Educational

Mamiya M645 1000s Review

The Mamiya M645 1000S was my first medium format camera. I had a friend who wrote a blog about his Mamiya, and I couldn’t stop reading and re-reading it. I wanted one of these beautiful cameras so bad! I found my way to the KEH website and after a couple of days of looking I ordered one!

That was nearly eight years ago, and this camera has been one of my steady favorites since the day the box arrived. It was quick and easy to learn, but I had never experienced something like this big beast of a medium format camera. It is heavy and it is loud, but it’s a wonderful camera to use.

I know the Mamiya line isn’t always the most popular (ahem, Hasselblad), but if you are considering getting a medium format camera I would highly recommend that you give Mamiya a good look. They tend to come at great prices, and can produce some amazing quality photographs.

The Mamiya 1000s is slightly different than its predecessors (just M645s). This “newer” model added the faster 1/1000th shutter speed and a cool little multiple exposure lever.

That added shutter speed is nice to have. The multiple exposure option is fun, and can create some interesting photos. You flip that switch down, and the camera doesn’t advance the film when you wind. Then flip it up after the second photo, and it will advance as normal. Be sure to meter correctly for two overlapping images to get the proper exposure.

Here are some photos of the camera, and of the prism, lens, and film holder:

This camera has interchangeable prisms. There is a standard eye level option, an eye level with meter option, and a waist level option. I opted for the PDS Metered Prism, and have never regretted it. It’s nice to have metering capabilities on the camera. I’d like to add the waist level finder to my kit, but just haven’t done so yet. I imagine that it would give quite a different experience to using this camera.

My Mamiya has a 120 film back, which is removed for loading. This camera does not have interchangeable backs to allow for quick loading, but it is easy enough that once you get the hang of it, the film can be reloaded quickly. I use an 80mm f/2.8 lens that provides a great amount of versatility. At 2.8, the depth of field on medium format negatives is something to just be amazed by. It’s beautiful.

The first thing most people notice about my camera is that it is big and different. These are not commonplace on the street, so they draw some attention out in public. My first tip for anyone who gets one of these cameras is to invest in a good strap. A heavy camera needs a good strap, and your neck and shoulders will appreciate it!

Overall, medium format film provides such a beautiful photographic result – high resolution, beautiful quality, and stunning depth of field. If you are considering a medium format camera, this one would be on the shortlist of what I’d recommend!

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3 comments

  1. Mamiyas are great! My dad let me use his RB67 from work when I was in high school. Taking some pictures for a school report, we first shot Polaroid, then B&W, then color. Those interchangeable film backs and the huge negative – I was hooked.

    Now I’ve got sort of an accidental “collection” of them. If you’re careful, you can get amazing glass for any of their cameras, and I love the interchangeability between the M645 and 645 Super. Your lenses and inserts will work great when you decide to move to the Super/Pro. The interchangeable backs are worth it.

    My M645 came with the WLF, and while it does give you that cool medium format vibe, portrait orientation pictures are really hard, so you’re not missing much.

    Cheers!

  2. I have always liked Mamiya cameras, including the 645. They are well designed, reliable, and user friendly. Optics are also generally very good. I know this is heresy to some people, I would take most Mamiyas over a Hasselblad any day. I have the C 330 system and love it.

    1. Totally agree. Mamiya 645 is more flexible system than Hassy with some unique optics as 85mm f1.9. Also, the big plus for Mamiya 645, with appropriate adapter you can use lenses from other system as Pentacon Six and Pentax 67.

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