Medium Format for Under $5K? Pentax Sharply Drops Price of 40MP 645D

If you've wanted to make the leap from 35mm full-frame digital photography to medium-format, the start-up costs just got a whole lot cheaper. Pentax, which is owned by Ricoh Imaging, recently dropped the price of its 40-megapixel 645D medium-format camera to $4,999.95.

The 645D price drop went into effect last month, slashing nearly $2,000 off the camera’s previous price tag. The lowered cost comes on the heels of the launch of the 645D’s successor, the 51.4MP Pentax 645Z, which went on sale in June for $8,499.95.

While the 645Z adds quite few new features, including more resolution, weather sealing, a tilting 3.2-inch LCD screen, and the ability to shoot full 1080p HD video – all of which are firsts for a medium-format camera – the 645D is no slouch itself. When the 645D first went on sale in 2010, its competitive, sub-$10,000 pricetag and high-resolving, 44 x 33-millimeter Kodak-designed CCD sensor were so popular, the camera sold out quickly and it was dang near impossible to get your hands on one.

Photographers who passed on it then, may be having the last laugh now. The new pricetag for the 645D puts it in line with the top-tier, full-frame DSLRs from Nikon, Canon, and Sony, all of which have smaller, 35mm-sized sensors. Of course, it’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison: new full-frame pro DSLRs offer many things the four-year-old 645D doesn’t, namely speed and rugged camera builds.

But if buying a medium-format digital camera has been on your bucket list as a photographer for a while, you no longer have to take out a second mortgage to do it. And who knows, you might also want to throw in the new HD Pentax DA645 28-45mmF4.5ED AW SR lens, which costs the same price as the 645D.