5 Frames with the Auto Close-up Lens for the Mamiya 6: ‘Baroque’ and superfluous or compact and handy?

By Simon Foale

In researching the Mamiya 6MF camera prior to buying one a little over 20 years ago, I read a review which included mention of the Auto Close-up Lens attachment for the Mamiya’s 75mm F3.5 G lens. The reviewer described this device as ‘baroque-looking’ and asserted that ‘you also shouldn’t use this camera for extreme close-up or macro photography.’ Aside from the simple fact that the Auto Close-up lens could never have been intended as an ‘extreme’ close-up lens, the use of the term ‘baroque’ lodged in my memory and made me imagine something ornate, extravagant, impractical and possibly even ridiculous. Another photographer, responding to the review, said the close-up lens ‘looks really Rube Goldberg, offers imprecise framing and costs a fortune.’ I had to look up Rube Goldberg and discovered that he was a cartoonist ‘best known for his popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets performing simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways.’ (Wikipedia). That was enough to put me off and in any case I was already using other camera gear (mostly 35mm) for my macro work.

Time passes, the digital era upends things somewhat, and I never thought about all this until the recent renaissance of film photography. I still had the Mamiya 6MF and out of pure sentimentality decided to see what this ‘baroque’ close-up attachment actually looked like. I found some images of it and thought it actually looked far more Ikea-like than baroque or Rube Goldberg. Admittedly, close-up attachments for range-finder cameras (the Fujica G690 series had one too) are slightly odd-looking things, but the Mamiya one is actually quite an understated affair, with sleek, uncomplicated contours, and a compactness that allows it to fit inside a rather plain, plastic-covered 14 x 14 x 4.5cm box. So I found one online for a good price and bought it. There are no moving parts; it’s basically a close-up lens that bayonets onto the front of the Mamiya 6’s 75mm lens. Attached to the outside of the metal frame around the close-up lens is a vaguely rectangular and fairly thick panel of glass, which is comprised of a large square lens that is positioned in front of the camera’s viewfinder, and next to it another much smaller square lens in front of the range-finder window. These allow you to focus accurately and obtain pictures with a significantly smaller frame size (34 x 34cm) than you can get at minimum focus with the bare 75mm lens (which is 63.2 x 63.2cm). It’s deceptively simple, but pretty impressive optical engineering.

Mamiya 6MF with close-up lens, from the back.
Mamiya 6MF with close-up lens, from the back.
Mamiya 6MF with close-up lens - side view
Mamiya 6MF with close-up lens – side view.

So let’s be clear here – this attachment is not going to let you shoot a full-frame portrait of a tree frog, much less the compound eye of a hawk moth. There’s plenty of other gear that can do that. This lens is for Mamiya 6 owners who want to take just that camera on a trip or a shoot and might want to occasionally get a bit closer than what the 75mm lens’s 1m minimum focus allows. Yeah I guess that does make it just a teeny bit ‘niche’, but I’m guessing there could be one or two Mamiya 6 owners out there who might be interested in what this device can do. In any case, contra to the above-mentioned reviews, this close-up lens frames the subject quite accurately, accommodating the Mamiya viewfinder’s excellent parallax adjustment. The focus is dead on, and it produces very sharp images. With the close-up lens attached, minimum focus gives a 34 x 34cm frame, and infinity focus gives a 75 x 75cm frame. End of story! For comparison, minimum focus with the Mamiya’s 150mm F4.5 lens gives a 56.2 x 56.2cm frame. Below are some images made with the close-up lens. They were shot on Portra 160, developed at home with a 1 litre C41 kit in a small tank, and scanned on a Nikon Coolscan LS-9000 at 4000dpi using a glass carrier and Vuescan software.

1 Lipstick palms (Cyrtostachys renda). Mamiya 6MF and close-up lens. F11. Portra 160.
1 Lipstick palms (Cyrtostachys renda). Mamiya 6MF and close-up lens. F11. Portra 160.
2 Hibiscus flower. Mamiya 6MF and close-up lens. F5.6. Portra 160.
2 Hibiscus flower. Mamiya 6MF and close-up lens. F5.6. Portra 160.
2a Crop of the above image (500x1000 pixels).
2a Crop of the above image (1500×1000 pixels).
3 Pumpkin flower. Mamiya 6MF and close-up lens. F16. Portra 160.
3 Pumpkin flower. Mamiya 6MF and close-up lens. F16. Portra 160.
4 Cushion with Bee-eater embroidery. Mamiya 6MF and close-up lens. F16. Portra 160.
4 Cushion with Bee-eater embroidery. Mamiya 6MF and close-up lens. F16. Portra 160.
4a Crop of the above image (500x1000 pixels).
4a Crop of the above image (1500×1000 pixels).
5 Kriesler bakelite radio (1940s). This lovely old Australian-made valve radio still works. Mamiya 6MF and close-up lens. F16. Portra 160.
5 Kriesler bakelite radio (1940s). This lovely old Australian-made valve radio still works. Mamiya 6MF and close-up lens. F16. Portra 160.

