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.
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