Tag Archives: “FPP Walking Workshop 2015”

Mamiya m645 Super

My real interest in medium format began during my visit to San Clemente, California, in March for the Film Photography Project Walking Workshop 2015. On the second day of the workshop, Mat Marrash covered medium and large format film and cameras. Up to this point, my experience with medium format, 120 film, was with my Holga, Debonair, and Yashica-A. After seeing some of the medium format cameras at the workshop, I added a few to my wish list, like the Pentax 645, Mamiya 645, and of course a Hasselblad. My heart wanted the Pentax, my eyes wanted the Hasselblad, but my wallet led me to the Mamiya.

Mamiya m645 Super
The Mamiya m645 Super is a medium format SLR camera made in 1985 by Mamiya in Tokyo, Japan. It features a Mamiya-Sekor 80mm f/2.8 lens, and shutter speeds are bulb, 4 through 1/1000 second. Like other medium format cameras, it’s a modular system, meaning you can add different components like a waist-level viewfinder, prism viewfinder, manual winding crank, powered winding grip, 120, 220, or Polaroid film back. One of the great features about using a medium format camera like the Mamiya is the ability to change the film back at any time using a metal dark slide to block the light from exposing the film.

These are some photos I captured on Kodak Tri-X 400 Black & White 120 Film, developed at home with New55 R3 Monobath, and scanned the negatives with an Epson Perfection V600 Photo scanner. The photos were taken at the Ogden Union Station Restoration Shop in Ogden, Utah. For more information about the shop and the restoration of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway locomotive No. 223, read my guest post at IndieOgden.com.

I really enjoy shooting with the m645 Super. The camera and grip feel good, solid in my hands. What don’t I like about it? The shutter on this camera is loud. The mirror slap and powered film advance make a sound loud enough to set off car alarms and register on a seismograph at Utah State. Yes, I’m exaggerating, a little, but this camera is loud. And while the lens is sharp, stopping down makes it very dark in the viewfinder. On a roll of color film where I was shooting outdoors (100 ISO), I found the best solution was to focus, stop down (f/16 or f/22), check the meter, set the shutter speed, and then take the shot. Even outdoors in bright sunlight, f/22 is very dark through the viewfinder. Most of my images at the restoration shop were done at f/2.8. The 80mm lens is a great choice for portraits, which was my intent for this purchase.

There’s something very satisfying about shooting medium format film in an SLR. To me, I like knowing that my image is going to yield a large negative. I actually surprised myself, being new to souping my own film at home, the larger negative was easier for me to position and feed on to a Paterson spool than 35mm film. I’ll be sharing some additional photos from this camera in the near future.

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Film Photography Project Walking Workshop – Part 3

On the first day of the FPP Walking Workshop, each person received a ticket to be part of a camera giveaway. Everyone had a chance to browse through several tables of cameras, select one, and enter to win that specific camera. I’ve been fascinated with old rangefinder cameras lately, so I put my ticket in the cup next to a Minolta Hi-Matic 7s. Because there were so many cameras, I was the only person that entered to win this 7s, and by default, I won! Along with the camera came a printed instruction manual, a contact sheet displaying the test images from the camera, and a letter entitled, “To the new owner,” along with details and specific information about the camera. Again, thank you FPP listener and contributor Johnny Brain in Iowa for this outstanding camera!

The Minolta Hi-Matic 7s rangefinder was manufactured in 1966. The 7s is one model in the popular line of Hi-Matic’s made from 1962 to 1984. Some other notable 35mm rangefinder cameras made during this time are the Canon Canonet and the Yashica Electro 35 series. The 7s has a very sharp, and wide, 45mm f/1.8 Rokkor lens. The aperture on the leaf shutter lens goes from f/1.8 all the way to f/22! Shutter speeds range from bulb, 4/sec up to 500/sec, ISO 25 to 800, and includes an automatic mode for both shutter and aperture settings. The 7s has a Contrast Light Compensation (CLC) metering system. This was an original feature Minolta borrowed from their SR-T SLR line of cameras and used for the Hi-Matic’s. The meter sensor is positioned at the top of the lens and the visible needle can be seen through the bright, clear, viewfinder. The meter is battery-powered and originally required a mercury battery. This 7s has an updated battery and uses an adapter with a diode to step-down the power for correct metering.

On the second day of the workshop, I sat outside in the warm morning sun and read through the 7s manual. Like a kid with a new toy, I really wanted to use this camera. I put some Kodak Ektar 100 in the 7s and used it to capture various moments throughout the second day. Aside from some poor compositions and getting used to the rangefinder, I’m really impressed with this camera. While walking around the workshop, several people commented on what a great camera it is. Yes, I’ve made a few easy mistakes with this camera. For example, because it’s a rangefinder, I’ve forgotten to remove the lens cap on two occasions. And as Leslie Lazenby points out on Episode #122 of the Film Photography Podcast, this camera also has the longest throw for advancing the film, 220 degrees! Because of this, I cranked the film right off the end of the roll! I won’t misjudge the film advance on this camera, or any other, ever again. I’m really impressed with this camera. I enjoy this camera so much that it was one of the five I selected to take to the Oregon coast a few weeks ago. If you’re looking for a solid rangefinder with sharp glass, make sure to check out the Hi-Matic’s. If you’re buying used, I recommend examining the leaf shutter for missing or broken aperture blades/leafs. If you’re concerned about using the meter, check into an updated battery or simply use the Sunny 16 Rule.

 

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