12 Aug 2014

Mamiya 645AF: Back, Film, Battery

I've been meaning to post this for a couple weeks now but never got to finishing (or actually re-filming) the video, so as usual, it ends up being posted as is.

As you could see in a previous post, I am now the proud owner of a Mamiya AFD II + ZD digital back outfit. It works a treat and delivers stunning images under the right circumstances. What I love most about this system is its versatility.

I've always loved things that I could use for more than one thing. I do not like proprietary accessories for this reason: you can only use any certain accessory for one thing, and one thing only, and because I'm on a budget, I like to get the most out of any one piece that I pay for. I think companies that thrive on propriatery accessories are the incarnation of economic evil.

The Mamiya AF series, however, is versatile enough to do everything you need with one system.The same system can take either film or digital backs. The same film insert can do either 120 or 220 film. The Mamiya ZD digital back, unlike any other digital back, is designed so that the hot mirror is user-accessible and removable and interchangeable, so you can easily switch between IR photography and regular photography, for example, any time you want. Also, the digital back accepts both SD and CF memory card formats, so there. You can use anything you have on this camera. Moreover,  the camera takes 6xAA batteries so you're never stuck with proprietary batteries that could possibly be discontinued, and the digital back accepts another brand's batteries which are much cheaper than Mamiya's own make and do the same thing. Flashguns? I'm using my Canon speedlites in manual mode with YongNuo's YN-622c's as remote triggers. Bingo!

The Mamiya that I had bought only came with a digital back though, and I just had to get a film back for it. But buying them separate is not a budget-friendly idea as they go near £50 second hand. What I do in such a case is simple: I pay more. So I got myself a nice Mamiya 645, 80mm f2.8 and film back kit. My plan is simple: keep the back, sell the rest. The seller has a second film back going separately but I missed that.

The new arrival, Mamiya 645AF, never released the shutter no matter how much I tried. It was the first version in the series and therefore not compatible with the digital back I had, so that could not be tested. Also, when I put the film back on my AFDII, the latter would not fire. It was obviously something to do with the film back, and I thought it simply required loading a film.

The following video shows what happens when you remove and attach a film or digital back. In some cases, the shutter/mirror should flip up for protection but sometimes they don't. If that happens to you, find the little thing in the corner and release it quick to save your camera a possible death.

Then I finally get to loading a Kodak Ektar 100 in the film back. But does that solve the problem?

The videos I took above show a silly problem I had which required a silly solution. The film back simply required a new CR2032 battery. This battery is very important because it does more than just power the LCD. In fact, the LCD on the film back can be powered via the camera body's own battery. As you could see in the videos, the small LCD did in fact reflect 120 Film @ 100 ISO even as the button cell battery was flat, and this is why I was confused and did not suspect a flat back's battery. I thought some of the things I said, especially regarding the shutter/mirror problem is very important to share, so I hope this post has been informative for someone and helps answer any questions.

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