Mamiya 7 Lens Review (Comparison & Photos)
Mamiya 7 lens review comparison: 43mm, 50mm, 65mm, 80mm, 150mm, 210mm – The pros and cons of each lens for the Mamiya 7 camera system together with sample photos (including Mamiya 7 35mm photography).
Mamiya 7 lens comparison
There are six Mamiya 7 lenses available for the camera system – 43mm, 50mm, 65mm, 80mm, 150mm and 210mm. Here is a summary of the key data for each lens.
My Mamiya 7 lenses
When I bought my Mamiya 7 camera I planned to use it for wide angle photos so I bought the 50mm lens and the 65mm lens. I didn’t fall in love with the Mamiya 7 and I soon reverted back to my Hasselblad and Leica cameras. A year or so later I tried some Mamiya 7 35mm photos (loading 35mm film into the Mamiya 7 using a 35mm to 120 film adapter). I noticed I always wanted to be closer to my subject (or you could say the subject was always too far away for it to give any impact in the image)(and usually I couldn’t get close enough to change that fact). This prompted me to buy the Mamiya 7 210mm lens and soon after the Mamiya 150mm lens.
Mamiya 7 50mm f/4.5 lens
The Mamiya 50mm f/4.5 lens was the second Mamiya 7 lens I bought with the concept that if I bought the 50mm rather than the 43mm I could approximate the composition in the camera viewfinder. The Mamiya 43mm lens is wider so needs the additional external wide angle viewfinder. For the 50mm you can guestimate the composition and I just preferred the idea of a small camera setup. That being without the external finder to carry around. As I didn’t fall in love with wide angle photos using Mamiya 7 camera I looked to get something longer instead to see if that made me love the camera more.
Mamiya 7 50mm Photos
Mamiya 7 65mm f/4 lens
When I purchased the Mamiya 7 camera it arrived with the Mamiya 65mm f/4 lens attached. At the time of buying the camera I thought it would give me a nice slightly wide angle view verses the usual 80mm kit lens that comes on so many medium format cameras. I’ve enjoyed using the Zeiss 60mm on my Hasselblad 501C and also the Mir 65mm on my Kiev 88 clone “ARAX-CM”. Both these cameras are 6×6 format and 60-65mm works well for me. On the 6×7 format of the Mamiya 7 camera the 65mm is a bit too wide/ far away from my subject much of the time, especially for model photography. (Why don’t I just take a step closer I hear you say, like with every other prime lens camera I use!? A longer lens just gives a different look to a portrait).(I In hindsight I wish I’d got a Mamiya 7 80mm lens bundle but that is just my current mood. Maybe I will get into wide environmental portraits with the Mamiya 7 but I need the right model and location to do this. (It doesn’t suit every model and many locations).
Mamiya 7 65mm Portrait / Photos
Mamiya 7 150mm f/4.5 lens
My latest Mamiya 7 lens purchase is the Mamiya 7 150mm f/4.5 lens. The main reason for buying it was I enjoyed the 210mm focal length but wished I could compose my photos in camera more accurately. The Mamiya 7 camera has frame lines for the 150mm lens so I can see the photo I am framing which I like. There is a Mamiya 7 150mm-210mm external viewfinder available to help with parallax but I’ve not been tempted to buy one as yet. I try to avoid external viewfinders on the Mamiya 7 as they are big and expensive, adding cost and bulk. The Mamiya 7 150mm lens is smaller than the Mamiya 210mm lens and shares the same 67mm filter thread as the Mamiya 50mm lens. This works well if I want to carry a 2 lens setup for the Mamiya 7. If I pack the 50mm and 150mm lenses I can make use of the same filter size.
Mamiya 7 150mm Photos
Mamiya 7 210mm f/8 lens
The black sheep of the flock as they say is the seemingly less known/ less desired Mamiya 7 210mm f/8 lens. I’ve started to enjoy telephoto lens photography especially for landscape photography or photos when out exploring. I’ve hiked with Mamiya 7 wide lenses before and subjects were always too distant to be able to photograph. It isn’t always the case of course and wide angle lenses have their place too but it’s nice to have both options for different landscapes.
Mamiya 7 210mm Photos
Mamiya 210mm lens – it’s not a normal lens!
The Mamiya 7 210mm lens is different to almost all lenses I own. Without using the optional external Mamiya 7 150-210mm viewfinder there is no way to compose the photo. There is no 210mm frame lines in the Mamiya 7 viewfinder hence me later buying the 150mm. The 150mm, 80mm and 65mm lenses do have frame lines. The 210mm Mamiya lens also can’t be focuses via the viewfinder as it is not rangefinder coupled lens. (This means if you turn the lens it wont affect the rangefinder patch)(meaning you wont see any change in the viewfinder). The only way to focus the Mamiya 210mm lens is like some people do with Leica cameras – by using hyperfocal distance. This is also the only way to operate my super wide Hasselblad SWC/M camera. Hyperfocal distance means you estimate the distance to your subject visually then dial in the same distance onto the lens itself. Personally I am rubbish at gauging any distances so I cheat. I use the digital Leica CL or Leica M240 camera to focus on a subject then read the distance off the Leica lens and dial it into the Mamiya 210mm lens.
