MAMIYA questions

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by hoakin1981, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. hoakin1981

    hoakin1981 Member

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    Hello to all. Complete newbie here (in regards to medium format and also on APUG) ready to take the plunge into MF shooting. I apologize in advance since I know this topic has been discussed again but I have specific questions so please bear with me and if possible pls advise accordingly.

    After some research I am thinking to invest on a Mamiya 645 Pro kit (with back, prism, lens, grip) since it is both within budget and also seems to have all specs needed which are:



    1. Mirror lock-up (big fan of razor sharp landscapes)
    2. Full manual control
    3. Metering (definitely not willing to buy a meter)

    To be 100% honest I am not sure if I could even find a different version in the local used market and buying online is not something I would be really comfortable with, but anyway. So, to cut a long story short and in order to avoid becoming boring, the questions:



    • The Mamiya 645 pro does indeed have all the 3 specs needed, correct?
    • Are there any other important specs that a MF camera should have that the 645 Pro lacks and I don't know about?
    • Would you consider the 645 Pro a "camera for life" ? (wife will kill me if I say in a couple of years I want another one..)
    • Are there any other cheaper models that would be just as good?
    • Is the grip really necessary/handy/helpful?
    • If you had to choose between a 55mm lens and a 85mm which one would you go for?
    • Any hot tips when inspecting a used one before buying, something to check thoroughly?
    • If it does have metering, what kind does it have (center weighter, spot)?
    • Just to know, does it have aperture and shutter priority?

    Many many thanks in advance for all the help! :smile:
     
  2. Daire Quinlan

    Daire Quinlan Member

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    why the insistence on metering ? Abandon that requirement and you'll open up a vast array of potential cameras. I assume the metering in the 645 is just TTL reflective metering of some description. TTL metering (and some sort of AE mode) has it's advantages if you're shooting on the fly, not so much if you're concentrating on landscapes or the camera is on a tripod. I have a AE metering prism for my Bronica SQ for example, but I rarely use the metering aspect of it.
     
  3. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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  4. J.Marks

    J.Marks Member

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    I've been using a my Mamiya 645 Pro for years, An excellent camera, lens are very good, when I have used the in camera metering mine has always been dead on. It is fully manual and does have kind of AE mode (never used it) It does have mirror lock up. On a good tripod I rarely use Mirror lock up. A excellent choice for someone getting into medium format. It is a fairly easy camera to use, go to Butkus as is suggested in the comment above for the manual. Good luck.
     
  5. MattKrull

    MattKrull Subscriber

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    I was chosing between a Mamiya 645 and a Bronica ETR-Si last year. One of the reasons I went with the Bronica was simply that I was confused to heck by all the different variation on the Mamiya 645 and which did what. Buying the Bronica I wanted seemed easier (and it was super easy to get via KEH). Top tips for inspecintg/buying a used one - get it from KEH :wink:

    The light meter is in the prism, so as long as you aren't buying one with a fixed prism, you can get the light meter (I think the only versions that had fixed prisms had built in light meters, so no worry there). I have a prism, and am now wanting a waist level finder. Given the choice, try for one with an interchangable prism.

    If you own a smart phone, you already have a light meter. I use the app "Light Meter Tools" on android. I think it cost me $5. Well worth it.

    When shooting with a prism, the grip is definitely nice to have, but not a must. I have shot through the prism without a grip, and it was very steady, if slightly akward. On the Bronica you need the speed grip to use a threaded shutter release (not sure on the M645).

    If I could only have one lens, it would definitely be the 75mm. 55mm is fairly wide (roughly 35mm on a 35mm camera). It's fine for walk around stuff, but I woulnd't use it for portraits. I can use my 75mm for anything I'd use a 50mm for on my 35mm cameras.
     
  6. skysh4rk

    skysh4rk Member

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    As some of the other folks have already mentioned, I'd really urge you to reconsider your requirement for in-camera metering. Even if you can get away with it using the a 645 Pro kit, if you delve any deeper into medium format, your selection of possible cameras will be severely restricted and the kit that is available will generally be much heavier.

