Thinking of getting into medium format film photography and looking for a camera with which to start your journey? One of the newer cameras you might want to check out — but most likely haven’t heard of — is the Bronica RF645 rangefinder camera. If that just piqued your curiosity, we bring a new video by Alastair Bird that will serve as your quick introduction to this interesting camera.
The Bronica RF645, as Alastair described, is “one of the nicest little cameras that you’ve never heard of,” and he proves his point in the video below. He had with him a unit equipped with a 65mm f4 lens, loaded with a Kodak T-MAX 100 black and white film for a test run around East Vancouver.
Aside from a rundown of features and controls available on this camera, Alastair also demonstrated a quirk that may get a little getting used to. The film exposes vertically through this camera, which means when holding it the usual way, the photos turn out vertical. If you want to take a horizontal shot, you have to hold the camera vertically. It can be particularly confusing at first, but if you keep this detail in mind long enough, you’ll do just fine.
Introduced in 2000 and discontinued in 2005, the Bronica RF645 is one of the more modern options out there for film rangefinder cameras. A little big and boxy compared to today’s medium format digital cameras, it still has some interest among medium format film photographers today. Camerapedia reminds us that it was an award-winning camera during its heyday, receiving the Camera Press Club’s “Special Prize” at the Camera Grand Prix 2001, the EISA award for professional camera in 2001-2002, and the TIPA Best Professional Photo Product for 2001-2002.
Alastair’s shots are really great – clean, sharp, and well-exposed. even when he used a wide aperture. Looks like he enjoyed shooting with it as well, and has found it to be a camera with great heft that “feels bomb-proof.” However, he also noted there have been reports of problems with the film advance of the Bronica RF645. Also, you can no longer have them repaired, so once they go, that’s it.
Interested in getting one? There are a bunch of near mint and mint units from Japan that you can grab through eBay, with this almost unused Bronica RF645 being one of the most pristine complete sets you can get.
Photos used with permission from Alastair Bird