Shooting with the Mamiya 645

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by topslakr, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. topslakr

    topslakr Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I and my new (to me) Mamiya 645 are starting our lives together and are so far quite happy. I've run a roll of TMax 400 film through and was pleased to see good results when I finished developing. It has left me with a few questions though which hopefully the brain trust here can help me sort out.

    Firstly, the camera seems only able to shoot in full stops. What do I do when I need to change the exposure by 1/3 of a stop? I'm perfectly happy with full stops on the aperture, but when I shot the roll of film some frames were perfectly exposed, other were too bright or dark by just that little bit. I must be missing some really simple way around this, but shutter speed wheel just locks into speeds one stop apart. Right now I have three print films, two B&W and Ektar 100. I'm nervous about shooting slide film if I won't be able to exactly dial in exposure...


    Secondly, I have a modest selection of prime lenses for the camera (35mm, 80mm, 150mm, and 210mm) which I'm reasonably happy with. I suspect the 35mm lens may be too wide to be my only wide-angle lens and am considering adding a 45mm or a 55mm lens. When doing some research I found Mamiya made a 55-110mm lens and that got me thinking. Since my primary plan for this camera is to taking it hiking should I perhaps swap my 80mm and 150mm lens for the 55-110mm lens and kill three birds with one stone? I know I will lose some ability to produce images with a very shallow depth of field but having one lens to replace three is appealing.

    All opinions are welcome! I'm heading out in a couple weeks on vacation and I want to be ready!

    Robert
     
  2. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,813
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    Location:
    Elk, Califor
    Shooter:
    Plastic Cameras
    You can move the lens aperture in between stops to get fractional stops.

    I've heard the 55-110 is a great lens as far as image quality, but of course it is heavy (800g/2lbs) and has a dimmer aperture (f4.5). I had the 105-210, which is about the same weight and dimness, and decided to sell it.

    Jon
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2010
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,829
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I really like the 55mm lens for my Mamiya 645s. Compact, reasonably light, reasonably fast and the field of view suits my "eye". I would say that it is my "standard" lens, although that may be influenced some what by the fact that I have 45mm and 110mm lenses as well.

    The zooms are interesting, but they are big and heavy and relatively slow.
     
  4. topslakr

    topslakr Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've added up the weights to figure out what the difference would be. If I carry the three lenses, 55mm, 80mm F/2.8, and 150mm, the weight would be 945g. If I carry just the 55-110mm zoom, the weight is 800g. Not a massive difference, about 1/3 of a pound. The real differance would be in using the camera with the lens mounted I suppose. 800g on the front of the body versus 420g with the heaviest prime. It would certainly free up a fair bit of space in the bag though.

    I'm glad to hear you like the 55 field of view MattKing. Zoom lens or not I'll be sure to get a 55mm lens in the bag.

    Jon, you decided to sell the zoom lens. Did/do you have primes to cover roughly the same range? Did you just not often use the range of that zoom?

    So far, the zoom lens isn't looking good. I shoot mostly primes when I'm shooting 35mm so that's not a big deal. I've never been afraid to zoom with my feet :smile:

    Thanks for the input!

    Robert
     
  5. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,813
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    Location:
    Elk, Califor
    Shooter:
    Plastic Cameras
    Actually, if you do a web search, Charles Cramer, a noted California photographer, uses the 55-110 for landscape photography, albeit with a digital back. Often, it is very useful to use the zoom to crop/compose, versus using a fixed focal length.

    I sold my 105-210 because of where I was living at the time, it wasn't that useful. I still do have 45, 55, 80, 120, 150, 300 lenses.

    Jon
     
  6. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

    Messages:
    357
    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Location:
    Orcas Island
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I own the 45mm f2.8 and 55mm f2.8. Both are excellent.

    Not sure what to say about fine-tuning exposure. A Mamiya 645's exposure settings are quite normal for the era in only offering whole stop aperture and shutter adjustments. Generations of photographers shot touchier slide films than we have now this way and it was fine. Even with slide film, exposure is more art than exact science.

    With negative film.. you can't really look at the negative and say, "that's just a *little* too dark/light..." because the neg is not a final image. There's a lot of information in a negative you can't see and which can only be brought out by tuning in the print or scan stage. Overexposing a modern negative film by 1/3 stop is nothing. You can overexpose some negative films by 3 stops or more and still get usable images. When in doubt, lean on overexposure with your neg.
     
