First Roll With: Mamiya M645 W/ 80mm f2.8 by Janie L.

Gear: Mamiya M645 W/ 80mm f2.8 + waist-level finder 
Film: Lomography 100 & 400; Ilford Delta 100 
Dev+Scan: Rewind Photo Lab
Shooting Location: Cockatoo Island, Sydney

Hey everyone, it's Janie again with another "First Roll With" post! I'm particularly excited to share about this one because not only was this my first offical time shooting with a Medium Format (MF) camera, but I also bravely took it with me for my first roll on our recent photowalk event! 

How is this my "first offical time shooting with a medium format" you say? Well, in the past I have mostly handled and tested MF through Beginning Film and also using my partner Freddie's professional gear. As a hobbyist photographer, I never got the chance to fully shoot with one and honestly, I just felt intimidated by it, especially when you only get 1/3 of a 35mm roll of film. Medium format film felt precious, and I didn't want to waste it. 

Anyhow, when we recently got our hands on a another M645, I knew this was my chance to finally try it out! The M645 was geared as an introductory MF and with a non-intimidating size (compared to monsters such as its bigger siblings the RZ, lol), it felt comfortable to use. Upon playing around with it, the M645 is surprisingly very easy to operate, ergonomically and mechanically. It shoots only on manual and the waist-level finder doesn't have light metering, so I brought out my trusty hand held digital light meter!

On the day of the photowalk, my film of choice was 2 rolls of Lomography film we had (in ISO100 & 400) and a roll of B&W Delta 100. 

Starting off, I shot with the LOMO 100. Right off the bat, getting used to the mirrored waist level finder was tricky, especially at composing. Focusing was also tricky too since I'm short sighted I needed to put on my glasses every time I shoot, I also find the magnifying glass super helpful to combat the focusing. In the end, I got about 2 out of focus shots out of my first roll, such as this one above of Joel.

Some main takeaways from my first roll with the M645:

  • Waist level finder takes time to get used to! The viewfinder image is flipped horizontally so it was quite tricky to compose the shot. As you can see I got quite a few shots that were wonky and I found myself also limited to the waist-level angle perspective, as that's the only way you can focus. For this reason, I would suggest investing in a prism finder and you can also get one with in-build light metering! 
  • Shooting medium format is less intimidating and more rewarding than I had imagined. The M645 in particular is easy get used to and has tons of resources online (youtube, online forums, camera manual, camera reviews) that allowed me to familiarise with the system. Shooting in 6x4.5 format also means you get a few more shots that you would shooting 6x6 or 6x7 formats in a 120mm roll of film, so it's more forgiving in a small way. 
  • Multi-frame option - This was a feature from the M645 that I forgot to try out, it essentially allows you to achieve double exposure without advancing the film! 
  • Looking for a great introductory Medium format? The M645 is a great system to get started with and at a good price particularly for beginners as well as an array of lenses and accessories available. Beyond the original M645, you also have some updated versions such as the M645 1000s, M645 Super, Pro, Pro TL, etc etc.. you can read about them here

Finally, I will finish the post with more photos taken from my 2nd and 3rd roll, in black and white Delta 100 and Lomography 400! 


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"First Roll With" is a new series we started dedicated to those initial moments spent with your camera or lens. "First Roll With" is open to all levels of photographers, whether it's your first film camera or your 100th, we welcome you to share with us your own unique perspectives and experiences!


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