Camera Review: PENTAX 67

October 8, 2009

Pentax67 02

Today it’s about the dinosaur in my dry case: The PENTAX 67!

I bought the camera last year second hand in a camera store in Seoul/Korea, for an incredible low price. The Korean Won had dropped dramatically during the Financial Crisis, so it was a very good time to shop in Korea. The PENTAX 67 is a 6x7cm negative size Medium Format film camera (SLR) from the 1970s. At the time it was a popular option for professionals, not only because of the attractive 6×7 format and the quality of the Pentax optics; it was also the only Medium Format SLR with a prism viewfinder in the market. That meant it was possible to hold and handle it pretty much like a 35mm camera which gave it an advantage compared to the rather clunky Hasselblads or Mamiyas (I do not consider my Hasselblad “clunky” but some people might).

Well, actually, to me the PENTAX 67 is quite a brick. It’s big, heavy, and compared to my Hasselblad, the mirror sends shock waves through the camera, my hand, and the whole environment. The camera is loud, the film transport requires some new thumb muscles, and the frame counter doesn’t tell you exactly when the film is full. Furthermore, the opening mechanism for the film cassettes is sometimes jammed (or I’m stupid) and the whole procedure of changing a film can be quite time consuming.

But isn’t it a beauty?!!

No, seriously, apart from the (few) negative characteristics of this almost forgotten camera, there are some aspects which make me love the PENTAX 67:

1. The 6×7 format is just beautiful. It’s only slightly bigger than 6×6, giving you more space to compose, but at the same time it is more squarish than 6×45 which still gives you the feeling of harmony within the given space. I love it!
2. The optics are superb and the mechanics of the lenses work smooth and easy. The images come out super sharp, with a soft and smooth bokeh which is quite special and different to all my other Medium Format cameras or Leicas.
3. The viewfinder is spectacular: bright, big, and clear which is the perfect for composing. Even better, the prism viewfinder can be exchanged for a waist level viewfinder (see picture). I love that for the tripod.

The PENTAX 67 is not an easy camera, but it’s a lot of fun and a beauty of a beast! It’s not really a camera that works well without tripod, unless there is a lot of light available and you know how to hold a camera steady. However you decide to use it, it’s a very good tool for portraits because of its format, sharpness, and soft bokeh.
On a daily basis, I still prefer my Hasselblad or the Twin Reflex Mamiya because they are easier to handle; for the special moments, though, the PENTAX 67 is quite something to use. And because nobody seem to want it anymore, it is more than a bargain. Don’t miss it!
Maya 2009
Maya and Puji 2008
Ming 2008


6 Responses to “Camera Review: PENTAX 67”

  1. great camera yes…i bought last year a brandnew backup Pentax 67 II from a fashion shooter…sooo reliable but changing film is really horrible…well i used it a lot in iceland so i’m more into it now… 🙂

  2. S.H. Chow Says:

    You have very nice picture out of this beautiful set.

    make me want to try it out too!

  3. You can borrow mine one day! We should meet soon again anyways… 😉

  4. meewosh Says:

    I had Pentax 67 borrowed for a while. It’s superb camera, which I still have on my to-buy list 🙂

  5. you are in point of fact a good webmaster. The site loading velocity is amazing. It seems that you’re doing any unique trick. Moreover, The contents are masterwork. you’ve performed a fantastic job in this matter!

  6. Paul Wheeler Says:

    I too love this camera, I have two, one a 6 x 7 I keep at my ville an Lanzarote and a 67 I keep at my home in London. The can beat any digital camera when I shoot on Fujichrome 100 or 50. I can scan up to 4,800 dpi and that would give me a file just short of half a terrer bite! The equivalent of a digital camera with a 150 mega pixel chip! Lets hear it for film!

    I’m a fairly big fella with a lot of hand holding experience si I am not so afraid of reasonable shutter speeds. That said its realy a daylight camera.

    I shoot colour on my 6×7 pentax’s and B&W on my Nikon F3’s.

    Happy shooting, Paul

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