Bronica RF645???

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by stradibarrius, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    I have read some good reviews about the Bronica RF645. What are your experiences and opinions of the camera?
     
  2. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    The lens are excellent and the camera body is a solid object. However I'd recommend getting one that has either been recently serviced or budget for servicing as the rangefinder alignment and shutter / film winding mechanism can be subject to malfunction.

    Tom
     
  3. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I have one, I've been using it for a few months now. It feels really solid in the hand and is well balanced with a nice grip. All the controls are well thought out and it's a joy to use. It feels just like a slightly bigger 35mm rangefinder. It's a really nice camera with a great viewfinder. Some issues with it are that no lens opens more than f4 and that close focusing goes no nearer than one meter. If you can live with that, the camera is great. The film wind feels delicate, but mine has had no issues, although I do wind on gently.
     
  4. ooze

    ooze Member

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    The optics are stunning, amongst the very best IMO. The body feels very solid and the ergonomics are excellent. Adjusting to the vertical orientation was no issue for me.

    I think it's the perfect travel camera and I've travelled a lot with it. However, the body has started to malfunction after several years of use. Sometimes the winding mechanism locks up after exposing the first frame. And now the light shield curtain gets stuck when changing lenses.
     
  5. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    From what my friends tell me this is a excellent camera.

    Jeff
     
  6. kraker

    kraker Subscriber

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    I've got one (I actually bought it after seeing Tom with his RF645), it's my favourite MF camera. Very intuitive to use, the bobs and bits are all in the right place. The slight disadvantage of the slower (f/4) lenses were mentioned already. Once you're used to that, I don't see that as a problem. A great camera.

    If you're considering this camera and one, two or even three lenses, don't overlook the little flash. I'm usually not a big fan of using flash, but the RF20 is the perfect companion for the RF645.

    In short: recommended!
     
  7. segedi

    segedi Member

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    I bought one a few months back and couldn't be happier. I took two cameras with me to Europe an R4A with Summarit 35mm and the Bronica RF645. I used the Bronica 80% of the time paired with the 65mm lens. I used the 45mm lens just once, but it is a nice wide performer. I'll have to scan in the slides that came back soon - stunning!

    There's only one drawback, and why I got such a bargain price on my set... Bronica is no longer supporting service on these. I'm knew that when I bought it and am still happy with the purchase.
     
  8. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    In the US, Tamron is committed to providing service for seven years after the official discontinuation. This runs to October, 2012. I recently wrote to ask them about it, and they were unwilling to commit to anything beyond that.
     
  9. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    I've been using the RF645 for about 4 years now and love it. I believe it's the best camera ergonomically speaking, everything is in the right place and it just feels good in your hands. I like that the shutter speeds work in half stops in aperture priority mode and the meter is very accurate. The vertical orientation fits me just fine, but I could see how others would take some getting used to. I primarily use it as my hiking and traveling camera. The winder is sensitive, that's my only gripe. Sometimes I wind once after a shot, sometimes it wants me to wind twice, weird, but the frames still come out spaced correctly. I'm thinking of looking for another body, one newer. The one I have now is a very low serial number. After all that said, I still use my pair of Mamiya 6's for most of my work. I like the square better, and the Mamiya lenses are sharper than the Bronicas. But either way I highly recommend this camera!
     
  10. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    Love mine... It is easily my most-used system and I have some decent alternatives. I was surprised at the comment above regarding the optics. I find mine easily the equal to my Mamiya 7 optics and seem to give better b&w renditions, too. The vertical format is especially nice for people shots/candids. Very solid feeling tool. The little flash is a great fill-flash unit and has me trusting it for that duty. It's too small for using as a primary flash, IMO but can cover in a pinch. The Mamiya alternative would have the advantage of longer support being likely? I only grab the Mamiya stuff when I know I'll be doing horizontal work or needing to make more extreme enlargements. That is primarily format related and not optics....
     
  11. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Craig I do believe the RF645s optics are great! BUT the Mamiya RF lenses are the sharpest lenses I have ever seen in MF. Just my personal experience.
     
  12. KenR

    KenR Member

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    I am probably the only one who has ever posted negative comments about this camera, but mine was in for repairs more than in my hands. For example, my first time out with the camera, the battery compartment self-opened, leaving me without batteries and so a dead camera. Bronica said there are no defects with the door (a cheap piece of plastic held closed by 2 prongs) leading to black tape over the battery compartment door. The exposure bias switch on the back was always moving around, as there was no detent to keep it on neutral, giving me mis-exposures when I thought it was on neutral. Soved with more tape on the body to hold this in place. The vertical adjustment of the rangefinder moved out of true if you breathed on the camera. But I kept with it until it died completely while I was on a major hiking trip leaving me with no camera. I then sold it and bought a Mamiya 6 which has been a reliable workhorse for me. You've been warned!
     
