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Mamiya 645 PRO TL

Ted Jocson , May 25, 2004; 01:56 p.m.

I am considering purchasing a Mmiya 645 PRO TL as my first medium format camera. I am a pro but have been shooting 35 and digital.

What do you guys think about this camera. Pros and cons? What are the other options?

Thanks in advance.

Responses

Paul Utkin , May 25, 2004; 02:13 p.m.

It`s a great system with good lenses. I would get AFD version instead of PRO TL - it`s digital ready plus has an autofocus. I like Contax more than Mamiya but as a first camera to play with it`s more than OK.

Marco Buonocore , May 25, 2004; 02:49 p.m.

I bought a PRO TL 2 years ago and have been very happy with the system. It was my first MF camera, and was well worth what I paid for it.

Pros:

affordable lenses - I love the 45mm wide angle, and the 150mm is a nice head and shoulders portrait lens.

with the fe401 prism, you've got spot metering and average metering. i find I'm either using spot or handheld incident, and i find it's a good balance.

cons:

by no means is this kit cheap feeling; hassy users might try and go down this route, but it's not so much the case. it doesn't have that super solid feel like you'd find in a gitzo or an old durst enlarger. i do find that with the power grip, for example, it feels vaugely wonky. i know that - perhaps in a fit of bizarre rage - i could probably tear it off.

with this said, i use my 645 as my walkabout camera, and it's been bashed through the bush, carried in a backpack, used in torrential rain, and during a few days of -30C weather in Toronto this past winter. Not once have I had any failures of any sort, that weren't directly related to me.

the ae prism "bleeds" a bit. you get used to it, but sometimes it can be a pain.

One thing I would consider when maying the forray into MF, is what will the future of the camera be. I went for the PRO TL because it looked as if it would be able to use digital backs. I'm not so sure about that any more; if you look at the mamiya site and try and see which are available, it's all a bit sketchy. obviously the AF is well supported, and probably will still be five years from now. I don't get the impression that the PRO TL will be. I don't want to have to choose from a lousy selection of 2nd rate backs when the times comes that they may be affordable.

Such is life!

Mind you, these camera can be bought cheap, used lenses and accessories are widely available, and the quality is very good.

good luck,

marco

E M , May 25, 2004; 04:28 p.m.

I love my Pro TL. I have the 35, 45, 80 and 105-210 zoom. You might want to go with the AF or AFD, however, because it's rumored that Mamiya at Photokina this year will debut a 22MP DSLR that will accept the 645 AF lenses. So if you go with the Prot TL and its manual lenses you'll be at a dead end.

Jim Vanson , May 26, 2004; 12:49 a.m.

I think that you would be VERY SMART to rent (or borrow) several different camera lines before you buy.

If you seriously start to shoot medium format it will mean you're going to be making a major investment -- it would be terrible to buy into a line then find out that it ain't for you.

I thought the M645Pro TL was for me until I tried it. It was then that I realized that when wearing glasses, I could not see the complete viewing screen, without moving my eye around.

The camera was a failure because of that.

Paul Utkin , May 26, 2004; 02:27 p.m.

E M,

Could you point to the source of such rumor?

Will it be a dedicated body or a digital back?

E M , May 28, 2004; 03:21 p.m.

Here is the link to the most credible report on the Mamiya Project. A guy in Germany posted a photo of the camera a while ago. But that could have been fake, and its no longer on-line; however, on dpreview several months ago there was a pro photographer who had been in Japan and was talking directly with a rep there. He stated that the Mamiya rep said that Mamiya was planning to go high volume with this product as a 'last stand' from their camera divison and that they had made a volume price deal with the chip maker, so that they could reach their price goal of between 6000 to 8000 for the camera. That's all I know. The rest will come (or not) at Photokina this September.

http://www.popphoto.com/article....mber=12

E M , May 28, 2004; 03:22 p.m.

Paul,

It will be digital only; no film back. Just think of it as a big DSLR (like the Pentax 67) that takes the 645 AF lenses

Michael DiMarzio , Jul 31, 2004; 05:25 a.m.

I entered MF with a M645Pro (non TTL) and was extremely happy with it. It was stolen and replaced with the C645AF, which I like marginally better. You read every once in a while things about build quality or durability. I fell down wet stone stairs in northern Israel, falling hard enough to bruise my back and bend a head lock lever on a Manfrotto, but luckily the camera broke my fall. I wiped off the mud from the camera and the 50mm PC lens (my favorite lens, and that includes the Contax 645 lenses that I have) and kept shooting. I also carried it all over Israeli deserts, wadis and never had a problem.

As a tourist, not a pro, I liked the Polaroid back, it taught me more about exposure then late nights in a NYC subway, and they made cool souveniers. If you buy used glass, spend the extra coins and get the ULD versions. The 50mm PC was really handy, it doubles as a general pupose WA and the shift was essential for some shots.

The doubts of if it will be well supported digitally in teh future is a big negative. It would be a great advantage to have a digi back and a few film backs with b+w loaded.

Other then the Contax (great camera, read the review at The Luminous Landscape) which I own, I can't comment on the other options.

Happy hunting and shooting.

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