Opinions on Mamya 645 Pro
After shooting 35mm (mostly HP5 in a canon eos1n) I've decided to dip my toe in the world of medium format.
A browse through ebay shows a bewildering array of different cameras, all for not a huge amount of cash, but I don't really know what I'm after. Would a 645 Pro be a good first MF camera, are there any gotchas that I should be aware of? Is it something I should stay away from completely?
I am using a Yashica mat-124 G for my medium format..... A rollei is better, but Yashica is almost as good.... and not a so great amount of cash......
Considering that you have been using a 35mm slr I think a Mamiya 645 would be a very natural and satisfying entry into the medium format. I bought one a few years ago when the prices started to fall and have found it to be the camera I use the most. Mine is a J model and does not have separate film backs which I believe the Pro series does have so the entry price for the pro series might be slightly higher. But in any case it is an excellent system. The Yashica and Rollie tlr's are also excellent cameras and I have one of each but the Mamiya 645 is the one I usually reach for when I decide to go out for a photo. I tend to use the 150mm and the 210 mm the most though I also have the 80 and 55 mm lenses for the system. My entire system only cost a little over $500.00 which I think is a lot of camera for the dollar.
Good luck with whatever you decide.
It's a fine piece and a great value, but I would strongly suggest getting it in your hands for a trial (true for any system).
As I recall there is a really fast manual focus normal for the mamiya 645 system, and that alone sorely tempted me to get one of the 645s.
Depending on your shooting style, you might consider also the Mamiya RFs. But as spectacular as they are, the mamiya RF lenses are considerably slower, so they may or may not suit your style.
I recently dug my Mamiya Super out again after being less then satisfied with the bulk of a 6x6 SLR outfit and the prices of lenses to go with the prominent brands. I think that if you are going to invest, consider a TL body for fill flash. In retrospect if I had the chance to consider again, I might have very well gone with the Pentax 645 model and given up the interchangeable film backs for the Pentax incorporated metering and grip. A fixed back 645 with two lenses and a 6x6 Yashicamat makes for a nice light outfit to shoot two films while on tour.
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The Pro's a good body, but I'd recommend getting the cheaper Super or the Pro TL with its TTL flash capabilities. Coming from 35mm, you'll want an AE prism and Winder as well. There's little difference between the Pro and Super in practice (it's mostly cosmetic, but the Pro does offer a more robust film transport and more integration with N/L leaf shutter lenses when combined with a WG401 winder).
Unlike Waynecrider, I'd not consider going with a fixed-back 645 (in fact I do own one, the Mamiya M645, and upgraded to the Super mostly to get the interchangable backs). Also the Mamiya's handle better than the non-AF Pentax 645 does.
The Mamiya kit is notable for having the fastest MF normal, the 80/1.9 and a wide selection of good, inexpensive glass available. You also have (limited) compatibility with the 645AF line (lenses mount and offer stop-down metering and focus confirmation, leaf shutters will not work, so L/S and N/L lenses have to be set to use the focal plane shutter). The 645 AF line offers the widest MF SLR lens (the 28/4.5) and higher flash sync's and max shutter (1/125, 1/4000) than the MF line.
I have a 645 Pro and two 645 Super bodies. The great thing is that all the manual focus lenses work with all the manual focus Mamiya 645 bodies.
The differences between the Pro and the Super are small, but sometimes important. In particular, some of the smaller accessories differ slightly (and it can be quite difficult to determine which works with what).
As an example, Mamiya makes a left hand grip that I really like, but the connector between the grip and the camera that allows use of the trigger and hot shoe on the grip differs between the Pro, the Pro Tl and the Super.
The compatibility between the Pro and the Pro Tl is closer. The Super is quite a bit older than both. If I were buying now, I would probably try for the Pro Tl first, then the Pro. A Super does, however, make a usable backup body, provided you understand the small incompatibilities (such as with motor winders, and AE metering prisms).
I have the super also...but supposedly the Pro is a better machine. I guess the super had some bugs (which I have never encountered) and the Pro fixed them.
Originally Posted by GeoffHill
It's a fine camera (my brief and slightly unqualified answer is based upon the limited information in your question, to wit: a "good" camera for what?).
Well, here is some stuff you probably already know .. but as a reminder:
Originally Posted by GeoffHill
-It's a battery-operated camera.
-Rectangular format means rotating the camera for some shots and —if you use flash— either using a rotating flash bracket or having side-long shadows.
-You need a special adapter to use a mechanical release (but I think there's an outlet for an electronic release)
Having used the Canon, you probably already know what these aspects imply and can easily decide whether they are plusses or minuses. Anyway, hope this is helpful.
My nickel's worth...
I have a 1000s, 645 Super, 645 Pro. There are features that I like with all of them, and features that do not like with all of them. These lacking features are extremely minor! Overall I am very pleased with the system and have several different viewfinders for each system, several backs for the Super and Pro, several winders (manual and motor for each system) and a fairly large choice of lenses to use (including extension tubes for close up work). I even used the back from a Pro for my pinhole camera, so I can switch between speeds and/or 35mm back. You can even put some of the older digital backs on the Super and Pro(TL) bodies (I have a 6MP Megavision for mine).
I would recommend getting the ProTL if possible, if not you will probably be happy with anything 1000s or newer if you take the limitations into consideration. One thing to note, the shutter curtain on the Super is a weak link. If the shutter is going, throw it in the trash. They revised the shutter for the Pro, and it seems to be very solid in the 1000s. I wouldn't buy an "E" body for any amount of money unless I knew the body was going to get trashed during the shoot, much rather have the 1000s if I can't have a film back.
The Super and Pro with waist level finder and manual winder are extremely light weight, light as most 35mm cameras (or almost). The 1000s with the prism finder and motor drive weighs a lot! Makes good solid low speed handheld images though (Newton's first law coupled with F=m*a).
I don't have a lot of the really fast lenses because until recently they were too expensive, but check out prices on the APO lenses now, very tempting. I prefer the motor drive that takes the 2CR battery because it is belt drive and much more quiet thant the other drive (the drive for the 1000s is loud and heavy).
I will not buy an AF because I like to use a waist level finder, and on the AF bodies they decided that you can not remove the finder. It also does not meter with the older lenses, only with the new AF lenses. Also sometimes the motor drive needs to come off, and that is integrated with the AF too.