Mamiya 645 Pro - Improvise a Waist Level Finder??

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by topslakr, Jul 13, 2010.

  1. topslakr

    topslakr Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've just bought a Mamiya Pro 645 which has the usual prism finder mounted on it. I would like to find a WLF for it and would also be pretty happy with a right angle finder but alas, none can be found. Each one I find seems to be incompatible with my camera. Why Mamiya changed the mount of even the eyepiece is beyond me... (Perhaps I'm wrong...)

    I noticed however that when you remove the prism from the camera you can look down on the focusing screen and see the image. This made me curious as to what the WLF actually is. Does it offer something to the user that I couldn't recreate with a bit of cardboard or thick paper Velcro'd onto the body? Does the WLF have glass in it? Does it brighten the image in some way?

    This is my first medium format camera and I have never used any camera with a WLF so I really don't know what the finder itself offers. I'm well aware that I may be asking a very naive question here...

    Robert
     
  2. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

    Messages:
    784
    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Look at the WLFs for Hasselblads and Kievs and such to get an idea of what they look like. Have you checked KEH for a finder? The basic is simply a light shield. But then there is a pop-up magnifier. On cameras like a TLR, these usually are just for focusing- they show a small area, not the full screen. On my Bronica ETRSi, the magnifier is shielded and I can use it as a regular viewfinder, only looking down.

    Realize that as with a TLR, the image is reversed. Some will like that, others will never get used to it. I find the big thing with a WLF is that, as with a ground glass, I am looking at a screen, not looking through a viewfinder at the 'world.' An SLR with prism is like looking through a telescope. A WLF is more like looking at a small LCD (to go completely backwards in history here; LCDs are like ground glass focusing screens, not the other way around).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2010
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,168
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Robert:

    The reason you keep finding WLF and right angle finders for only the older versions of the Mamiya 645s is that the newer ones (the Super, the Pro, the Pro-Tl and the 645e, which all are 25 years old or younger) may be more popular now on eBay and the other usual sources for used equipment.

    The WLF adds four things to your camera body:
    1) when closed, a cover for the focusing screen;
    2) when open:
    a) sides that shade the image on the screen;
    b) a pop up magnifier that makes accurate focus much easier; and
    c) a sports finder function (that very few people use).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2010
  4. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,241
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I was wondering about this myself. So... theoretically, I can just construct a box with cardboard, rig a magnifier, and create my own? Is that all there is to it? (for Mamiya M645Pro)
     
  5. topslakr

    topslakr Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've been searching KEH, Ebay, B&H and Adorama for the right angle adapter or the WLF and have had no luck. Perhaps I'll build the box and carry a magnifying lens with me :smile: Eventually one will come onto the market.

    Does the Mamiya 645 Pro go by any other names? It seems Mamiya created about a dozen variants of the 645 over the years...

    Thanks for all the info!
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,168
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There are essentially three types of Mamiya 645 cameras.

    There are the various auto-focus models. They are the most current, and are moving toward digital capture.

    There are models with interchangeable backs - the M645 Super, the M645 Pro and the M645 Pro-Tl. The Pro-Tl was the model most recently manufactured by Mamiya. With very few exceptions, accessories for any of these models will fit the others. Certainly the waist level finder ("Waist Level Finder N") and the right angle finders for these fit all three.

    There are models without interchangeable backs. The 645e is relatively recent (discontinued in 2005?) and has a fixed finder. All the rest are 20+ years old.

    All the manual focus lenses will fit on all the manual focus bodies (and are usable on the AF bodies as well, with stop-down metering).

    None of the other accessories for the older models fit on the Super, Pro or Pro-Tl (although the rapid winder for the old 1000s is reportedly usable on the 645e).

    Do you have the manual for the Pro? It is available on the Mamiya USA website, and includes a system chart with some of this information (check the FAQ section there as well).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2010
  7. topslakr

    topslakr Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Wow, Thx MattKing! Great info!

    I do have the manual and have been reading through it. It does have a few pages with system options but no mention of an angle finder and the WLF is listed simply as 'Waist Level Finder N' which does not make Google searches easy. As it happens, KEH just added a new WLF to their listing which shows the Pro as a supported model.. so I've scooped it up. It's already gone from their site, talk about getting lucky!

    They also list an angle finder that supports the M645 and 1000s, but I've gathered that the M645 is a different camera than the 645 Pro and hence not compatible, but in your post you call it the M645 Pro. Is it possible that Mamiya made both a M645 Pro, and a 645 Pro? (My head is exploding right now) KEH seems pretty good about listing camera models supported by the various accessories but no one is infallible.

    Mamiya 645 Angle Viewfinder on KEH

    Above is the listing on KEH's site, and at $45 it's not too much that I wouldn't be willing to buy it and find out if it fits or not :smile:

    What an amazing wealth of information this place is! Thx so much! This has been incredibly helpful so far!

    Robert
     
  8. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,241
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Robert,

    The entire series of 6 models are generally refereed to as M645. Within it, there is the M645, 1000S, E, Super, Pro, and Pro-TL. The first two is the older mostly metal body, E is all-in-one-nothing-modular model, and the last 3 are plastic clad newer model.

    Older body:
    **M656 - base model
    **1000S - shutter speed has the new 1/1000 top speed
    Economy model targeting new comers and students:
    **E - non modular model
    Newer plastic outer casing:
    **Super - newer plastic model
    **Pro - mechanism beefed up as Super has tendency to have issues with film advance mechanism
    **Pro-TL - has TTL flash metering

    Does this help prevent your head from exploding?
     
  9. topslakr

    topslakr Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I'm gathering what bits of my head I can find and gluing them all back together. Days of research tied together in few posts. You all are wonderful! Thx very much!

