5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Mamiya C220 and Portra 160 NC – By Trenton Trammell

Buying a new camera is always a hard choice, but it’s even harder when you have to relinquish a current piece of gear to do it. After about 3 months of deciding whether or not I should sell my Mamiya 645 Pro kit, I did. I decided I would buy a Mamiya C220 TLR for two main reasons; I wanted to try my hand at square format compositions, and secondly I wanted to experience the joys of using a TLR.

I had a few rolls of expired Portra 160 NC from 2002 and set out with my new camera. The reversed image in the waist level viewfinder was confusing enough, and it soon became clear that I had taken the luxuries of the modern Mamiya 645 for granted. Nonetheless, I had a blast traversing the streets of Atlanta at golden hour on the lookout for things that catch my eye. Using the 80mm f/2.8 blue dot lens was a familiar experience, but I will soon begin to investigate the other lenses for this model (specifically the 55 mm f/4.5 and the 105 mm f/3.5)

Since the Portra was said to have been refrigerated, I metered my shots at ISO 100 just to be safe. There were few noticeable color shifts, but if I could reshoot the roll, I’d meter at ISO 80 because some of the exposures were just a tad underexposed and grainy due to the age of the emulsion.


I attribute these odd color-shifts to the inconsistency of expired film

The warm tones of this interior at golden hour caught my eye

Even in its old age, this Portra maintains a desirable lack of grain

The 80mm f/2.8 never disappoints

Operating the C220 while leaning backwards wasn’t easy, but it made for a nice perspective

So far I’m a fan of the images and am beginning to embrace the square format. Once I shoot a few more rolls and know the camera like the back of my hand, I’ll share some more! 

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  • Avatar
    Michael Raven
    April 18, 2019 at 10:16 am

    These are great! I for one really like the colour shift.

  • Avatar
    Tom Sheppard
    April 18, 2019 at 10:28 am

    These look fine to me.
    If you are interested in Ifrared photography, the C220 is an excellent choice.
    You can attach the IR filter to the bottom taking lens and still be able to view, focus and compose in the top viewing lens.
    I use my C330 for IR often.
    Thanks for sharing your images

    • Avatar
      Trenton Trammell
      April 18, 2019 at 3:55 pm

      IR is something I may look into in the near future. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Avatar
    Mikey Kay
    April 18, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    Cheers for the article Trenton!
    I recently picked up a C330f with 80 2.8 blue dot & 180 4.5. If you shoot portraits at all, I highly recommend the 180. The bokeh is pretty stunning. Oh and your images are great here, even if the film was expired. There seems to be some kind of thing on IG about “shooting fresh film” (it’s a hashtag), but what about the expired rolls? Should they just end up in the bin?! I’m guessing it’s labs and retailers who want to keep their sales up, and that’s all well and good, but there is also a huge backlog of film that was stored when digital really took off in the late noughts. I don’t shoot that much expired film, but I do occasionally look for 220 film online. The unpredictability adds a bit more excitement to the mix too. 🙂

    Keep up the good work!

    • Avatar
      Trenton Trammell
      April 18, 2019 at 3:53 pm

      I hope to pick up the 180mm this summer, just for portraits. Thanks for the feedback! P.S. Gotta love that unpredictability.

  • Avatar
    David Purton
    April 18, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Still one of my favourite cameras…and films
    Good luck with the lenses, They all have merit. I have a full set…55/65/80/105ds/180super and the 250mm. Not too expensive to collect ( go for as close to mint as possible)…and find a friendly technician. They can all be cleaned and the shutters are great.

    Next stop for you…the Mamiya Press 6×9/6×7…the lenses for this model were superb, modelled on their German counter parts…Biogon/Angulon/ Planar/Sonnar.

    Anyway, have fun and keep taking pictures!

  • Avatar
    Mike Connealy
    April 18, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    What a fine eye for color and compositions in the urban environment.

    “I’m an 18 year old photographer from Atlanta, Georgia.”
    (That’s pretty amazing too.)

  • Avatar
    April 19, 2019 at 1:26 am

    You have a good eye for square composition, well done!! You will find that the Mamiya C220 is amazingly capable, and the lenses are excellent. Keep practicing!

    • Avatar
      Trenton Trammell
      April 22, 2019 at 4:19 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed! Once I get my hands on another lens; I’m afraid I won’t be able to stop.

  • Avatar
    April 19, 2019 at 10:06 am

    Lot of excellent work on your Insta & website. Bright photographic future ahead of you, if you choose to pursue it!

  • Avatar
    David Hume
    August 18, 2019 at 4:25 am

    Great colours and tones in those shots I think Trenton. I love the C220 but have not used it much – but square is my favourite format. And the C220 is so gorgeous and well made and they are so cheap! I got my C220 for a portrait project that I haven’t done yet, and I got a 110 (was it? Something close to 100 anyway) because that was the one that would give the highest magnification for portraits. Hope you enjoy it!

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