Thoughts on Mamiya Press cameras?

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ann

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I have several and really like them, altho they are heavy. Have not had any problems with them, other than the fact that they are 40 years old. The flexiable is nice.

This is going to sound stange, but I had a "hassy" and didn't like it at all. It perhaps is a studio camera. The mamiya press is an out on the street, get dirty type of camera. Fun and the lens have been fine. No problems with the backs. In fact I have 4 or 5 and this allows a wide variety of film types for the same shoot.
 

photomc

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I have one, but must admit I prefer my Mamiya 645.
The best thing about these is the Polaroid back, and the multiple format (6x7, 6x9 - I really love the 6x9 format). One thing to watch for is the foam/felt light seal on the back. There is a web site pretty much dedicated to these wonderful cameras, sorry don't remember the link or name right now. Also, the backs on these are plentiful. Good luck.
 

livemoa

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I had one once, with several lenses, a 6x7 back, a 6x9 back, a ground glass, cut film holders, it was great, I sold it to by a newer nikon 35mm, the day I got the nikon I wished I still had the Mamiya. I used it hand held with a flash alot to do street stuff at night. I might get one again one day, if I could find one....
 

roy

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livemoa said:
I had one once

So did I and I produced the worst photographs ever !! I prefer my RB67.
 

livemoa

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And you lug an RB about? My admiration increases :smile:
 

Konical

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Hello Estrillita,

I bought a Mamiya Super 23 about twenty-five years ago. It's a high quality item. I recall once making a 25 x 30+ inch print which I put up in my classroom. It was very sharp, even using the old Plus-X film which I never learned to like.
The system has a couple of advantages: there are a 50mm wide angle and a 250mm telephoto at the extremes, along with the standard 100mm and the handy 150mm; a 6 x 9 back is available, helpful for landscape shooters. I've seen the 50mm for sale on E-Bay, but the 250mm seems to be rare. The system also included a ground glass back and focusing viewer, a sheet film holder, a film pack adapter, extension tubes, sportsfinders, and a right angle focusing back.
I never went beyond the body, 6 x 7 film holder, and standard 100mm lens. Recently, however, I considered adding the 6 x 9 back and the wide angle lens. When I took out the camera (haven't used it for over a decade), I found that the plastic ring which locks the lens in place is frozen tight; I've tried various tools, but nothing will budge it--at least with the amount of force I'm willing to use. Obviously, if you're going to buy a camera this old, ask a lot of questions or check it out in person if possible.
If your primary criterion is interchangeable backs, have you considered the Koni-Omega system? That system has entire magazines which can be very quickly changed mid-roll (with the Rapid M and 200 models) and the lenses are probably just a tiny shade better than the Mamiyas. The Koni also has linkage between shutter and film advance so that successive shots can be done very quickly without blank frames or double-exposure; the Mamiya is great for slow, contemplative shooting, but the possibility of accidental double-exposure is very real--I've done it! Overall cost of assembling a system for either camera should be similar.
A web site called bigcamera.com has a considerable amount of useful information on both the Mamiya and the Koni.

Konical
 

Roger Krueger

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I've got an embarassing number of these critters. The 90/3.5 and 100/3.5 are pretty ugly wide open--these are the lenses that give this camera the reputation of not being as sharp as the Koni--but the rest of the lenses are pretty decent; the 50 is truly outstanding, and the 75 is quite good too.

While the backs do have foam issues, this is an easy fix. On the hand, they have much better film flatness, and much more consistent spacing than reverse curl backs.

This is also a camera where, if you drop it on your foot, you worry about your foot, not the camera.
 

Roger Krueger

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A few points I forgot in the first post:

The 100/2.8 is great too-it's a 6/4 Planar design, and is light-years ahead of the 100/3.5 Tessar. It's amazingly sharp wide-open. In the older chrome shutter it's also very ergonomic to trigger using the little lever on the shutter itself, giving you no lag time. Zero. Nada. As in "faster than a pellicle mirror Canon"

And, since you're using a leaf-shutter rangefinder that doesn't jump at all when you shoot, to me this is the ultimate low-light camera ever.

