Help me build my Mamiya 645 system

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by huddy, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. huddy

    huddy Member

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    I'm new when it comes to medium format film and looking to get started with a simple, reliable setup. I've looked at TLR's, I've looked at 645's, RB's, and RZ's, and decided that I'd prefer the size and handholdability of the a 645 system. As for which to pick, I just decided to go with Mamiya as it is relatively plentiful, and gives me good lens options at a reasonable price. I've been researching the internet over to try to put together a decent system and figure I should ask some of you who are more knowledgeable than I if I've left anything out or accidentally got something incompatible.

    Body:
    645 Pro. I don't need the more expensive TL, but I do want MLU and a newish body.

    Finder:
    I could really use some guidance here. The 645 isn't going to be a fast action camera for me so I figure I could get by with using a handheld meter instead of having an AE prism. What would be the best non-metered prism for a Pro body? Or perhaps should I look for a AE prism with inoperative meter.

    Focusing Screen:
    Either a matte A screen or the standard E screen. Does it make much difference? I've used split-prism screens in my FM2 and FE2 and a matte screen in my D700 so I'm comfortable with either type.

    Winder:
    I think it might be advisable to have hand crank for the times when batteries inexplicably die.
    And I'm also leaning towards a WG401 grip so that I can use AA batteries and autocock the LS on the 150. Does this seam like a good plan?

    Backs and inserts:
    2 120 backs and inserts
    1 dark slide for swapping backs

    Lenses:
    80 f/1.9C
    150 f/3.8 N LS so that I can have a higher sync speed for the times that I want to use flash.

    Odds and Ends:
    Caps and such...

    Thanks for your advice!
     
  2. krb

    krb Member

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    Sounds like a decent start. Personally I prefer using the waist level finder and the hand crank but the best part of the 645 is that everybody can configure it the way they want it. I have a non-metered prism finder in the bag for times when I want to shoot vertical, but that's not often for me.

    One thing, you cannot use 1 dark slide for swapping backs; each back needs it's own. The backs should each come with a slide as part of the deal, so I wouldn't sweat this. Only concern would be if the camera body comes with a back that is missing the dark slide. There is a mechanical interlock so you cannot remove a back unless the dark slide is in place.
     
  3. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    There is an adapter that goes on the tripod so the camera can be rotated from vertical to horizontal around the lens axis.

    I've had one since I bought it new but it was only recently, after using my RB67, that Ive started using it. The drawback is its a bit heavy and there isn't a quick release. It does have pins for the camera and works flawlessly.

    I've had my camera for a long time, bought it new, and have always enjoyed using it. I have a WLF and a metered prism finder.

    For years all I used was the waist level finder. I've got a bunch of lenses. I was surprised how good the 105-210 ULD zoom is. I'm not a zoom advocate but it's very handy. My 80mm is the sharpest I believe.

    No regrets.
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    In addition to the more recent versions, you can also use the older "N" (designed for the Super) metered and un-metered prisms with the Pro. The FK402 finder will also work as well.

    Personally I prefer the left-hand grips with the proper (RA402) connector to the right-hand grips/power winders, but YMMV.

    There is no such thing as a 120 or 220 back. To switch between the two, you just switch inserts. If you find a good deal on a back with a 220 insert, just buy it and replace the insert with a 120 insert.

    The 150mm LS lens should be relatively easy to find. You may have more trouble finding the connecting cable that permits auto-cocking with the WG401 grip.

    I do like having the meter in the prism, even if I am using a hand meter mostly. If you intend to purchase extension tubes or other macro accessories, the built in meter is very handy.

    In case you don't have it, here is a pdf of the Pro-Tl system chart:
     

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  5. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    Body, if you don't plan on using TTL flash then the plain Pro should be just fine. But it is a bit older.

    Finder, the non metered prism finder is what I started out with, and it is very nice. I eventually bought the Reflex finder for the meter when doing macro. It's ok, but has a lot of distortion compared to the prisms. Eventually I found a metered prism that was a bit ugly (matte paint chipped off, so it's a glossy black finish now), but worked perfectly. I wish I had just got the metered prism to start with.

    Focus Screen, I didn't care for the stock screen indoors. I found an Beatie Intenscreen and it really makes focusing easier.

