Elusive Pentax 645D Camera Makes U.S. Debut; Won't Ship Here Until October (At the Earliest)

June 24, 2010
By Dan Havlik, PDN's Technology Specialist

Pentax 645D-Willougbys

The much-anticipated Pentax 645D medium-format digital camera made it's U.S. debut in New York City yesterday but whether it will actually go on sale in this country is still uncertain.

According to John Carlson, senior manager of Sales and Marketing for the Pentax Imaging Company, the 40MP 645D won't ship in the United States until orders for the camera in Japan have been met. The camera went on sale in Japan this month and has generated significant interest there.

"The response in Japan has been bigger than they thought," Carlson said at the opening of a new Pentax boutique at Willoughy's Imaging Center in Manhattan where the 645D was making its U.S. debut.

Though he couldn't provide a firm answer of when or if the 645D would go on sale in the U.S., he predicted it would happen before the end of the year.

"My gut feeling is that it will be available here in the Fall, likely in October," Carlson said, while noting that PhotoPlus Expo, which takes place in October, would be the likely venue to showcase the camera. "For this market, that's the ideal show."

(The Nielsen Business Media Photo Group, which publishes PDN, runs PhotoPlus Expo.)

Carlson dismissed Internet reports that the camera could be available in the U.S. as early as July.

"From a business standpoint, we have to first find the right retailers for it in a pro photography market with professional support. If we decide there's a market for it, we'll bring it here," he said.

U.S pricing on the camera, body only, if it comes here would be $9,995, he added. Though he didn't have pricing on the a smc PENTAX-D FA645 55mm F2.8 lens that was paired with the 645D, he estimated it would sell for approximately $1,000.

Since the camera accepts all Pentax 645 legacy lenses, along with 67 lenses with the help of an adapter, Pentax is not selling the 645D as a kit.

The working model Carlson was showing off at the Pentax Boutique at Willoughy's came directly from a factory in Japan and is the only one currently in the U.S.

Though the 645D has a large body, it was surprisingly light to hold. It seemed comprised mostly of polycarbonate and magnesium alloy which likely contributes to its lightness.

The menu system is almost identical to the one on the Pentax K-7 digital SLR and it has most of that camera's features. The one significant upgrade to the 645D is that it boasts a digital level which shows how straight the camera is on both axis's.

The Pentax Boutique at Willoughby's, which offers a full line of Pentax's products, is directly across from a similar Leica-branded shop-in-shop that opened at the same camera store a few weeks ago.

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