    One of my best ever photographic purchases was my Sekonic light meter; now every camera I own has metering :wink:
     
  7. rbultman

    rbultman Subscriber

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    I have the 645 Pro and love it. I use both the manual winder when I am shooting on a tripod and the motorized grip when shooting hand held. The metered prism makes it super easy to use this as a large manual focus SLR with aperture priority mode. It also allows for full manual control with a hand held light meter should you decide to use that in the future.

    I'd definitely say it is a for life camera. Get it on line from KEH or the big auction site. If this is the start of GAS for you, there is no hope for you. You will slide down the larger-negative slope to bigger medium format to large format. Well see you at the bottom. It's all fun.

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
     
  8. Colin DeWolfe

    Colin DeWolfe Member

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    Huh? There is a threaded socket on the left side of the camera. Use mine without the grip all the time.
     
  9. spijker

    spijker Subscriber

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    I have the 645 Pro. The metering is built in the AE prism so you must get the AE prism FE401 or AE finder FK401 with the camera. Aperture priority only. I always use the AE prism FE401 metering and, as said before, it is accurate. You can choose between spot, average and an "intelligent in-between". You can also dial in manual corrections of ±2 stops. Manuals of the AE prism and AE finder can be found here. You have all the advantages of TTL metering so I don't see any reason to use a separate meter. Others may disagree but the built in metering works fine for me. Also the film ISO from the back is automatically communicated to the AE prism. Very convenient when you use 2 backs with different speed films.

    I have the smaller winder grip WG402 that takes 1 2CR5 battery instead of 6 AA. I preferred the smaller size, lower weight, less noise of the WG402 over the WG401. And the 2CR5 battery seems to last forever. Same for the camera battery. Modern lithium batteries hold out much longer in the cold than yourself. I find the grip very helpful in holding the camera. Without the grip but with the prism, the camera holds awkward.

    The lenses are of high quality. I have the 80mm f/2.8 N, 45mm f/2.8 N, 150mm f/2.8 and the 105~210mm ULD. Maybe not as good as the more modern Zeiss or Rollei lenses but certainly good. I've done enlargements of 40x50cm and they're sharp.

    Don't be scared by comments about the use of plastic. Both the lenses and camera are solid and sturdy. The camera and lenses show up regularly on ebay and KEH etc for reasonable prices. Overall I think a 645 Pro system is an excellent system that could easily be for life. It all depends on your style and preferences.

    If you print yourself in the darkroom, get a good enlarger lens and a glass negative holder. It made a difference for me.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2014
  10. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    I have nothing against the Mamiya 645 but a camera for life?

    I started with 35mm and then went on to 645 and then 6x6 to 6x7 to 4x5 and 8x10. Right now I own a 6x6, 4x5, 8x10, a 35mm Stereo Realist and a DSLR.

    If your wife is smart she won't believe you! :D
     
  11. spijker

    spijker Subscriber

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    Yeah, a camera for life is like a handbag or shoes for life. :D
     
  12. rbultman

    rbultman Subscriber

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    Of course it is a camera for life. It isn't a question of which ONE camera but which ONES are suitable for a given situation. Yeah, like shoes and handbags. This should not be a question of replacement but rather one of complimenting the existing ones in your collection.

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
     
  13. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I have the non-Pro M645, and I'd consider it a "camera for life", yes, but of course not an exclusive one, due to its miniature format. I use it pretty much like a 35mm camera, with the side grip (which I'd say is pretty close to necessary, though of course you *can* shoot without it).

    I'm going to go against the common wisdom and applaud its metering---IMHO, there isn't a damn bit of difference between a reflective meter built into the camera and a reflective meter in your hand, except for the convenience of coupling, and a very serious convenience that is if you're shooting subjects that move. I routinely use the metering (not AE; I'm not sure if the AE prism gives you metered manual or not) prism with slide film and have found it to be accurate enough, with the usual reasonable attention to things like "subject is backlit, open up a little past where it says".

