Post by Paul Brodek our Used Equipment buyer
As a marked contrast to last week’s Alpa feature, but in the same spirit of “ya never know what’s gonna walk thru the door,” this week a Mamiya 645DII with a Leaf Aptus 22 digital back sashayed right in. As an only 10yr-old piece, we may be pushing (contracting?) the Throwback envelope a little, but since digital product seems to age in dog years, I’m gonna say it might as well be 70yrs old, and allow it.
Mamiya 645s are kinda fun, but not much to write home about. Lots of them out there, usually pretty beat-up, they don’t fit/feel or hold up like a Rollei or Hassy, and they sell kinda cheap. But the lenses are sharp, they’re modular like a good medium-format camera should be, and they can give you big, nice, sharp 6×4.5cm (kinda 2-1/4″ x 1-3/4″ for you non-metric folks) negs or slides.
So first I see a Mamiya 645, ho-hum. Then I notice it’s a 645AF, which is a notch cooler, and we don’t see them as often. Then I see it’s a 645DAFII, which is a very late/recent, maybe last version? Hmmm, the “D” stands for Digital, wonder what that’s about… And sure as shootin’, when I check the back, expecting your usual plastic-y Mamiya film back, it’s got a freaking Leaf Aptus 22 digital back! Holy Moly! One of those you-could-never-afford-it-when-new objects of lust for us graybearded camera geeks, the Leaf Aptus 22 has a ginormous 52x42mm sensor (figure the inches out yourselves, non-metric dinosaurs!), with a whopping 20mp, which was a whopping amount in 2009, when it hit the market.
The Leaf Aptus 22 has it all. Big sensor, lotsa pixels, even a touch screen fer cryin’ out loud. It’s so cool/hot it has cooling vents to keep from overheating. I’ve barely begun to play with it, so I can’t tell you how good the image quality might be, or how a big honkin’ ridiculously-expensive-back-in-the-day 2009 sensor compares to an entry-level $450 APS-C digicam today. Right now all I can tell you is there are humans on this planet that think it’s way cool, who will still pay $900-$1,200 for a clean one.
At this point we know it works, with our Camera Santa Gnome capture as evidence. And the image on the screen looks a lot better than the photo I took. Digipics of screens get weird. But there’s a lot more about it we don’t know. We’ll have Alan, our Sensor Sensei, check and clean the sensor, we’ll figure out how the thing works, get some output and then put it out for sale. Please be patient, since we need a little time to evaluate (geek codeword for “play with”) it.