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Using 645 MF lenses as shift lenses

  |   Article, Articles and reviews, Composition, Lens, photo-hacks, Photography Ideas, Tilt / Shift   |   4 Comments

Using Mamiya 645 MF lenses as shift lenses

A shift adapter for Mamiya 645 lenses on a 35mm Canon 1Ds3



Making use of some of our old Mamiya Sekor medium format lenses.

Part of our series of brief lens tests, using various lenses we found laying around the office…

medium format lens shifted on 35mm

We regularly use the Canon 1724 and 90mm tilt shift lenses .

How about an adapter for using Mamiya Sekor 645 medium format lenses on a Canon 1Ds Mk3?

Using old Medium format lenses

We’ve a collection of Mamiya 645 medium format lenses sitting round. Actually we’ve a camera and accessories too, but I don’t really see me using film again.

The lenses are not at all bad with a basic M645 to Canon EF adapter, but given the range of Canon lenses I’ve got I just don’t see much use for say, the 55mm f/2.8 Sekor-C

One useful point to note, is that MF lenses have a much bigger image circle than 35mm lenses, so potentially could be used as shift lenses.

Ebay quickly provided me with a shift adapter from the Ukraine – search for Arax.

Note – If you’re new to shift lenses and why I use them for much of my interior and architectural work, then I’ve written several articles, starting with an Introduction to tilt/shift lenses.

The picture below shows the adapter mounted on the front of my Canon 1Ds3. It’s set for shifting vertically. You can see the shift adjustment knob at the bottom and the shift scale (in mm) at the side.

canon 1ds3 with m645 shift adapter

The adapter is solidly made, but lacks a bit of camera engineering ‘finesse’ – then again it’s rather cheap compared to many other adapters you’ll find.

Note that reflection you can see inside the aperture – I’ll come back to that…

The front of the adapter rotates allowing left or right shift too. It’s shift away from a centre point, so to get left/right shift, you need to rotate the lens.

The lenses are set to manual for aperture control, and are manually focused.

Mamiya 645 Sekor lenses

A set of lenses that go with the Mamiya 645 pro medium format camera body we’ve got sitting in a dust covered case.

The lenses tested here are:

  • Sekor C 35mm f/3.5
  • Sekor C 55mm f/2.8
  • Sekor C 80mm f/2.8
  • Sekor C 210mm f/4

I thought that since there was a 210mm, I might as well try it out…

I’ve tried these lenses directly with an adapter and they seem of quite good quality, but that’s only the centre of the field of view they were designed for.

35mm Sample images

I’m just testing the general quality of the lenses, not creating any great artistic works ;-) I’ve used liveview to focus on the brickwork next to the red door over the road.

This article tries to give a bit of a feel for using the old lens rather than any detailed optical analysis – and when it comes down to it (IMHO) photography is about actually taking photos… I’d suggest doing some quick tests like this for any new lens you try out, just to get a feel for what differences it might offer.

First up, the 35mm – here it is at full vertical shift (11mm)

As you can see from the edge of the lens, this one has had some use…

1ds3 with mamiya 35mm f3.5 sekor c lens

The stitched image below shows the coverage with 11mm shift, left, right and upwards – all shot’s taken at f/8

3 stitched 35mm pictures

Just for comparison, this is a left/right stitched image taken with the new Canon TS-E24

comparison 24mm image from 2 shifted photographs

Here’s the centre of the image with the 35mm (all crops at 100%)

100% crop of centre of 35mm image

and this with the TS-E24

24mm crop of centre frame

The top (fully shifted) corner shows a bit of softness and slight chromatic aberration, but not enough to worry about.

At f/11 the results were a bit sharper. Since I’d be using lenses like this with the camera on a tripod, I’ve not bothered any testing with them fully open.

top left corner of image taken with shifted 35mm lens

Vertically shifting doesn’t show any real problems either

top of image taken with mamiya 35mm lens

55mm

The 55mm would still be considered a moderately wide lens on a 645 camera. Although a solid lens, it has more plastic in its construction than the 35mm.

Here shifted upwards

mamiya 55mm lens on canon body - shifted vertically

front view of mamiya sekor C 55mm f2.8 lens

As before, I’ve stitched some images to give an idea of the coverage.

stitched images taken with 55mm lens

The stepping along the bottom shows where I’ve not got the shift axis precisely horizontal…

Some 100% crops suggest that this is a good lens at f/8.

Centre

crop of centre of image taken with sekor 55mm lens

Top RH side (shifted 11mm right)

top right hand side, with 11mm of shift

80mm

A near ‘standard lens’ on the 645. Once again, of similar build to the 55mm and also of good optical quality

Shifted up

sekor C mamiya 80mm lens fitted on Canon

Vertical 11mm shift.

80mm f2.8 lens shifted 11mm vertically

Notice the manually stopped down aperture diaphragm (6 blade).

Shifted left.

80mm shifted 11mm left with adapter

However not shifted down, since the adjustment knob catches the extension at the top of the 1Ds3.

