Pentax 645 vs Mamiya 645 Pro TL

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by a._valerio, Nov 1, 2007.

  1. What is your opinion between these two camera bodies and their systems? I will
    be using it mostly for documentary and landscape photography. THe Mamiya
    system looks pretty solid, but the Pentax seems to have an ergonomic edge (and
    is less expensive on the used market). I'm strictly talking used.

    The things that are important to me, among others, are:

    Viewfinder: quality/brightness/snap/magnification and built-in diopter
    adjustment are the primary concerns (removable prism isn't needed); split-
    image rangefinder is nice

    Power: AA batteries would be the best

    Metering display: preferably a bar-graph type layout in the viewfinder

    Noise level: Quieter is better, but I want auto advance (which is noisy by

    Lens selection: Not overly critical, but leaf shutter lenses are nice to have
    sometimes for flash (and maybe to reduce noise)

    Finally, I understand there's been a debate that Michael Reichman apparently
    settled on the Pentax's lack of MLU.

    I'd appreciate your experiences with one or both of these camera bodies and
    systems. i think the two are a fair comparision.

    And how about pricing? Used.

    Thank you.
  2. I had a Pentax which was the perfect camera for me...on paper. I simply could not get comfortable with the button interface to change shutter speed and mode so I sold it. On the plus side, it has a spectacular I've ever seen for brightness and focussing. The lenses are second to none. It is not quiet, but the noise is sort of inevitable with the big shutter, mirror and advance. It also handled pretty well. If I ever got one again, I'd probably go with one of the autofocus versions simply to get the shutter dial rather than the buttons. MLU is definitely not an issue on this camera. Today, however, I'd probably choose the mamiya because I don't need auto-advance and I'd want removable backs for zone system development.
  3. Both systems are great. I own a P645 and I am very happy with it It handles like a 35mm on the field and the viewfinder is big and brite very easy to focus. Also lenses are silky smooth when you focus. One advantage Mamiya has, is it can take digital backs.
  4. Have no experience with the Mamiya but do have the P645NII...

    Pentax has diopter adjustment

    Uses AA batteries

    Digital f/stop & shutter speed display at bottom of screen

    User-interchangeable focusing screen

    Noisier than a motor-driven 35

    Great lenses including 5 great zooms, in two series; manual focus A and autofocus FA compatible with any body

    Indeed has a very capable damper on the mirror movement

    For truth to be known... I do prefer the P67II to the 645NII because it has more familiar handling and doesn't stick out forward as far.
  5. As I know Mamiya does not offer leaf shutter lenses. Pentax offers two (75 mm and 135 mm) with 1/60 up to 1/500. Both are non autofocus lenses.
    Mark described his 645 with the push button dials, the 645N and NII have wheel dials (way better).
    If you'd like to have a look an some Pentax manuals (645, 645N, 645NII, LS lenses, FA lenses, all PDFs):
  6. Mamiya does offer leaf shutters. 55, 70, 80, 150mm
  7. now I know. Thanks
  8. Mamiya has shutter lenses. There was a 55/2.8 that was still in production until recently and (I seem to recall seeing) a 75mm used shutter lens as well. Also a 50mm shift lens. I really liked the (discontinued) 110/2.8 (a length missing from many systems), and the 55/2.8 was excellent. The 35/3.5 was my favorite, but film flatness was a bit of an issue: if you leave film mid-roll in the camera for an extended period, it puts a nasty kink in it, and you have a fuzzy stripe throug your image. If one simply wastes any frame that's been sitting in the standby position, the problem goes away. It's a pain to have to worry about, and it wastes film. But I understand it's a problem with the P645 as well. The only good news is that it's only really a problem with the 35mm lens; anything longer and depth of focus is adequate to cover it.

    My impression is that the Pentax lenses are contrastier, but the Mamiya lenses have better bokeh. Over here (Japan), Pentax is by far the most common camera for landscape work, and Mamiya rules the studios. Before I had figured this out, I went Mamiya because I objected to paying for and lugging a motor drive, even though the weight difference was zilch<g>. It just grated philosophically; a landscape camera needs a motor drive less than a fish needs a bicycle.

