Mamiya 7 Review: 5 Reasons Not to Buy! + Mamiya 7 User Guide + YouTube Review
Are you looking to buy a Mamiya 7 film camera? You might want to read this Mamiya 7 review/ article first. The blog title is not click bait. This is just simple facts and my opinion. Includes:
- 5 Top Reasons to Buy a Mamiya 7
- 9 Types of Photography using the Mamiya 7 camera
- 5 Factual Reasons Not to Buy a Mamiya 7 and
- 5 Alternative Film cameras compared to Mamiya 7. Pros & Cons of each
- The Best Film Camera for Your Needs
- Mamiya 7 User Guide & Getting Started
- YouTube VIDEOS X3! (1) Review (2) Film Loading (3) Common Problems
Firstly, let’s flip the question in the title to appreciate both sides of the argument:
5 Top Reasons to Buy a Mamiya 7 Camera
- You are a hipster (I’m not but I was called one as soon as bought my 7!)
- You believe all the hype around this camera (“best film camera ever”)
- You have used a Mamiya 6 and want 6×7 format
- You want a 43mm wide angle lens rangefinder camera
- You shoot mostly landscape photography and don’t want to step up to 4×5
>> Join me on YouTube!
Why did I Buy a Mamiya 7?
Talking from my own experience I can confirm that I bought my Mamiya 7 because of reason #2 & #3 above (mostly #2) and quite liked the idea of #4 also. I convinced myself this was THE pinnacle of film cameras for a guy who likes great image quality from analogue technology. As I already have a Mamiya 6 camera and many of the other highly regarded film cameras but I was looking for better. I tend to shoot portraits but I also do wedding photography and the occasional building or landscape photo so I thought maybe the 43mm lens would be useable and useful for some of my photography work.
Ken Rockwell hype!
Perhaps love or hate but I love the Ken Rockwell website and appreciate the effort he puts in documenting the specifics of many of the popular cameras (especially those that I use like the Leica cameras). I have used Ken’s website a great deal over the years for research. (Flickr is what I use to research example photos before making any final decision). Despite my positive remarks about the website Ken wrote things like this and now I feel a little mis-sold!:
“The Mamiya 7 has been the world’s best camera since the 1990s”
“Highest real-world resolution available in any hand-held camera”
Most of you are probably saying to yourself “Well Matt it’s your fault for be stupid and believing all you read!”. This is indeed true and a fair comment but I had seen so many other glowing reviews about this camera on other websites too. When digital cameras were starting to catch up film camera resolution one of the benchmark tests seemed to always be the “Mamiya 7 vs Nikon D800” (etc). It always seemed to be the new digital camera vs the 7.
My high expectations of the Mamiya 7 would always result in disappointment
After reading all these rave reviews I bought the Mamiya 7 camera with high expectations. It seemed common opinion across the internet that the 7 will produce higher resolution photos than all my other film cameras. Even if this is true on the chart data I have not seen it with real world photos. Again perhaps stupidly, I think I assumed high-resolution equals better apparent sharpness and a more pleasing photo. I can confirm this is not the case.
Apparent sharpness can be affected by factors such as contrast and I would argue many of my other cameras produce visibly sharper and certainly more pleasing photos to my eyes. The 7 can have it moments though. The photo below is perhaps my sharpest 7 image to my eyes though light plays an important factor (as with every photo!)
What genre of photography will you use your Mamiya 7 for? 9 Types of photography explained:
1. Mamiya 7 Landscape Photography?
Perhaps the number one reason you would consider buying a Mamiya 7 camera. Mamiya 7 landscape photography! The camera is much more portable than a 4×5 camera and 120 film is easier to process and cheaper to buy. I feel it is best suited to packing lightish hiking up mountains landscape photography or like me, travelling by bike travel photography. It allows you to capture lots of detail and is not too heavy to carry around.
