Mamiya M645 1000S – Ilford FP4 Plus

I had to re-familiarize myself with this camera since I haven’t used it in a while. It’s a bit cumbersome to operate and requires an all-hands approach.

For starters the shutter speed dial rotates only while a safety button is depressed. It’s a bit of overkill as the detents are secure enough on their own. It’s a matter of using three fingers awkwardly versus the usual two.

Then there’s the shutter release; it’s quite exposed. Twice I unintentionally tripped it while handling the camera and was reminded to keep the safety engaged. Consequently, disengaging said safety adds an additional step to the process; one that I didn’t always remember before framing the shot. Aargh.

The focus screen has a 45° split and when it’s not enough, a microprism collar surrounds it for support. I do prefer angled split screens over the horizontal orientation; it seems to be more versatile. The waist-level finder has a pop-up a magnifier for further aid in focusing. I always use these because OCD.

One thing I’ve never gotten used to is the physical and visual sensation of camera sway as the large mirror of this SLR swings up during exposure. The images usually turn out shake-free especially when using the auxiliary shutter release on top next to the finder; it’s more stable and ergonomic for waist-level shooters than the primary front-facing button.

On this body the top two speeds are a stop too slow. From what I remember it’s fairly easy to calibrate; I had done it once. At the time I didn’t have a good way of measuring the fast speeds so I just matched it to 1 second. These days I can do better but I’m not about to disturb the glue to fix it.

The Mamiya-Sekor C 80mm f/1.9 was deployed for this roll. It’s sharp enough wide open and the bokeh is decent. My other lens option is a 55mm with a leaf shutter, and considering the location it would probably have been more appropriate.

I pulled the exposure two stops to ISO 32. I’ve only used FP4 once before; it was a similarly sunny day and pulling out the shadows worked for me then. Developed in Kodak XTOL. It wasn’t until I finished scanning that I noticed a line etched on the left side of each frame from something in the film transport.