Mamiya 645E and some general questions

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by BennyK, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. BennyK

    BennyK Member

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    Hi Folks this is my second post. I have been a 35mm film user (Nikon) forever and I feel that one would need a current digital SLR worth ten grand to get the shots I can with 35mm film. I was recently in London and I only took my Nikon L35AF point and shoot 35mm with me (not my bigger rig) and I'll tell you the shots are very very good.

    I realize that as good as 35mm film is that Medium format is ever better. I have a little experience in a studio with a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II (not mine unfortunately and had help from a pro) and the results are quite apparent when compared to 35mm film. They are in fact jaw dropping.

    I am in London on business twice a year and wanted to plan my next round on photographing the classic icons (Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St Paul's etc.). Something I always wanted to do and some of them at night.

    The fact is Medium format film equipment is such a buy right now. I'm kind of biased to Mamiya. I know a good lab in London as well which can be very very hard to find.

    I'm thinking of buying the Mamiya 645E camera with the last version made of their 45mm lens.... in order to do this. Most photos would be taken on a tripod with cable release. Opinions on the 645E for this use?

    My question is in order to use Auto Exposure on this camera one has to press the shutter button halfway (which I have heard can be tricky without fully pushing it in) and then lock the exposure. What if there is a lot of sky in the frame? Do you set the AE on a building in the frame (lets say) and then center the frame back to the photo you want? This seems like it may be difficult and a real pain. Then making sure of razor sharp focus again before releasing shutter.

    Is it that difficult?

    Also in order to hand hold shots without tripod how would the procedure work.

    I haven't used a manual focus camera in some time. In fact since before I needed reading glasses which I now need as I'm 50 years old. Does anyone think this will be a problem?

    I have heard this is a pretty easy camera to use maybe I'm over-thinking.

    Lastly the step up in negative size should provide a noticeable difference from Nikon 35mm and Nikkor glass to Mamiya 645 and Mamiya-Sekor Glass

    Thanks for any thoughts I truly appreciate it.

    Benny K
     
  2. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Honestly? I'd look into a Mamiya 645 Super/Pro/ProTL body and not an E. For me, among the advantages of these bodies over the E is a swappable film back, allowing mid-roll film changes with a couple backs loaded with different film. AE? I'd rather use a handheld meter, though metered finders are available. I checked out the E but thought the upmarket bodies were better built and less plasticky. Mamiya 645 glass is superb--regardless of the camera you choose.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vifqSekhny4
     
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I like the 645E - I've considered buying one as a backup to my 645 Pro.

    It is light, and has the built-in diopter adjustment on the fixed prism. It also offers as an option the thumb operated winding grip. And it will be considerably younger than a 645 Super or early 645 Pro.

    I prefer the 645 Pro or Pro Tl for the reasons mentioned by CGW.

    If you get any of these options, most likely you will find that you will need either a left hand grip or a right hand winder or grip in order to use it comfortably hand-held.

    For tripod work, I would use manual metering - either through the lens or with a hand meter. The auto-meter function is more likely to be useful if you are shooting hand-held, in changing conditions.

    The Mamiya 645s (all the various versions) were quite popular with wedding photographers. That may tell you a bit about how they handle.
     
  4. marriaga4eps

    marriaga4eps Member

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    I have one. Love it. Handles just like a 35mm if you have the speedgrip. However the mirror-flap is very loud, but the glass is amazing.
     
  5. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Hi....

    I have a Mamiya 645Pro which is similar to E. With my not-so-great eyesight, I actually do have issues focusing correctly consistently. Plus, the quality of negs I get from it is better, yes, but not to the level of jar dropping, compared to 35mm. I print up to 11x14.

    AE is great. In fact, it's like 35mm both in utility and accuracy.

    I don't use mine much anymore.
     
  6. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    I have used the 645E extensively and find it easy to use. It has a large and bright viewfinder and the diopter adjustment is great to have available.

    Jon
     
  7. PeterAM

    PeterAM Member

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    I have an older Mamiya 645 (1000S) and prefer the flexibility of using either the waist level viewfinder or a prism with either a magnifier or right angle viewer. I have "older eyes" and find that the magnifiers (with either type of viewfinder) are quite helpful. A right angle viewfinder attachment (with magnifier) also gives me more flexibility when the camera is on a tripod. Don't know if you can get these for the 645E.
     
