than £1 per frame. For such a heavy camera, it was surprisingly comfortable to handle – to me, it felt very well balanced.

    • Reply
      August 26, 2018 at 1:48 am

      Yes it is well balanced. I don’t use the wooden handle for that reason.

  • Reply
    Charles Higham
    August 24, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    Entertainingly written write-up of an attractive medium format monster. I’ve always fancied one of these cameras. Thanks.

    • Reply
      August 26, 2018 at 1:47 am

      Thank you I’m am glad you enjoyed the article.

  • Reply
    Michael Kay
    August 24, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    Don’t you mean Bellamy Hunt at JCH? Or does he have an assistant called Jeremy…hehe

    • Reply
      August 26, 2018 at 1:45 am

      Yes, my bad. Sorry Bellamy!

  • Reply
    Ken Ziegler
    August 24, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    1st. time l’d ever heard any one mention UP Straps. After having gone through 1/2 a dozen others these are by far the BEST. Great camera.

    • Reply
      August 26, 2018 at 1:47 am

      Yes they are great sturdy straps. Especially good for this camera.

  • Reply
    August 26, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    Fantastic shots with great color and three dimensionality. The last thing I need is another camera, but wow these are wonderful… less clinical than my Hasselblad 500cm with the 80mm Planar.

    • Reply
      Louis Sousa
      September 2, 2018 at 11:49 am

      A different shooting experience occurs between the Hassy V system and the 67. Both are deliberative. The Hassy wins from its modularity and less weight (depending on the lens). The 67 offers top shutter speed of 1000 as opposed to the Hassy at 500. Both have outstanding image quality. Oh, the 67 system is cheaper to purchase at this time.

  • Reply
    Ashley Carr
    August 26, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    I’ts nice to see the Pentax gracing these pages, I’ve often thought of penning a ‘5 frames with…’ featuring my (very much used 75/4.5 shift lens.

    I’m on my second Pentax 67 now. The first was a 6×7 Mirror Up like yours, my current is a late production 67. If you don’t need the meter switching to a plain prism saves a little weight (and bulk).

    I’m lucky in that mine came with a factory fitted grid screen which compliments my shift shooting a great deal. I’m also rare in that I actually kept the 90/2.8 over the much lauded 105. To me it just feels like a nicer lens but then I rarely shoot portraits which seems to be the 105’s forte.

    I also went for an Optech pro over the Upstrap (I use an upstrap on another camera) The Optech seems to work some weird black magic as it’s patented weight saving trickery actually seems to cut the Pentax’s weight in half (obviously it doesn’t but it sure feels like it does).

    Definitely a recommended camera and enjoyed your little review.

    • Reply
      Louis A. Sousa
      September 3, 2018 at 11:57 pm

      Thank you very much Ashley. I use the Optech straps also, the stretch certainly is a help with the 67. But bearing the weight is worth it, no?

  • Reply
    Daniel Castelli
    August 27, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    I’ve always loved the Pentax 67. Unfortunately, limited funds kept me from getting one.
    I think Nick Brandt used a Pentax 67 for some of the images in his stunning book “On This Earth.” He commented that he didn’t use a tele lens for any of the images.
    Best of luck and continued success with the camera.

    • Reply
      September 3, 2018 at 11:59 pm

      Thank you so much Daniel. I will certainly check out the Brandt book. Stay on the lookout for a 67, maybe you will be lucky enough to purchase one soon. L.

  • Reply
    November 18, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    The third photo reminds me of color work of Joel Meyerowitz! Nice!

    • Reply
      November 19, 2018 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you very much, glad you enjoy it….

  • Reply
    June 30, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Hi, the right hand grip looks stunning. Would you mind sharing the source?

    • Reply
      June 30, 2019 at 1:37 pm

      Hi Alex, it has been a long time since I purchased the grip, but I think this is the maker:


      It does give a good feel to the camera. I leave it there all the time, and rarely if ever use the left side grip.

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