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  1. #1

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    Bronica or Mamiya 645?

    Hi. I'm looking to expand my medium format gear. I shoot mostly B & W landscape, streeet, and portrait. I own a large assortment of 35mm gear and a few fixed lens TLRs which I love to shoot, but with used prices falling as they are I thought this might be a good time to pick up an older 645 system. I'd like to spend less than $300 US for a body, prism, standard lens, and back/insert. Are there large differences between the Bronica and Mamiya systems? Interchangeable film backs is not a huge concern for me. Leaf shutter lenses would be nice for fill flash. Are the lenses comparable? How about durability and ergonomics? I would like mirror lock up and depth-of-field preview. Any thoughts you might have would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards,

    Sean

  2. #2
    Jeremy's Avatar
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    The mamiyas can be found cheaper, but I would go with the Bronica because of the leaf shutter lenses. I have personally shot with both line of cameras (though the 6x6 SQ in Bronica) and the glass on both is great and you'll have nothing to complain about.
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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  3. #3
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    The bronica has now been discontinued so there are some good deals out there. Service maybe a problem in the future but who knows about the future. FWIW, both systems are comparable in lenses but ergonomics differ significantly, for me anyways. I have always appreciated the nice speedgrips of the bronica and coupled with the AE prism, it makes for a nice quick shooter. I know the mamiya also has a motor option that makes things handle faster but they are heavier and a tuch more awkward to handle.

    As for durability, according to my service guy, the bronica seem to have more problems but he tempered that comment with that the cameras that he sees are from working wedding photogs who were not nice to their equipment. Beatup and lots of rolls of film through them.

    Bottom line, go play with them and see what handles better for what you want to do. You can get volumes of messages on arguing what is better but its your money, so go borrow as much as you can so you can go play before plonking down cold hard cash

  4. #4

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    I have shot a lot with the mamiya 645 in the past and I have nothing but good things to report on it. It was the old 1000s, and in good shape -- I never had any glitches, hangs, or anything evil. I loved having two shutter releases; that seems like a small thing but it really made shooting easier a lot of times. I would say this, be sure to get the C lenses for the 645. In my area it would be difficult to get a m645 with what you want in that price range. Have you ever shot with a WLF before? Its easy to just say "I want a prism" if that is what you are used to (35mm), but play with a waister for a while. Once I got the hang of it on mine and got used to things being backwards I loved it. The image on the glass is large, and I have never had issues with brightness (now I shoot an RB with a WLF). If you cut the prism option, you will be able to either save money or get a camera in better shape. Plus, they make the whole camera lighter and more compact. Dont immediately assume you wont want or like the WLF -- that goes for either camera you are considering.

  5. #5

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    Pentax. If you watch KEH you'll often see older 645s for less then $200 in bargain condition including a 120 insert. All you'll have to add is a lens. Pentax sells I think two leaf lens in addition to the normal lenses. It can use TTL flash. The Bronicas I think need an expensive module. I'm not sure about the Mamiyas. You can also get an adapter for the P6 Soviet lenses so you can get some cheap lenses. Including the 30mm. You can get a similar adapter I think for the Mamiyas.

    Every so often I think of getting a Bronica with leaf shutter lenses but I think about the 6x6 bodies. But it's not a big issue with for me.

  6. #6

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    WD King--

    I actually do shoot with a waist level quite often, but I always thought them more suited to 6x6. It seems that when you need to shoot vertically in 645 that a prism would be easier to handle, then again I'm new to 645..........

    Sean

  7. #7

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    Nick--

    Interesting about Pentax. Actually most of my 35mm gear is Pentax. I just always assumed that their 645 gear was still priced above the comparable Bronica and Mamiya. Thanks for the tip--I'll have a look.

    Sean

  8. #8

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    Nick--

    I assume then that the Pentax has a built in finder?

    Sean

  9. #9

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    Everything is builtin with the Pentax. Finder,meter and motordrive. The only add ons are the film insert and the lenses.

  10. #10

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    If you have a manual focus Pentax 35mm the same flash setup might even work for you.

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