5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Mamiya Sekor 80mm f/1.9 and Mamiya 645 1000s – By Aivaras

October 19, 2018

I’ve shoot film since 2012. I started out with a 35mm SLR’s and then after a while of fighting with urge to dip into medium format, I eventually gave up. One of reasons to make the step was the discovery that extremely fast medium format lenses like Mamiya Sekor 80mm f/1.9 exist. Having a long and intimate friendship with fast lenses in 35mm format, I wanted to have same low light and shallow depth of field possibilities in medium format. The knowledge about this option meant to me that I had to do it. And I did.

I bought 80mm F1.9 lens and Mamiya 645 1000S camera. This is a set that I would recommend to any person coming from 35mm SLR to medium format. It is a professional grade body build like a tank, and has very similar controls to many 35mm SLRs. With the camera body having a shutter speed range from 1/1000s to 8s, and the max f/1.9 aperture in lens, you are ready to shoot in any situation.

The f/1.9 lens and the 645 1000s body combination gives one of brightest viewfinders in MF world and that means a lot. The focusing screens are good too with strong focus “snap”. The lens is also sharp even wide open at f/1.9… well, you buy an f/1.9 for a medium format camera to shoot it at 1.9, right…? It even has close focus distance of 70cm!

There are limitations and downsides as well. First it’s only 645 format. There is very big leap from 35mm to 645, but there is perceptible difference comparing to bigger MF formats like 6×6, 6×7 and bigger. To me, the 645 format feels more like a supersized 35mm, with the real medium feeling coming from the perspective you get starting from 6×6 – yes, I know its very subjective, but it’s how I see it.

Secondly, the camera body does not use interchangeable backs. That means no mid roll film changes. The lens related downsides lie in depth of field and bokeh quality. Again, this is very subjective, but to me bokeh is rather nervous and in to out of focus transition is a bit harsh. It means It harder to get this smooth medium format feeling in photos.

But, all these downsides are quite small when comparing to opportunities and benefits it brings.

The 80mm lens is a versatile walk around lens. I shot with it in different situations: landscapes, details, portraits, but when it came to narrowing to 5 shots, I got what I got – portraits!

Enjoy! I promise to get back one more time with a different Mamiya lens

All frames in set are shot with Kodak Portra 400.

As usual more is here: www.beautifulgrain.com

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  • Reply
    Harvey Anderson
    October 19, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    An absorbing read & beautiful portraits, I’ve always been interested in this 645 leap.

    • Reply
      October 19, 2018 at 5:14 pm

      Thanks. As for the set – its definitely worth considering.

  • Reply
    Adam Laws
    October 19, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    I’m literally waiting for my 645 Pro to arrive in the post with the aforementioned lens – I’ve also picked up an extension tube for close focusing.

    How do you find the portability of the camera? I was seriously contemplating the RZ67 but decided against it due to the size and not wanting to have a tripod with me.

    • Reply
      October 19, 2018 at 7:44 pm

      Its quite portable, I managed to put body with 80 mm, two additional lenses, travel tripod, film, accessories into Ari Marcopoulos camera bag – ant there was extra space for water bottle, jacket – that should give you idea about portability. On the other hand its quite heavy, but as usual – comparing to what? If you compare to mentioned RZ67 tank – 1000s is small and light.
      My personal preference is to use it with tripod, as control of MF DOF @1.9 is crazy – even model is still, you move a bit, ant thats it. Anyway work without tripod is also available, I learned to use every object around me as point of support – including myself. 🙂
      Would wait for your shots with 1000s – I admire your work and I’m sure this camera in your hand will sing!

  • Reply
    October 20, 2018 at 11:46 am

    I invested in a bronco 645 this year after using 6×6 formats however I really do like it and have no problem wit the format at all. I do love the DoF yo get with the lenses and of course the interchangeable backs.

  • Reply
    Matt S
    October 26, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    I had never heard of this camera but because of this article I am now the proud owner of the M645 1000S model. I can’t wait to use it and get the prints back. Thanks for the great article.

    • Reply
      October 27, 2018 at 6:47 am

      Now this is cool! Have fun with your new camera.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2018 at 3:40 am

    Great stuff, Aivaras!

    Nice to see your work here.

    I have recently acquired a setup like this…looking forward to putting it through the paces.

    Best regards,

    • Reply
      November 2, 2018 at 6:25 am

      Thanks! I will keep an eye on your achievements with new toys. 🙂

  • Reply
    5 Frames with a Mamiya Sekor 45mm f/2.8 N & Mamiya 645 1000S - By Aivaras - 35mmc
    November 21, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    […] I dipped my toe into medium format photography, my first camera was Mamiya 645 1000S, equipped with 80mm 1.9 standard lens. After understanding how captivating is this world of slow, methodical and rich […]

  • Reply
    January 30, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    Do you have the N or C version of this lens?

    • Reply
      January 30, 2020 at 9:09 pm

      I sold the system few years ago, so cant confirm. As far as I remembes it was N version. But before I bought it I done extensive reserch, and I think both version havent big difference.

      • Reply
        February 1, 2020 at 12:08 am

        Thanks for your response!

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