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The original M645 appeared in 1975. It has a knob advance with a flip out crank and shutter speeds from 8s to 1/500. It sports a mirror lockup and double exposure lever. There are dedicated flash sync terminals on the body, one for electronic X and the other for bulb FP. Flash sync is 1/60 sec. There are two shutter release buttons on the camera body. Both are useful depending on type of grips and viewfinders used in the system. The first one is on the front below the lens mount. It has a lockable collar and is threaded to accept a cable release. The second is on a small ledge on top of the camera to the right of the viewfinder.
The focal-plane shutter itself has cloth blinds, travelling vertically. This is electronically controlled, using a mechanism Mamiya patented. The shutter-speed knob is on the left hand side of the body. The speeds marked in green are for full seconds: they include 1, 2, 4 and 8 sec. For slower fractions of a second the speeds are marked in orange: 2, 4, 8, 15 (i.e. one-half to one-fifteenth), and in white, 30, 125, 250, 500 (1/30 to 1/500 second). 60X shutter speed is in red and represents the maximum speed for electronic flash sync. There is also a circle marked in red between B and 500. Set to this position to use the shutter speed dial on either of the metered prism finders (there are two, with CdS and photo-diode meters respectively); in either case, the film-speed dial is incorporated in the finder's shutter-speed dial. The camera body has lugs instead of slots for the strap mount.
The film back has a memo clip to attach a roll film box top as a reminder of film type. Opening the film door requires pressing on to this memo area, while moving the lever to the right. Loading film onto inserts require aligning the paper leader start mark with an indicator on the insert. There are two inserts available, one for 120 film the other for 220. The number of exposures on the film counter is affected by they type of insert used. The counter is reset when the insert is removed from the film chamber.
Camera Type: 6 x 4.5 cm electronic focal-plane shutter SLR. Film Type: 120 roll-film for 15 exposures, 220 roll-film for 30 exposures Actual Negative Size: 56 x 41.5mm (2-13/64” x1-41/64”) Standard Lenses: Mamiya-Sekor C (multi-coated) 80mm f/1.9, automatic diaphragm, with meter coupler, 67mm filter size Mamiya-Sekor C (multi-coated) 80mm f/2.8, automatic diaphragm, with meter coupler, 58mm filter size Lens Mount: Mamiya M645 bayonet mount Shutter: B, 8-1/1000 sec. Moving Coil Electronic Focal-Plane Shutter, FP and X (1/60 sec.) synchronization, Shutter release lock and shutter speed dial lock provision Battery Type: One 6V silver-oxide battery 4SR44 (Eveready 544, UCAR 544, Mallory PX28) or 6V alkaline battery 4LR44 Focusing Method: Each Mamiya-Sekor lens is equipped with its own helicoid focusing mount
Focusing Screen: The standard focusing screen, which is interchangeable, has three focusing aids, a central split-image rangefinder spot (wedge set at a 45° angle) surrounded by a micro-prism collar and outer ground glass ring. A Fresnel lens assures corner-to-corner brightness, and 94% of the picture-taking area is visible. Mirror: Instant return, with mirror lock-up provision Film Transport: A single revolution of the interchangeable film advance crank transports the film. The camera is equipped with double exposure prevention, but multiple exposure can be easily made. Exposure Counter: Progressive type, automatic reset, automatic changeover with insertion of 120/220 roll-film inserts Battery Check: Depressing B.C. button illuminates green L.E.D if battery condition is satisfactory. Multiple-Exposure: Lowering multiple-exposure lever makes multipleexposures possible; exposure counter does not move during multiple-exposures. Delayed Shutter Release: Variable time delay of 5-10 seconds. Depth-of-Field Preview Lever: Spring-loaded, self-returning.
I bought a Mamiya 645 Pro TL kit used off of Ebay for a song. Of course, the main power board in the camera was fried upon arrival. But that issue was resolved in arbitration. I ended up with an excellent + camera with 80mm and 150 lenses, the AE prism, and 2 backs. I have since added several lenses, the waist-level finder, extension tubes, and the cable release adapter.
This camera is my first foray into medium format. Prior to this I was shooting Nikon 35mm, largely manual focus. I love the switch to 645. I use my Mamiya almost exclusively now, except when I need longer, faster glass then the Nikon comes out. The size & weight of the Mamiya mirror an autofocus 35mm system. Albeit the Mamiya is "longer" from back of film back to front of lens.
There is little I need this camera to do that it won't. The 2 major drawbacks for me are; no screw-in terminal for a cable release (have to buy a clumsy-fitting adapter for $20) and the top shutter speed of 1/1000 can be very limiting. My nitpicks in the design are: iso adjustment on the film backs is VERY hard to get your fingers on to adjust when it is mounted on the camera. You have to either take the prism off or the film back off if your hands are gloved or wet. If you shoot only one iso, this isn't as much of a problem, Second nitpick is that I find it hard to adjust the aperature and hold the camera properly while looking through the viewfinder. With your shutter speed set, it should be easy to hold the camera, keep the viewfinder to your eye, and adjust the aperature to your desired meter reading. I find it is not. I have to shift hands, take my eye away, readjust up or down, and repeat. Clumsy, and time-consuming. Especially in critical situations.
Everything else about this camera is a positive. The camera works like a charm. I dropped it HARD on a rock a few weeks ago. The film door popped open, I nicked the front element and scratched up the side of the body. Everything, inclluding the meter, still works. I use my equipment, I try to keep it in decent shape, but I need gear that takes its bumps and this one does it.
Other positives: almost every important focal length for this camera comes in a 2.8 version. There is also a f1.9 80mm lens which is the fastest medium format lens available in any camera. There are a PLETHORA of accessories available for this Mamiya. Finders, film backs, lenses (24mm fisheye to 300 2.8 or beyond?), winders, if you need versatility this brand won't let you down. With medium format prices dropping, you can find deals on everything you need.
The Mamiya Pro TL to my understanding is the last if the manual 645's. It differs from its predecesor, the 645 Pro, by offering TTL flash metering. I have not used this feature, so I cannot comment on it. The 645 Pro TL is the best of the 645 line, imo. I reccommend stepping up to it if you are considering the 645 line.
Strengths: Durable, Mirror lockup a must and works flawlessly, accurate metering, multiple backs including digital if needed.
Weaknesses: I wish I didn't have to mortgage my house to buy a good lens for it, but you get what you pay for.
I have owned the Mamiya 645e and Kiev 88CM cameras so I was eager to step up to the 645 Pro. My primary reason for that was the removable backs. While the 645e is a great camera, the Pro TL leaves it in the dust. My gear is setup with a 645 Pro TL, 220/120 back, 35mm Pano back, Power winder, and the metered viewfinder, and hte 80mm 2.8 lens.
Focusing is extremely easy with the camera and it is built like a tank. It feels and works like a true pro camera should.
I highly recommend this to anyone wanting upper echilon images and while it shoots 6x4.5, it provides an amazing negative that can be enlarged dramatically without quality loss.
Sample Photos (Instagram)