enlighten me on 645 format please!

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by luvmydogs, Jun 21, 2008.

  1. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    Ok, so after attending Nicole's workshop in Toronto, and feeling very inspired, I have decided to take the big leap and use film exclusively - not only for personal work, but also for my business (believe me, this is no small decision). I've been wanting to do this for a while but after attending Nicole's workshop I finally feel ready to really "shoot from the heart."

    So...I currently use my Hassey for most of my personal portrait work. Now that I will be shooting film with my clients as well, I would like a non-square medium format camera as well. I do not want a 6x7 format as those cameras are simply too much for me to carry. I do have a Mamiya 7II but that is not, for me at least, an ideal portraiture camera.

    After seeing Nicole, I am leaning towards perhaps a Pentax 645NII. However, before I make the leap, I also would love to hear of others' experiences with the 645 format - I also am considering the Contax 645 and the Mamiya 645 (the AFII or III).

    I'd love to hear some feedback from those who have any one (or all!) of these cameras.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Well, I have the mamiya 645 afd system and like it very much. The m645 manual lenses are a steal. Also Mamiya is bringing out an adapter that allows you to use certain hassie lenses, if that appeals to you.

    The contax is arguably the finest 645 body, but at what price.... and I think if you look at lenses you will see that there simply isn't much out there on the market. It gave me some satisfaction to invest in mamiya because they are at least still bringing out new products and thinking ahead.

    The pentax is also a very fine piece, no doubt about it.

    This may well come down to lenses... you just have to look at the lenses and get the bodies in your hands and decide for yourself. Will you want zooms, how fast, do you need AF, will you eventually want a digital back, etc.
     
  3. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I've never handled the mamiya 645 afd but have handled a 645NII. I've also printed many color negatives from one at work and they are great. The outfit was used by several local wedding photographers, it held up extremely well. The autofocus was fast and accurate, the metering is superb. The zoom lens (can't remember the length) was pretty hefty but it balanced well with the camera. The negatives were always outstanding. I couldn't find much to fault with except for price used. I thought the image information imprinting on the rebate was really neat, with my p645 did that!
     
  4. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    You left out the Bronica ETRSI which tended to be the best value used. Not sure what they are selling for now.

    I have both the first Pentax and the ETRSI. The Pentax is complete all in one. The ETRSI is a system camera. So you can use a crank or add a winder. A WLF or a metering prism. Plus all the other options.
     
  5. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    You've got one of the finest medium-format cameras made, the Hasselblad. Why not just purchase a 645 format film back for it? Hassy made them. No need to invest in yet another system. What you want is an A16 back. Don't get the A16s (note the "S") back as that is for square superslides. KEH has many A16 backs for under $200. (as an example of price). With a hassy handgrip and a hassy (or Russian made) prism, the standard Hassleblad camera is just as convenient and easy to use at eye level as any of the other examples you mention. The backs come with a mask you lay on the ground glass to show you the image captured on the film. Be sure to get one with the mask (at least one), then if you need more A16 backs, you can get those without the mask (cheaper, possibly).
     
  6. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I have a Mamiya 645, bought new when they first came out. I have several lenses and most of the accessories. I replaced the seals otherwise it has been a joy to use. I like the format. I have an RB67 now, it's a lot heavier but a pleasure to use.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Another hands up for the Mamiya's great cameras, very reliable and superb lenses. Also plenty about.

    Ian
     
  8. Amund

    Amund Member

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    I have the Bronica Etrs and it replaced a Hassy... The Bronica is a better camera for handheld people photography IMO.

    And the standard 75mm Bronica lens is really good

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    6x6 is a format that was intended to give the photographer the choice to either shoot square, 6x4.5 horizontal, or vertical by cropping, or you can buy an A16 back for you're Hassy and still use those great Zeiss lenses.
     
