Yeah, a camera for life is like a handbag or shoes for life.
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.
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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.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
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.
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.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
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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.
Thank you very much
Again many thanks for all the replies so far. Certainly some of my questions have been answered and some new ones emerged .
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.
- 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
That is nonsense. "Better" is a purely subjective term. The same argument can be made for 35mm over 645.
Originally Posted by hoakin1981
I have a couple RB67's.
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?
Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
Originally Posted by hoakin1981
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
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.