  7. topslakr

    topslakr Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I agree Leighgion, a negative is not the final image. I did scan the images to see what a final image would look like after I developed them. The exposure isn't way off and I'm sure I can learn to work with it but it's a new system to me so I was hoping I missing a setting somewhere that would help me out. The frames are certainly acceptable though and the slight mis-exposure is nothing serious. It's something I wouldn't have thought twice about on 35mm.

    I'll be shooting just print film this summer as I learn the system and start to dial in and finesse exposure settings. Now that I think about it, my Nikon FE's only work in full stops as well. I guess I've just never stopped to really perfect exposure on that camera, though I do shoot slide film. Mountains from mole hills in my mind.

    I feel like committing an image to a big(ger) frame of medium format film is of greater significance somehow than on 35mm. Once I get a few more rolls shot and developed I'll be able to be more relaxed about it.

    Jon, I did some Googling on Charles Cramer. Thx for that! I think I'm even more torn now then I was to begin with though! Maybe I'll just hold off a few months and see how things go.

    As always, you've all be very helpful! Thank you!

    Robert
     
  8. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

    Messages:
    357
    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Location:
    Orcas Island
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I ran around shooting Kodachrome 64 on my FE2 and letting the meter do all the work. They look great. Only a couple cases where backlighting was a bit of an issue, but it'd be a problem no matter what I was shooting.

    It's good to care, but at a certain point you also have to care less or you just don't move forward. "Perfect" exposure is really something you choose, not something you find.
     
  9. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,363
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2010
    Location:
    Mundelein, I
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I find the 35mm to be a little too wide usually, and am much happier with the 45 as my "normal" lens (since I prefer the wide angle view of the world.) If you want to go crazy wide there's always the 24mm...

    Duncan
     
  10. guitstik

    guitstik Member

    Messages:
    1,098
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    Eads TN.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I just use the 2X tele-converter with my 80mm and I'm good to go. Basically that's all I have for it now.
     
  11. Obtong

    Obtong Member

    Messages:
    97
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have used the Mamiya Sekor C 55mm for landscapes an for my taste, 40mm on a 645 would be too wide. If you get the zoom lens you'll probably end up bringing your 35mm and 210mm as well, so I don't think you'd be saving much space/weight by doing so. You'd also lose the ability to shoot beyond f4.5 if you got the zoom.
     
  12. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Location:
    Canberra, AC
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    You can actually change the aperture in less than full stop incremements. Listen and feel for the click. In the original instruction book that came with it mentions it too.

    I have the 45mm f/2.8 and it's the lens I use most often after the 80mm.
     
  13. topslakr

    topslakr Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've not had any luck finding any detent on the aperture ring for any of the lenses between full stops. I seem to be able to put the ring between stops but I don't sense any 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments. Seems solid enough if I really feel like I need to make a small tweak to an exposure but I think I'll be happier if I just relax and learn to work with the system. Thanks for helping me get my feet back on the ground!

    Sadly, the 35mm lens I bought doesn't seem to be working properly. I can't select F/22 on the ring, it stops at F/16 and won't turn any farther. Also, no matter what I do I can't get the lens to actually stop down as I can with all the others. The aperture blades just never start to close down. I'm going to need to send it back, or else shoot nothing but F/3.5 :smile: I'm easily able to see the other lenses stop down in several different ways so I'm pretty confident the lens is faulty and not the operator. Gives me excuse enough to switch to the 45mm though so I suppose it's a blessing in disguise. The 35mm is certainly wide enough to qualify as a special purpose lens, at least in my eyes.

    You have all be extremely helpful. I have rather a glut of lenses right now and after a few hikes I'm sure I'll quickly sort out which lenses make it out of the bag and which don't. The less weight I have to carry the better in the long run and it sounds like many of you have only one or two lenses that see any sort of regular use as well. Thank you!

    Robert
     
  14. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,363
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2010
    Location:
    Mundelein, I
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Sounds like maybe someone who didn't know what they were doing took it apart and put it back together wrong.

    Give you $20 for it :smile:

    Duncan
     
  15. NJS

    NJS Member

    Messages:
    125
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
  16. topslakr

    topslakr Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Sorry all, the lens is being returned for a refund. I missed the return window at KEH but they are such a great company they are going to accept the return anyway. Such a relief for me, since I spent quite a bit more then $50 for it!