The Pentax 67 in its time was very popular amongst top editorial and fashion photographers such as Bruce Weber, Terence Donovan, and many many more. It’s picked up popularity again in recent years due to the low cost to jump into the medium format film system. Not only can older 6x7 bodies be found for inexpensive prices but so can the wide range of legendary lenses.
The Pentax 6x7 is a completely manual medium format film camera. The experience shooting this camera is nothing short of a rush. I’ve been shooting on mine since 2013 and I still can’t help but grin every time I hear the shutter clack down followed by the feel of advancing into the next frame. It’s magic, and I’ve never experienced anything else like it in a medium format camera .
The Pentax 6x7 is very reminiscent of a regular 35mm SLR. It even behaves just like a 35mm SLR with it’s TTL viewfinder (optional metered version available), shutter speed dial, manual frame advance lever and the location of the shutter release. It’s similarities are immediately obvious when you first hold one in your hands
The body is made of a strong and durable metal, and it’s clear that it’s able to withstand tough working conditions. Loading film into the body is straight forward and very simple to do but it does take some time to roll the film into the roller. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll easily have a body reloaded in under a minute.
The Pentax 6x7 had some of the best lenses developed for it. They are tack sharp, render wonderful color and detail, but even better, they can be purchased on the used market for next to nothing. Keep in mind that multiple versions of the same lenses were released over the years. The most notable changes between these versions are build quality, material, and coating on the lens glass.
105mm F2.4: It’s no secret that the favorite lens to pair with the Pentax 6x7 is the 105mm F2.4 prime lens. This lens is one of the best I’ve used in film photography. It’s the perfect focal length for portraiture as it best resembles the look of a 50mm on a 35mm body. The color it renders is on par with the legendary Zeiss T* coated line. It’s amazingly sharp and they can be found on the used market for just a couple hundred dollars. If you’re considering picking up a Pentax 6x7, then this lens is a must have in your bag.
PRICE: $250 - $350
WIDE ANGLE LENSES:
55mm F4: As for wide angle lenses, you have some options here. There is a 45mm F3.5 and a 55mm F4 that most shooters will choose from. I ended up going with the 55mm F4 as I heard it performed better than the 45mm in terms of barrel distortion, hazing and artifacts. But mileage may vary for each user. I’ve been extremely happy with my 55mm and don’t plan on using anything else any time soon. It reminds me of the first time that I shot full-frame where the subjects in the photograph just seemed to pop out of the frame. Almost in a 3 dimensional way.
PRICE: $150 - $250
200mm F4: For those who shoot a lot of landscape work, consider the 200mm F4. I’ve used this lens extensively when I want tighter framing of a mountain range. Color and sharpness is just as fantastic as the 55mm and 105mm.
PRICE: $50 - $100.
The Pentax 6x7 shoots 120/220 format film and limits you to either 10 or 20 shots. That hasn’t been any issue for me as I cherish and plan for each shot I execute. Trust me, you’ll love all the detail that each shot captures. It’s fantastic.
Waist-level viewfinder: for landscape photography and semi-discrete street shooting, and it’s nice to have an idea of what the final frame will look like as if you were looking at a print just feet away from your face.
Shutter release cable: for slower shutter speeds and best camera stabilization.
Wooden handle: For better grip and handling, but I feel it just gets in the way. It’s eye-catching out in public though.
Tube extension set #1, #2, #3, & #4: for closer portraits and macro photography.
I’ve yet to experiment with any other 6x7 system, but I haven’t really felt the need to. The Pentax 6x7 system has satisfied the majority of my medium format itches. If there was another system that I’d consider looking into, it would be the Plaubel Makina 67 — but the prices for that camera are way more than I’d like to pay for in 2019. The Pentax 6x7 is a fantastic medium format camera with a wide range of beautiful lenses, simple and straightforward operation, easy loading and unloading of film, and just feels empowering to shoot with. It’s lifespan over the decades has proved that it is durable and will stand the test of time with very little maintenance needed. The only real con to shooting the Pentax 6x7 is that it’s bulky and heavy so be prepared to carry its weight around on that mountain hike or city walk you plan for…but the resulting images are always going to be worth it.