If you’ve ever had pet rabbits you may be familiar with the natural tendency of certain things to multiply, seemingly of their own accord. My Mamiya 645 Pro TL kit is sort of like that! Honestly, I never intended to build a large kit around this camera. But somehow, one thing led to another and now I have one entire storage box dedicated just to this kit and it is completely overflowing.
It all started innocently enough. It was another one of those lucky finds in the junk bins at a used camera store. First I spotted the mirror box (that is the central portion of the camera) loose in a box of old and mostly broken cameras. It was marked 1,000 yen ($10). I grabbed it and started quickly looking for other parts. Next I found the grip/winder. The rubber was badly worn and kind of ugly but I had a hunch it would work just fine. It was 2,000 yen. Then I kept looking and found a metered AE finder with all the paint chipped off, priced at 3,000 yen. That was all I could find that day. But soon I found a compatible 120 film back for about 2,000 yen. The first two lenses I got each cost me about 5,000 yen because they weren’t in the junk bin. Later on I found the more advanced grip/winder for about 2,500 yen. All great deals; in fact deals that I would have to be crazy to pass up on, right? Well, the thing is Mamiya made a lot of lenses for this system and they are generally pretty inexpensive on the used market. So every time I see an interesting one at an irresistible price, “kaching!!” goes the cash register. So whether it was the 45/2.8 or the unusual older version of that lens with the word “Sample” printed on the lens front, or the uber-fast 80/1.9 (fastest medium format lens ever made!), or the really sweet 35/3.5 extra-wide angle, or the 80/4 macro with the macro spacer that allows for 1:1 magnification, or the 2x teleconverter, or the extension rings, or the…. You get the point. I’ve been pretty resistant to buying any more lenses for this camera but sometimes it’s an honest struggle.
So here’s a little bit about the camera. Mamiya had several models of the 645 and this is the last and most advanced one before they went to auto-focus. Even though it is a manual focus camera, it uses rather advanced electronics. It is very compact for a medium format camera and with the grip and AE-Prism finder it handles like a 35mm SLR.
This camera was first released in 1997. Ten years ago the combination I have was selling for something like $3000 or $4000 and was considered a reasonably priced unit! There are at least two series of lenses for the Mamiya 645 Manual Focus line. The Sekor C and the newer Sekor N. I own several lenses for this camera most of which are the C variety.
See some photos taken with this camera here.