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:
- Mirror lock-up (big fan of razor sharp landscapes)
- Full manual control
- 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!
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.
That link can take you to a place to get the manual for the camera.
You could surely use it nicely for life.
Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
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.
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
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.
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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.
Originally Posted by hoakin1981
One of my best ever photographic purchases was my Sekonic light meter; now every camera I own has metering
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
Huh? There is a threaded socket on the left side of the camera. Use mine without the grip all the time.
Originally Posted by MattKrull
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 spijker; 02-27-2014 at 10:36 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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!