Italy: Streets of Salento

From Paul Beesley

Take a Mamiya 645e that was purchased as “parts only” on eBay, a 35mm lens with a questionable infinity stop, a trio of Kodak Gold 200, Portra 400 and Lomography Colour Negative 400 films, and you’ve got all the required ingredients for a photography adventure! The destination: Salento, Italy’s ‘heel of the boot’ at the Southern end of Puglia.

A quick recap on the Mamiya 645e, as the ‘e’ is important in differentiating this model from its siblings: the 645 Super and 645 Pro. If you’re familiar with those models, you’ll know that these second-generation, medium format cameras, produced from the late 80s through the late 90s, were highly modular and had a whole ecosystem of lenses, finders, winders, film backs and grips that could be tacked on and switched out to build your perfect camera body. The 645e retains the interchangeable lenses (thank goodness!) and leaves out…just about everything else, really!

What you’re left with is the core body with a lovely, bright permanently-attached viewfinder that has diopter adjustment built-in, a hand-winding grip (optional extra), a fixed film back and a choice of manual, AE, and AEL shutter speed selection.

My 645e was listed on eBay as broken, with the seller noting that it would wind – in a manner of speaking – but that the shutter would never cock. Seeing as the asking price was about a third of a working 645 Pro it was worth a shot…wasn’t it? Perhaps the seller had