Mamiya m645 vs Mamiya RB67 - which one to buy?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by gordon_sn, Jun 11, 2016.

  1. Hi all,
    I am well acquainted in terms of the specs for these two cameras but i am trying to decide which one will give me better picture quality as I am thinking of purchasing either one of these two.
    Any inputs? Thanks!
  2. The 67 yields bigger negatives, so it's IQ should be better, other things being equal.
  3. Go for RB or even better the RZ as the mechanical shutters in the RB are most probably less reliable as the lenses age. The RZ is also a little less bulky, lighter and faster in use. Both RZ and 645 use batteries so I assume this is no problem. I always carry a couple of spares and they last a long time. Both the 6x7 cameras are capable of superb quality.
  4. Rule of thumb with MF film gear? Buy the newest you can afford. This rules out the now-ancient M645 "heavy metal" cameras. No separate film backs is another problem. Look into the later Super/Pro/Pro-TL bodies. With big Mamiyas I'd only consider Pro S or ProSD bodies and/or late model RZ cameras. All these often led long working lives and can be at or near the end of the road. Shop carefully and don't be afraid to build a kit from separate lenses, bodies and film backs. 6X7 negatives are wonderful.
    ben_randall likes this.
  5. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    either one. both cameras are excelent quality. the rb is big n heave where a 645 is a bit more nimble. for prints up to 16x20, you'd hardly notice any difference at all.
  6. Two totally different tools, what is the job you intend?
    The RB 6X7 will give a much better image if you can use a tripod, the 6/4.5 is better for candids......

    I would get the RB between the two if image quality was the goal, it will slow you down....not a bad thing.
  7. FWIW, I have both, a full-blown RB67 Pro SD Kit, as well as an almost full-blown M645 1000S kit. I use the M645 10x more then I use the RB67. The weight of the RB with a couple of lenses and backs in a bag make it a workout. It's also just a huge camera. IQ is great on both, although the RB has a slight advantage simply because you're starting with a larger negative. As for the quality of the lenses, IMO, it's a wash; they're both great.
    Your decision should really be based on what type of shooting you do. You'll have much better luck with candids and general photography with the M645 simply because it's a more manageable system. It also has the 80mm f/1.9 available to it, so with that lens it allows for low light photography.
    The RB67 system was designed with the studio photographer in mind, and that's where it is the king. While it can certainly be used handheld, on a tripod is where it shines.
    So again, the real question is what type of photography will you be using them for? Figure that out, and then you should have your answer. But you really can't go wrong with either.
  8. david_henderson


    Its kind of simple. The 67 will give you better quality and greater enlargeability. It will also give you much more size and weight to carry. You need to decide how much you need the extra IQ or bigger prints , and whether the size and weight are in fact manageable regardless of what they bring along.
    To pick up a point above, you can go wrong with either. Having a camera system that you're reluctant to use , or which inhibits you from getting the sort of photographs you want is much worse than having a camera that restricts the size of your prints by a few inches . If you really need one or two seriously big prints then a really good scan from 645 with get you to c. 30" x 24" prints.
    ben_randall likes this.
  9. Quick question sort of related.. I have an RB67 but do not have an M645. Are the lens mounts the same?
    Can I use a lens that is "for" the M645 on my RB? Thanks in advance for any help.

    Um.. never mind. I think I found my answer in that lenses for my RB have an "RB" mount. At least, just from looking at pictures of the two different lenses, they appear to be different bayonet mount designs.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
  10. Please excuse the momentary lapse of brain matter...I hadn't thought of the very big differences in the 2 systems. Of course the lenses are not compatible. Sorry about that. Carry on. :rolleyes:
    I wish there were some help section that could help me figure out how to delete a forum post.. then I would just delete my first post with the stupid question! But I guess that isn't possible.. so everyone gets to see mistakes.. Surely there must be a way to delete my own post...
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
  11. While this thread is resurfaced, can I just reply to the above comment?

    "This rules out the now-ancient M645 "heavy metal" cameras."