  8. BennyK

    BennyK Member

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    re

    Thanks for the replies.

    I think I am going to buy this camera as I can get it with the 45mm lens for less than $500 bucks. I can always sell it later. I've made this decision upon getting a deeper understanding of digital dx and fx sensors. To get medium format film quality you really need an fx full sensor. I have indeed seen jaw dropping photos taken with a Nikon D4, that would literally cost me around $7000 grand for the camera and lenses......so $500 doesn't seem such a risk. Sharpness is what I am after.


    Winding problems ?: I've heard many people on web forums say they have had a problem with the winder getting stuck on this camera. I'm presuming they mean the optional thumb-level speed winder accessory that is almost required of the 645E in order to shoot vertical frame shots?

    Anyone hear this? Also I suppose the common sense of having a fresh battery keeps away a lot of troublesome issues.
     
  9. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    I don't have any problems using the camera without the grip. I tried the winder several times and found it bulky for my needs and also the diameter a little too big for my hand to grip comfortably.

    Jon
     
  10. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I think it depends. The advantage of a larger negative is a big advantage for real large prints. I used one for some aerial shots that would be enlarged to 20x30 or larger. It handled like a 35, had a fast lens, F:1.9, and had a large negative.
     
  11. Joe Vitessa

    Joe Vitessa Member

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    Just a great camera. I purposely wanted the 645e rather than one of the more "adaptable" 645s because of the built-in metered finder--which is great. For my use, I don't find interchangeable backs/finders to be an advantage and the 645e is one of the best deals going. I use mine with the winder which is a necessity in my mind.
     
  12. SafetyBob

    SafetyBob Member

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    Benny, I use my 645 Pro much like a super sized F4....so I have the winder, the AE prism and just to make it monster sized, I normally slap on a Metz 60 or an old Canon 577G (the potato masher flash makes you look like you know what your doing to the uneducated digital masses, hehe). I would recommend the Pro or Pro TL, mainly because of all the crap you can get for them if needed. I believe the Pro TL is still serviced by factory if needed. I prefer the Pro and Pro TL over the E mainly for extra goodies available and slightly improved robustness of the Pro and ProTL over the E. If you can live with the limits of the E, find a lightly used one and you will be set.

    Just the camera, winder and maybe a grip would be fairly obvious, much more than any 35mm SLR or digital equivalent while out on the street in London. Having a boat load of London on 35mm, and now knowing the difference that a 645 and/or real 6x6, 6x7 or 6x9 medium format would make.....I would now like to go back to London to the favorite sights with my 645 and take some shots again. RB or RZ would be even better, but I would be willing to settle for 645. If you have the room and don't mind lugging around alot of camera.....RB or RZ and 6x9 back would be beautiful. Select two lenses to take with you that would cover both close and distant taking (at least that would make sense to me) and I think you would have most everything covered. Bring a potato masher if you think you are going to want indoor and might need the flash.......

    Last comment is realize that if your getting older like me, you won't just point, focus, and shoot quickly. It will take some time to get the beast up, ensure your focus is absolute spot on, then take the shot. Not at all what you've been used to with the digital gear or 35mm SLR MF or AF. I just can't operate my 645 as quickly as my Nikon you-name-it.

    Good luck.

    Bob E.
     
  13. BobD

    BobD Member

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    I've never cared much about having removable film backs. I don't shoot that many different types of film and a 120 roll goes fast anyway. Removable backs also add one more mechanical thing to go wrong plus added expense, size & weight plus the futzing around with dark slides. And, the lack of removable backs doesn't seem to bother the legions of TLR owners. Why do they suddenly become so important when shooting an SLR?

    I can understand it if one has a specific need to switch films mid-roll but I think most casual shooters aren't in that category.
     
  14. dehk

    dehk Member

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    I might have a Mamiya 645 PRO for you, if interested PM me.
     
  15. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear BennyK,

    There are two autoexposure modes designated on the dial as A and AEL. When simply using auto exposure, you don't have to press the shutter release half way first, it works the same as your Nikons in aperture priority mode. The AEL mode is used when you want to lock the exposure to prevent the background from fooling the meter and works in the way you describe.

    The hand grip winder does, occasionally work a little inconsistently, but in my experience there is sufficient room between the frames to cause any problems.

