First of all, no one can say analog photography hasn’t grown back into intriguing way of producing images and bringing quality into images for photographers wanting to upgrade their practice.
Medium format cameras have become the new thing for professional photography. Indeed, photographing anything with these cameras will have quality and depth like no other. These Mamiya medium format cameras can produce such stunning imagery, and that’s one of the reasons they have seen a return.
It is true that Mamiya RB67 medium format camera is favored by many fashion and editorial photographers simply because of it’s image quality and it being easy to use.
This camera is affordable for even budding photographers, especially for it’s ease of use. This medium format camera can be found at around $500-$680.
Mamiya RB67 was originally designed for fashion photographers, who needed to shoot in low light without flash (and thus get beautiful natural-looking photos). But now that it’s so easy to get digital scans from film, you can use this camera for any kind of photography.
Small improvements were made between the models Pro-S and Pro-SD, however, generally the camera retained the character so many fell in love with.
For example with the Pro-S, an indicator was added to the view finder so that you could easily tell if you were in landscape or portrait orientation.
The Mamiya RB67 is made from metal and leather, so it feels strong and sturdy in your hands. The lens is also fixed at 45mm, so you’ll be able to take great shots without having to worry about adjusting your focal length or changing lenses.
If you can get a RB Pro SD back, it’s generally much better. It has the aforementioned dark slide keeper as well as a film tag memo keeper.
Mamiya also has a higher-tier line called the RZ series that features electronically controlled lenses and shutters. However, the RZ bodies are plastic and while they’re lighter, they’re not as tough as the RBs.
It’s no wonder the RB67 has become one of the most-used cameras and great for portraiture, still-life, and tabletop shooting.
The technicalities Mamiya RB67
- Picture size 6x7cm
- Features: Manual Program Modes
- Focus Type: Manual
- 90mm f/3.5 Lens
- Multi-format capability with optional film magazines – 120 and 220 film options in formats 6 x 8cm and 6 x 7cm
- Enlarged lens mount opening allows for more lens options
- Reliable mechanical body and lens/shutter mechanism
- Mechanical leaf shutter in lenses with electronic flash sync at all shutter speeds
- Revolving film back for easy changeover between horizontal and vertical with corresponding viewfinder indications
- Is not the easiest to quickly snap a picture, so is great for built imagery rather than photographing in fast paced moments
What I didn’t understand at first with the Mamiya 645 family is that there were numerous models carrying the M645 name, but they split roughly into first generation and second generation.
While the generations share some things – namely lenses and film inserts – they are otherwise unto themselves, with most accessories fitting only one or the other type.
One of the nicer parts of the first generation cameras is the build — and the build quality. The M645 Super is no slouch, but it is mostly plastic on a metal chassis, while the 1000S is all metal.
The 1000S is also incredibly compact for a medium format camera; I can’t really see a way that Mamiya could have made it any more compact.
The M645 does have a multiple exposure feature. There is a neat little knob on the side that isn’t the easiest to turn, preventing any accidental multi-exposures, something I dealt with in the past in many different cameras. No one likes wasted exposures.
On the same side is the latch that will bring the mirror up, mentioned earlier, along with the film advance crank.
My biggest gripe with the Mamiya M645 is the poor placement of its shutter buttons. The system has two separate shutter buttons, one on the bottom right of the lens mount, and one on top of the body next to the viewfinder. They’re basic shutter buttons: you press it, it fires.
I do appreciate that the camera has a shutter lock.
Rarely people have any problems with it. It offers a similar aspect ratio to a 35mm camera, but with a bigger negative, making it truly the perfect non-threatening system for someone looking to upgrade from the smaller film format.
The technicalities Mamiya 645
- Film 120 / 220 roll, picture size 6×4.5 cm
- Lens: Mamiya-Sekor C 80mm f/2.8, (standard lens), Automatic diaphragm, with AE meter coupler
- SLR Film Camera
- Focusing: Fresnel matte screen, with centered microprism with a fine focusing collar; Screen is interchangeable with 5 different screens
- Metered prisms 120 or 220
- Produces negatives and slides with a usable area almost 3 times that of full-sized 35mm frame
- Interchangeable finders
- Multiple exposure lever: setting to ME unlocks the shutter
- Others: Hot-shoe; Memory holder; Tripod socket 1/4 inch; Strap buttons; Battery check button
- You won’t be able to switch film backs with this camera, as you would with a Mamiya RB67
The Mamiya M645 1000S is a variant of the normal M645. It was equipped with a self-timer and a button for a depth of field preview and was given another exposure time (1/1000 s). This will especially come in handy if you’re shooting portraits using films like Kodak Portra 400.
Shooting medium format is trendy these days as film captures the imaginations of more and more amateur photographers, but buying any Mamiya won’t automatically make you a professional photographer, nor will it transform your visual aesthetic – though it will surely make it better.
You will however, learn more about analog photography and photographic and scanning processes.
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