My Thoughts on the Mamiya 645

Manufactured by Mamiya Camera Co. in Tokyo, Japan, the Mamiya 645 is a medium format SLR film camera and takes 120 film roll to expose 6x4.5 cm sized frames. A roll of 120 film will give you 15 exposures, 30 if you're shooting a 220 film roll.
The original M645 appeared in 1975 and, with knob advance and shutter speeds from 8s to 1/500, supporting a mirror lockup and double exposure lever. Flash sync was 1/60 sec.
The M645J, which is the one I own, doesn't have the mirror lockup feature and it lacks the upper shutter-release button of the other M645 models.

Mamiya 645J medium format camera

Why I Purchased the Mamiya 645

Before owning the 645J I had never used a camera able to shoot 6x4.5 images. 35 mm was my go-to format when shooting landscapes on film, but I knew I wanted to go bigger, so I started to look at some medium format options.
"... Then I came across the 6x4.5 image ration and started to think it could be the answer"
There were so many possibilities out there, but most of them were too heavy or simply too big to suit my needs. I wanted a compact camera system I could take while hiking or walking, able to produce good size negatives, but I immediately realised that low weight and medium format aren't on the same page.
... Then I came across the 6x4.5 image ration and started to think it could be the answer.
Obviously I can only speak for myself, but I went for the Mamiya 645 for a couple of reasons:


Compared to cameras like the Pentax 67 or the Mamiya RB67, the 645 is smaller and much lighter. The J model I own, which is basically a stripped version of the original, takes this concept even further.
All in all, the Mamiya 645 isn't much heavier than a modern full-frame DSLR and, there's already enough detail in the 6x4.5 negative size, that I am more than happy with.


A 645 with various lenses and accessories can be acquired for reasonable prices. Mamiya cameras tend be overlooked when people think about medium format photography.
"A Mamiya lens could be so cheap, when compared to the prices of the bigger names"
Hasselblad, Rolleifex and Pentax often come to mind when someone brings up this particular subject.
I bought my one with the 80 mm f/2.8 standard lens for a "ridiculous price" and, when hunting for a second, wider lens I realised how cheap a Mamiya lens could be, compared to the prices of the bigger names.

The First Rolls

The first roll of film I put through the camera was a Kodak Portra 160. I shoot it at ISO 100 on purpose, in order to get as much details as I could in the shadows and had them developed by Peak Imaging, a professional photo lab, based in UK.

An image of the Italian Apennines took with the Mamiya 645 on Portra 400An image of the Italian Apennines took with the Mamiya 645 on Portra 400An image of the Scottish Highland took with the Mamiya 645 on Portra 400

An image of an Italian landscape at golden hour took with the Mamiya 645 on Portra 400An image of a Scottish Loch took with the Mamiya 645 on Portra 400An image of the Italian mountains at sunset took with the Mamiya 645 on Portra 400

My Thoughts

6x4.5 is a good compromise between overall image size and economical usage of film.
The quality and availability of lenses are great: images come out sharp and, because of the size of the negative, they can be enlarged without losing details.
"the 645 is almost perfect, but sometimes I miss a faster shutter speed"
I don't do portraits, street photography or anything would make me using the camera in a quick way. Most of my work is crafted with the camera seated on a tripod, with a cable release attached.
My own process of taking images is so slow that could be almost compared to large format photography.

In this case, the 645 is almost perfect. Sometimes I miss a faster shutter speed and a built-in light meter, but it's something I can live with. Also, the noise it makes when the mirror comes up is just amazing!

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