Every tax year we get together and go over what our equipment needs are. Some years we don’t need any some years it’s replacing a lens or something like that. For almost a year now I have really been getting into the 120 medium format. I have a couple old Kodak Brownie camera’s that I was running it in. with 50/50 results. I just love the format and since Fuji has brought back Velvia ISO 50 it’s been a sweet experience.
Last weekend Elizabeth saw on E-bay a Mamiya 645 AF ( not the AFD ) for a great price. So she put a bid in and we won it. That was on Friday evening. The camera came via Fed Ex on Monday morning. This thing is in pristine condition. It came in the original boxes and with the original manual. It is used but I can’t tell it. Not a scratch, dent, chip anything on it.
So on Tuesday I loaded that bad boy up and went in to town to test him out. I shot the 15 exposure roll and went in to our local shop to drop off the film for processing. Now people, what I am going to tell you next I know I am not the only idiot that has ever done this. I opened the film back and took out the cartridge and the shop owner and I then figured out that I had put the film in bass ackward! You got it all the images never got exposed because the paper was where the film plane should have been. It’s a mistake that won’t happen again. The shop owner took pitty on me and said he had an old and I mean old roll of 120 in his desk. Old as in it expired over 5 years ago. So I put it in the right way this time and went back out and came back 15 frames later and dropped it off.
The camera works like a dream. No light leaks anywhere. When it auto rewinds the roll it’s nice and tight which allows no light contamination. The focus is quick and very responsive.You have a choice in focus setting. Single focusing, continuous, and average. I have mine set up to single and average which Mamiya said is what 90% of shooters have as their setting. The Mamiya 2.8 glass that came with it in the form of a 80 mm lens is great for portrait or any close up work. My only complaint glass wise is the lens doesn’t have macro.
Film backs. Each film back has it’s own dark slide. The same film back is used for 120 and 220 film. A simple rotation of the shiny film plane will switch the film type. The film plane is clearly marked with a window that says 120 or 220 depending on your selection. The film back has a small easy to use LCD digital display where you set your ISO speed and what frame number you are on in that roll. It does have it’s own battery but when it’s attached to the camera it uses the camera’s battery supply.
Battery power for the camera itself is very easy. It uses 6 AA batteries. This model does not eat batteries like the older manual 645 camera’s did. On a fresh set of batteries the user should get about 150 or 300 rolls of 120 film depending on they type of AA battery used.
Currently we have 2 120/220 backs and 1 Polaroid back. As many of us know Polaroid stopped production of their pro film. Never fear die hard instant film shooters. Fuji has picked up the technology in its FP-100C film at ISO 100. The instant film back I have is quite large and bulky. I am sure there is a newer version but the new version runs $600 bucks and to be honest to pay more for a film back then I did the camera itself seems stupid.
I have looked on youtube and done 3 hours worth of searching online and have yet to find any direction on how to load the instant film back. I got 2 packs free and so far I totally wasted the first with the “I can figure this out all on my own” mentality. Apparently not.
Since getting the film back the only complaint I have so far is on the slides there is a decent amount of black dots which I am thinking is dirt. Since I last got film developed I have cleaned both front and rear camera lens elements and took a can of air to the housing but I didn’t see a lot of dust coming out. So if anyone is reading this and you have or had experience with this model please leave a comment below. I am all ears to any help and advice.
Here are some quick scans of the images. Not bad for a day when we were having 50MPH wind gusts. Not to mention film that expired 5 yrs ago!
All in all I am loving my entrance into medium format photography.