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10-05-2009, 08:50 AM   #1
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Can this Pentax 645 be saved?

My cousin purchased an old 645 on eBay, and now he's lent it to me so I can play with it a bit and learn a little about medium-format film shooting.

I know NOTHING about the Pentax medium-format cameras except that they have a great rep. I'm attaching photos. I gather that this is the original 645 and that there was a later upgrade. Right?

Anyway, here are my real questions. I'm having 2 problems with the camera. I don't say that these are necessarily problems that inhere in the camera - might just be my ignorance.

First, the diopter for adjusting the viewfinder doesn't seem to work. When I was looking through the finder with my contacts on, I could not get anything into focus. I just noticed that, with my contacts and glasses off, I do seem to be able to focus manually and get a sharp image in the finder. But I think I should be able to adjust the finder for my contacts, since I don't usually shoot without them. The little rubber ring that goes around the viewfinder tube turns - but does nothing. I pulled it off (easily) and could not grip and turn that tube directly either.

Second, I don't seem to be able to take a photo! I put fresh batteries into the battery grip on the right side. The big button on the grip has to be the shutter release. The camera appears to come on - at least I see things on the LED. Any idea what I might be missing? I'm surprised that some of the values on the LED stay there even if I click the OFF button to turn off the camera. Is there another way to tell if the camera is working?

I'm trying to figure out if there's really something wrong here. If you think there is, what would you do? Is it worth sending this old camera into Pentax for repair? I don't want to have to spend a lot, since it seems that another body can be purchased for just a couple hundred dollars.

Thanks,

Will

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10-05-2009, 12:39 PM   #2
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Dont know about the diopter issue, but this "not firing" issue could be...If I remember right, the old 645 will not fire without film unless you take the insert out. If you have a loaded insert and "no fire"...possible dirty contacts between the insert and the body.
10-05-2009, 12:40 PM   #3
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Is there film in the camera? You didn't mention that. Not having film in it will give you the symptoms you have described. This camera takes 120 roll film.
10-05-2009, 03:24 PM   #4
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There are batteries in the grip, and they're fresh batteries. The LED shows "M 1000" which according to the operating manual is what I should see if the batteries are good. SO I don't think batteries are the problem.

I removed the back. There does seem to be film in it. I can't figure out how to wind it. The LED was showing "EX 24" which I took to mean that I was either on the 24th exposure or have 24 exposures to go (probably the former rather than the latter).

I suspect that the problem has to do with the film. Perhaps it's stuck for some reason.

How do you change the film in this camera? The supplied operating manual is worse than useless it's so badly written. Is there a film cannister in there (like you get with 35mm SLR film) that I can rewind the film into? Does it not rewind automatically?

Will

10-05-2009, 05:17 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
There are batteries in the grip, and they're fresh batteries. The LED shows "M 1000" which according to the operating manual is what I should see if the batteries are good. SO I don't think batteries are the problem.

I removed the back. There does seem to be film in it. I can't figure out how to wind it. The LED was showing "EX 24" which I took to mean that I was either on the 24th exposure or have 24 exposures to go (probably the former rather than the latter).

I suspect that the problem has to do with the film. Perhaps it's stuck for some reason.

How do you change the film in this camera? The supplied operating manual is worse than useless it's so badly written. Is there a film cannister in there (like you get with 35mm SLR film) that I can rewind the film into? Does it not rewind automatically?

Will
No canister. It's rollfilm: the film has a paper backing which protects it. It never rewinds, just goes from one spool to the other. When the film is done, there's a sticky-tab to seal it closed with.

The spool the film came on becomes the new take-up spool.
10-06-2009, 06:23 AM   #6
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Manual here:
Manuals and Literature - Official PENTAX Imaging Web Site

When you take the back out, you'll see an empty spool on one side and two silver metal arms, one of which holds the spool and the other where the spool place is empty. You take the spool out and move it to the other side and flip the arm into place.

Then you take your new roll of 120 film (or 220 if you have a 220 back) and put it into where the empty spool was. Orient it so the flap is over the top, ie, towards the camera side rather than the camera back (when you put the holder back in the camera), so when you pull out the leader the black side is facing out. Pull it till you can get the end in the slot of the empty spool. Then wind by hand (you should be able to figure this out) until the <---- START -----> indication on the backing paper (it's still on the spool with this set up) lines up next to the red dot on the side of the back, where the new roll of film is.

Make sure both silvery arms are down on the spools. That's it, now you put the holder back in the camera. The first time you push the shutter the camera advances to the first frame.
10-06-2009, 10:17 AM   #7
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Ratmagiclady and Nesster, thanks for the info about installing the film.

Is this something I have to do in a darkroom, or at least a dark room? I haven't worked in a darkroom in, well, a very long time. Nixon was president...

Will
10-06-2009, 11:03 AM   #8
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Nope, "subdued light" is the recommendation. In the sun, put your back to the sun to subdue it...

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