Mamiya 645 1000s

The Mamiya 654 1000s is an excellent camera and it is dirt cheap at the moment. Many professionals find the 645 to be an extremely reliable and competent camera system. I had the opportunity to shoot with a Mamiya 7 this year (thank you David) and I was amazed by the quality of its lens. Mamiya had always a great reputation among professional photographers. But rangefinders are not my cup of tea, neither the 6×7 format. I wanted to try something bigger than the 35mm and the other alternatives from Pentax, Bronica or even the Contax are just ugly. So I went for a “basic” 645 1000s with a waist level finder.

The Mamiya 645 does not have interchangeable backs, keeping it simple. The 645 Super and ProTL models are a bit plasticky for my liking. I like to work with more sturdy, kind of solid gear, and do not mind carrying it around despite it is not a light camera.
I found this particular model on eBay and it shot less than 50 rolls of film – as stated by the owner- back in the days. After that, it was kept into its original packing and properly stored. And I believe the seller: the camera is in mint condition, apart from some of the sealing foam going a bit crumbly. This is not a major problem, considering the camera is from the late seventies. The foam is “easily” replaced, but you need a bit of patience. I started with the morning light and finished on time to capture the sunset. I also wanted to be sure that no light leaks were going to happen during my first test with the camera.

Many people say that you must get a prism finder with your 645, otherwise you’ll find it very awkward to take portrait format pictures. And this is a reality: vertical framing with a waist level finder is a true pain.
After running the first test, I was very satisfied with the handling, format and sharpness of the system. Self-timer, depth of field preview and multi-exposure are some features I will probably not use frequently, but being able to do mirror lock-up is almost a must for the conditions I work with. The shutter is quite noisy, which I like. I can shoot at 1/60 without doing mirror lock-up. With the Rolleiflex I can go further down to 1/30 – handheld – without getting blurry images.

In terms of handling, compared to the Rolleiflex, the 645 is like driving an old Land Rover in the country side: it vibrates, it is noisy and a bit rough, but feels solid and durable. I like how it is constructed, the sound it makes and the overall feel to it while using it. And of course, the image quality. I got it with the 110mm lens, which is a plus, as it is a rare lens for portrait work.