The Pentax 6×7: a thundergod’s camera
If you are reading this, you are probably as curious as I am about this humongous Medium Format single-lens-reflex (SLR) that is the Pentax 6×7. A 6×7 system that worked its way into the heart of Medium Format lovers, claiming its Holy status in Medium Format world.
Used by famous photographers such as Demarchelier, Testino, D’Orazio, and Lagerfeld, etc. This camera has worked its way into our wallets (RIP money) because it’s so great you just want to keep buying film and shoot with it.
Is this humongous beast (with the famous Takumar 105mm f/2.4) worth the hype? Keep in mind there are 4 different versions of this camera: Asahi Pentax 6×7, 6×7 MLU, Pentax 67, and Pentax 67ii. This review focuses on the OG Asahi Pentax 6×7 and the 2nd gen Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 105mm f/2.4, well because that’s what I got anyways.
Pentax 6×7, 67, etc…
I legit Google this, thank you our lord and saviour Google.
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 105mm f/2.4
- Engraved name: Super-Multi-Coated Takumar/6×7 1:2.4/105
- Focal length: 105mm
- 35mm equivalent: 54mm
- Optical formula: 6 elements, 5 groups
- Field of view: 46°/37° (Diagonal/Horizontal)
- Aperture: 2.4 ~ 22 (9 blades)
- Close distance: 100cm
- Magnification: 0.13×
- Picture area: 53×41cm
- Exposure factor: ×1.28 (+0.36EV)
- Effective lens speed: 2.7 ~ 24.9
- Filter: 67mm, screw-in and bayonet
- Dimensions: 92×60mm
- Weight: 0.6kg
So, with the addition of the body, this combination weights about 1.9kg (4.18lbs). But it’s not as bad as it sounds to be honest, you’d get used to it after a while.
Ergonomic and Feel
The design on the Pentax 67, with the exception of the 67ii is so badly designed that it would probably a pain to lug it around the city or on a hiking trip without the additional handgrip. It’s not as light and ergonomic as the Makina Plaubel 67 or Mamiya 7. You’d need a neck strap or a hand grip to carry it, as well as weight support when you’re shooting with it.
The shutter speed dial is on the left side, and guess what, you have to turn the rugged dial underneath the shutter speed, not the above dial; It’s for adjusting the ISO for the light meter. Other than that, it’s pretty much like your average 35mm SLR, except Howard Stark gave it some serum and now it’s double the size of my Nikon F3HP.
The viewfinder only gives you 90% of the actual final image, but there’s an option to use the waist-level finder to get 100% view. Everything works smoothly, moving from 35mm to Medium Format with the Pentax 6×7 isn’t much of a chore, you don’t have to relearn anything, even loading 120 film on the Pentax 6×7 is very similar to loading 35mm film.
Now, one thing I must mention though; As you can see in the title, this is the thundergod’s camera. Because why you ask? The mirror on this camera is HUGE, whenever it slaps you can feel the camera shaking and the mirror slap sounds like Thor just whip out his Mjolnir and smash it onto your hand. Definitely not a subtle camera for street photography though. Also shooting anything below 1/60th requires a tripod for sure, even if you got hands like Dr. Strange before he got into the accident, things will get shakily blur below 1/60th.
Spacing Error Hack
The ol’ Pentax 6×7 has this issue though (it’s common, so don’t worry if yours has it): the film advance spacing has a little hiccup, and because of that, you usually only get 9 to 9.5 photos per 120 roll (you usually get 10). The trick to fix this thing is when you advance the film, make sure the arrows stop JUST about 2 – 3 cm before red dot. Then you can have 10 perfect shots.
Pentax 6×7 or 67ii
The 67ii is newer, much better and has a grip! But it also comes with the ridiculous price of US$1500+ (35+ million VND) for the body only, whereas mine only costed $100 (2 million VND) for the body only. Yup, you read that right, $100 for a 6×7 Medium format camera that has (accurate) light meter and shit.
But if you have heaps of money lying around, do go for the younger and better 67ii, I know I would.
To conclude, if you want to get into Medium Format for serious image quality and ridiculously sharp lens but doesn’t like 6×4.5 and can’t afford a Rolleiflex or Hasselblad, Pentax 6×7 is the way to go.