mamiya 645 versus digital quality

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by rene_hageman, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. Hello,

    I have a Mamiya 645pro. It makes excellent pictures.
    However I am interested in digital Photography and there are a number digital
    backs of 22 MP for this Mamiya, however very expensive with prices of about
    12.000 Euro or more.

    A Canon or Fuji digital camera with over 12MP are much cheaper.

    I like to know with how many digital MP you can compare the pictures of the

    Thanks a lot for your reply.

    Best Regards

    Rene Hageman
  2. I've used both extensively and for family groups or wedding groups, the 645 exceeds any Canon, Fuji or Nikon in clarity of faces. I'm meaning both properly exposed & printed. Can a normal customer see it or care? In my view, my customers are more concerned with seeing the image instantly after the shoot and getting copies fast. Commercial shots are not much different in many cases. Forget the megapixel myth and shoot with both to decide for yourself.
  3. I will offer an answer although the MP = film question is somewhat open ended and there are a lot of variables, like film type, lens, scanner, film flatness, tecnique etc etc.

    IMO Average film carries about 5-7 mp per sq in.
    E100G about 8-9, Velvia 50 and efke 25 more, maybe like 9-10 and microfilm about 20-30.

    If you figure on the high side at 10 for efke or velvia that works out to 36 but it would take something like a contax 645 with a vacuum back to get it.

    The average is probably more like 16-20 due to film flatness etc.

    That said I shot a Pentax 645 next to a Kodak slr/c and 90% of the time the slr/c matched a E100G drum scan, but that was mostly with long lenses. Also I was not pleased with the P645 film flatness.

    If you scan with an Epson you can knock that # way down.
  4. If your workflow includes scanning and digital printing, then the added work, time, cost and potential image degredation during scanning could in many cases make a 12 megapixel digital shot "better" than your 645pro shots. In most cases it comes down to workflow and desired output size. For most subjects, 12 megapixels will yield decent 20x24 enlargements at around 150ppi which - due to viewing distance - can be quite sufficient.
  5. Troy Ammons:

    "Also I was not pleased with the P645 film flatness.

    If you scan with an Epson you can knock that # way down."

    I'm surprised that you'd say this. I have heard the Pentax has far better film flatness and that the Mamiya 645 is the one with the problems. All 1- and 220 films have some issues with this. Probably you'd want a 70mm back with 160NC for perfect flatness. IDK if anyone can afford the minimum order that'd be necessary for slide film in 70.

    Also, I think 5-6 MP is a bit low. I'd say, judging by testing of lenses and LP/mm, you can get about 16 megapixels out of a 35mm slow slide film. That's really not that much of a strecth. Yeah, they're 16 grainy megapixels, but there's that much detail being resolved, not 1/2 that. Isn't there another MF camera that is really good for flatness in 645 (and I still swear I saw good reviews of Pentax on the 'net somewhere, couldn't say for sure as I shoot Mamiya RBs)? I have heard the Pentax 67 has excellent flatness too. Let me see if that article is still floating around in cyberspace somewhere. . .
  6. This is from, noticeably outdated, but the list looks pretty definitive and authoritative, so I won't question its validity:

    Mamiya 645 Super/Pro/SV/SVX pack.


    Aftermarket lens adaptors readily available to mount H'blad and entacon/Exacta lenses (step down only).
    Well integrated AE lock/spot metering options with AE finders.(best 645 SLR)
    Fully modular with full interlocks.
    Fastest available lens series in MF (best 645).
    largest available lens series in MF and/or 645 (best 645)
    APO lens series are the finest available in 645(best 645).
    Fairly small and light.
    Nicely balanced with most lenses.(best 645)
    Not too bad mirror slap/shutter noise.
    645 Super accessories are fully functional and almost identical to newer
    645 Pro ones.(best 645)
    Three motor options, two of which are current.(best 645)
    SV and SVx packs are comparatively inexpensive.
    Holds its value well on the used market.
    1/1000th sec. top speed.
    Best integration of leaf and focal plane shutter systems in 645 (best 645)

    Requires accessory for mechanical cable release.(worst 645)
    All models are battery dependent.
    Very Plasticky (worst of the MF slr systems), with a flash molded plastic
    plate serving as back-to-body interface (on the critical mating face of the roll backs).(worst 645)
    Worst film flatness in MF due to lightly sprung insert system.(worst 645)
    Finicky spring tabs (to interchange backs and inserts).(worst 645)
    Poor metering capabilities when using the N/L leaf shutter lens series.
    1 stop exposure compensation required when using 300mm/longer lenses in
    averaging meter mode. (switch to spot as it doesn't require compensation).(worst 645)
    Inserts are fragile and obviously dinky.(worst 645)
    Motors are comparatively loud.
    No TTL Autoflash.(worst 645)
    Expensive.(worst 645).
    55mm and 80 2.8 lenses have flimsy plastic barrels.

    Pentax 645/Pentax 645N AF.


