Mamiya M645 Super, Pro, Pro TL and E
The M645 Super, Pro, Pro TL and E are medium-format SLR cameras made in Japan by Mamiya from the mid-1980's. They make fifteen 6x4.5 cm images on a 120 roll film. The camera bodies are made mainly from polycarbonate, in contrast to the metal bodies of the earlier M645 models. Unlike Mamiya's 6x7 SLR cameras, they do not have bellows, but rely on helical focusing in the lenses.
The Super was introduced in December 1985. It represents a significant improvement upon the features of its predecessors (the original M645 and M645 1000S), in particular because of the extension of the modular construction to include removable film backs.
The camera has an electronically-timed focal-plane shutter with cloth blinds. It offers speeds between 4 seconds and 1/1000 seconds, plus ‘B’, on a dial on the top right hand side of the body; there are also settings for Automatic Exposure (AE) and AE Lock (where an AE setting from a reading of one scene may be retained for use after re-framing, as long as the shutter button is held lightly). There is also one mechanically-timed speed, 1/60 second, so that the Super can be used with an exhausted battery.
The shutter release is on the bottom right corner of the front of the camera body. It has a lock position, a normal operating position, a position to select the mechanically-timed speed, and a position for the delayed action.
The camera has no socket for a conventional cable release, but has an electronic socket which accepts several external/remote release accessories: a plug-in converter to allow the use of a mechanical cable release, an electronic cable release or a wireless remote release.
Whereas in the earlier models 120 roll film is loaded onto removable ‘film inserts’ (an insert is essentially a pair of spool holders and a pressure plate with rollers), which simply make loading film faster and more convenient than it otherwise would be, in the Super the film chamber is removable as a modular unit, allowing the user to switch between backs, and so between different types of film, mid-roll, or to pre-load a number of backs to allow very fast reloading. Film is loaded into the 120 roll film backs using very similar inserts as in the older models (they are interchangeable). The camera also accepts backs for 220, 135 and Polaroid film. The film speed is set on a dial on each film back, and the backs have electronic contacts to communicate the setting to the camera body (and so to the metering prism, if fitted). The backs have metal dark slides. There is an interlock to prevent the film back being removed from the camera without the dark slide, and another to prevent the shutter from releasing when there is a back attached with the dark slide inserted.
As with earlier models, several viewfinders exist for the Super. The most basic is a folding waist-level focusing hood, with an integral focusing loupe and ‘sports finder’ frame. There are also plain (i.e. non-metering) and metering prism viewfinders, a magnifying eyepiece for these, and an angle finder (allowing the eyepiece of one of the prism finders to be viewed from above the camera). The metering finder offers three metering modes:
- Centre-weighted average metering
- Spot metering
- A mode in which the program selects automatically between the average and spot readings, on the basis of the light distribution (and shows in the viewfinder which has been selected). Some Mamiya literature refers to this as a 'matrix' mode.
If the shutter speed dial is set to its Automatic Exposure or AE Lock settings, the metering prism gives aperture-priority automatic exposure. There is a ‘compensation’ dial on the metering prism, allowing the exposure to be offset from the meter reading by +/- 3 stops.
The focusing screen is removable, and a number of alternative screens exist. The standard screen has split-prism and microprism focusing aids, familiar to users of many contemporary 35 mm SLR cameras.
The lens mount is the same bayonet fitting as that of the earlier models.
A number of lens accessories exist, including extension tubes, a bellows and a reversing ring. The newer lenses offer an Auto/Manual switch, which serves as a depth-of-field preview switch (there is no DOF-preview control on the camera body, as some of the older models have).
The camera requires one SR-44 6.2 V battery or equivalent. There is a battery check button on the bottom left corner of the front of the camera; its lamp is above the shutter release button on the bottom right.
There is a hot shoe, and a PC socket, on the left hand side of the body. Several different grips and brackets exist to extend the flash capability. There is also a manual mirror-up control on the left-hand side.
There is a tripod bush on the bottom of the body; the socket is 3/8 inch, but was supplied with a 1/4 inch adapter fitted.
The film is advanced either by a winding crank or a power winder. One or the other is mounted on the right-hand side of the body. There is a multi-exposure control on the right-hand side, allowing the winder to cock the shutter without advancing the film. The power winder covers this control, so it is repeated on the base of the winder. The winder incorporates a shutter release on top of the grip. The winder requires 6 AA batteries, and has its own battery check control and lamp integrated into the shutter release. The film may also be advanced using a winding knob on the side of the film back; this will not cock the shutter, however, so one or other of the winders is still needed. The dimensions given in the user’s manual, for the Super camera body and a 120 film back only, are (width x height x depth) 91 x 87.5 x 116 mm, and the weight 895g.
The M645 Pro was introduced in April 1992. The most important difference in the features of the Pro and Super is that the Pro does not have a mechanically-timed shutter speed, so the camera cannot be used at all with an exhausted battery. A number of other features are mentioned in the manual for the Pro which are not in that for the Super:
- When the shutter dial is set to ‘B’, and the self-timer is used, the result is a ‘T’ exposure (where the shutter button or cable release must be pressed a second time to close the shutter).
- Using the in-lens shutter of one of the three leaf-shutter lenses automatically sets the camera’s focal-plane shutter to 1/8 second.
- When used with any of the leaf shutter lenses, the power winder cocks the lens’ shutter as well as the camera's.
- The manual also mentions improvements to the film advance gearing over that on the Super.
Otherwise the same features as in the Super are only slightly differently arranged in the Pro. For example, the battery check lamp is at the top of the camera body, and the button to release the shutter speed dial from its AE position is in the centre of the dial, not beside it as in the Super.
The manual for the Pro gives the dimensions of the body and 120 back only as (width x height x depth) 124 x 102.5 x 124 mm, and the weight as 980 g. However, examination of the camera makes it clear that this width includes a film crank, while that given for the Super does not. The weight of the crank alone is 43 g; so the camera is approximately 40 g heavier than the Super. With the standard 80/2.8 lens, a 120 film back and the AE prism finder, the Pro weighs 1545 g.
M645 Pro TL
The M645 Pro TL was introduced in June 1997. The ’’TL’’ refers to through-the-lens flash metering, which is possible with a small range of flash equipment. An accessory flash adapter was available to communicate appropriately with Metz flashes. Otherwise, the differences between the Pro and Pro TL are trivial.
- Mamiya company history page (in Japanese) at Mamiya Japan website
- Three lenses with leaf shutters exist
- This checks the winder’s batteries, not the camera’s; an occasional source of confusion to users.
- Mamiya company history page
- Film crank listing on Mamiya UK
- Mamiya company history page
- Mamiya company history page; this was several months after the introduction of the M645 AF, which started the new series of cameras replacing this one.