5 frames with...

5 Frames with the Mamiya 6 and the 75mm f3.5 – by Aloysius Chow

Mamiya 6

I started shooting film a couple years back when I got a Nikon F80 for cheap. As a SLR with autofocus, it was pretty easy to use and made shooting film easy to pick up. Since then though, I’ve gravitated towards rangefinders and compacts, and I’ve picked up a Canon 7 for most of my shooting. I never did stray out of the world of 35mm film though: the cost and size of 120 cameras put me off for the longest time.

This remained the case until the day I got my hands on a Mamiya 6.

As one of the most well-regarded and lightweight 6×6 systems available, the Mamiya 6 has earned its reputation as a unique medium format camera. Furthermore, it’s surprisingly compact due to its internal bellows that allow all mounted lenses to collapse into the body, without the risks and hassles associated with traditional, exposed bellows.

I don’t own this gem of a camera myself, but I had a chance to shoot with my friend’s copy a while back. It’s a rather comfortable camera to use overall: the grip is large and well-shaped, and the rangefinder is big and bright. If I can justify forking out the money for one of these one day, I’d probably do it (repair complications and flimsy advance levers aside).

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Additionally, I really liked how the pictures turned out, so I thought I’d share them here. These 5 shots were from a single roll of Portra 400, and I used the in-camera meter for all of them.

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10 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Renee Galang
    September 17, 2019 at 10:57 am

    I used to have a mamiya 6 with all it’s 3 lenses plus the close-up attachment for the 75mm lens. Square format makes you composed better pictures I think. I missed my mamiya when I traded it to a cambo wide 4×5 with 47mm lens.. I should have stayed with my mamiya 6! But photographically I think I become better with large format camera.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      aloysiuschow
      September 17, 2019 at 1:36 pm

      Yeah something about the square format really stuck with me. I’ve been looking for a cheaper 6×6 camera ever since but there seem to be fewer affordable options compared to 6×4.5 cameras.

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Jeremiah
        September 21, 2019 at 10:44 pm

        Looks like Chinatown Market!

        Have you considered the Pentacon Six/Kiev-60, 6C mount cameras? Buying used Kievs are definitely dodgy compared to Pentacons, but the lenses available are cheap, have surprisingly fast apertures for 6×6 (2.8 in some cases) and tend to have minimum focus distances that are closer than the Mamiya 75 3.5’s 1m.

        Issues include shutter shock below 1/60s and light leak through the unmodified DOF lever when shooting towards a backlit scene, but these can be accounted for (mirror up before shooting and taping up the DOF lever slit).

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Paul
    September 17, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    so 5 pics…I guess selected ones, so the others should not be better. And these pics are mostly out of focus… Uhm.. wouldn’t spend that much for this camera.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      aloysiuschow
      September 17, 2019 at 1:39 pm

      Heh, user error. My eyesight isn’t the best and it was my first roll with the camera. Rangefinder is admittedly a little worse than those found in the best 35mm rangefinders, but it’s still quite large and bright.

      To my eye, only the fourth picture is out of focus. I think my scans weren’t all that sharp, honestly. Also, I would take a slightly out of focus photo with better content and composition over a sharp but worse photo any day.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    D Evan Bedford
    September 18, 2019 at 12:46 am

    Beware if you plan on using one in a cold climate. One of the shutter mechanism’s lubricant has a tendency to stick, converting the camera into a useless brick. It happened to me at about +5 degrees C.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      aloysiuschow
      September 19, 2019 at 12:48 am

      My Fujifilm X-T10 started dying randomly in the middle of the Japanese winter as well so… maybe technology hasn’t come that far since then 😆

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Antonio
    September 18, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    As much as I like the camera, I don’t see anything in these snaps which couldn’t have been done on 35mm (ok 135 film 🙂 ).
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they’re bad or whatever, just I wouldn’t consider them as something which makes me scream and go out looking for a 6 or 7II.
    The point of medium format is about technical perfection, tonalities and shallow DOF. Nothing I can find here. For slightly out of focus photos with better content and composition over a sharp worse photo, even a Holga would be perfect.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      aloysiuschow
      September 19, 2019 at 12:44 am

      No offense taken, I understand what you mean.
      I wouldn’t expect shallow DoF from this combo though, one can get equivalent DoF from a 50mm f2.2 lens on 135, which I wouldn’t consider a super fast lens. As for technical perfection, I don’t think the cost of each shot taken on 120 is prohibitive enough to warrant that from every shot. Perhaps with large format I would start to feel that way.

      Regarding tonality, I don’t quite understand what that concept means. Are you referring to highlight/shadow rolloffs and dynamic range?

  • Avatar
    Reply
    James Evidon
    October 1, 2019 at 8:19 am

    I think your in-camera meter tends to over expose. You should set your ISO a little higher to compensate and you may get more color saturation.

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