A month with the Pentax 67ii / by Derek Slagle

I managed to get my hands on a Pentax 67ii medium format film camera along with 3 lenses (55/3.5, 105/2.4, & 300/4).  This is just a quick preview of the images I shot and a few take-aways after a month of shooting.

Week 1-2:

The two weeks were spent just shooting street photography and scenes around Kansas City.  Everything shot was handheld.  I had been warned about the mirror-slap associated with the 6x7 camera so I managed to shoot everything between 1/125 - 1/1000 of a second.  It was quite a challenge for the first roll but it was a rather short learning curve working within these parameters for street photography.  Also, the right film selection based on the scene/ time of day/ light became really crucial to shooting these handheld.  For the record, that 1/125 of a second recommendation was for the 105mm lens - there are undoubtedly different requirements for handholding the other wide angle and telephoto lenses.  I did shoot 2 shots under the 1/125 recommendation online (1/60 & 1/90 of a second) with the mirror-up function and the images turned out perfectly.

The images from the first two weeks were shot with a variety of films: Portra400, Acros100, Fuji400h, & Ektar100. 

Week 3: 

The third week I took the camera to Tennessee for a family visit/ vacation and tried the camera out in a setting outside of street photography.  I walked away with a handful of images that I am certain I wouldn't have been able to capture outside of this camera system.  I used the camera on a tripod and handheld in a variety of settings.  I had read many reviews about the vibrations of the mirror online but I didn't have any issues whatsoever - even with the camera + 300mm lens atop my travel tripod (which is significantly smaller than every recommendation I came across).  I really have found the dimensionality/ focus/ degree of focus of the 67 format to be an ideal camera for me personally.  Some of the images are reminiscent to images that I see coming out of some large-format photographers.  I shot the image side-by-side with digital camera just to see how different the images are from my normal output.  I shot slide film, Velvia100, and Fujifilm Pro 160ns for the first time ever while on this trip and with this camera.

Comparisons between Pentax 67ii and Digital Images:

I have put some images side-by-side with my digital images as comparisons.  With some of the digital images it took significant time to edit the images to where I wanted; whereas, the film shots are either unedited or just minor adjustments. Both of the comparison shots were taken atop Roan Mountain at different times of the day - the Velvia shots were at sunset and the 160ns shots were midday during very harsh, direct sunset.

Pentax 67ii + Fuji Velvia 100 film (left) versus Nikon D750 (right)

Pentax 67ii + Fujifilm Pro 160ns film (left) versus Nikon D750 (right):


I am really happy with my first couple of weeks with the Pentax 67ii.  I had originally planned on selling my 645 medium format camera but I think that there is still a place where the 645 is still necessary and it does have some pros when compared to the 67.  Same thing goes with the digital cameras.  I didn't get the 67 as a replacement for any camera system I currently own. Rather the 67 is a different tool and one that I think will complement other tools I currently own and use.  Now I know there is no perfect camera but I do think that this camera is my ideal film camera.  Yes, it is touted as being large but I had no problem using it as a daily carry-along camera (the grip on the 67ii, not present on the earlier iterations, even made carrying the camera without a strap a possibility - although a full day of shooting may prove that this is not a great idea).  The manual focusing wasn't a problem or difficult and I could find focus extremely quick even in street photography.  I did have a few shots with a soft focus but I am not concerned with that.  FYI, this camera is not one of those covert street cameras (in all honesty I am not sure if many other people would even use this in a street scenario) due to its size.  The camera really shines for portraits and landscapes.  The portraits really shine with regard to focus and dimensionality (those film-like qualities that I can't really put into words) and the landscapes with regard to film negative size and detail.  I am really excited and optimistic about this camera and continuing to grow as a photographer with this piece of equipment by my side.