    Good luck with whatever you purchase,

    Neal Wydra
     
  16. arealitystudios

    arealitystudios Member

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    I have a 645e and I love it. Granted, I tend to use it more for portrait and figure work as apposed to architecture but I'm sure the camera is versatile enough to serve both purposes.

    I use the optional winder/grip when I'm shooting hand held. I find it helps me steady the camera a bit better, especially considering how much vibration flows through the camera body after you click the shutter. When I'm using a tripod I'm always using the mirror lock up which is not a big deal in my opinion.

    I don't feel a particular need to use removable film backs. I also own several TLRs and its just not something I've ever felt too compelled to have.

    The viewfinder is big and bright and the AE is as accurate as one could expect. I'd personally use a hand held meter when shooting architecture. I mean, there is no real reason not to if your subject isn't going anywhere.

    I know you mentioned the 45mm which I'm sure is a great lens, but I would also recommend if you feel like playing someday the 80mm f/1.9. I love this lens. It has a really great character to it and the incredibly wide aperture lends itself to fun possibilities in medium format. It's the widest aperture lens I've ever used in medium format and it's quite amazing working with such a shallow depth of field!
     
  17. SafetyBob

    SafetyBob Member

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    After reading more great comments, here is more two cents.....I would say maybe 1/4th of the time I am out with the 645 Pro have I needed to pop film backs in to keep shooting. I my case when the kid(s) are in the mood or I catch them at the right time (or I am at the right event) it is priceless to be able to fire through a roll of 120 film and quickly replace it with fresh film and keep on shooting. I would have missed many good shots had I not had that capability, however, had I never had that in the first place I would have been rushing around trying to change film as fast as possible just like I always do with everything else......if you get a deal on an "E", get it, you can always upgrade/change or add another camera later!!

    I second the purchasing the 80/1.9 lens......amazing little lens....you can really get into the artistry of photography with THAT particular lens.

    Bob E.
     
  18. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Well the 645E uses the same removable 120 inserts, so you can have one preloaded and just swap it out in 10 seconds and keep shooting.

    Jon
     
  19. BobD

    BobD Member

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    The Mamiya 645 models without interchangeable backs can be reloaded just as fast as those that have them. They all use film inserts that can be pre-loaded and popped into the camera. The difference with interchangeable backs is they allow changing film mid-roll. That is, you shoot a few frames with one film, remove it mid-roll, and attached a back with another film and shoot on that roll, etc.
     
  20. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    One nice thing about Mamiya 645 stuff is that (at least in US), they are plentiful, popular, and relatively inexpensive. As long as you don't over-pay in the first place, you can pretty much get what you invested in them back. We see them every now and then on APUG classified.... You can collect all the user experiences and recommendation but it will all come down to individual preferences. Technically speaking, if you can use manual focus 35mm cameras, you'll be fine with Mamiya 645 of any kind.
     
  21. BennyK

    BennyK Member

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    Great informative answers folks and yes it only makes sense to get a second 120 insert with the plastic box/holder rather than fumbling around on the street unloading and then loading film while the daylight is moving.
     
  22. BennyK

    BennyK Member

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    Hi Folks another question on the 645e and I'll post it in this thread.

    Mirror lock up question.

    In the instruction manual for the 645E on page 20 it says "Note: Only AEL in the mirror Lock-up mode is possible."

    What about mirror lock up in manual photography mode? That wording is confusing to me. Can anyone clue me in?

    If I want to do long exposures at night on a tripod and avoid any mirror shake, I should be able to lock up the mirror after composing the shot in manual...correct?

    Thanks
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Benny:

    Not surprisingly, once you lock up the mirror, the meter can no longer read the light.

    So the reference in the manual is to the fact that if you intend to depend on the meter to set exposure automatically for you, you need to use the AEL function.

    Manual metering won't be affected - you will just need to take your meter readings and set your settings before you lock up the mirror.

    Have fun!
     
  24. BennyK

    BennyK Member

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    Thanks Matt,

    That clears that up for manual..... and I guess if I did want to set exposure automatically at any time with mirror lock up (I would use AEL mode), then I would press the shutter half way..... the meter would take the reading..... it would then lock for ten seconds ..... and then I lock up the mirror and release the shutter.