    Winder, normally I just used the hand crank for landscape and macro work. But I bought the camera with the smaller winder. It's very nice if you want to keep you eye up to camera for a portait session. The WG401 also has a cable release socket on it. But it's much heavier with the AA, which is why I went for the lighter WG402. Battery cost isn't much.

    Lenses, well that's personal. I think you should add a wide angle to your list eventually. I never used the LS lenses, but if you shoot with flash then you probably want these. You may also want the Pro TL then too.

    Definitely need caps and a bag. And each of your film backs should have a darkslide. You will want two backs if you want to switch film types. If you just want to load quickly, get some extra inserts.

    Now for the shameless plug: If you're interested I've got a Pro TL with lenses and a buch of stuff for sale here: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum379/96737-mamiya-pro-tl-system-lenses.html
     
  6. jjphoto

    jjphoto Member

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    I'd just suggest you consider your lenses carefully although they are cheap so there's nothing wrong with buying and trying.

    I have nothing against the 150 and your logic for considering it but the 110/2.8 and 120/4 A are extremely good lenses and may prove more useful then the 150.

    The 110 has a very nice bokeh and is possibly intended as a portrait lens. I don't use mine nearly enough although I only use it on a Canon EF body anyway. I'm tempted to buy an M645 body for this lens alone. I never had one when I had an M645 1000s back it the 80's (bought it new!).

    The 120 A (macro) is also an extremely good lens with extremely high levels of sharpness (even on a Canon digital body).

    If you change your mind about the 80/1.9 (and I'm not saying you should, I wouldn't mind picking one up myself) then consider the 80/2.8. It is an extremely good lens and very cheap. It holds up extremely well against 35mm format lenses for resolution.

    All M645 lenses will adapt to other digital bodies, such as NIkon, Canon etc, so can serve a dual purpose if you want them too so maybe this is something to consider when selecting lenses. The leaf shutter on the LS lenses can only be operated on an M645 body. I use the 120/4 A for product work (on a 5d2) with a Mirex tilt/shift adapter, see below.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    JJ
     
  7. huddy

    huddy Member

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    krb - Good catch on the dark slides. I've noted that and will be careful to make sure that I have one for each insert. The WLF and handcrank would probably be a fun combination, a la TLR, and help me be more interactive with people while shooting. I'm now considering having both a winder and a crank.

    Kurt - The 105-210 looks interesting. Other than a trusty 25-50 for my Nikon bodies, I tend to loathe zoom lenses myself.

    Matt - Thanks for the system chart. That is tremendously helpful. I'm personally more of a right-handed grip person myself as I am used to left handed focusing on my 35mm bodies

    Larry - I'll probably eventually pick up a wide lens for this. At the moment, my foremost concern is to pick up something very standard as my favorite people lengths tend to be normal to mild telephoto. I need to PM you about some of your stuff as I'm currently batting around possibilities.

    John - I looked at a bunch of shots for the 110. I may very well grab one of those for now. It's entirely likely that I will keep my flash-work strictly digital for now anyway. I wouldn't be surprised if I ultimately have both a 80/2.8 and the 80/1.9, but for now, I need to keep things simple. I haven't given much thought yet to adapting the lenses for my Nikon bodies. It's definitely an idea I'll keep open in the future, although that would be a bit of overlap as I currently have an 85/1.4 and 105/2.5 that get plenty of use.
     
  8. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    WLF for later model mamiya 645 (Super, Pro, Pro-TL) are very hard to find and when found, pretty expensive. Good luck on finding one and at a price that's affordable. AE prism N (one originally made for Super) is reasonably priced and that's what I use with my Pro.

    Having a motor winder makes it more like 35mm bodies in terms of ergonomics but it makes the whole kit much heavier. I tend to use mine with hand-crank more often.

    Don't forget to get a strap with Mamiya clips. These cameras require a special clip that attach to the knobs on the body.

    I have a 80mm f/2.8N. I'm not sure if I would spring on f/1.9.... I never felt a need for one.
     
  9. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Welcome to the Mamiya MF family (or soon to be). I have a 1000s so my comments will be brief since our bodies are different, but Mamiya is a blast bc like said above you can make it work for you so easy, lots of options! Some Apug'r made a web based Mamiya accessories/compatibility tool, can't remember the link, but it is a nice site (chime in owner if your watching).