    The film I ordered for the camera arrives tomorrow and I expect I and my 645 will be very happy together. I can't wait!

    Robert
     
  10. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,241
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I still find pieces under my desk sometimes from last time it happened to me. M645 Pro is a great camera. I have one. Stop by at APUG often... you'll be amazed how much collective knowledge there is....
     
  11. ContaxRTSFundus

    ContaxRTSFundus Subscriber

    Messages:
    150
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2009
    Location:
    Crickhowell,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hi topslakr

    The Angle Finder 2 listed on the KEH site specifically states it is for the older Mamiya cameras - the eyepiece fitting on the prisms for the Super, Pro and ProTL are different and this finder won't fit. The only right angle finder you can use is the Angle Finder N. The fitting for the latest angle finders, designed for the Mamiya AFD and DM 645s look different and I fear they're not compatible either.

    And you are right - they're pretty rare and were not made in great numbers because it was assumed that most people would have had a waist level finder which carries out pretty much the same function but without the benefit of in-built dioptric adjustment. Of course, with the WLF you won't have the benefit of AE metering provided by 2 of the 3 prism finders, so you'd need an external light meter. The small numbers made combined with their usefulness with AE Prism Finders means that these dont tend to change hands very often. KEH is usually a good source for such accessories, as is ebay, but they can still be found at retailers around the world - a deep multi-language web search will usually reveal some.
     
  12. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ah, chuck it all and just get an RB 67. Then you'll only have 4 different models to make your head explode; the oldest RB, the RB Pro, the RB Pro S, and the RB Pro SD. But to be serious, yes, the waist level finder is really not much more than a chimney type affair with a provision for a magnifier to be used for critical focusing. I like them fine on square format cameras, or on the RB series of cameras where you rotate the back to switch from landscape to portrait orientation instead of rotating the whole camera 90 degrees. As you can imagine, a WL finder is pretty useless if you want to use the Mamiya 645 in portrait orientation. The finder winds up in a place where you can't see it! Honestly I don't really see that much use for a WL finder on a Mamiya 645 camera. They're not much bigger than an auto everything 35mm SLR, and I find the viewing screen a little too small when used with a WL finder. But that's me. You might want to try using a home made something to see if it will work for you. I'm guessing you won't have that much use for it.
     
  13. ContaxRTSFundus

    ContaxRTSFundus Subscriber

    Messages:
    150
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2009
    Location:
    Crickhowell,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Mamiya 645 Pro Right Angle Finder: CA$95.

    Hi again, I just spotted the Angle Finder you need on the vintagevisuals web site, selling for $95 Canadian....
     
  14. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,458
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I bought a Mamiya C-220 that didnt have a finder, so I made one out of thin card stock. I didn't like that one, so I built a second one a good bit taller and tapered with a magnifing lens (chimney finder) that works exceptionally well. I now have a Mamiya WLF. with a pop-up magnifing lens. I still use my chimney finder outdoors as it blocks most extranious light. If you make a WLF, color the insides flat black to avoid reflections.
     
  15. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,769
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2003
    Location:
    NH
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I sent you a PM with an offer for one I have for sale. The original has a pop up magnifier - very useful for checking fine focus.
     
  16. spijker

    spijker Subscriber

    Messages:
    275
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    This is mostly for Topslakr but of course anyone can give her/his opinion.

    Robert, how does the angle finder work out for you? I also just purchased a used Mamiya 645 Pro with a metering prism. As I'm quite tall I often go down on my knees when using a tripod with my 35mm SLR. So an angle finder or waist level finder might be helpful for tripod usage. The angle finder N would have the advantage of not losing the metering function of the prism and (hopefully) still be usefull when the camera is in portrait orientation.

    Menno
     
  17. CGW

    CGW Member

    Messages:
    2,797
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    A WLF on a rectangular format camera like the Mamiya seems borderline useless when/if you want to do portrait-oriented shots. A right-angle finder is way more useful.
     
  18. topslakr

    topslakr Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I use both!

    spijker:

    The angle finder has been useful but it can be a bit cumbersome. It does rotate around though so you can use it in 'portrait' or 'landscape' mode. If I'm out shooting in situations where the light is changing I use the right angle prism. If I'm shooting and the light is constant I use the WLF. Obviously, the WLF is a bit odd to use in 'portrait' mode and I use the Angle finder in those cases as well.

    I find the right angle to be quite helpful in separating me from the scene I'm shooting and helping me evaluate the shots composition. If the camera is looking forward and I'm looking down it helps me mentally disconnect from where I am. It helps me to see what's actually going to be recorded on the film and not what I 'think' is going to be. That may be only a personal problem though... :whistling:

    My only reservation about it is that it sticks out quite a bit and you have to be careful not to catch it on anything. I like it though and will be keeping it. It's a lot easier for me to be sure I've focused properly with the angle finder than the WLF and I really don't like to use the standard 'straight ahead' finder.

    One side note: When using the WLF the image shown on the ground glass is left right reversed. If you think that might cause you trouble when shooting the Angle finder is the best choice.

    Robert
     
  19. spijker

    spijker Subscriber

    Messages:
    275
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Robert, Thanks for your reply. I had found a used angle finder N for US$40 and now have ordered it. The cheapest waist level finder for the Pro that I could find was way more expensive. I think I could work with the left-right reversed image but I have no problem with the prisms either. That's what I'm used to. So I'll give the angle finder a try.

    I was daydreaming a bit during a meeting today :whistling: and thought that it would be fun to have a prism finder that could horizontally rotate. For landscape mode it would be the same as a normal prism finder. For portrait mode you would rotate the prism finder 90 degrees so that is pointing upwards. That way you'd have a kind of "chimney finder" but with an unreversed image. If I ever come across a very cheap prism finder for a 6x6 camera, I might try this.

    Menno