    The standard 80/2.8 lens is really, really, really good. I've found the 150/3.5 to be just OK, but I can't remember which letter incarnation mine is. Haven't tried the others, but by all accounts there are no dogs in the line.

    -NT
     
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  15. rubyfalls

    rubyfalls Member

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    I have the mamiya 645 pro tl body with metered prism and WG401 grip. For lenses, I would recommend getting the 80mm f/1.9 if you can find one. It is gorgeous. I also have the 45mm f/2.8 and the 150mm f/3.5. These things -- and this lamp -- are all I need; I focus my GAS on things like lighting gear, film, and waterproof boots.
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I have a variety of Mamiya equipment - 6x6, 6x4.5, 6x7 and in 645 use a 645 Pro with a variety of lenses and accessories.

    My metering prism is the model that was introduced with the earlier version of the camera - the 645 Super. It works fine with the 645 Pro and 645 Pro Tl.

    The only option with a permanent built in meter is the 645E. That camera has some advantages (including an interesting manual winder) but doesn't offer interchangeable backs. I think the interchangeable back versions (645 Super, 645 Pro and 645 Pro Tl) are definitely "cameras for life".

    The 645 Super had some issues with the winding mechanism, particularly when used with a power winder. For that reason I would look for a 645 Pro or 645 Pro Tl. I used to own two 645 Super bodies, which worked fine for me, and if I found the need for another backup body, I would consider the Super as well.

    The 645 Pro Tl is both newer, and adds TTl flash capability with a small number of electronic flashes. For those two reasons, it is generally more expensive than the 645 Pro.

    All the manual focus lenses made for the system will work on all the bodies. The manual focus lenses will also work on the auto-focus bodies, but only with stop-down metering. The auto-focus lenses will not work on the manual focus bodies.

    Many of the accessories for the Super, Pro and Pro-Tl will work on all three, but there are exceptions. I went down the accessory rabbit hole when I discovered that the left hand, electronic grips for the Pro and Super cameras are usable with each, provided that you have the right connector for each camera, and it is fairly difficult to attain the connector you need based on the information available in the used market.

    By the way, the hot shoe equipped electronic left hand grips work well with the cameras and the manual winds for the cameras.

    The cameras use either an electronic release or an adapter plus a manual cable release. The adapters that allow the electronic grips to work also allow you to use the manual cable releases.

    The Super offered a single, manual shutter speed of 1/60 that is battery independent. The Pro and Pro-Tl remove the battery independent option, but add a self-timer function, which I use a lot.

    6x4.5 slides are wonderful when you project them! And 6x4.5 negatives are fun to print.

    Hope this helps.
     
  17. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I really liked my 645 Pro TL for handheld work. It was very quick shooting with the winder grip and the AE prism. It felt like a big 35mm SLR to me. On the tripod it wasn't as appealing to me. There is no rotating back like the 6x7 cameras. So I needed a makeshift L bracket (which actually made a decent handle too) so it wasn't as awkward for vertical shots. Then it required an adapter to use a mechanical cable release, or an electronic cable release. I think the reason I finally sold it was I found a nice new Hasselblad for a great price. I found I prefer the square format and the fully mechanical camera. Then was an easy decision once I realized I never brought out the Mamiya 645 anymore. So it wasn't a camera for life for me.

    I still have a few pieces left, like the winder, and AE prism finder and the non prism AE finder. Not sure why I haven't gotten around to selling them.
     
  18. hoakin1981

    hoakin1981 Member

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    Thank you very much

    http://nealcurrie.com/t-comp0.htmlAgain

    Again many thanks for all the replies so far. Certainly some of my questions have been answered and some new ones emerged :smile:.

    Basically It seems that the 645 Pro is an excellent choice provided that one decides on 645. But what happens when you start considering other formats as well like the very much discussed 6x7? I am pretty sure you have all been down that road many times before so I will try to avoid dragging you in with me by making things more specific in case you can help.

