The Bronica RF645 is a medium format rangefinder with interchangeable lenses made by the Japanese company Bronica. It captures 6×4.5 images onto 120 or 220 film. This camera has been introduced in 2000 and discontinued in 2005, with Tamron continuing support until March of 2016.
The camera was awarded Camera Press Club's "Special prize" at the Camera Grand Prix 2001, EISA award for professional camera in 2001-2002, and TIPA's best professional photo product for year 2001-2002. French photographer Raymond Depardon is reported to have been using this camera for the pictures included in the book "La colline des anges" written in collaboration with J,C. Guillebaud..
|Pictures by Hans Marvell. (Image rights)|
The relatively classic design of a rangefinder camera has been enhanced with modern techniques and some very innovative choices. The body and lens communicate with each other through a mechanical rangefinder coupling and electronic contacts for lens identification, aperture setting and shutter release.
Most notable features include
- vertical ("portrait") framing due to horizontal film movement, much like some earlier folders
- leaf shutter lenses with no mechanical cocking by the body (a motor built into the lens does this instead)
- automatic dark slide when lens is removed : a cloth curtain unfolds to protect the film from exposure
- center weighted average metering (non TTL), adjusting to the focal length mounted on the body
- Program mode where the body sets the shutter speed and aperture in the lens electronically
The camera relies upon 2 CR2 batteries to operate, and will not work without them.
The vertical viewfinder is a good design, offering clear vision, distinct patch and good resistance to flare. Frames for 65mm and 100mm lenses are available (and 135mm on early models), and are paralax-compensated. An additional external finder is provided for the 45mm lens, but the main finder can still be used for a rough view of the frame (no frame lines are displayed). Bodies built with 135mm frame lines are early ones with serial numbers starting with a "0" (e.g. 0000570). Later series were manufactured with frame lines for 100mm, and their serial numbers start with a "1" (e.g. 1002124).
Viewfinder displays selected shutter speed and aperture, as well as indicators for AE lock, exposure compensation, P or A mode, need to advance film, and low battery.
At the time the camera was issued, three lenses were offered : 45mm/4, 65mm/4 and 135mm/4.5. Shortly after that a 100mm/4.5 was announced to replace the 135mm which was too difficult to focus given the body's rangefinder base. All lenses seem to have very good reputation in terms of sharpness and bokeh.
45mm and 65mm lenses focus as close as 1m (3.5ft). 100mm focuses down to 1.2m (4,3ft) with a recommendation from Bronica to use f/11 and smaller at these short distances due to very shallow depth of field.
The relatively small opening of these lenses is due to the use of leaf shutter, and the use of self-cocking mechanism within the lens. Given the focal lengths in use with medium format, wider aperture would also be more difficult to focus.
The Bronica RF645 offers the following controls :
- shutter speed / exposure mode (Aperture priority or Program)
- AE lock
- exposure compensation
- film ISO setting
- self timer
- multiple exposure
- 120/220 film type selection
A dedicated lightweigh flash unit (Bronica RF20) is offered with the system. Thanks to a dedicated protocol in the hotshoe, the aperture setting and ISO rating is transmitted to the flash unit from the body, which allows for more simple operation of the lot.