  10. weasel

    weasel Member

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    For me, format choice is not as simple as saying you can crop a square into a rectangle, or a rectangle into a square. For me, I see differently when using either a 6X6 or a square. I end up with different images with different tools.
    I have just recently started shooting a 645, and I have to say I really enjoy it. I had real apprehensions about the smaller negative and losing image quality, but am worrying less about that after doing some comparisons.
    I recently shot an old run down farm building, with both a pentax 67, and a pentax 645. I used Acros, and a tripod for all the shots. With 11x14 black and white prints, any differences are imaginary I think.
    I have found the pentax 645 to be a great travel camera. It, with a 55 and 150 lens can cover most of my requirements, fits in a small bag, and works much like a 35. One plus is that as my eyes have aged, I find it very difficult to focus some cameras; but not the pentax 645. The meter is accurate, lenses are first rate, and the system is cheap. What more could you want?
    Downside- motor wind is not quiet, no interchangeable backs or finders, the controls take some getting used to.
    I have never used a Mamiya or a Bronica, but I am sure they are just as good.
    All that said, if I had to choose one camera for life it would be my rollei.....
     
  11. Frank Szabo

    Frank Szabo Member

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    I've always liked my Hassy simply because the 6X6 back allows cropping as I choose. I guess going to a 6X4.5 back is OK if one just has to turn a camera sideways (perhaps APPEARING professional?) to get a verticle format and enjoys the 35mm proportions (not that they are a bad thing). I got rid of one of the A16 backs a year ago simply because that's why I bought a Hassy to begin with - to avoid the 90 degree turn and to give myself some cropping choices that most definitely aren't standard.
     
  12. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    Although I don't use my Pentax 645N as much as I should......it works great and the glass won't disappoint you.
     
  13. accozzaglia

    accozzaglia Member

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    I am using the Pentax 645 kit. If AF is not an essential in your book (and if you're using a Hasselblad, I would say probably not), I have found the system very affordable and solid. When using a prime lens, I find that it's no less portable or heavy than a Nikon F-801 with the same. The Pentax 645 is my introduction into medium, and I've been very pleased with it.
     
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  15. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I've used, but don't own, both the Mamiya and Pentax 645 machines, so take this for what it's worth. I like them both, with a slight bias towards the Mamiya system simply because it was more comfortable in MY hand. Your experience bay be quite different. Images from either are excellent and both have very good lenses available.
     
  16. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    I own two Contax 645 bodies, battery grips, several film backs, a d*****l back (Kodak ProBack), and most of the lens range.

    It is an astounding camera system. The lenses are superb, the camera is ergonomic and easy to handle. It is an outstanding rig for anything you want to shoot, especially portraiture with the 140mm lens. I could recommend it without reservation.

    That said, if you already have a significant Hassy investment, going with the A16 backs sounds like good advice to me. Contax stuff is sometimes hard to find, and it's among the priciest MF cameras around. Service is not an issue, as long as parts are being made. Eventually I think it will be cheaper simply to obtain another body than to get an existing one serviced.
     
  17. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    Thank you so much for your input.

    I did not even know that the Hassey has a back for 645 (doh). I will check that out. But knowing myself, even with a mask, it would be less comfortable to shoot a non-square format with my Hassey, since I am so used to shooting squares with it. When I use my Hassey, I visualize squares. I also crop in camera as much as possible, so it would be difficult for me (a learning curve for sure) to have to crop to a non-square using my Hassey (does that make sense??).

    Sounds like Mamiya is the most popular choice. I'll have to take a closer look. I priced out both a Pentax and a Contax on Keh and the Contax is a few hundred dollars more than the Pentax (with a normal lens), but wow, their 120 macro lens is pricey! Though I love Contax I think I will probably stick with Pentax or Mamiya.

    I don't need interchangeable backs and I do love the fact that Pentaxes are all in one more or less. If I do decide to go with the Pentaxes, would I be looking to buy the LS lenses or the SMC ones? The 75mm, for instance, comes in both LS or SMC.

    Thanks again for all your feedback - I really appreciate it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 22, 2008
  18. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    Amund, your portraits are lovely! Thanks for sharing.
     
  19. weasel

    weasel Member

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    LS lenses are lenses with leaf shutters, if you need to do a lot of fill flash.
    I have always lusted after the Contax- some of the sharpest photos I have ever seen, in any format, were shot with one. I could never swallow the cost.
     