  13. AdrianW

    AdrianW Member

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    I don't use mine too often since I am more of an SLR guy, but I have to agree with those that say the lenses are great. I did tests using fine-grained Provia film and the results were astonishing. With a 25x loupe, minute details could still be made out.

    The only problem I had with my camera was with the film advance mechanism... this seems to be the achilles heel of the system. With the back closed and the film counter at 1 or more, the end of the throw for the film advance lever got very stiff. It took sending it in to Tamron three times before it was finally fixed correctly. It works great now.
     
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  15. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I still own a RF645 (3) lens outfit bought about 2003. It compliments my Rollei TLR. I love the camera which is smaller than a Nikon F4. The ergonomics and design are first class. The image quality of the 45, 65, and 100 stunning. The bokeh is smooth with all optics. The 65mm is a great walking around focal length. The hard to find 100mm is fantastic.

    The trouble free 645RF has a Leica-like quality feel. The viewfinder is Leica MP clear and camera controls logical and not overdone. The vertical format is perfect for people & environmental photography. As a plus, I have grown to love the 645 format for its whole plate like dimensions. I am printing more 6x8s for high quality photo albums.

    The camera is a cult classic, the last frame-up MF rangefinder design.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2011
  16. chakra

    chakra Member

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    Bronica RF 645 Experience

    Hi,
    I have used the camera for street shooting in NYC and now in the field in India. I can highly recommend it as long as you aware of a couple of things.

    First and foremost, it's native format is vertical. This may be exactly what you want but if not, then it may be frustrating in the beginning.
    Secondly, the rangefinder does go out of alignment by a bit. Mine was adjusted at the service center in Long Island but has gone off again. In practical use I don't find it to be an issue.

    The rest is mostly great news.
    1. The lenses are fantastic. Small, sharp and flare resistant.
    2. The body is exceptionally well designed. The controls are minimal (but complete) and well placed.
    3. The rangefinder patch is bright and snappy. Mine just does not flare.
    4. The body is surprisingly small and light and I prefer the weight and size to my Nikon F100. The negatives are far superior anything I have gotten in 35mm.
    5. I find the meter to accurate and consistent.

    Mine has been reliable in the field and I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

    - Santanu
     
  17. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    On the meter: I used my RF645 extensively before replacing it with a Mamiya 7II partly due to wider equipment availability, but found the meter exhibits a tendency towards underexposure, so be careful when making judgements about appropriate exposure index and development time for black and white film.

    Tom
     
  18. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    Tom, how much of a tendency?
     
  19. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    maybe 1/2 a stop, more in high contrast situations.

    Tom
     
  20. Eyerball

    Eyerball Member

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    The camera underexposes, especially in low light. It's a tad too bulky for travel. Otherwise, it's excellent. The quiet shutter and the optics are perfect.
     
  21. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I've owned my RF645 for about 10 years. I've exposed 50 rolls in the camera. So far no malfunctions or rangefinder misalignments. The reported RF645 winder issues are less than the Mamiya 6. To avoid potential problems I always use 120 vs 220 and advance the film gently. No malfunctions. The metering is reported to be more accurate than other RFs. My meter is dead on.

    The optics are perfect. Sharp with smooth bokeh. The 100mm is really nice for portraits. The jar free lens shutter allows me to hand hold to one stop slower shutter speed. For indoor shots I use a small format rangefinder.

    The camera encourages the photographer to frame images vertically. Horizontals are not so ergonomic. Not enough of an issue to offset the positives.

    Like any medium format camera, MF film is a joy to view and print. The RF645 optics trump the best small format glass.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 27, 2011
  22. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    how much do they run for? I'm thinking of starting medium format with a mamiya 645 or this, but I cannot decide yet. (being a SLR or RF does not matter to me)
     
  23. segedi

    segedi Member

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    I paid about $1200(trade value) for mine with the 45mm and finder and 65mm lenses. It had just come back from a cla at tamron as well and was in new condition. You should be able to find a similar kit for even less.

    I took this kit and an Bessa R4A with 35mm on a trip to Europe... The Bessa rarely made it out if the bag, and with 220 film, you get 32 exposures!
     
  24. Tony-S

    Tony-S Member

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    It's too bad it's almost impossible to find an RF645 for sale.
     
  25. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    You should be able to pick up a body and 65mm lens for around $600-750. With the 45mm included around $900-1200. I can't recommend this camera enough to people as long as they know it's a RF and comes with the limitations RF's do.

    Also, previous mention of the RF645's metering; I find it incredibly accurate. I also own two Mamiya 6's and have used Mamiya 7's in the past. I find all the Mamiya RF's want to under-expose. Not the Bronica's though, dead on. I set my Mamiya 6's one stop under the ISO I really want. For example if I'm shooting at 400, I set the Bronica at 400 and the Mamiya at 200 and get identical exposure readings.
     
  26. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    On ebay they come up at least once a week.