    - No, it doesn't!
    Those 'ancient' metal-bodied M645s were far better made than the later plastic 645 Super/E/Pro/ProTL pieces of crap.

    All of my metal 645s are still going strong, while I have 2 dead Supers and a ProTL that are BER. Not to mention the plastic magazines that are either warped or cracked.
  12. same as RB vs RZ
  13. Sorry, Joe, but the age-related problems remain with the oldies: light leaks, geriatric electronics, parts&service. Awkward ergonomics and no film backs are also obvious limitations. Both generations led hard working lives and can land on the used market totally smoked, as can rare mint, NOS examples. Just think it's misleading to be categorical about what amounts to preference
  14. OK. Just ignore my experience with half a dozen metal bodied 1000S, M & J bodies that are working just fine, after the trivial job of replacing their light seals; versus the plastic Supers and ProTL that needed attention every few rolls of film and have a well-acknowledged weakness with their mirror brake/rest design. Plus the ill-fitting magazines that have inadequate light-trapping designed in.

    And there are no parts or service available for any of the Mamiya film cameras any more - metal or plastic.

    "Awkward ergonomics and no film backs are also obvious limitations."

    - The ergonomics are much the same for any design of 645 camera. They all need a prism finder.

    As for no interchangeable backs: At current prices you can buy a whole M645 1000S for what you'd pay for a 'blad back.

    Since you seem so defensive of the dreadful placky Mamiyas, I assume you own one. Have you checked its under-engineered mirror brake recently? Because sooner or later it will crack and render the camera unuseable - guaranteed!
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2018
  15. Let's say we disagree and leave it there. I've had zero issues with several Super/Pro/ProTL bodies and backs; problems with the oldies are what led me to the newer models. Believe we'd both say the Mamiya 645 glass is superb.
  16. Yes, there are some gems among the Mamiya Sekor glass. Notably the 110mm f/2.8 N and the 70mm leaf-shuttered lens; both of which have a rendering that's fairly unique.

    I'm not so enamoured of the 35mm and 45mm wideangles. OTOH, all of Mamiya's teles are pretty sharp. At least up to 300mm - that's the longest M645 lens I own.

    I have to admit that the horizontal-travelling shutter in the plastic bodies did appear to reduce vibration and make for sharper handheld shots. If their reliability had only been much better, I might still be using them. As it is, I don't feel it worth the time or effort to resurrect one of them (again!), when I can just use those nice lenses on a 1000S and know I'm going to be greeted with a familiar and reassuring 'thunk' on pressing the button. And be certain that the mirror and screen still align with the plane of focus.
  17. Fortunately, RB67 bodies seem to keep on trucking, as do the lenses. All of my lenses time out to within 1/3 stop.

    The biggest problem with RB67 Pro and Pro-S backs is that they leak light terribly, and even though I've resealed all of mine it's not my favorite job in the world. It's a lot more involved than a typical 35mm SLR, and of course once you've had some practice with Hasselblad backs they are a 10 minute job. I have one Pro-SD back, which eliminates the light seals but unfortunately its construction doesn't inspire a lot of confidence vs. the earlier backs.
  18. When I did formal portraits, the RB67 Pro was my mainstay. In 10 years, not a single failure of any type with the body, or the backs. Now, I did have some routine CLA's done, usually annually. The same for my M645 1000s. It ran like the Energizer bunny, and like the RB I did have CLA's done annually. Eventually the 645 became the backup to my "new" 645 Super. Like the 1000s, it ran with no problems at all for at least 10 years. Backs did not warp, and they were light tight when I sold my equipment.

    A lot of photographers I knew weren't so caring about their gear. While I didn't baby my gear, I did take care not to toss it around carelessly. The same went for my lights, studio gear, etc.

    I have a close friend who still uses a 645J, and it still runs well.

    I bought a used 645 Pro TL from a dealer in Japan, and it runs great. A couple of months ago, I bought a nice used RZ67 Pro, and it's also a winner. With the RZ, the only caveat is with the AE Prism Finder. It does eat batteries, but that's not a big issue.

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