I hope the above images have demonstrated what the Mamiya 6’s not-at-all-baroque Auto Close-up lens is capable of and I hope you have enjoyed them. My Flickr page is here.

 

Share this post:

Find more similar content on 35mmc

Use the tags below to search for more posts on related topics:

Contribute to 35mmc for an ad-free experience.

There are two ways to contribute to 35mmc and experience it without the adverts:

Paid Subscription – £2.99 per month and you’ll never see an advert again! (Free 3-day trial).

Subscribe here.

Content contributor – become a part of the world’s biggest film and alternative photography community blog. All our Contributors have an ad-free experience for life.

Sign up here.

About The Author

By Simon Foale
Repairing and trying out my late grandfather's 1914 No.1 Autographic Kodak Junior initially led me down the film rabbit hole but now that I'm here I might stay for a bit. I am currently based in North Queensland, Australia. I used film for over 20 years before digital but these days I'm keen to indulge my curiosity about some film types I never tried back in the day, including some of the so-called 'document' films. I also like sharing stuff from my film archive.
View Profile

Comments

Tony Warren on 5 Frames with the Auto Close-up Lens for the Mamiya 6: ‘Baroque’ and superfluous or compact and handy?

Comment posted: 15/09/2023

Hi Simon. This is a very modern version of the Proximeter from the early to mid 20th century. Made by the German firm of Hermann Schneider, a different one to the lens maker, for various camera makers and sold under their own brand names. The Leica device mentioned is very similar I believe. I had a couple branded as Voigtländer accessories for a Vito and a Vitessa but still made by Schneider. The Proximeters came in two strengths so could get a little closer if needed. Very respectable performance from your examples but definitely close-up rather than macro.
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Simon Foale replied:

Comment posted: 15/09/2023

Thanks for this Tony. Valuable knowledge, much appreciated.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Neil Mitchell on 5 Frames with the Auto Close-up Lens for the Mamiya 6: ‘Baroque’ and superfluous or compact and handy?

Comment posted: 13/09/2023

Great find and lovely illustration of its use. It reminds me very much of the old Leica Close-Up Attachment SOMKY designed for lenses like the 50mm Summicron collapsible Elmar for the older 35mm film M series cameras.
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Simon Foale replied:

Comment posted: 13/09/2023

Thanks Neil. It would be interesting to see some images from one of those Leica close-up lenses.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

David Dutchison on 5 Frames with the Auto Close-up Lens for the Mamiya 6: ‘Baroque’ and superfluous or compact and handy?

Comment posted: 12/09/2023

Quite impressed with the results you got, it seems like a very capable addition to the camera if you want close focusing on a RF. It's also much cheaper than the classic Hasselblad 500 C/M that I'm sure the reviewer you were reading would insist was the only possible viable option.
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Simon Foale replied:

Comment posted: 12/09/2023

Thanks for this David. I guess the Mamiya 6 close-up lens won't achieve everything in the way of macro photography that the Hasselblad system is capable of, it can get you some of the way there for a lot less money.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Paul Quellin on 5 Frames with the Auto Close-up Lens for the Mamiya 6: ‘Baroque’ and superfluous or compact and handy?

Comment posted: 12/09/2023

Enjoyed this article. A useful reminder to not overlook older accessories that might be quite easy to pick up (note to self to look out for some other old Mamiya accessories). I like the fact that the article accounted for practicality and it reminded me that sometimes something that is light and stows easily might be better than a bag full of very heavy gear. A good read and well illustrated with impressive images.
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Simon Foale replied:

Comment posted: 12/09/2023

Thanks Paul. Yes it's definitely light and portable, despite the odd shape.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stevenson G on 5 Frames with the Auto Close-up Lens for the Mamiya 6: ‘Baroque’ and superfluous or compact and handy?

Comment posted: 12/09/2023

Never seen an attachment like that before... probably cos I've never had anything to do with medium format let alone a Mamiya! Fascinating. Thanks!
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Simon Foale replied:

Comment posted: 12/09/2023

They were also made for the big Fujica G rangefinders (G690, GL690 etc), the Nikon S series and possibly others. The Mamiya 6 ones seem to still be commonly available online.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Doug Anderson replied:

Comment posted: 12/09/2023

There is also the Leica ADVOO 16503 close up set for close focus of the 50/2 Summicron or 50/2.8 Elmar on the IIIg. On the Leica one lens works with both the viewfinder window and the rangefinder windows.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Simon Foale replied:

Comment posted: 12/09/2023

Thanks for that Doug. There you go, there are loads of these esoteric devices out there!

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *