The Pentax 645 camera line has been known for decades as the system that marries 35mm SLR features with medium format. It captures images in 6x4.5cm, but retains most of the portability and creature comforts of Nikon and Canon cameras. Similar to those smaller formats, most shooters will want a compact, high performing 50mm prime lens. The 75mm f2.8 is roughly equivalent to this in 645 terms.
This fast prime has become my go to lens for the Pentax 645. I never thought a normal focal length would see so much use in my landscape work. There’s something about the 75 that strikes the right balance when the foreground is bland, but you want to keep as much context as possible (i.e. not cropping too much). While off the tripod, it is very hand hold-able due to the minimum aperture of f/2.8. I usually leave my Singh-Ray polarizer on, so the extra speed is great to have.
I am also a huge fan of the focus switch. While not as convenient as the clutch style focus rings found on many other 645 auto focus lenses, the switch has a very specific advantage. When composing shots on a tripod, I like to set my focus and switch to manual to ensure it stays where I left it. This can be tricky with the clutch style, being careful not to rotate the ring while pulling back. The 75’s recessed switch is easy to set without any worry that you’ll bump it while swapping filers or changing apertures.
This lens really is an outstanding optical performer. While it is very sharp, I find that it provides a very pleasing ‘3D’ look. This is demonstrated well in the pine trees above (also see 100% crop below). The effect is most likely enabled by the fact there is very little aberrations, vignetting, or distortion.
I’ve been using this lens since I first got my Pentax 645Nii years ago. I am happy to report that I still haven’t been able to find any drawbacks to it. If I did need to comment on anything, it’s that I’m not about the 58mm filter diameter. This is not a common size in my lens collection (Pentax, Nikon, or otherwise). To save myself from purchasing special equipment, I use my 62mm Singh-Ray Polarizer with a step up ring. A small compromise.
Not only is the 75/2.8 one of the most compact Pentax 645 lenses, it’s also (one of) the fastest. This alone would entice a 645 user into looking twice at it. The fact that it also will blow you away optically puts it into the must own category. For film bodies, it’s an obvious first lens purchase. For the cropped sensor digital body, it may have a tad too much reach for a one and done. But it would make a great short telephoto.