    I have a 35mm SLR. I want a MF camera but one to last, not just mechanically but also when it comes to usability. Have checked the prices of RB67s and are close enough to the 645 Pro (even though I still don't think I can find them here). So, when I say usability I mean what you have to work with when it comes to negative sizes and what you can get out of them. The difference between a 35mm negative and a 645 one is substantial, same goes for he 6x7 as well, but what this difference in size can produce in terms of print quality and print sizes I do not know. I mean perhaps I will find "my thing" with a MF camera and start printing large fine art prints, who knows?

    Bottom line is, a 6x7 camera has various drawbacks way I see it.



    • Heavy
    • No metering
    • Less shots per roll
    • Difficult to scan the negatives (from what I read)
    • Limited to 1/400s shutter speed
    • Not sure about the whole bellow focusing thing


    Its biggest advantage is a quite big negative. But even this is debatable when it comes down to actual prints on the wall as shown on this analysis on the link included in the top of this post (please check out the examples on the bottom of the same).

    He claims that printed and from a distance the 645 actually looks better. Well, I cant say. Perhaps if the same negatives were printed on the side of a building things would be different but I am not planning on doing any side-building printing photography anytime soon :wink:
     
  19. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    That is nonsense. "Better" is a purely subjective term. The same argument can be made for 35mm over 645.

    I have a couple RB67's.

    Yep heavy.
    Have a metered prism too, heavier yet.
    Sure less shots per roll, so what? Do you have a bigger problem with running out of frames or finishing a roll?
    Difficult scanning, the only reason I can think of is that it doesn't fit in smaller (less expensive) scanners.
    Yep shutter speed is a real limit.
    Bellows focussing is great if you like macro and closeups. The rest of the time it doesn't matter either way.

    The biggest difference I see is the shooting style. The 645 is more like a big version of a 35 mm SLR, point and shoot. The RB fosters a much more deliberate style.

    If you want to keep the point and shoot style and get 6x7 maybe a Pentax 67?
     
  20. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    In order
    heavier - a 67 gbag is a lot heavier than a C330 TLR gbag
    metering - forget TTL metering medium landscapes need a tripod and metering away from the tripod... I need to use a weston and zones.
    shots/roll - film flatness is a problem with many mediums cept the Mamiya TLRs and some roll film backs, unsharp negs unless you shoot some blanks...much worse in cold temps
    scanning - needs a 3rd party holder normally you need to budget for enlarger
    1/400 - with interchangeable backs and inserts you can use a slower film, but more often you will need a heavier tripod cause of slow speed needed for depth of field.
    bellows - lighter than heliciod, no problems, close up of insects if you want

    Train wife to carry heavy things
     
  21. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo Member

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    The previous posters have pretty much covered it.

    I would also emphasise that the only reason you might out-grow a Mamiya 645 is that you may eventually want a larger negative, ie 67.

    You specifically mentioned landscape photography and therefore a Mamiya 67 might be better for you. Price-wise they're about the same.

    The weight and size of a 67 should be no matter with a good strap. I also personally prefer handling a 67 to a 645 Pro.

    Mamiya's metered prisms are superb and you can get one for the 67 too.

    If you want the same functionality and picture quality as the 645 pro for half the money (buy some extra lenses) then a non-pro 645 will serve you just as well. Again, metered prisms are readily available.
     
  22. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    as far s lenses goes. my rule of thumb is:normal,in this case around 80mm,half f that or thereabouts for WA(55would qualify)and double the normal(150mm is a good choice forMFportraits). that leaves you with getting a 55,80,150 combo eventually;there is hardly a way around it.see if you can get this as a kit,which will be cheaper than buying piece by piece. my only hesitation with the 645 is the format.it's a mini MF with little room to crop.6x6 or better yet 6x9would give you more negative to work with.hat said, Mamiya lenses have an excellent reputation.enjoy .
     
