Pentax 645Z 51-megapixel camera goes on sale for $8,500

Building on the success of the medium-format Pentax 645D digital and Pentax 645 film cameras, Ricoh announced today the Pentax 645Z, taking on Hasselblad and Phase One at a fraction of the cost. The 645Z uses a 44×33-millimeter sensor like its predecessor, but switches from CCD to CMOS. The resolution increases as well, from 40 megapixels to 51 megapixels. It’ll capture 14-bit raw in PEF or DNG formats in addition to TIFF and JPEG.

In the olden days, format snobbery was a little bigger. Real photographers used medium format cameras, stuffed with big rolls of 120 or 220 film, and they laughed at folks who struggled by with little toy “full-frame” 35mm cameras. These medium format cameras were also distinctly old school, without much automatic control. Back then, the Pentax 645 was an odd camera, an affordable medium format camera with auto-everything. Well, not everything, but way more than you’d get in the Mamiyas and Hasselblads at the time. Which is all to introduce the Pentax 645Z, Ricoh’s new 51.5 megapixel body with a price tag of $8,500, not much more than a top-of-the-line full frame SLR body.

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