Shooting with the Mamiya 645
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!
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.
Last edited by Jon Shiu; 07-26-2010 at 12:51 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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.
“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
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
Thanks for the input!
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.
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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.
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!
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.
Originally Posted by topslakr
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.
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...
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.