Mamiya Six II – Early Version Review & Images – By Dan Cuny

By Dan Cuny

For the past few years, I’ve enjoyed shooting with older folding medium format cameras. These cameras are generally smaller and something I can fit into my pocket for easy transportation. Also, use larger film than 35mm, so the ability to enlarge or crop the image gives more flexibility. Their lenses are somewhat flat in contrast, but I can change that after processing and digitizing the images.

Top plate on Mamiya Six

The Mamiya Six camera I have is one of the cameras I like to use often. There are some exciting features built into this camera that make the camera fun to use. The Mamiya Six was the first camera manufactured by Mamiya, and the camera I have, I believe, is the second version.

Mamiya Six with lens opened.

Cleaning the Lenses.

When I received the camera and looked at the lens, it looked a bit smokey, especially on the inside of the rear element. I noticed that the rear lens element could unthread from the lens, but the retaining ring on the back of the lensboard made it challenging to remove. I pulled out a spanner wrench I have with points on the tips to remove the retaining ring. The lens pops out with a little wiggle of the bellows. I unscrew the rear element and give it a good cleaning. While I tinkered with the aperture blades, which weren’t moving well, and bingo, it’s now in great shape. I put the lens back on with the retaining ring and try it out.

Back of the film area on the Mamiya Six
Spanner wrench removing retaining ring on Mamiya Six.
Lens removed from Mamiya Six
Lens and rear element removed on Mamiya Six.

The Camera

Over the years, the Mamiya Six had many changes and modifications. To see some of the changes, you can look here. Please don’t confuse this model with the Mamiya 6 that they introduced in 1989. I believe the version I have is the Mamiya Six II because the strap eyelets are no longer on the camera as they were on the original models. Looking at the camera, the first thing I noticed when I bought it was the camera has both a waist-level finder and an incorporated rangefinder, which you can see from the window on top of the camera. Just to the left of the waist level finder window is a small button to open the camera. Depress the button, and the lens extends downward. To me, it resembles the Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta 530/16 in size and weight. The Mamiya Six I have is 4″ tall by 5.5″ wide and 2″ deep unopened or 4.5″ deep opened, and weighs 1lb 12.5 oz without the case or film.

Lens & Shutter

The Mamiya Six I have has a 7.5cm (75mm) f3.5 K.O.L. Sola Special Anastigmat lens in an NKS-TOKIO shutter with speed from 1-200 & “B.” The aperture setting range from f3.5-32.

To change shutter speeds, you move the knurled ring on the outside of the lens to the desired shutter speed. There is also a knurled ring on the back of the lens are on the right side that allows you to change aperture settings. It’s somewhat hidden and took me a minute to find it, but it’s easy to change once found. The pin on the top of the shutter cocks the shutter. There is a self-timer on the bottom of the shutter, which has a red dot. On the top of the camera at the far right are the focus distance and a depth of field scale. My scale only goes to F8, which is standard on the early cameras.


On the back of the Mamiya Six is the viewfinder window. To the right of that is a thumbwheel that focuses the camera. Looking through the viewfinder is the typical rangefinder for focusing the camera. Once the shutter is cocked and you depress the shutter button on top of the camera, a red window appears in the viewfinder letting the photographer they have taken a photo.

Under the viewfinder and to the left is a switch with an arrow pointing to the left. Moving that switch to the left allows you to wind the film to the next frame and also takes the red warning out of the viewfinder. The frame counter is at the top of the camera. It’s a small round window next to the film advance knob. On the back of the Mamiya Six is also a red window and cover, which you can see the film advance and stop at the next frame, which is automatic.

Film Loading

Loading the film is a bit tricky. I always make sure my film counter is at number 1 before loading. Since the film plane moves for focusing, the pressure plate is a removable plate that slides into the film plane. You slide out the pressure plate. Load the film on the right side of the camera. Drag the leader through the slots where the pressure plate goes and wind onto the take-up spool. Slide back the pressure plate into place, and turn the advance knob until you see the starting arrow on the film leader. Close the back and with the rear window open, advance the film to number 1. Now the frame counter and the film frame number coincided with each other. Once you take a photo, slide the switch to remove the red warning label, unlocks the film advance, and wind to the next frame.

Getting ready to load film in the Mamiya Six.
Film in the Mamiya Six
Putting the pressure plate into place on the Mamiya Six
Ready to close the back with film loaded on Mamiya Six.


I had the opportunity to walk around my neighborhood to take the camera out for a spin. It was an overcast and chilly fall day and the photos show it.

Losing leaves.
Fire Hydrant
Neighborhood playground.
Neighborhood park


I enjoy using the Mamiya Six I have. I like the waist level finder, especially when I want to get the camera low to the ground. It’s small for a medium format camera, the optics are good, and the aperture goes to f/32, which I utilize when in the day time. The Mamiya Six is, in my opinion, a real keeper, especially when I want to put something in my pocket and shoot medium format.

I appreciate you taking a few minutes to read this week’s blog post. I enjoy hearing from you about your experiences with this or any other camera you have in your collection. Feel free to comment if you have a question or concerns regarding this or any other posts I’ve done. You can visit my website here and read about other articles I have written for 35mmc here. There is also a review of the later Mamiya 6 IV here

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About The Author

By Dan Cuny
A little background on me, and my interest in anything photographic. I’ll begin to add posts on my collection, my interests, and items in my collection. I can still remember the day that my uncle gave me my first camera when I was 9 years old. It was a Univex twin lens camera and I was mesmerized looking down through the waist level finder. Everything was backward, but my brain quickly figured out left was right, and right was left. I took that camera on a vacation to Alaska shooting 620 film and still have the negatives and photos. Fast forward a few years to when I’m 16. I find myself in the front row at concerts like Traffic, Humble Pie, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Queen, and all the classic bands of the ’70s. My 3 friends and I went to see bands at least a couple times a month and where I first was published in Rolling Stone, Musician Magazine, Guitar Player, and other publications. In later years, we published a blog on the shows we saw and also have images on my website. I’m in the process of writing a book on my experiences and images from this time period. My passion for all things cameras and photographic started when I turned 18 and started working at the local camera store. Having worked there for almost 20 years, I sold all the classic cameras of the 1970s and ’80s like Canon AE-1, Nikon F, Minolta SRT, Pentax Spotmatic, Topcon Super D, and many large and medium format cameras. To this day, I can tell these camera cameras even from the outline they have. This is where I started to collect anything photographic, but the true passion is for cameras and lenses. I’ve had a great career in the photo industry which has lead in many different directions, from Professional Photo Lab Manager to PrePress and high-end scanner sales to repping for Sinar and Broncolor, to Leaf Digital back representative, and onto the most recent where I was the Profoto Rep for the US, West Coast for almost 15 years. During these times, I’ve had the opportunity to travel where I always found some time to seek out cameras or photo items in the town I’ve traveled to. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and work with some fascinating photographers over my career. From Mary Ellen Mark, Jim Marshall, Dan Winters, Annie Leibovitz, and many, many others.
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Lance Rowley on Mamiya Six II – Early Version Review & Images – By Dan Cuny

Comment posted: 30/12/2020

That looks like such a dope camera. I might have to look into that, as I've been wanting to try out medium format

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Kurt Ingham on Mamiya Six II – Early Version Review & Images – By Dan Cuny

Comment posted: 23/12/2022

Nicely done. It might be interesting to see the result if you enhanced the contrast a bit

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Dan replied:

Comment posted: 23/12/2022

Kurt, Thank you for the kind word regarding the post, and I'll see what I can do to add contrast. Regards, Dan


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