Mamiya 645 Pro TL Video review:

Reasons to choose the Mamiya 645 Pro system

If you’re looking to get into medium format photography or maybe you’re looking to add a new medium format camera to your arsenal, the Mamiya 654 Pro TL might be a good choice for you. In terms of older film cameras, this one is a fairly recent model. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I decided to purchase this camera. I was worried that if I purchased an older medium format camera, it might not last too long and might be prone to mechanical problems. Some of the older cameras I was looking at were the Pentax 6×7 and the Mamiya 645 1000s. The Mamiya 645 Pro and Mamiya 645 Pro TL fell in a good balance between affordability and recently manufactured. It was my belief that a more recently made camera would have a better chance of working properly and living a longer and happier camera life.

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A Closer Look:

The Mamiya 645 Pro TL has decent range of shutter speeds. The fastest shutter speed is 1/1000 of second and it goes down to 4 whole seconds. And yes, there is a bulb mode on the shutter dial as well.

Another shutter speed feature is the A shutter mode (Aperture Priority). For those of you who aren’t aware, if you set your shutter dial to A, you’re allowing your camera to set the correct shutter speed automatically. You select the aperture (and film speed), and the camera will determine the correct shutter speed to use for a proper exposure.

I don’t ever use this mode because I’m usually not a rush while I’m using this camera, but if I were in a fast paced shooting environment, like a wedding, I could see this becoming a very valuable feature. It might also be helpful if you’re just starting out and you’re not totally comfortable shooting completely in manual mode. This would allow you to worry about one less thing, I suppose.

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The ISO range on this film back ranges from 25 to 6400. If you are using a metered prism, like the one I have in the picture, all  you have to do is set the dial to the film speed you’re using and the film back will communicate with the body and metered prism and give you an exposure reading of your scene.

Inside of the film back is a film insert. Film inserts can carry different size rolls of film. Those sizes are 120mm and 220mm. I only have a 120mm film insert. That allows me to shoot 15 images per roll of 120 film. The 220 insert accepts a longer/bigger roll of film and thus you are able to get more shots on a single roll of film.

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The film advance is pretty simple. You load your film, close the film back, and wind the film advance lever until you hear a click. You can now start shooting. After each frame you shoot, just wind the film advance crank until you hear and feel it move into the next position. There’s a popular electronic handle that attaches to the side of camera that will automatically advance your film between shots, but it looks massive and I didn’t think it was worth the extra cost. I prefer the smaller setup and it only takes a second to advance the film manually… plus other people think it’s cool to see a camera with a windy crank thing.

You can also find the double exposure or “multi” switch on this side of the camera, just below the film advance crank. Turn it to the yellow multi setting and you can expose the same frame over and over. Make sure to switch it back to the white dot when you’re done though.

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Here you can see there is a hot shoe mount. You can attach your flash or wireless trigger unit here. The camera’s flash sync speed is 1/60.

The red plastic piece is the grip for the dark slide. You’ll need to pull that out in order to take photographs. Once you pull it out, the film inside the film back is ready to be exposed as soon as you hit the shutter button. The camera will not fire if the dark slide is in. This prevents you from accidentally shooting blank exposures. There’s a little slot in the back of the film back to store the dark slide while you’re shooting. I didn’t know about this for long time and I was always loosing my dark slide after setting down or putting it a pocket and then forgetting what pocket I put it in. Hopefully you can learn from my dumbness.

There’s also a flash sync port and a shutter release cable port, but I never use those two features. I would use the shutter release cable, but I’ve read a lot of bad review on them and it doesn’t seem like a good use of money when you can pretty much do the same thing with the self timer feature.

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The little circle dial on the bottom of the camera is for the power control and self timer. If the dial is all the way to the camera’s left (the red dot), the camera is off, if the dial is in the middle (the white circle), the camera is on, if the dial is all the way the camera’s right (the time symbol), the camera will wait about 10 seconds to fire after pressing the shutter button.

Speaking of the shutter button, the shutter button is the button in the middle of this power and self timer dial. They may have been able to come up with a better place to put the shutter button, but it’s certainly not a horrible spot. I got used to it pretty quickly.

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If you’re looking for the battery, it’s located underneath the camera. It only takes one 4LR44 6volt battery. It’s pretty easy to get. I just ordered a pack on Amazon.

On the front left of the camera, there’s a little battery check button. if you press it, the red light above “pro TL” on the front of the camera will light up, or not light up if your battery stinks.

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Some more images of the Mamiya 645 Pro TL

Some sample images taken with the Mamiya 645 Pro TL