As there are multiple lenses available you don’t need to stick to the 43mm lens. I opted for the 50mm lens I can guesstimate the 50mm framing with the viewfinder without needing to carry the additional 43mm external viewfinder that mounts on the hotshoe. I found my Hasselblad SWC/M 38mm Biogon lens often too wide for landscapes scenes I was seeing. It is fixed lens so the Mamiya 7 is better in this regard with interchangeable lenses.
2. Mamiya 7 for Portraiture?
I bought the Mamiya 7 mostly for portraiture as that is what I do. Is the Mamiya 7 good for portraits. I struggled with it to be honest but I was using the wider 50mm and 65mm lens. I think the Mamiya 7 150mm lens would be the best lens for portraits but I read that photos with these lenses are often blurry due to the camera and or lens being out of alignment (needing recalibration). That stopped me from buying this lens.
Mamiya 7 Portraits
Here are a few of my Mamiya 7 portraits with the 50mm lens and 65mm lens:
Mamiya 7 + 65mm Portraits
Want to find models to shoot on film?
Mamiya 7 + 50mm Portrait
After making these Mamiya 7 portraits I liked the idea of a longer lens so decided to buy the Mamiya 6 150mm lens instead which is cheaper, to try.
Mamiya 7 Fashion
I also tried Mamiya 7 fashion photography when working with a fashion model in Budapest. Mixing buildings and people for wider environmental portraits suits the camera better I think for the lenses I was using.
3. The Mamiya 7 for Street Photography?
The slow Mamiya 7 lenses with at best a maximum aperture of f4 are not bright enough for serious available light street photography. I think the most popular street photography camera is a 35mm Leica. 35mm cameras offer faster lenses like f1.0, f1.2, f1.4 and so on so can work in darker conditions more easily.
4. Using a Mamiya 7 for Anything Photos?
The 6×7 film format is quite expensive to photograph scenes of anything and everything (though I know people use it for this a lot). The Mamiya 7 only gets 10x 6×7 photos from a roll of 120 film. I think 35mm film is more suited to shooting these “anything” photos and something like a small Leica film camera, whether an M2,M3, M4P, M6 or otherwise. Here is a 6×9 photo of nothing special using a 4×5 camera as an example. (Pretty but a bit of an overkill!)
5. Mamiya 7 for Architectural Photography?
The 43mm lens of the Mamiya 7 makes it well suited for interior photos and working in confined spaces. 6×7 film negatives capture high-resolution and lots of detail. While in Budapest I explored the city on a hire bike and used the Mamiya 7 to photography some of the old buildings. From the cameras I have used I much preferred using my Hasselblad SWC/M for this. I shot some interior building photos while on a model shoot in Tenerife and made use of it’s super wide 38mm Zeiss Biogon Lens (linked below).
6. Mamiya 7 for Fast Action Sport Photography?
The Mamiya 7 is a manual focus rangefinder camera so is less suited to fast action sports photography. If you want to shoot sport with a film camera something like the 35mm Nikon F5 SLR would be ideal with its super fast and accurate auto focus and faster frames per second. Firing off a series of 35mm film frames is also a lot cheaper than doing that with 120 film!
7. Mamiya 7 Wildlife Photography?
The Mamiya 7 is not generally recommended for wildlife photography. Wildlife photography is often done with a telephoto or zoom lens. The Mamiya 7 does have a 210mm lens but the aperture is f8 so this is not suited to freezing a moving subject nor working in anything other than bright conditions.
8. Mamiya 7 Macro Photography?
The Mamiya 7 lens line up doesn’t include macro lenses. The Mamiya 7 is a rangefinder camera which are not designed for close focus. The typical Mamiya 7 lens minimal focus distance is around 1m. My Leica cameras are also rangefinder cameras so are less suited to macro too. For macro I would go towards something like an 35mm SLR camera like my Nikon F4 or Nikon F5 and pair them with a dedicated macro lens like the Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro lens.
