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Archive for September, 2017

Mamiya’s Classic Folder

Ah the sometimes maligned Mamiya 6 folder is really a pretty solid camera. This model made its debut in the 1950s and each successive model became more and more refined. I am happy to own a fairly late one although there were several iterations after this one with even more advanced features. This is the Mamiya 6 folding rangefinder. I have always had a serious soft pot for folding rangefinder cameras. Medium format, 35mm, and even 4×5 like my Linhof Technika IV. But really the best of all worlds was the medium format. These cameras gave a nice big negative but were in some cases smaller and lighter than a contemporary 35mm SLR at the time.

The Six has a nice rangefinder that is quick and precise while being reasonably bright. The focus knob is on the rear of the

camera body and is large enough to provide a tactile precision to the focus yet coarse enough to be quick. The secret sauce is the fact that the lens and bellows do not move to provide focus but rather, the film plane does. A special pressure plate keeps the film flat and there is enough travel in the film plane to provide around 1.1 meter to infinity focus.

There are many versions of this camera and the last few models are the most refined and easiest to use. My unit features a double exposure prevention system and automatic film counting. Although you can still use the old school red window technique as well. These cameras began their life in the 1940s and became fully refined by the mid 1950s. The latest models features a self cocking shutter that was fully coupled to the film advance which eliminated the worry of double exposure and increased the speed of operation.

Compared to my Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta B this camera is lighter and faster to use especially the focus. The rangefinder is a little brighter on the Zeiss but the finger wheel focus is coarse and slow to use compared to the Mamiya. The Zeiss is not only a bit heavier but also a bit larger on dimensions. I have the Tessar 2.8 80mm which is an excellent lens. I am going to do some comparison images soon.

I love 120 folders and the Zeiss and Mamiya are about my favorites. Honestly I feel like the Mamiya is the better shooter, but the Zeiss is better built. If you haven’t shot a medium format folder, I suggest you try one out. They are just fantastic.

I did a video on the Mamiya Six here.

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