5 Frames… And a bit of luck with a Mamiya 645 PRo and Kodak Portra 400 (120 Format / EI 400 / Mamiya Sekor C 80mm f/2.8) – by Rodrigo W Bloom

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I wouldn’t say I’m a completely skeptical person. Superstition isn’t really my thing too. But when it comes to giveaways and raffles, sometimes I like to play the odds. With my Mamiya 645 Pro, that was the case. I saw a raffle online with three prizes and a few numbers at a reasonable price. The first prize being a medium format camera, a system I was very curious to shoot with for some time. “Well let’s give it a chance”, said a voice in my head. And it was good advice. Now, I still wouldn’t call it luck if it wasn’t for a little detail: the result came out on my birthday.

My Mamiya 645 Pro,  Rodrigo W. Blum
My Mamiya 645 Pro, Rodrigo W. Blum

You may be wondering why I spent a whole paragraph just to tell you this, however that’s the entire point of this article: my first experience with a medium format camera. I waited for the camera to arrive and, as soon as I had it in my hands, I bought a box of Kodak Portra 400. I already knew the camera was totally functional so, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I drove to a historical district in the neighboring town that has lots of restored typical german buildings – consequence of the strong colonization by Germans in south Brazil. Full of colours, history and shapes, seemed the perfect fit for my first roll of 120 film.

Having chosen the late hours of the afternoon, close to the golden hour, and familiar with the scenarios I was gonna shoot, I was prepared for the amount of shadows waiting for me, therefore I’ve decided to measure the Portra 400 at 200 ISO. This way, I knew my frames would have a nice pastel look and hold lots of details in the shadows without losing the highlights, given the excellent dynamic range of this stock. And I was definitely not disappointed with the result.

As soon as I shot all the 15 frames that the Mamiya 645 delivers from a 120 roll, I took the exposed film to the closest reliable lab and waited for the results to come. I must say, even to this day, I’m still impressed with the tonality and sharpness that the Portra 400 offers, even when overexposed by a full point.

The colours remained beautiful and, to a certain point, with a good amount of saturation, even in the areas that were not in direct sunlight. I am so happy with the results, it will be hard to load any other film in my camera now.

~ Rodrigo

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