9. Mamiya 7 Wedding Photography?
If like me you enjoy using rangefinder cameras the Mamiya 7 might be a tempting choice for a wedding photographer. I used it for one wedding shortly after buying the camera but since then have switched back to using other film cameras. At my last wedding I used a Leica M3 and Nikon F5 SLR for film but I change from week to week depending on my mood. If I wanted to shoot medium format film wedding photography I would choose the Mamiya 6 as it packs small and gives more frames per roll of film. Arguably the best film camera for wedding photography is the Contax 645 but I sold mine. Here is a Contax 645 wedding I did).
Mamiya 7 Lenses – 6 Lenses Available
- 43mm f4.5 lens (requires additional external viewfinder)
- 50mm f4.5 lens (has an additional external viewfinder)
- 65mm f4 lens
- 80mm f4 lens (kit lens)
- 150mm f4.5 lens (150mm/210mm external viewfinder)
- 210mm f8 lens (150mm/210mm external viewfinder)
5 Reasons Not to Buy a Mamiya 7
Here are 5 very real reasons not to spend your money on a Mamiya 7, based on fact. If you still want to buy a Mamiya 7 (‘7) after this at least you will be well-informed prior to your purchase. (I could list more but I tried to select only the cameras that I own closest to the ‘7. If I included one more camera it would be the Rolleiflex SL66E. An absolutely fantastic camera! (Just quite fragile)).
5 Good Reasons to Reconsider buying a Mamiya 7:
Camera Comparison vs the Mamiya 7
Here I detail each of the 5 cameras listed compared to the Mamiya 7 for real world photography. I own and use all these cameras so the facts are based on experience of using each camera system and seeing the results they produce. I am passionate about making the best possible photos so I write from that viewpoint together with practical reasons why I use each camera.
1. Fuji GF670 vs Mamiya 7
4 Reasons the Fuji GF670 is a better camera
- The Fuji GF670 offers the choice of 6×6 or 6×7 film formats (in camera)
- The GF is a true folding medium format camera so much slimmer that a ‘7
- The GF670 Fujion 80mm f3.5 is one of the sharpest lenses I ever used
- Using 6×6 format gives an +2 photos per roll of 120 film (10 vs 12 photos)
3 Reasons the Mamiya 7 is better than the GF670
- Fuji GF670 doesn’t have interchangeable lenses, ‘7 does (incl. 43mm wide)
- GF670 are less common and not as easy to find to buy (outside of Japan)
- The Fuji GF is usually more expensive depending on condition
2. Mamiya RZ67 Pro II vs Mamiya 7
13 Reasons the Mamiya RZ67 is a better camera
- Can do close up / macro photography with its bellow focusing (any lens)
- Amazing camera for portraits with lenses like the 110mm f2.8
- Better for architecture / landscapes using tilt/shift short barrel lenses
- Modular camera so can use multiple film backs, say colour & B&W
- Waist level finder and prism finder options for a variety of views
- Mamiya RZ67 camera is much cheaper than a ‘7
- RZ67 has 21 lenses available and many are very affordable vs ‘7 lenses
- RZ is a SLR so avoids all the common issues associated with a rangefinder
- Mamiya RZ lenses to my eyes are as sharp as the ‘7 (esp. stopped down)
- The RZ can create artistic background separation and bokeh easily, 7′ can’t
- The Mamiya RZ accepts different film backs, 645, 6×6 and 6×7 film formats
- Mamiya RZ has a good 6×6 RZ Polaroid film back to shoot instant film
- The RZ is modular so if something breaks it is easy to replace one part cheap
2 Reasons the Mamiya 7 is better than the Mamiya RZ
- Mamiya RZ67 is big and heavy and less portable than a ‘7
- If you want a medium format rangefinder camera the RZ is not, it’s an SLR
3. Mamiya 6 vs Mamiya 7