    Anyway, for the contrasty lenses (and the 33-<whatever> zoom), I'd recommend putting up with the egregious electronic excesses of the P645. (Of course recording the shutter speed and f stop is real nice, something the Mamiya 645 doesn't do.)

    FWIW, just before I quit film and went digital I picked up a Mamiya 7, and was completely floored at how much better 6x7 is than 645. It's only 66% more film, but it feels like a whole different world. So if I were doing it all over again, I'd probably go with the P67 (or grin and bear the price of the Mamiya 7's 43/4.5).
  9. The Mamiya is the more flexible system, as it offers multiple prisms, backs and drives. The Pentax is generally a better value, and it will give you full compatibility between the MF and AF bodies, as well as better on-camera flash options (The Pentax 35mm/DSLR flashes do TTL on the 645's).

    Best of the Mamiya? Wide range of lenses including 4 leaf shutter lenses, N/L leaf shutter lenses integrate with WG401 winder on Pro/ProTL. Interchangable backs. Supports older digital backs. Lenses can be used (in stop-down metering mode) on 645AF system, which allows for modern digital backs (including the current best value, the Mamiya ZD back), can be used as manual wind (quiet) and offers 2 winders (slow, Lithium-powered WG402, fast AA powered WG401), ultra-inexpensive 645E model offers a trigger-wind grip. Note the Mamiya has both a body battery and a winder battery, only the latter is AA's (The winder eats batteries, the body itself does not).

    The Mamiya ergonomics are IMHO better on the Super/Pro/ProTL than the original Pentax 645, the N/NII are better in turn than the Mamiyas.

    The biggest beefs I have with the Pentax system are the lack of interchangable backs (Once you have these, you won't go back) and the fixed viewfinder (a mistake Mamiya also made with the 645AF). Another advantage to the Pentax system is the 67 adaptor, allowing full use of the 67 lenses on the 645.

    Personally, I went with the Mamiya (Super in my case). I like the Pentax's, but got rather annoyed with fixed backs when using my Mamiya M645 that I made the choice to go with the newer Mamiyas rather than getting the Pentax I was considering (Since I shoot with Pentax DSLR kit, I'd get a lot of kit interchangability by going P645).
  10. So far it looks like the Pentax is the way to go. What is a good price for the body, standard lens, and 120 insert? Cheaper than the Mamiya? Hopefully I am coparing the right models here.

    One issue with the Mamiya that someone here can probably confirm or disconfirm is I heard that the viewfinder prism with the variable diopter adjustment uses a penta-mirror...?!

    Does the grip/drive come off the Pentax? I saw one detached on ebay, and I can't for the life of me figure out why they would make it that way if there was no manual advance...other than maybe to change the batteries? I need to look at those manuals that someone pointed me to.

    I just want to get my feet wet with something that doesn't cost much. There's also a possibility of one day getting a Pentax 67II, so the ability to share lenses sounds good.

    Which digital backs work on the older Mamiyas? Are they any good? How much do they run?

    Making an informed decision is always interesting. Thanks for the help so far.
  11. "Does the grip/drive come off the Pentax? I saw one detached on ebay, and I can't for the life of me figure out why they would make it that way if there was no manual advance..."

    The P645 grip is not user-removable. (certainly not on the 645NII, assume that's the case for the original P645 as well)
  12. Doug:

    The original 645 grip is removable, all you need is a coin to turn the fastener. In fact, for me , the only advantage the 645 has over the N and NII models is the removable grip. It is much easier to carry the body in a fanny pack with the grip removed. I have the 645, 645N 67, and more lenses than I wish to disclose. It's a great, affordable system but after waiting for the 645D to appear, I might be inclined to go with Mamiya if I were not so invested in Pentax simply because of the digital possibilites. Of course in two years there might be a 645D, who knows?
  13. I prefer the Bronica system because all of their lenses have leaf shutters. But that may not matter to you unless you do a lot of flash work.
  14. Thomas, thanks for the correction and clarification! I had no idea the original P645 grip was removable, and I'm surprised at this substantial difference from the N and NII where the grip is integral with the body. I'm new to the 645 system just this year, after several decades with the P6x7, so I have a lot to learn. :)

Share This Page