  20. max_ebb

    max_ebb Member

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    LS stands for leaf shutter. The Pentax 645 has a focal plane shutter, and won't flash sync at high shutter speeds. With the LS lenses, you can flash sync at all shutter speeds. The focal plane shutter can also cause vibration induced softness at slow shutter speeds.
     
  21. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The advantage of leaf shutter lenses is that they include a shutter which synchs for flash at all shutter speeds (like most Hassleblads). The disadvantages of leaf shutter lenses include:

    1) cost can be higher;
    2) size and weight can be larger;
    3) if you have multiple lenses, you have multiple shutters, and as no two shutters are ever exactly the same, you may need to calibrate your process for each lens;
    4) there is more to go wrong with a leaf shutter lens, and repairs and maintenance may end up being more expensive;
    5) leaf shutter lenses sometimes have a smaller maximum aperture;
    6) in some cases, in order to use a leaf shutter lens, you need to use particular settings on your camera (e.g. on my Mamiyas, I have to set the focal plane shutter to 1/8 of a second).

    If you have been using Hassleblads, you may already have experience with some of these factors.

    I have one leaf shutter lens for my Mamiya 645s, but I've come to the conclusion that if I need the leaf shutter for flash, I'm better off using my Mamiya TLRs instead.

    Hope this helps.

    Matt
     
  22. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    The main issue with 645 leaf shutter lenses is they are often a bit slower then similar focal length lenses aimed at focal plane cameras. The ones for the Bronica aren't very big [I'm ignoring the two zooms that are very big]. They all use the same shutter so they tend not to get that big. It's not like LF that a company could decide to make a small lens and mount it in a #0 or a big lens and mount it in a #3. All use a smallish shutter with all that implies.

    Multiple shutters are a benefit. You don't have a body shutter giving up and shutting you down for the day. Bodies are cheaper.

    On todays used market prices are all low. Aren't they?
     
  23. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    Thanks for all the explanations!

    Since I won't be using flash, I guess I will be ok with the non-LS version. Pricing is quite similar on Keh anyway.
     
  24. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I have the Pentax 645N. I really like it - it feels like a 35mm on serious steroids. It fits my hand very well, so I'd suggest trying out both the Pentax and Mamiya to see which fits you better. I've never used a Mamiya, but I think the difference between the two will come down to what you're most comfortable with.
     
  25. MartinB

    MartinB Member

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    I have a P645N with 45, 75, 150 manual focus lenses and 120 AF macro. I love the handling, find the viewfinder very bright and easy to focus, the meter is very accurate and the lenses sharp. I find it much easier to focus than the Hasselblad, and the 75 focuses very close thus allowing tight framing without accessories. The manual focus lenses are a bargain (mine were between $100 and $200 each) if you don't need the AF and you still get the AF indicator light. The "FA" named lenses are auto focus and the ones designated "A" are manual.
    The body has 2 tripod mounts - one for horizontal and the other for portrait so the tripod head does not need to move if you use quick release plates. The P645 use AA batteries compared to the expensive 2CR5 in Contax. The NII has only 4 features not on the N and for me not significant - the N is much less expensive. As mentioned in a previous post, the data imprinting is useful. Downside is the slightly noisy winder and non-removable film back. I have seen a Hasselblad to P645 adapter for about $125 from China but have not tried it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 23, 2008
  26. 23mjm

    23mjm Member

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    The 645 was my first foray in the Medium Format, it was also the beginning of the end:wink: I had been shooting 35mm for years and I wanted to go big, so I looked at Medium Format. After hours of research and reading I chose the Mamiya 645-1000s. I chose this camera because, 1.Cost, 2. Reliability, 3. Availability if part(lenses, prisms, & film holders) and 4. Picture quality. I still shoot with the camera 10 years later. I have purchased many more cameras (Mamiya TLR, RB67-ProS, & 4X5), but I still love the 645. It strikes a almost perfect balance between size, speed, portability, & image quality. It actually weighs about what my 35mm kit weighs but the image quality is far superior. I think a move to 645 would be a wise decision, I really don't know about the AF thing but to each their own, you can step into a Mamiya 1000s or e kit for a song, I think it would be a great way to get your feet wet, and I will guarantee you will love the image quality. Just my thoughts.