Mamiya 7 210mm – love this lens!
Despite all the mentioned faff using the Mamiya 7 210 lens I love it. I enjoy the photo making process even though I have to carry the Leica CL (or a Leica) to help me judge distance. Yes this process is not for fast action photography (unless you pre-focus on a set spot which of course you could) or model photography but I enjoy it for landscapes/ photos when out hiking. I enjoy the well regarded Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF lens on the Hasselblad cameras but it weighs more than double the weight of the Mamiya 210mm lens. I should weight both camera setups side by side but I bet the Hasselblad vs Mamiya 7 is a 3:1 heavier setup. This would be the case especially if the Hasselblad has the prism finder fitted which I use a lot.
Mamiya 7 lenses that I don’t own
Of the six available Mamiya 7 lenses there are 2 lenses that I don’t have –
Mamiya 7 43mm f/4.5 lens
Using 35mm Leica cameras I enjoy using 21mm lenses for wide angle photos. The Mamiya 7 43mm f/4.5 lens is equivalent to 21mm in 35mm format terms. One thing I’ve found from using different cameras and lenses over the years is I use smaller compact cameras much more as they are easier to carry and to pack when shooting overseas. The external viewfinder of my super wide angle Hasselblad (Hasselblad SWC/M) makes a compact camera suddenly much less compact. As already mentioned that is why I went for the Mamiya 7 50mm lenses instead of the well regarded 43mm lens + external finder setup.
Mamiya 7 80mm f/4 lens
The Mamiya 7 camera ‘normal lens’ is the Mamiya 80mm f/4 lens. Many Mamiya 7 cameras come with the 80mm lens attached but as mentioned my Mamiya came with the 65mm. The most attractive features of the Mamiya 7 80mm lens is the compact size and low weight. If I see this lens at a fair price I might get one eventually. 65mm is a little wide for portraits so 80mm would be a better focal length.
The first lens I got with my Mamiya 6 camera was the 75mm for that camera system. Like the Mamiya 7 80mm lens it is compact and I have used it a lot for portrait photography. The 80mm f4 aperture is a bit slow for a standard Mamiya 7 lens so it doesn’t offer the 1 stop benefit over other lenses. For many other medium format camera systems the kit lens tends to have a f2.8 widest aperture such as the Hasselblad Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 or the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II 110mm f2.8 lens. It would have been nice to see this ‘feature’ for the Mamiya 7 80mm.
Best Mamiya 7 lens?
There is no one answer as it depends what you want to photo and your personal preferences. Some people love wide angles lenses say for landscapes or architecture. If this is you get the 43mm! If you want a walk about lens the Mamiya 80mm is the smallest. The Mamiya 65mm might be more practical though as it gives closer to a 35mm view (32mm). All the lenses are sharp so that is not really an issue. It is more choosing the focal length you prefer. I do appreciate the lightweight of the Mamiya 210mm vs 150mm lens but the 150mm lens can be focused via the rangefinder so is more practical.
Mamiya 7 Portrait lens
As a portrait photographer the Mamiya 7 camera would not be might first choice to photograph people. Get yourself a Mamiya RZ67 instead if you enjoy 6×7 film negatives. The Mamiya RZ is an amazing camera for portraits. If you are specifically looking for a Mamiya 7 portrait lens I would get the 80mm or 150mm lens. The 65mm is too wide and the 210mm is to slow to use.
If you want to photograph people and are looking to buy one camera I would strongly suggest considering most other cameras before the Mamiya 7. It could be a Hasselblad, a Leica or even a more affordable Nikon FE2. I’ve struggled to use the Mamiya 7 for portraits personally hence the lack of the usual portrait images in this article. There are too many far better options in terms of choice of camera for portraits.
The only exception to this advice would be if your thing is environmental portraits. If the person/ model is just part of a wider scene rather than the main focus of the image then the Mamiya 7 would be fine to use.
Mamiya 7 Lens Filters
If you use other rangefinder cameras you can probably skip this section on Mamiya 7 lens filters. The same facts apply regardless of whether you are using a Leica rangefinder camera, a Mamiya 7 or say a Fuji GF670 .
Rangefinder camera vs SLR camera – filters
If you are coming from using an SLR style camera like a Nikon or Canon using filters on a Mamiya 7 is a bit different. With an SLR camera you look through the lens (and filter). With a rangefinder camera you don’t.
