Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
My latest camera purchase is a 1989 Mamiya 6 medium format analogue rangefinder camera. The camera has a 6×6 film format and came with the 75mm f3.5 kit lenses. There are 3 lenses available, 50, 75 and 150 and all use the built in camera viewfinder with rangefinder patch.
Why did I buy another camera?
I had overseas model trips fast approaching and I wanted to take a medium format film camera with me. The 6×6 Hasselblad 501C continues to be perhaps my favourite camera to operate and the results it gives but I use it with a prism viewfinder so it’s not as compact as it could be. I have smaller medium format cameras already, Fuji GF670 (6×6 & 6×7), Fuji GS645 and Fuji GA645. I tried to love the GF670 again recently as it ticks most of my boxes but didn’t really work for me. The GS645 shutter sticks so needs repair but is otherwise a nice camera. The GA645 is too automated for me but that was the camera I had planned to take as it is super compact yet has the crazy sharp Fujion 60mm f4 lens. The camera however also recently died on me and had an electrical fault preventing the camera from finding focus and therefore letting me depress the shutter to take a picture. The Mamiya 645 Super is a slightly larger camera but smaller and lighter than the Hasselblad. Upsettingly I seem to have feel out with love with the M645 also as the results have not been good enough recently.
I have always been tempted by a Mamiya 6 or Mamiya 7 camera so I think it was just a matter of time. I nearly bought a Mamiya 7ii when I bought the 35mm Hasselblad Xpan to take to New York in December and then resisted.
Mamiya 6 vs Mamiya 7 / 7ii
When considering this purchase I looked at both the Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7. I am still not a big fan of 6×7 film format. To me it is almost a waste of film as the resolution is far higher than I need for online use. I shot the Fuji GF670 in 6×7 format a few weeks ago but found I still prefer 6×6. The Mamiya 6 was therefore the obvious choice, partly due to the film format but equally because the lenses retract into the camera body making the camera only slightly deeper than the Fuji GF670 folding camera. The Mamiya 7 lenses don’t retract and it has the 6×7 format. Some people prefer the Mamiya 7 / 7ii as it can accept a wider lens 43mm lens but for my model photography that is not something that interests me (at the moment). The Mamiya 6 and 7s are highly regarded to be well built with sharp optics so they hold a higher price tag compared to the Fuji 645 medium format camera range. I was tempted to get another small Fuji to try but decided to pay more and get a camera that will hopefully last me a bit longer.
Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6
As written above, I do love the Hasselblad 501C especially when working within 1m distance of my models for tight crop head and shoulder (or closer) images. For photos at a distance greater than say 1m I prefer a rangefinder like my Leica M cameras to focus. Rangefinder cameras have the disadvantage that they cannot focus very close to a subject. The Mamiya 6 has the same issue and will only focus from 1m-infinity on the 75mm lens. As such, if I pair up the Hasselblad 501C and Mamiya 6 I get the best of both worlds and all the photos would it theory blend seamlessly with the same 6×6 format. If I was covering a wedding with medium format film cameras this will now be my go to setup I think. The Hasselblad and Mamiya 6 lenses are of a similar speed with f3.5/f4 being quite common. The Mamiya 6 has the advantage of being a rangefinder so can be used at a slower shutter speed handheld without the mirror slap vibration of the Hasselblad. If I get the 50mm lens for the Mamiya 6 I think I would use that setup for wider and the 120mm / 150mm lenses on the Hasselblad for telephoto. I have no interest in getting the 150mm lens for the Mamiya but others rate it highly.
Requirements list for my camera purchase
- Leaf shutter lenses – to give me a fast max flash sync speed for strobist work. The Mamiya 6 like the Hasselblad will sync at 1/500 vs the Leica M6 of only 1/60. This is a deal breaker as to which camera I will use if using strobes in daylight.
- Well built – hopefully reliable and fun to use. The Hasselblad 501c is a perfect example. Leica M cameras are great too as long as the rangefinder is correctly calibrated. The Fuji GF670 is not fun to use (for me). The Fuji 645 camera range are both not reliable enough and some are too automated for my taste (Fuji GA645).
- Small and compact – (as possible) so I can take the camera overseas reasonably easily. I have flown with my Hasselblad 501C but a smaller medium format camera to fit in my Billianfham Hadley Digital camera bag is ideal. All the Fuji film cameras I own fit in the bag but the Mamiya 6 somehow looks made to measure and easily fits in the bag with a Leica M body and 2 Leica M mount lenses. I actually pack two Leica bodies and the Mamiya 6 camera but it is
- Decent rangefinder – so I can focus accurately at wide apertures. I am used to Leica rangefinder cameras like the amazing big and bright Leica M3 so i then struggle to use a less capable rangefinder viewfinder such as the Olympus 35RC. The Fuji GF670 is a little small and not my favourite to use. The Mamiya 6 however feels big and bright and gives me confidence when focusing. As long as it is correctly calibrated I should hopefully get in focus images every time.
Time to test the Mamiya 6!
Resulting images coming soon. I shot a quick roll before my trip overseas and here is the photo I scanned in the earlier hours before the flight rather than sleeping than night!
Mamiya 6 + 75mm lens + Fomapan 100 / Model – Elle