    Anyway re the 80mm 1.9, I own that and love it. It is the fastest MF lens ever made, quite costly (generly $300+ or so on eBay/KEH). If you want to shoot wide open with about the thinnest DOF go for it, I love it, you have like +/- one inch to nail focus! It's like using a f .95 Noctilux. When you nail it, it is a joy but be prepared to roll thru more film. But it is costly so if money is a consideration the 2.8 will work just stellar too, is 1 stop worth a few $hundred more to you? Only you know that answer. I only have 1 lens, but we all photograph different.

    I have a metered prism and WLF, both serve me well for what it's worth.
     
  10. TimmyMac

    TimmyMac Subscriber

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    Something to think about is the filter size of the various lenses. Your choice of 80/1.9 and 150/3.8LS is good because you'll be able to use the same 67 filters. Ditto for the 45/2.8 if you eventually want a wide lens, or the 150/2.8 (probably the nicest lens for the system barring the $$$ 200APO and 300APO, and maybe the 120 macro).
     
  11. TimmyMac

    TimmyMac Subscriber

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    Also, highly recommend a metered prism. Not sure what they cost for the newer 645's but my 1000s meter prism was cheap!
     
  12. agfarapid

    agfarapid Subscriber

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    I have a 645 Pro which I assembled from various pieces--Keh, Ebay, etc. I had already had an M645 that I purchased way back when. The 80mm 2.8 is an excellent lens & I've had enlargements made up to 30"x40". Get a metered prism--they are far cheaper than the WLF for this camera, in fact I don't ever recall seeing one. I recently picked up a working metered prism in bargain condition from KEH for $49. Works perfectly. Suggest you add the 45mm 2.8 wide angle to your kit. Kind of heavy but great quality. I've used the crank and the winder--although it makes the kit heavier, the winder is just plain faster to use especially with the prism. Although I have the winder for the older M645, I rarely use it. If you must have the WLF, you might actually find it cheaper to find the older M645 or 1000s body with the WLF. It also handles nicely with the crank.
     
  13. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

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    I have a Pro TL set up with the AE finder and WG401 grip, works like a champ. I tried the WG402 but found the grip too small for my medium-sized hands. I also have an RRS QR plate for tripod work. The AE finder has three settings; Average, Spot, and A/S where the camera picks the metering pattern based on the light. It works very well.

    I also have a Pro with WLF and crank. This is very fun to work with, but I either have to find a grid screen or a bubble level because my horizons are always tilted a few degrees, most noticeable when I'm shooting boats on the water. I have a strap on this one, I took the clips from a couple of Mamiya hand straps and put them on a Crumpler Industry Disgrace strap. A 55mm lens lives on this body.

    For lenses I have the 35, 45, 55, 80 f/2.8, 150 f/3.5 and 210. If weight and cost are considerations, skip the 80mm f/1.9; the 2.8 is a fabulous lens.

    I have several backs and way more inserts than I will ever use. If I am expecting to work fast, I preload several backs so as not to have to piddle with inserts while I'm moving around. If I'm set up on a tripod then I just use two backs and several inserts.

    A further note about the strap clips... There is an Op/Tech strap that claims to be compatible with the posts on the 645 Pro TL. It isn't. I tried. You'd have to get a round file and open one of the holes.

    All in all, a great system. And cheap!
     
  14. huddy

    huddy Member

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    I scored a 80/1.9 C for a very good price. The seller even threw in a Calumet (Schneider) polarizer to cover the front element since they didn't have the front cap. I will be considering several other lenses once I have some experience with the body and have time to hone my development. The more and more I hear you guys talk about the options, I will probably end up with both a WG401 and handcrank, and an AE prism and WLF. I agree on the system being very affordable. This is certainly cheaper than setting up a comparable digital system with largeish (35mm sensors or larger).
     
  15. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Congrats! One step closer! Now you have a 1.9, consider a medium yellow (K2) filter and/or a ND filter. Shooting wide open outside sometimes needs something to cut it down to be more manageable.
     
  16. huddy

    huddy Member

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    Just nabbed LGebhart's ProTL. KEH couldn't beat him! All I need now is a front lens cap, Type E focusing screen, and K2 yellow filter and I'll be ready to load up some B&W. Thanks for all of your help guys.

    Andy, Do you have any recommendations on good brands for yellow filters? I've been very happy with Hoya UV and ND filters in the past but don't know anything about their colored filters.
     
  17. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    The more 120 backs the better.

    Jeff
     
  18. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Hey congrats again! Filter, I am happy with my Hoya K2.