Advantages of a Mamiya 7 vs SLR – filters
- Multiple ND filters / dark filters can be attached to the lens but it is still possible to focus via the Mamiya 7 viewfinder
- Focusing and seeing the scene when using colour filters is much easier as you are not seeing a red landscape (if using a red filter, for example)
Disadvantages of a Mamiya 7 vs SLR – filters
- When a circular polariser filter is on a Mamiya 7 lens you need to remove it to see the effect as you are not looking through the CPL filter when taking the photo
- If you use neutral density grad filters (ND grads) on a Mamiya 7 lens you need to estimate the effect on the final photo by lining up the gradient with the front of the lens compared to where the horizon is
Mamiya 7 lenses – What I don’t like:
Leica vs Mamiya 7
When using the Mamiya 7 lenses and camera in parallel to a Leica camera I noticed a few annoyances of the Mamiya 7. I appreciate Mamiya 7 lenses are said to be some of the best ever produced but Leica lenses are not too bad either. Sadly Leica don’t make a 6×7 rangefinder or any medium format rangefinder camera. If us photographers want more film resolution than a 35mm Leica we have to look at other camera brands such as Mamiya and Hasselblad. What I don’t understand about the Mamiya 7 system is why make amazing lenses if the camera system wont allow the user to compose accurately.
Leica lenses and framelines
The Leica M System is so much better that a Mamiya 7 for any photographer trying to compose accurately. The Leica M viewfinder frame lines clearly show the final image you will get regardless of subject distance or focal length (*Common Leica focal lengths like 28,35,50,90,135mm are usually compatible). Coming from Leica cameras and various medium format cameras the lack of being able to compose properly with the Mamiya 7 is starting to get to me. Why have the “best” lens for a sharp photo if the composition is crap. A cheap camera with a soft lens will take a better photo vs a Mamiya 7 if the composition is stronger.
Not just Leica cameras..
It is worth noting that other camera brands as well as Leica made cameras where you can compose accurately. My Nikon F5 film camera for example has a 100% coverage viewfinder so I can compose exactly. Great camera!
Mamiya 7 photographers – shoot and pray
It seems normal for some Mamiya 7 photographers to use the “don’t worry, crop after” approach. Sadly even I have been doing that to try to make some of my Mamiya 7 photos into an image I’m happy to post (from just a random scene shot). I really enjoy the “art” of precise and deliberate composition so when I see the final images and see I “missed” my shot (composition) I think what’s the point! Im not impressed Mamiya engineers.
Mamiya 7 viewfinder coverage
To be more specific the percentage coverage from the Mamiya 7 frame lines varies from 80-90% approx of the actual scene. This depends on subject distance but it means the final image is wider than what you composed for. I can’t understand why you wouldnt build that factor into a camera system. If you compose properly you don’t need a border around the image as a safety measure. It is just wasted film area in my view.
Mamiya 7 parallax issues
To add to the “fun”/ inaccuracy factor of the Mamiya 7, if you use the Mamiya 150mm or 210mm lenses without an external Mamiya 7 150mm viewfinder/ 150-210mm viewfinder you also have parallax issues to deal with. From my experience the resulting image is usually above and left of the centre of the viewfinder. I have quite a few cameras and I can’t think of any others where I have to guess where the resulting photo will be (*With the exception of the mentioned Hasselblad SWC/M camera).
Mamiya 7 vs Hasselblad
As I own both Hasselblad cameras and the Mamiya 7 I will do a Mamiya 7 vs Hasselblad comparison when I get chance. Both cameras have their strengths and weaknesses. There is the Hasselblad vs Mamiya 6 review I wrote a few years ago which covers some of the benefits of each camera system. The Mamiya 6 is 6×6 format camera so more directly comparable to the square format Hasselblad but if I want to use only one medium format camera I need to know which camera will suit me best. That’s why I will do a Mamiya 7 vs Hassy review. The review and testing is for me as much as anything. I enjoy testing to see what different cameras and systems can do.
Trying to love the Mamiya 7
As you may have sensed through this Mamiya 7 lens review, I’m trying so hard (still) to like this camera but perhaps I’m fortunate enough to be spoilt by owning other camera systems. Yes Mamiya 7 lenses are good though Hasselblad Zeiss lenses and Fujinon (Fuji GF670) are better from my experience. I will keep trying with this camera but I’m interested to see what I can do with a Hasselblad for landscape photos.
I’m determined to like this popular camera but the Mamiya 7 isnt making it easy for me!
Update! Mamiya 7 35mm photography
Update! After writing this article over the summer and not getting chance to publish it I discovered Mamiya 7 35mm photography. I have already written an article on this (as linked). Loading 35mm film in the Mamiya 7 removes many of the annoyances I had with to regards composition. The strip of 35mm film captures all the best bit of the scene and no more (unless you love sky!).
Mamiya Blog Posts
- Mamiya 7 Review
- Mamiya 7 35mm photography
- Mamiya 6 Review
- Mamiya 645 Super Review
- Mamiya RZ67 Pro II Review
- MamiyaLeaf website – Detailed resource on Mamiya 7 lenses
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