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Review: Pentax 67ii & 105mm F2.4

I have been thinking of the Pentax 67ii ever since I saw some talented Japanese photographers putting them to great use with incredible results.  Yes much of a good photo has little to do with the equipment however the Pentax 67ii (which I will call 67ii below) just seem to give each photo it creates that magical touch.  As the name would suggest, the 67ii is a medium format film camera that takes photos in 6×7 ratio format.  This wonderful camera was produced back in the golden film days where everyone shoots each frame slowly and carefully so the slightly slow operation speed of this camera was not an issue to its intended users.

From a technical stand point of view, this body is  heavy, big and bulky; definitely not something anyone would carry around all the time unless they absolutely value the photo over their own well being. The advantage this 67ii has over it’s predecessors is the fact that it actually has aperture priority mode with a insanely accurate metered prism.  What does this mean?  It essentially makes it one big manual focus snap shot camera. The other advantage that this 67ii has over other medium formats is the fact that it has an extensive SLR like lens line up, from fisheye all the way to telephoto.  It does 10 shots on a roll of 120 and 22 shots on a roll of 220 film.

After some looking around, I found my 67ii as a second hand body from BH and 105mm lens from KEH.  It might occur to most people that buying a film camera these days for over a thousand dollars is rather insane, however the photos that it has help me create is in my opinion worth every penny:).  The combination of 67ii and 105mm gives off most of its magic when camera subject distance is about from 1.5M and on.  When shots are done in those ranges, there is an un-explainable 3 dimensional feel to the images.  Furthermore, the 6×7 negatives yields a high dynamic range and thus works wonders in high contrast scenes and post production scanning on to the computer.

From my experience so far, it seems this machine matches itself quite well when shooting Kodak Portra 400.  Reason being is if you want to use this machine indoors more often, you should start picking iso 400 and up film since it will help you keep the shutter speed up, this is important as the mirror slap is quite hard and hand holding something this heavy will hinder your ability to shoot low shutter speed.  In addition, I have started using the mirror up feature on this 67ii to do the very slow shutter speed shots and I seem to be getting some good keepers… definitely something to consider if you like shooting available lighting with this monster of a camera.  I personally shoot negatives through this camera at +1/3 to +2/3 ev for better tones in the negatives and easier scanning, it gives me a more smoother tone curve and manages color better in my opinion.

Photographer: Ricky Cheong
Model: Elva Sun, Arianny Cheong
Location: Toronto, Taiwan, Harbin

Pentax 67ii, 105mm f2.4, Fujifilm 160NS, Kodak Portra 400, Kodak Tri-X 400

Carl - Hey Ricky – thanks for writing this up! I’m currently torn between the 67II and original. I prefer the more vintage look (and cheaper price tag) of the first 6×7, but with what I just read about the super accurate light meter I’m now having trouble deciding where to throw my money!

inzite - Hi Carl, thanks for dropping by may I ask you how you found my article? Anyhow, I think the real question is whether you will find alot of use for the excellent aperture priority mode on the 67ii. Since I use mine for a number of different situation, most namely to take pics of my daughter when she starts moving around and us going on trips I find the ease of shooting a 67ii indispensable. I guess if you shoot straight portraits an old 67 might be ok for your use. Do keep in mind that these pentax 67 are big bodies. :) let me know if you have further questions.

Carl - Hey Ricky, thanks for the reply! I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I believe I ran across your article from a Google search – I was looking for reviews on the 6×7 and 105mm 2.4. You make good points regarding the Av/Ap mode. I have yet to pull the trigger and purchase a 6×7 of 67II (still) and revisited your article to inform my decision once more. For me, I’m mainly looking for a portrait camera, so I’m leaning torwards the 6×7. It’s also closer to my shooting style, as 99% of the time on my 5D I’m on Manual mode. And, of course, the 6×7 is cheaper. My dilemma now is lens based. For portraits I’m shooting with narrow DOF, so the 105mm 2.4 seems perfect. However, I’m worried about it’s minimum focus distance of 1 meter, so now I’m debating between the 105 and the 90mm 2.8. I prefer wider lenses for my portrait shooting style. I appreciate your feedback! -Carl

inzite - Hi Carl, sorry for the late reply. I think the 106 and 90mm in terms of view angle is quite similar. If you are looking something wider for portrait perhaps you can try to hunt down a 75mm F2.8. If you are using M mostly on the 5D already then I guess a 6×7 would fit your use already. :)

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