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Final Answers
© 2000-2015   Gérard P. Michon, Ph.D.

Mamiya Photography
645 format:  16 exposures per 120 roll

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Related Links (Outside this Site)

DxOMark:  Camera & lens independent image-quality measurements.
Cambridge in Colour  "A Learning Community for Photographers".
Medium format  and 120 roll-film  by  Gene Wright.
Mamiya M645-1000S  by  Carlo Kopp   (2015-04-25).
Freestyle Photographic Supplies.  5124 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027.
D&J  One-Hour Photo & Color Lab.  904 N Vermont Ave, LA, CA 90029.
Mamiya Leaf:   M645 1000S (1976)  |  M645 Super (1985).

Videos about Mamiya 645 cameras and shooting film with them:

Mamiya 645 Pro TL Quick Look  (9:13)   by  Leonel Cortes  (2012-09-02).
Mamiya M645 medium-format film camera (10:08)  Michael Raso  (2013-06-18).
Mamiya 645 Pro TL Review.  MA-MA Mamiya! (20:51)  by  Brian  (2013-09-11).
Film and negative scanning (5:07)  &  Snow in Central Park (8:15)   Ed Verosky.
Mamiya 645 Super.  Overview and Tutorial  (15:32)   Felix Mena  (2015-04-18).

 Sugawara + Mamiya early logo

Medium-Format Photography
Using a Mamiya 645 Camera

Founded in May 1940, Mamiya first produced the  Mamiya-6,  a square-format folding camera for medium-format 120 roll-film.  In 1948, they introduced a flash-synchronized twin-lens reflex for the same format, called  Mamiyaflex.  Their first rangefinder  35 mm  camera was the  Mamiya 35-I  (1949).  In 1975, Mamiya introduced the 645 format with their  M645  series of manual all-metal cameras, whose best variant was the M645-1000S (1976).  The Mamiya 645 Super was a major upgrade released in 1985, with great looks and a modular design allowing film-backs to be swapped mid-roll.

(2015-06-23)   Mamiya 645 1000S vintage system:
I bought the basic outfit on eBay for $467, on June 23, 2015.

The seller  (Allen P. Boston)  had enjoyed for 10 years what he described as  "probably the most complete outfit that you'll find",  with lenses in excellent condition:  Mamiya 645 1000S

The camera body w/neck strap.
AE Prism Finder.
Left-hand pistol grip.
Operating manual.
4 film inserts (one 220) w/cases.
3 rolls B&W 120 film.
Auto extender ring (for close-ups).
Close-up lens set, +1,2,4, w/case.
Dedicated TTL flash unit (Albinar).
Rubber lens hood.
Lens, 80mm Sekor C, f 2.8, caps.
Lens, 55mm Sekor C, f 2.8, caps.
Lens, 210mm Sekor C, f 4, caps.
Kenko 2X Teleconverter Lens , w/case, caps.
58mm Cokin filter holder w/polarizing filter.
58mm filters in pocketed cases  (UV, Yellow, Blue, Orange, Red, Green, 81B).
Carrying case for all the above.

Initially, I wasn't really serious about buying this system, after procuring a brand new digital system just a few weeks earlier.  Nevertheless, I put a $100 bid which wasn't matched by anybody.  Understandably, the seller wasn't pleased and put his system on the block again.  I then made a low offer  ($240)  which was declined, with the explanation that this  really  was a system in top shape.  I thought about it for a few days and decided that I should try to acquire it by making a serious offer  ($467)  which would be final, win or lose  (as I now understand, eBay wouldn't have allowed another offer beyond that point anyway).  The seller came back with a "counteroffer" for the same price which I accepted, knowing that he had just discovered that the self-timer wasn't working properly.  With shipping costs, I paid $488.25.

To compensate for the lack of a self-timer, temporarily or not, I procured immediately a good old-fashioned cable release.  Thus, my entry ticket into the world of high-quality medium format was just a little bit over $500.

Service Instructions  for Mamiya  M645  and  M645-1000s

(2015-06-24)   Mamiya-Sekor C Lenses
Interchangeable lenses for the Mamiya M645 and compatible cameras.

Stolen:   Mamiya-Sekor C  110mm f/2.8  Serial No. 19351
The first lens discussed below was apparently stolen from me upon delivery,
on July 6, 2015.  If you spot it on eBay or elsewhere,  please help!

