5 Frames at Catawba Falls with a Mamiya C3 and HP5+ – by N.S. Bucher

I have been shooting 35mm cameras for about a decade and mostly shoot black and white. My main camera for the duration has been a Pentax K1000 and various Pentax Lenses. The pandemic helped me step out of my comfort zone and explore both rangefinder and medium format cameras. My article today is focusing on one camera I was fortunate enough to become an owner of, the Mamiya C3.

I was lucky enough to acquire my Mamiya C3 through a friend I made at our community darkroom. Having been a long time shooter of HP5 it only made sense for me to pick up some 120 and load it in the beast.

The Mamiya C3 is a tank. It’s all metal, huge, heavy, and brutal enough to lend itself to beautiful images. One of my favorite features of the C3 is its modularity. Like other Mamiya TLR cameras, the C3 allows for interchangeable lenses and viewfinders. My C3 has the early 80mm lens that is clean and sharp, and its actually in quite good shape considering its age. I also use a pentaprism to help frame my images, this only seems to add to the machines weight and size!

I am primarily a nature/landscape photographer that dabbles in street photography and general candid captures. I have been thrilled with the abilities of the negatives of 120 film and the ability to print an 11×17 image with incredible detail is a welcome thing. For this article though, the images I share are scans of the negatives…my scanner is not big enough for the 11×17 paper prints!

Last year, my family went on a short camping trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains and Asheville, NC. While we were there, we explored some waterfalls, mountain ranges, and my C3 was along for the ride.

Some of my favorite locations on the trip surrounded Catawba Falls, it is in the Black Mountain region of North Carolina and was a great hike leading up to a 100 foot waterfall. We were lucky enough to get out early and beat the traffic that the falls attracts, this allowed for some nice opportunities for photography without the inevitable stranger wandering into the shot.

For these shots I used a light meter on my iPhone and shot handheld, although in retrospect, I would have liked a tripod to do some longer exposures. 

The following images are some of my favorites from the trip. They were metered at box speed, developed in Rodinol 1+50, and scanned using my Epson Photo V550.

I hope you enjoyed my first article on 35mmc.

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6 thoughts on “5 Frames at Catawba Falls with a Mamiya C3 and HP5+ – by N.S. Bucher”

  1. Pablo García

    Great pictures and camera!
    I also own one and eventough I don’t use it very often, I always love the sharp pictures it takes!

  2. These images look amazing! I own the C220 and I can testify that Mamiya Lenses are wonderful and have their own special character!

  3. Nicholas Clarke

    Your images are superb. The performance of the Mamiya lens is excellent

    I used a Mamiya C33 many years ago. I shot on High Speed Ektachrome and was very happy with the results. I have recently been scanning some of the transparencies on a Nikon Super Coolscan 8000 and am very happy with the results. I made landscape and close-up nature images and used a Mamiya Paramender to compensate for the parallax difference between the viewing and the taking lenses. It is used between the camera base and a tripod.When you have adjusted the focus and the composition of the shot, you turn knob to raise the camera so that the taking lens is in the position of the viewing lens. The movement of the camera is parallel to the film plane so the focus is not changed.
    Good luck with your future work with this camera.

  4. Several of the newspapers I worked for over the years had Mamiya C220 bodies and accessories in their equipment cabinets. Though I preferred 35 mm for day to day work, it was a pleasure to check out the 2 1/4 gear for more relaxed shooting. Very easy to use, generally with Speed Pilot or similar meter.

  5. Many years back l bought this camera from Grattans catalogue agancy my late mother run
    Brilliant camera and used it for weddings as well .To accompany it for lighting settings used a Russian meter.I have also 180m, lense as well Brilliant peice of precision engineering and a great shame as phones seem to have taken over or will be in the future.

  6. I had a C330 for a number of years but sold it because of the weight. It really is a heavy beast of a camera, although the lenses are fantastic.

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