Review: Mamiya 645 Pro TL

The 645 system was my second foray into the medium format game and it’s currently my most used camera. For those familiar with 120 cameras, a 645 negative is more than 2.5 times the size of a 35mm negative. It may not seem like much but it makes a huge difference when you print any of your work. The relative grain is much smaller and the perceived sharpness improves.

When I was in the market for a new medium format camera, it was to replace the RB67 for my short-term traveling and hiking. I was torn between a Pentax 645 and the Mamiya 645 Pro. Ultimately, I decided to go with the Mamiya 645 Pro TL. The lenses are (relatively) inexpensive and are quite incredible. As of March 2019, my lens collection included a 55 f/2.8, 80 f/2.8 N, and a 150 f/3.5 N. In prepping for a trip to Banff, I’m looking into getting a longer focal length. For whatever reason, the longer focal lengths seem to be less expensive up to a point and getting up close and personal on some scenes would be nice as most of the shots you see are all with a wide-angle.

My version of the of the 645 came with the AE prism – a prism that has aperture priority mode. I wasn’t sure about it at first but have really grown to love it. A lot of my photography is born out of spontaneity and without spending time to set up every shot, missing the exposure happens and can ruin a shot – not to mention, dialing in the focus and then shutter speed itself can miss a moment itself. With the shutter speed calculation taken out of the equation, I have found the process of taking photos to be more enjoyable.

Another of my favorite characteristics is the ability to change the backs mid roll. At any given time, you can switch between 3200 asa black and white film to a 400 speed color film and back again. On any trip, I’m usually bring black and white film, color film, and transparency film at various speeds. Being able to switch out at any time provides a lot of flexibility.