The "Beast" Pentax 67

            I started this blog a while back and have slowly added more and more ideas and thoughts as the days and weeks have gone on.  I keep harvesting more and more scans back from my most recent lab of choice, Richard Photo Lab. They do an outstanding job and have some of the best turnaround times I've experienced thus far.

The Pentax 6x7 or 67 or.......67II if your have cash in your pocket to spend, are all variations of the same camera.  Subtle changes were made between the first versions until we arrived at the Pentax 67II.  I've owned three Pentax 67 cameras and currently still have two.  I have an original version the 6x7 non-mirror lockup and a Pentax67 MLUP.  Going forward on this post all images were created with the Pentax 67 Mirror Lock Up version with the TTL Metering viewfinder.

The Mighty Pentax67 & 105mm f/2.4 Super Takumar

The Mighty Pentax67 & 105mm f/2.4 Super Takumar

Now I am far from an expert on the Pentax 67.  I am also far from an expert on shooting film however put the two together with my enthusiasm and something decent is bound to happen.  The Pentax 67 is a medium format film camera which accepts 120 or 220 roll film.  I shoot with 120 so I get ten exposures per roll.  The camera, although for me is not excessively heavy is large and does have a thunderous shutter/mirror clap.  Thats to be expected because remember your shooting a 6x7 negative here.  Loads of detail and beautiful fall off.

When I purchased my first Pentax 67 it was to use with the assortment of 67 Lenses I was already adapting with my Fujifilm GFX.  Coincidently the Pentax 67 glass work phenomenally on the GFX due to the sensor being quite a bit smaller then the image circle needed to cover a 6x7 negative.  The other great advantage is that 67 glass is CHEAP.  Not cheap in quality but cheap in price.  Currently I only own the 105mm and the 55mm f/4 and they are both razors.  Another great thing about the Pentax 67 is the high shutter speed of 1/1000th and an ISO capability of metering for 3200.  A huge bright viewfinder which can also accept a waist level finder should you choose to use one.

What do I love about the big 67?  PORTRAITS. All day long. The Pentax67 with a 105mm mounted is a portrait monster.  I love getting this lens down to its minimum focus distance which is right around 3ft and focusing on the eyes.  When you get your negatives scanned you will be blown away by the crisp details and beautiful depth of field which melts all the other details away.  It produces an almost surreal three dimensional effect.


Again, I'm not an expert film shooter but I know what looks good and pushed Tri-x is it.  When shooting black and white I meter for the highlights.  Film has great latitude but with black & white I want to retain as much detail in the highlights as possible.  I really don't need to worry about muddled shadow coloring that much because, well....its black & white.  I love the look of a well detailed highlights exploding from the black shadows.  A strong contrast that slices like a knife from the darkness.

Whenever my film cameras sit for a while I like to blow off a test roll just to make sure everything is working properly before I use it on a paid gig.  So below are a few shots of my daughter using the 105mm and a variable ND filter.  It was 3pm and sunny.  Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200 and metered for the SHADOWS.

           What a funny kid, one day you'll be reading her blogs.  Again I'm not concerned about the highlights when shooting film due to the latitude it offers.  Had I metered for the highlights I would of killed the shadows and and detail and color would of looked like a muddled mess.  The ND filter offered me a chance to shoot wide open at f/2.4 to get the look I wanted and being that the meter reads via TTL there are no issues or guess work involved.

So for my next big day of fun with the Pentax67 I took it out for an engagement session.  I knew we were going to have some amazing light once golden hour hit so I figured why not.  I also had my Nikon D5 with 58mm 1.4 and my Fuji GFX with the Zeiss 85mm 1.4.  I did a post on this combo the other week so definitely check that out HERE.  

Unfortunately during this session my Zeiss 85mm kissed the concrete pavement and I bent the lip more ND Filters for me right now until I can have it fixed up. Enough of my troubles...lets take a look at the photos.  Yes thats me below welding the Pentax67.


Below are all Shots with the Pentax 67 105mm @ 2.4 Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200 ISO.  Metering for the shadows.  No ND Filter was needed.

Don't be afraid to experiment either.  Remember they are your images that you took.  Do what you want with them.  Some may look down on this but who cares.  What maters is you and your clients, if you have them, are happy.  Convert a few of them to black and white.  They look amazing.  I hear Kodak Ektar looks great converted in post.  I haven't tried it just yet!

Some of the above images converted to black & white using Lightroom and my Fuji Acros Simulation.

Now some will say film is a waste of money.  We're in a digital age now why not stick with the times and shoot digital.  Digital is easier and more cost effective.  Why are you still shooting film?

Well, I addressed a lot of these questions in a previous blog FILM PHOTOGRAPHY.  Im happy to answer it again here.  Film slows you down and captures the true essence of photography.  If you don't expose correctly you mess it up.  Try fixing a film scan in post and watch what happens.....good luck!  I'm not saying to solely rely on film.  I'm saying when your not rushed and have the time why not hybrid shoot.  Shoot film and digital.   Most people/clients are drawn towards film photography and have no idea what it even looks like.  Look at the success of VSCO, RNI or Mastin Labs.  Or any other popular photog pumping out his latest preset version of Portra 400 for $50 Bucks.  Film is popular and everyone is always trying to mimic film.  You can get close....really close but at the end of the day IT STILL AIN'T FILM BRO.  Yes it can be costly thats why I say shoot a roll or two along side of your digital images.  Now I know this isn't a big reason for most but for your pros out there especially the wedding photographer crowed.  Pull out a film camera on your next shoot and explain to the couple that you want to shoot some film frames and watch their eyes twinkle.  Most people, even ones that have no idea about photography know it takes some skill to shoot film and it will establish not only trust but confidence that they made the right choice.  Choice nowadays is a huge thing with everyone labeling themselves as a photographer because they have the latest iPhone or spent $350 on a DLSR package at their local electronics store.  Make yourself stand out from the crowed.  Your clients will feel special.

OK....end rant!!!  Now speaking of hybrid shooting lets do something fun.   A TEST.  I know whats fun about a test?  Well nothing but maybe this one will be different.   Lets see who can tell me whats film and what digital?

So, where you able to spot the film from the digital?  Like I said you can get very close using presets but you still need to make adjustments to get the tones and even then its difficult and not %100.

ANSWERS:  FILM on the left -------------- DIGITAL on the right.

All these images were with the 105mm 2.4 shooting the film shots and the Zeiss 85mm C/Y 1.4 @ f/2 shooting the digital shots.

Thanks again all and check out my other blogs, youtube page and instagram.  Links are at the bottom.