Remember, 6x9 Delta 3200 yields more print resolution than 35mm Delta 100 unless the 35mm is shot from a tripod at a middle aperture. For handheld low light I'll go print vs. print with the 100/2.8 against anything, even a Leica 50/1.0. I can get about 30% keepers even at 1/8th. Try that with any SLR or even a focal-plane-shutter rangefinder.

The accessory finders for the 50 and 75 are probably the best accessory finders anyone has ever built. I keep seeing them on ebay mounted on Cambo Wides and simlar beasts.

The built-in finder on the early models has no brightframes and generally sucks, the 100-150-250 manually selected brightframe finder on the Super 23 and Universal is far superior.

Downside: If you're going to shoot wide open, especially the 100/2.8 or 250/5, you need to check the rangefinder adjustment on a regular basis; it tends to drift. The good news is, unlike a Leica, the skills needed are pretty simple. Changing a modern watch battery is MUCH harder.

Don't get the models with the (rare) Graflok reverse-curl (modern looking) backs--they have truly awful film flatness. The "S" shaped backs with the lever on the right side are the good ones.
 

ondebanks

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Actually, there ARE interlocks...

...if you use the Type 3 film backs - the ones with the shutter release built into the right hand grip. With these, there are interlocks so that
- you CANNOT accidentally double-expose
- you CANNOT accidentally skip an exposure (i.e. the blank frame you get because you can't remember whether you wound on or not, and you wind on again just to be sure!)
- you CANNOT accidentally take a picture with the dark slide still inserted (which is the other type of blank frame - the even worse type!).

With these interlocks, the camera becomes far more integrated in its operation, and thus more like using a 35mm-rangefinder.
 

Paul Howell

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Hello Estrillita,


If your primary criterion is interchangeable backs, have you considered the Koni-Omega system? That system has entire magazines which can be very quickly changed mid-roll (with the Rapid M and 200 models) and the lenses are probably just a tiny shade better than the Mamiyas. The Koni also has linkage between shutter and film advance so that successive shots can be done very quickly without blank frames or double-exposure; the Mamiya is great for slow, contemplative shooting, but the possibility of accidental double-exposure is very real--I've done it! Overall cost of assembling a system for either camera should be similar.
A web site called bigcamera.com has a considerable amount of useful information on both the Mamiya and the Koni.

Konical

Both the Konic and Mamiya are excellent systems, I have the Mamiya Universal, overall the Mamiya system has more lens and other features such as a ground back, close up device, a multi formate back 6X4.5 6X6 and 6X9, standard 6X9 and 6X7 backs as well. There is also a Polaroid version. I have 4 lens: 2 wides, the normal and a 150. The wides and the normal lens are super, the 150 is average at best. I dont have 250 which as noted by Konical is both rare and expensive. The Koni has three lens all very good with a standard 6X7 interchangabel back. The Koni has a rapid advance, much quicker than the Mamyia. I bought my Mamiya 21 years ago used, one of my best buys, very rugged and dependable. But all of the press type cameras in this peer group are now getting long in the tooth, replacement parts and repairs will be problematic. The Universal is heavy, I use mine for landscapes on a tripod.
 

Changeling1

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And Annie Lebowitz

And you lug an RB about? My admiration increases :smile:

has photographed everyone who's anyone with her HANDHELD RB67! :tongue:
 

vet173

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I had one of these systems. Had the 50,75, 90,100, and the 250. 3 bodies 4 backs. At a wedding if there was a balcony, I would preset the 250 for a long shot during the ceremony. Sold it all for $900.00. That is what it was worth then. The 50 has a well deserved reputation. The 75 was perfect for the cake shot. It let you get in front of the crowd but didn't look wide. Looked like a small SA. I liked it better than the 50. The 250 was heavy, but heavy is steady. If you feel it is too heavy go to the gym because it's worth the lug. The larger neg more than made up for any quality shortage over my hasselblad. I would take it over the blad for finished product. The blad only had the weight advantage. It was the biggest bang for the buck around.
 
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