    Ability to operate most Ptx 67 lenses with full auto diaphragm operation. (best 645)
    Most consistently excellent lens series in 645 (IMO).(best 645)
    Quietest shutter/mirror/motor in any MF SLRs.(best 645)
    Best dollar value of any 645 camera or lens series.(best 645)
    120 macro is the only currently available MF macro that achieves 1:1 without tubes (though Mamiya has announced a new 120 APO macro that does this as well).
    Supplied with Motor and AE prism standard.(best 645)
    Best 35mm wide angle in 645.(best 645)
    Smallest and lightest 645 SLR (best 645)
    Only 300/4 EDIF in 645 which, along with the beautiful 600 5.6 EDIf are the least expensive APO tele's in 645.(best 645)
    Insert system is quick to change/load, well sprung and well built.
    Inexpensive to buy and with good film flatness as well.
    Only 645 system w shutter preferred and program modes.(best 645)
    TTL Autoflash.
    All metal lens barrels have silky smooth action.(best 645)
    OEM 70mm back option. (best 645)
    Single mechanical shutter speed.
    1/1000th sec. top speed
    Holds its value well on the used market.(best 645)
    Pentax 645N AF advantages:
    include all of the above Ptx 645 advantages.
    3 point and spot predictive AF with FA lens series(best 645)
    Auto bracketing (best 645)
    matrix metering (best 645)
    Spot metering
    2fps motor (best 645)
    data imprint on film edge (best 645)
    Dial contrlled shutter speeds and exposure compensation
    Focus confirmation light (best 645)
    finder info below image
    Memory lock button
    Manual metering scale


    No finder or motor interchangeability. (worst 645)
    No AE lock option. (worst 645) [see note]
    Kepplerian finder must be dead centered on your eye and is hard to use when wearing glasses.
    Leaf lenses limited to 75 and 135mm focal lengths and cancel any meter
    function.(worst 645).
    Plasticky body panels.
    Finder eyepiece is vulnerable and fragile.
    Polaroid back is aftermarket only, requires a dedicated body and costs well
    over $1100 (worst 645)

    I'm still looking for the best flatness 645 camera. Rollei is supposedly the best film flatness MF short of a vacuum back, but let me find 645. . . Looks like the Rollei 6000 in 6x45 mode (it's really a 6x6cm, but looks enough like a 645 in form and function) has the best film flatness, but Pentax does get a plus there, meaning it's probably second best among 2 1/4 x 1 3/4 cameras.
  7. "I was not pleased with the P645 film flatness."
    Troy, I've seen enough of your posts to know you are a serious student of photographic equipment, but I am surprised at this statement. I've used a 645 and 645N with the 120 macro (which is the sharpest lens I own and that includes the 67 300mm ED)and have never seen any evidence of film flatness issues in macro shots where it would be very appparent. Did you try different film inserts? If not you may have had a bad sample.
  8. Yeah, Pentax is apparantly the best "true" 645 for film flatness, with Mamiya being the worst. IDK if a digital back on either of them would change anything, but it has something to do with how well the connection between back and body would be in addition to, in the case of fiml, how tightly it is wound and how it is held in place during the exposure.
  9. My experience is that the only one who will notice/care about this stuff is the photographer. People want to see nice pictures with them in it. Just make sure you've got enough megapickles to give them a big enlargement and you're all set.
  10. I have both a 645 pro and a 5d and have shot with 22mp backs and a 1dsmkII for various jobs. Really, the 5d will give you really great enlargements that give the 645 a run for its money with good technique. They're very different, but many are dropping the 645 format professionally for exactly this reason. Now a 6x7 neg is a different would take at least 22mp to get close to the same output.

    Really, a 5d is great for taking full advantage of available light, whether you use flash or not.

    If you get great scans with the 645 and its treating you right, keep it up. If I were you, I'd get a 5d, and pick up an rb or rz67 for when you really want to shoot film for something. I mostly shoot now the 5d, large format and polaroids. The 645 I use very sparingly, only for certain shots that demand the look of certain films. (I love shooting 800 portra in tungsten light and then scanning and doing a touch of color correctiong...the grain is pretty amazing for portraits).

    Anyways, I hope this helps. And to all those giving you attitude, well they shouldn't take you asking for advice so personally.
  11. Ofcourse it is faster and easier to shoot digital. But a good medium format scan gives you at least 30 good MP. And 12.000 Euro IS a lot of money for a 22 MP digital back - UNLESS you are a real pro. It is that simple. But don't you forget the beauty of film! People won't bother in a hundred years.
  12. Thanks to all, especially to Peter Hovmand, who gave me a clear answer.
    The disadvantage of the Mamiya 645 is of course that you cannot see the result, when you have made your shot, besides the camera equipment is rather heavy to carry around.

    Anyway I will follow the progress in digital environment, because one day we will have to switch.

    Best Regards,

    Rene Hageman
  13. Karl,

    My experience with the Mamiya 645 (older model bodies - no magazines, but the same type of film inserts as the later models) is that film flatness is excellent. As with _all_ cameras with a reverse-curl film path, just be wary of the frame that's been left "bent around the rollers" for more than a few hours. The only other issue I've had is in very long exposure astrophotography, when the emulsion can absorb humidity and "pop" forwards in the film gate. Even this has only happened in a small minority of my astrophotos, maybe 1 frame on every 3 rolls.

    The film flatness of the Pentax 67 is not as consistent as you seem to think. It is enough of an issue that Hutech supply a special vacuum back for it. Astrophotographers swear by the Hutech back (and sometimes swear _at_ the standard back).

    The real leader for non-vacuum-based film flatness seems to be S-shaped Mamiya backs (6x7 and 6x9) for the old Press and Universal series, also used on the Plaubel Veriwide, Toyo 4x5 cameras and so on. I've been using these recently (in 6x9) and can confirm that they really are consistently excellent, which is astonishing considering that such a large expanse of film must be kept flat.

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