Ricoh has scheduled the launch of the Pentax 645Z DSLR, the higher-end, medium-format successor to the Pentax 645D camera that launched in 2010. While many might say the price of this camera is set rather high, the 645Z boasts a lot of significant features to warrant the price – and a relative “bargain” if your profession depends on this type of camera (e.g. photo studio photographers).  

The 645Z is fitted with a 51.4-megapixel CMOS sensor with an imaging area of 43.8mm x 32.8mm – an upgrade from the 645D’s CCD sensor. Because of this transition to a CMOS sensor, which is roughly 1.7 times the size of a full-frame 35mm, the camera is capable of supporting Live View as well as recording of 1080p video, something the older CCD sensor couldn’t do.

With a sleeker design that doesn’t include the modular back of its predecessor, the 3.4-pound 645Z has a weather-sealed body rated for use in extreme climate conditions, such as rainstorms and other unfavorable weather. 

With an 86k RGB metering sensor, the 645Z uses 25 different cross type points with two linear sensors at the edges of its active focus area to properly expose your subject in even the worst of low-light situations. The 645Z has a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 and an ISO expandable to 204,800 to further ensure high-quality exposures that are crisp.

The Pentax 645Z is expected to cost around $8,500 (body only), but that price is more attractive when compared to some of the camera’s competitors, like Hasselblad and Phase One. You could spend upwards of $30,000 for a camera with slightly less powerful sensors and an inability to record HD video (although the competition is heading toward CMOS as well, the 645Z still costs less). The 645Z builds on the previous model by shooting up to 3 frames per second (enhanced from 1.1 fps) and an improved autofocusing system. These features enable the 645Z to perform at the level of its pricier competition.

So, what does this mean for us consumers? Most of us wouldn’t be using a 645Z to shoot everyday photos, but your next family portrait taken at a studio using this camera would have greater resolution – important for creating large portraits. Filmmakers would have greater depth control when shooting their movies, as another example.

The Pentax 645Z will be released by June 2014. The full camera specs can be viewed at the Ricoh website.

(via Ricoh, PetaPixel)