Bronica RF645 Discussion

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Richard Jepsen, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I notice there is not much discussion about the RF645. Its production run was not as long as the Mamiya RB, M6, M7 or Blad and many folks may not consider the camera when moving to MF. That's a shame.

    Does anyone know how many RF645s were produced. The second question is how many of the 100mm were sold.

    I have a complete 645 kit, 45/65/100. It's the best general purpose MF camera I have used.
     
  2. micke_932

    micke_932 Member

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    I have no numbers but it cannot be that many I think, they only sold it for 4 or 5 years I think and it never sold that well.
     
  3. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Member

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    I agree Richard . I have the same 3 lenses. The 135 mm lens is probably the most rare.
    The Bronica RF 645 is my favorite camera and would be the last to "go"
     
  4. jslabovitz

    jslabovitz Member

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    Yup, great camera. Beautiful image quality, decent metering, excellent ergonomics.

    Everyone who really 'gets' the RF645 — that is, is satisfied with the available lenses, the frame size (6x4.5), and the portrait (vertical) orientation — seems to be very happy with it. It's kind of a zen camera: no fretting about the 'best' lens, or a vast array of accessories or upgrades. It is what it is. Just take it out and use it!

    I have two bodies — the second purchase being the most efficient way to get a 45mm lens & external viewfinder, along with the polarizing filter kit. Though I'm glad I have a backup body now, I've still found the simplest expression of this camera is probably the best: single lens (45 or 65, as your preference), no external viewfinder, polarizer, etc., and set to aperture priority metering.

    The only problem is the well-known issue of the mechanics of the winder. One of my bodies definitely feels looser in this area than the other. I try to wind it gently. Some folks have found that it helps to have the supply & take-up reels from the same manufacturer (that is, don't use a Kodak film and an Ilford take-up reel).

    I've never figured out how to work the flash, though. Maybe I'm trying too hard.

    --John
     
  5. jspillane

    jspillane Member

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    I really want one of these, but always am a little put off by the comparative price and rarity of the lenses other than the 65. It seems like a full set (or even a 65/100) would be a good replacement for a MF SLR when traveling (I just can't really go back to 35mm...). If I fall into a bunch of money or a great deal, I'll likely snag one down the road...
     
  6. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I bought an RF645 with the 65mm lens a few years back and have since fallen in love with it. For a while I wanted the 45mm lens but, no more. The 65 does everything and does it well. I don't feel the need for any other MF gear (well, except for a n old folder and a couple of pinhole cameras).
     
  7. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    The Bronica RF645 is my favorite camera of all time! (Don't tell my Mamiya 6 I said that!) I've been talking up this camera on here for years. I am surprised that there is not more discussion about it. I have two bodies. One a very early SN. I also have the 45, 65, and 100mm lenses. I mostly carry the camera with the 65 and 45 lenses. I can do most of my work with just these two lenses. I got a really good deal on the 100 a few years back that I couldn't pass up so I bought it, but don't find anything too particularly exciting about it. It's not near as good as the 150 for my Mamiya 6. The RF645 is super lightweight, very ergonomic, and it's got just the right amount of bells and whistles. The automatic curtain when changing lenses is super nice. I take it for granted until I use my Mamiya 6 and have to remember to pull the curtain before lens change then remember to open it after! The meter on the RF645 is fantastic!! Dead on all the time. I can trust it, unlike my Mamiya 6.

    I highly recommend this camera to anyone who wants a lightweight MF rangefinder.
     
  8. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I agree with all the above. The little touches like the automatic curtain is great. The view in the view finder better than a Leica MP. I like the lens image quality with their sharpness yet nice background blurs.
     
  9. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    I agree Richard. I find the bokeh much more pleasing with the Bronica lenses than the Mamiya 6 lenses. Sorry to keep comparing the RF645 to the Mamiya 6 but they are my two main camera systems.
     
  10. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I almost bought the Mamiya M6. The reasons I bought the RF645 were no reported film advance weaknesses, the meter was accurate, it was a more advanced design, the optics had good OOF blurs, and overall size of the kit smaller than the M6 related to less lens volume.

    After buying the Zenzanon-RF 100mm I sent the camera back to the repair center to remove the 135 and replace with the 100mm frame line. The 100mm is a better fit for the camera. I get all the background blur needed as the lens has a close focus feature. You can focus at 1.2M. The MTF curve of this lens is impressive and there is no distortion.

    Most of my compositions are vertical. The neg fits into a whole plate dimension and looks great in the hand, displayed on a desk top or wall.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2014
  11. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Actually I've never had problems with the infamous winding mechanism problem with either of my Mamiya 6s. My RF645 actually has a slightly loose winding. Couldn't agree more about the advanced design and metering but remember the Mamiya 6 has a collapsible lens mount which makes it somewhat smaller

    I also had my frame lines changed on my older body. Tamron still services the RF645. I just don't see the crispness with this lens that I do with my 150mm on the Mamiya. The RF is properly calibrated, it's just not as sharp.

    I love the vertical viewfinder! Many first time users of this camera never get used to this. It felt natural to me almost immediately. Since I shoot this camera and the Mamiya 6 for 90% of my work when I do use a camera with a horizontal viewfinder I don't know what to do!!

    I should also mention that I too love the 6x4.5 format ratio. Prints nicely to 5x7 or 6x8 or 9x12. It's not stubby like the 6x7 format or long and narrow like 35mm or 6x9. 6x4.5 and 6x8 are ideal rectangles IMO.
     
  12. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    That's an interesting point. I forgot about it, but yes, it needs some time to get used to. At first that is. Not because it is a bad system, not at all. It is because we are used to see through landscape view finders with 135 format cameras.
    And yes, it was refreshing for me too. I like the portrait finder. Once I turned my mind around to it I was even very pleased with it even more. It is a bright finder with good info presented on the side. It is good to be pulled outside your comfort zone once in a while as a photographer and this view finder made me think again about how I compose a shot.
    The only time this happened before was when I used a Bronica SQ-B (6x6) for the first time and saw the image on that very large ground glass. I was hooked to the MF cameras immediately and bought me the Bronica. Never regretted it. Later I bought the RF645 too because it was a rangefinder. It often accompanies me on vacations, etc., when I don't have much time for photography, but want more than iPhone snapshots :wink:
    I love both cameras and both have their merits. I love the quality of Bronica glass too.