6 Reasons the Mamiya 6 is better than the 7
- The Mamiya 6 camera is cheaper than a ‘7
- Mamiya 6 lenses are cheaper than ‘7 lenses
- Mamiya ‘6 lenses don’t require additional external viewfinders
- The ‘6 lens mount is collapsible making it much slimmer/ more portable
- If you prefer to compose squares the ‘6 6×6 negatives will suit you better
- 6×6 film format gives an extra 2 photos per roll of 120 film (10 vs 12 photos)
2 Reasons the Mamiya 7 is better than the Mamiya 6
- The ‘7 offers 6×7 film format if that is what you want
- The ‘7 has the 43mm lens on 6×7 whereas the ‘6 wide lens is only 50mm
4. Hasselblad vs Mamiya 7
13 Reasons the Hasselblad 500CM is a better camera
- Can do close up / macro photography with macro lens / extension tubes
- Amazing camera for portraits with lenses like the 80mm f2.8, 120 & 150mm
- Better for wide-angle architecture / landscapes if get the Rolleiflex SL66E
- Modular camera so can use multiple film backs, say colour & B&W
- Waist level finder and prism finder options for a variety of views
- Hasselblad cameras are cheaper than a ‘7
- Hasselblad cameras have 13+ lenses available, 30mm-500mm
- Hassy is a SLR so avoids the common issues associated with a rangefinder
- Many Hasselblad lenses are sharper than the ‘7 (60mm, 100 & 120mm esp.)
- The Hassy can create artistic background separation and bokeh easily
- Hasselblad accepts different film backs, 645 and 6×6 film formats
- The Hassy is modular so if something breaks it is easy to replace one part
- 6×6 film format gives an extra 2 photos per roll of 120 film (10 vs 12 photos)
2 Reasons the Mamiya 7 is better than a Hasselblad
- Hasselblad cameras are is big and heavier than a ‘7, (esp. with long lens)
- If you want a medium format rangefinder camera the Hasselblad is not
5. Intrepid 4×5 vs Mamiya 7
12 Reasons an Intrepid 4×5 wood camera is a better
- If you want high-resolution photos shoot 4×5 film not 6×7 film
- A 4×5 camera can do close up / macro photography
- The Intrepid 4×5 camera is wood so lighter than the ‘7 (with lens!)
- The rise, fall, shift options of a 4×5 Intrepid gives selective focus
- 4×5 offer shallow depth of field for artistic portraits – Aero Ektar lens!
- 4×5 it much better suited for landscapes and architecture as tilts
- The Intrepid 4×5 camera is very very cheap and lenses are affordable
- A 4×5 camera is a creative tool that can’t be matched by smaller cameras
- 4×5 film photography offers a totally different and immersive experience
- A 4×5 camera accepts different film backs – 6×7, 6×9, pano, Polaroid
- More lenses are available for 4×5 cameras. The list is near endless!
- The 4×5 camera can shoot 120 film or 4×5 film so can be affordable
3 Reasons the Mamiya 7 is better than the Intrepid 4×5
- The ‘7 is better as a point and shoot camera, less setup time required
- The ‘7 can be used handheld. Most 4×5 camera are used on a tripod
- A ‘7 requires much less skill and knowledge to use. Pick up & click
Summary and Recap
The Best Film Camera for Your Needs:
Another way to look at what is the best film camera for you is to look at it from the what type of photography will you do? To recap the detail above here are the best cameras for each photography genre (from my experience).
- Landscape Photography – 4×5 Intrepid (resolution + tilt)
- Macro Photography – Mamiya RZ67 (has bellows)
- Architecture Photography – 4×5 Intrepid (resolution + tilt)
- Portraits – Hasselblad or Mamiya RZ67 (to personal taste)
- Travel Photography – Fuji GF670 (Folding MF film camera)
- Rangefinder Photography – Fuji GF670 (Sharpest, 6×6 + 6×7)
- Anything Photography – Hasselblad (6×6 Instagram ready!)