To fill the gap between the normal  80 mm  and the  210 mm,  I procured a recent copy of the  Mamiya-Sekor C 110 mm f/2.8  at auction on eBay.

Wide-angle lenses are typically much more expensive, even if they are flawed.  Having gone this far, I went over the top and spent the rest of my limited budget on a flawless  35 mm  ultra-wide from the UK,  at 6 am the next day  (2015-07-03)  completing  a balanced collection of  five  of the original 12 lenses in the original Mamiya lineup, as highlighted below:

LensOpticsAngleFilterFocusSize (mm)Weight
35mm f/3.59/790°77 mm0.45 m61.5 / 80445 g
45mm f/2.89/776°77 mm0.50 m78 / 80540 g
55mm f/2.89/665°58 mm0.55 m71 / 70395 g
70mm f/2.8 shutter 6/453°58 mm0.80 m50 / 76395 g
80mm f/1.97/647°67 mm0.70 m59 / 75.5420 g
80mm f/2.87/647°58 mm0.70 m47 / 70250 g
80mm f/4 macro 6/447°67 mm0.375 m75 / 79585 g
110mm f/2.85/535°58 mm1.2 m60 / 70390 g
150mm f/45/426°58 mm1.5 m90.5 / 70440 g
210mm f/46/519°58 mm2.5 m137 / 70715 g
300mm f/5.65/413°58 mm4 m164 / 70710 g
500mm f/5.65/4105 mm9 m358 / 1142280 g

I found the  110 mm f/2.8  particularly attractive for a variety of reasons:

  • It has the same filter size  (58 mm)  as the other lenses in my new kit.
  • This short portrait lens can be used for  headshots  or full-body shots.
  • It's essentially the widest possible portrait lens with 58 mm filters.
  • With 5 elements in 5 groups, it forgoes  cemented lenses  (no basalm).
  • Almost same focal length as the  Brownie,  which launched 120-film.

This last point makes a 645 frame match the central part of a Brownie shot, including subtle issues regarding depth of field  (645 is to Brownie what Nikon DX is to FX).  I'm looking forward to a side-by-side comparison.

Mamiya-Sekor C  Interchangeable Lenses   (archives of M. Butkus).

(2015-07-13)   Batteries for the Mamiya M645 1000s

The Mamiya M645 uses one 6.2V silver-oxide battery  0.99''  in height  (25.2 mm)  and  0.51''  in diameter  (13.0 mm)  which is variously identified as  4SR44, S28PX, PX28, 4G13 or 544.  Mamiya once quoted the following outdated compatibility list:

  • Eveready or UCAR 544.
  • Mallory PX28 or equivalent.
  • Alkaline battery 4LR44  (in a pinch).

There are now three mercury-free types of the former PX28 batteries:

  • PX28S :   Silver-oxide battery  (6.5V)  =  4SR44.
  • PX28L :   Lithium battery  (6.0V).
  • PX28A :   Alkaline battery (6.2V)  =  4LR44  (stack of four LR44).

Alkaline batteries can be more readily available than the other two types but they're not as good.  Lithium batteries have the longest shelf life, which makes them ideal for cameras which can sit idle for many months.

Otherwise, the flat discharge curve of silver-oxide batteries makes them the best power source for the light-meters of vintage cameras  (as suggested by the engraving on the battery compartment of the M645).

Formerly  (before 2004)  all silver-oxide batteries contained up to 0.2% mercury incorporated into the zinc anode  (to inhibit corrosion).  This represented a hazard when they started leaking or were improperly disposed of.  That practice is now abandoned.

The shelf-life of a mercury-free silver-oxide battery is about five years.  It seems the Camelion  4SR44  (145 mAh, $5.50)  can't be ordered anymore.  Dealers mail out the 4LR44 substitute without even a word of apology.

Here are a few sources for proper silver-oxide batteries:

  • Black Diamond  ($1.46).  Made in China, undated  (probably 2012).
  • Maxell  4SR44  ($3.25).  Made in Japan.
  • Excell  S28PX  ($7.95).
  • Varta V28PX  ($8.92).

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 (c) Copyright 2000-2015, Gerard P. Michon, Ph.D.