5 Frames… With Shanghai GP3 (EI 100 / 120 format / Mamiya 645 AFD) – by David Toman

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Back when I first got into medium format film photography via the gateway drug of folding bellows cameras, I was outbid at the last second for a Mamiya RB67 kit. Several years later I did acquire an RB67, and around the same time also acquired a Mamiya 645 Pro TL and several lenses. A manual focus camera, it quickly established a favored position among my many film cameras for the gorgeous lens rendering, convenient removable backs, clear viewfinder, and the most awe-inspiring combination of shutter and automatic film advance sounds known to man.

I shoot a bit of ones and naughts, but always try to make room in my bag for the Mamiya 645 and a roll of film on portrait shoots. But no matter how lovely the viewfinder may be, I found myself missing focus too often for my liking, and have to bid farewell to the manual focus variant in favor of the new AFD model, which I’m pleased to say sports an even clearer viewfinder and an equally impressive film advance whir.

I was planning to shoot some portraits with the new rig for a client’s website, but wanted to test out the camera and lens combination first. A mid-morning walk to and from my local film lab (shout out to Looking Glass Photo in Berkeley!) to drop off some film was just right for knocking off a roll. So I turned to the standard 80/2.8 lens and my go-to emulsion for test rolls over the years, Shanghai GP3.

I usually meter manually but wanted to see how the camera’s aperture priority mode would do, so I set the camera to 100 ISO and aperture priority. I was also intrigued by the camera’s multiple exposure feature, which can be set in advance for a particular number of exposures. I tried one with three and another with two, and included the results here.

~ David

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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.

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I'm a self-described "socially adept introvert" for whom photography is my favorite form of interaction with others. Born in New York, I lived most of my life in Taiwan and now reside in California. Former athlete, former translator, lifelong photographer.

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