How do I Use a Mamiya 645?

Written by mark spowart
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How do I Use a Mamiya 645?
The Mamiya 645 is a medium format camera similar to the camera pictured here. (medium format camera image by Astroid from

The Mamiya 645 is a medium format film camera. Just a like a 35mm single-lens reflex camera, you can change lenses on the Mamiya 645. The type of film the 645 uses is medium format film. The negatives are considerably larger than 35mm. A roll of 120 film will give you 15 frames 6 by 4.5cm negatives. A roll of 220 has 30 negatives on it. The film is loaded into the rear holder on the 645.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Load a roll of 120 or 220 spool film into the camera. Insert the roll on the top part of the film holder. Load the film so the index numbers are facing up. Pull the film leader across the film plane attaching it to the take-up spool. Wind the film until it is taut and the indicator marks on the film line up correctly.

  2. 2

    Set the ASA/ISO dial located on the right-hand side of the prism. Unlike 35mm format film that comes in DX coded canisters, which automatically sets the ASA/ISO in the camera, spool film does not and requires you to set the film speed yourself.

  3. 3

    Attach a lens to the front of the camera. The Mamiya 645 is a manual focus camera. There are a number viewfinders for the Mamiya 645, including a waist-level finder where you hold the camera below your head and you look down, like you are looking into the top of the camera. The image in this viewfinder will be upside down. There is a prism finder which has a light meter built into it. This viewfinder is similar to the viewfinder on a 35mm camera where you look through it and see the image as you normally would. This finder is also the most common on the Mamiya 645.

  4. 4

    Compose your picture and press the shutter release, which is located at the front bottom right-hand side of the camera. The shutter and mirror mechanism is significantly larger than a 35mm camera. The larger shutter and mirror can cause increased camera shake, which requires you to hold the Mamiya 645 very still during its operation.

  5. 5

    Advance the film using the film crank on the right-hand side of the camera and you are ready to shoot again.

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