This is as far as it goes – for any more you’d need to remove the knob and cut it down in size.

shift adapter movement limit

Here’s a set of the stitched images (11mm shift) and 100% crops for the 80mm.

stitched 80mm shote on 1Ds3

Centre

centre 100% crop with 80 mm lens

Top LH corner when shifted fully (11mm) left

top left corner with full 11mm shift of 80mm lens

As you can see, virtually no image sharpness problems at all, even at full shift.

210mm

OK, I can’t actually think of a use for a 210mm shift lens (on 35mm), but it had to be tried…

210mm mamiya shift lens

A centre crop

100% centre crop of 210mm image

two front doors - taken with 210mm shift lensTwo front doors…

Two 210mm images flat stitched together.

If anyone can think of a good use for shifting the 210mm, then please do let me know :-)

Conclusions

All the lenses work fine at f/8, with the 35mm benefiting the most from f/11.

The 35mm and 55mm now form a useful addition to my lens collection for architectural work.

Although the 80mm is very sharp, I already have the Canon TS-E 90mmwhich is a very nice lens, and has tilt too.

The 210mm? Nope, I still can’t think of a use for it where I couldn’t just move the camera and stitch the images. but at least I can say I’ve got shift lens coverage from 17mm to 210mm.

There are clearance issues with the adjustment knob, but like the internal reflections I’ll show in a bit, this could be fixed with a bit of careful effort in the workshop.

One design feature I just couldn’t explain was the off-centre oval nature of the hole in the sliding part of the adapter.

If the long axis of the hole was aligned with the shift axis, I could understand it, but at 90 degrees?

M645 - EOS adapter features

A close look at the shift scale shows that although there is 11mm of shift available, there is a green mark at 7mm.

shift scale on M645 shift adapter

I believe (there are no instructions with the adapter) that this represents the limit of shift before you -may- get problems with obstruction of the path between lens and sensor.

Internal Reflections

The image below was taken with the 35mm at 8mm of left shift and 11mm.

Roll your mouse over the image to see what happens at 11mm

The next example shows part of the image shot with the 80mm.

If you move your mouse over the image you can see part of the image from when the lens was shifted right by 11mm

This looks like a reflection from somewhere, and the prime candidate is the shiny black inside of the adapter, the part that goes into the camera.

mamiya 35mm len on 1Ds3

I’m currently checking some different kinds of matte black paint to see which works best here, but I believe it should improve the contrast of images, even at zero shift. As you can see, other thin metal (brass) parts have been coated, but the EF mount and adjustment screw still have shiny finishes.

A quick warning

The spring detent providing click stops for rotating the lens is quite firm. When you rotate the lens I’ve noticed that some small particles of paint can collect in this area, thus I’d recommend that you use a blower to clear dust etc. out of the mechanism before/after using the adapter.

Summary

A real use for some of my old lenses.

Whilst I don’t anticipate that that much use for the 35mm/55mm/80mm lenses (else I’d have bought a TS-E 45mm before now) it’s just useful to know you have different options sitting in the (extended) camera bag on a job.

The adapter can best be described as solid – it works. If you have even better quality 645 lenses then you might want to look at the Zoerk adapters, which offer up to 20mm of shift, but for at least 6 times the cost ($600+)

More experimental and How-to articles

All articles and reviews are listed on our main Articles and Reviews page, or use the search box at the top of any page. Experimental items, hacks and how-to articles are all listed in the Photo-hacks category Some specific articles that may be of interest:

  • Using old lenses on your DSLR
  • The 1Ds digital pinhole SLR camera A Canon 1Ds pinhole camera, making a 50mm 'standard' pinhole and a 200mm zoom version - results are compared to a lens some £1400 more expensive.
  • Canon View Camera An adapter ($20) to use an old MPP 5x4 view camera with a Canon 1Ds. Article shows details of construction and just what it can be used for. Could be adapted for any DSLR and many old large format cameras.

 


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  • Leonard Horn

    Shifting a long lens is useful when you can’t get close enough to a subject detail.
    In your examples, you photographed the row houses from across the street but if you could get no closer than across a park or a canyon or a harbor, the long lens could give the same architectural coverage despite the increased distance.
    Similarly, in your examples, if you needed a square on closeup detail mosaic of the upper story woodwork, rather than raising the camera on a platform on the subject sidewalk, it might be more feasible to photograph from an upper window in a building across the street.
    In cases where it’s difficult to move the camera once the best lighting and perspective is established, the wide lenses can be used for the overall views and the longer lenses for closeup details; this, of course, is a standard cinematography technique. Best regards

    • Thanks for those examples, I have used my TS-E90 for this on a few occasions but not the 210mm yet

  • Sir
    I have RZ67 and some lenses of mamiya,can you suggest me what adapter,which brand,can i buy for EOS munt
    Your valuabe suggestions will appreaciate
    RegardsBiju Elayadath
    Dubai UAE
    0097150 2737685

    • Check eBay – they seem to appear and disappear at regular intervals. It’s where I got mine.

      There are more expensive versions produced, such as from the US, but that depends on how much spare money you have… ;-)