The Mamiya 645 – 1000s – My first impressions

I have been rather quiet of late, being sent on ‘paid vacation’ to a town some 7 hours drive away. I have tried as much as possible to take some photographs and try and develop and adjust the best ones in the hope to post up here. However not that many have been very interesting. I have had sort of “yes it is a photograph but its not super interesting and various things about it are bad.” mood for a little while now. Not that I am great or would ever dare to suggest it, but in truth most of the idle shots iv taken have been exactly that, quite idle, lacking composition or interest.

Pretentiousness aside, a week after comming back, I visited the camera store I frequent and low and behold… a Mamiya sat proudly on the shelf. After examining it it seemed to be in good shape, nothing obviously bad anywhere, lens reasonably clean, no huge patches of fungus or anything. I’ll take it I said, while I held the grip, feeling the weight of this boxy beast. Weighing in at 1.6kg without the grip attached… my wrist was aching a little already.


In all, I got the body, 80mm f/2.8 lens, 120 film carrier, grip, protective caps for the lens, top and back. The eye level viewfinder prism is metered and even included a split prism focusing screen. Oh yes and all manuals and warrenty cards too. Its practically new. Who ever sold this loved it very much, nothing obviously wrong, and clearly loved. I guess time will tell if I find any nasties!

I have taken it out for a first run, on 6×4.5cm a 120 film roll gives you 15 shots with this camera, as opposed to the 12 on 6x6cm. The frame ratio is more familiar to work with also, but that is just a matter of preference. First impression is simily this… wow…

Although heavy it is very enjoyable to use, the focus is smooth and natural, the camera gives you a nice good clunk when you take a shot, but doesn’t feel like it is shaking your hand when it does so. The film advance is light and easy and for the first 15 shots, shows no sign of slippage. The thing I must say I am most impressed with is the metering. While lots of people will say that ‘Oh film has a high dynamic range, so you can be quite loose with accurate metering’ Well that may be, but with this thing, you cannot help but be almost bang on with each shot. My only dislike is the placement of the shutter speed selection knob on the viewfinder… just feels awkward… but that is just knitpicking.

Now for a sample shot… or lets say… two shots.


Left is the lens wide open at f/2.8 right is the lens at f/8. Obviously the smaller aperture is sharper, but not by very much at all. Only noticiable thing is really the depth of field difference between them. Exposure is as i said, very very similar and smack bang in the middle, nothing to blasted out, nothing to dark. The colors of the wide open is maybe a little less contrasty but that is maybe a trick of the eye and more related to depth of field. One great thing that is not visible here, and something I often fear when shooting wide open, is the lack of aberation. Makes me happy and gives me confidence to shoot wide open when needs must.

If you can find one of these in good shape and not too expensive (Got this lot for about $150 which is a great deal), id say go for it and enjoy yourself. Now I just ahve to stop myself from buying 645 lenses… already lusting after a 35mm wide angle.

Final test shot for the day! – Full resolution


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