  23. MattKrull

    MattKrull Subscriber

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    I want to a point I didn't see mentioned about the 67 cameras - the negative aspects of a giant negative

    The epson flatbed scanners use a strip film holder, so they scan 645, 6x6, 67, 6x9 with no difference. My 16bit b&w tiffs are 280mb from a 2400dpi 645 scan, so you are looking at 500mb digital negatives for the 67. If you have a modern computer with plenty of ram (8gb or more) you'll be okay, but I wouldn't try to edit one of those one a machine with only 2gb of ram. Now, you can drop the dpi to 1200 and cut that by 4 and still have good looking images; they will look fine on facebook, but your prints won't be nearly as nice as they could be.

    If you don't already, at some point you will want to see your MF images enlarged on traditional photopaper. I find making a good looking print is much easier in either a fully digital or fully analog process. You can still get a good print from a hybrid process, but I find (even as a complete noob) it is far easier to get an amazing looking print from 645 in the dark room than scanned, edited, and sent to the local lab. Getting a good looking 8x10 print from 645 is much easier than from 35mm, so you'd expect me to say go up to a 67 for something even better - but that only works if you have access to an enlarger that can handle 67 negatives, and many can't.

    You'll find that at the amateur level (ie not absolutely huge and heavy), most enlargers can only take up to a 6x6 negative. Since I'm in the process of setting up my own darkroom I'm very grateful that I went with 645 and not 67 (like you, I had considered a 67 system at one point). Since you need to crop a 6x6 for an 8x10 or 11x14 print, there isn't much resolution difference between 6x6 and 645 (unless you are printing square). If you print a 67 negative on a 6x6 enlarger, you'll be cropping it down to 6x6 in the negative carrier, then down to (almost) 645 when you put it on paper. So why bother with the extra cost and weight of the 67?

    Now, if you have access to an enlarger that can handle the larger negative, by all means, go for it. If like me, your darkroom dreams are realised in a small photoclub darkroom or a bathroom with a portable enlarger, 645 is a better choice.
     
  24. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear hoakin1981,

    It's a fine camera. The perfect stopover on your way to sheet film. :smile: The point I want to respond to is online purchasing. There are millions of things purchased every day online. I have purchased the vast majority of my photography equipment online since 1999. I had one issue with Cameta Camera and they resolved it immediately (really nice people). On ebay (I have to be around 100 purchases now) I had one issue with a lens (a small seller) and again, it was resolved immediately.

    Go ahead, make your purchase and start enjoying it!

    Neal Wydra
     
  25. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    The tradeoff between bulk and negative size is really always a personal call. Some people find the 645 SLRs to be too bulky as walk-around cameras to justify getting out of 35mm, others don't; by the same token, some people are OK with carrying around one of the big 6x7 cameras, others aren't. My dad used to know a guy who regularly went mountaineering with a Pentax 6x7 kit!

    Personally, I've found I don't like the 6x7 format very much, and 645 SLR + 6x6 TLR pretty much covers my medium format needs. (Though I'd like to find a 6x9 back for my Optika.) But there are people who think 6x7 is just the cat's pajamas, whatever the hell that means, and you may need to try it out to determine whether you're one of them.

    The various Mamiya 645s are so darn cheap that I think there's no point in *not* buying one. Try it out, see how it works for you, and go from there. If you don't need removable backs, the bodies are practically being given away.

    -NT
     
  26. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Buy the Mamiya 645 with a normal lens and try it out. If you buy right and end up not liking it you can always sell and get most of your money back. The little money you lose just figure as a rental fee.

    I used to shoot a Pentax 645Nll. It had autofocus and autoexposure with matrix metering. I carried it around shooting people handheld. It was a load of fun! I also owned a Mamiya RZ67. It was big and heavy and was always used on a tripod with a flash meter and studio lights. I loved it too.

    If you are serious about landscape photography I would skip medium format entirely and buy a 4x5. A little "tilt" alone can make a world of difference.
     
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