- Wedding Photography – Mamiya 6 (Different lenses, small & fast)
Mamiya 7 Review – Conclusion
So as you can see when you put it on paper there are many cameras that are “better”alternatives for most types of photography. I’ve used the above mentioned cameras for all of the photography styles listed. I’ve shot weddings with my Mamiya RZ (and Hasselblads), I’ve done 4×5 macro photography, I travelled to San Francisco with my Fuji GF670, I shoot portraits with any and every camera and I even occasionally photography buildings (which I loosely class as architecture).
The Mamiya 7 is all Hype?
I bought my ‘7 based on the hype. I think the people who have written rave reviews about it obviously haven’t tried a lot of the other cameras readily available. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate the ‘7 camera (not at all). It is a good camera with great lenses. I just feel there are better camera options available for most photographers. I find it much easier to make pleasing photos with my other cameras. Perhaps I just expected too much but my film negatives don’t lie. I rate my cameras from the negatives that come off the scanner no matter what expectations I had beforehand.
Mamiya 7 6×7 vs 35mm Film
If the ‘7 was the first and only medium format film camera I had tried and I had moved up from 35mm film, it would be the best camera in the world to me. 6×7 film negatives capture a huge amount of detail (just less than 4×5 of the cameras detailed here!) so it would amaze most people used to seeing 35mm negatives. The step up from 35mm to 6×7 is HUGE! (*You can actually shoot 35mm film in a Mamiya 7 camera – see Mamiya 7 35mm photography).
So to close..
Who is the Mamiya 7 camera best suited to?
If you need / love the 6×7 film format AND you prefer rangefinder cameras AND you want to use wide lenses (43mm to 65mm) then the ‘7 is the camera for you. No question. I think if you shoot mostly landscape photography too you will love the ‘7, especially if you don’t want the hassle and cost of buying and developing 4×5 sheet film. 4×5 sheet film is crazy expensive! I have not given up on my Mamiya 7 and I won’t sell it but I think it is just suited to the very niche “climb up a mountain with minimal kit to capture stunning wide-angle landscape photos”. If you don’t need the wide lens get the Fuji GF670. You won’t be disappointed!
It’s just my 2p’s worth but I thought I would share as I seem to be in the minority with this opinion.
YouTube: Mamiya 7 vs Mamiya RZ67 vs Leica M6
Mamiya 7 – User Guide & Getting Started
If you have just treated yourself to a Mamiya 7 camera here are a few answers to questions I had when I first got my Mamiya 7.
- How to load film in a Mamiya 7 camera?
- Why can’t I remove the lens to swap to a different lens?
- Why can’t you close the dark slide to remove the lens?
- Why won’t the camera let me take a photo. It has film in ready to go?
- What battery do I need for a Mamiya 7?
- Can I use the Mamiya 7 camera without a battery?
- Is there a Mamiya 7 battery check?
- Mamiya 7 how to load film – See short YouTube video below which provides a good visual. (It will be easier to watch how than me try to explain it!). You don’t need to load the film exactly as shown.
- My personal tips are:
- Remove the tape surrounding the new film before loading into the camera
- Be more gentle with the film advance lever (I like to look after my cameras)
- Do close the dark slide (“dark cloth”) when loading film as it prevents dust landing on the inside of the lens (twist the dial on the base of the camera to close the dark slide)
- Do make sure you push in the 2 black buttons on the base of the camera to hold the film spools securely (the ones that pop out when you press the tiny red buttons to release the film spools
- Do line up the arrow on the film backing paper with the middle of the film back before closing the camera (shown in video)
- Remember to release the dark slide before planning to take your first photo
- Take off the lens cap! The Mamiya 7 is a rangefinder camera so you will not notice if the cap is left on as you view through the optical viewfinder / rangefinder “window” in the camera body, not through the lens as with an SLR camera
Common problems with Mamiya 7 camera
- Mamiya 7 lens stuck – You cannot change lenses/ remove a lens from a Mamiya 7 camera unless the dark slide is across (in place). (This is a safety measure to prevent light leaking into the camera wrecking/ exposing the roll of film that is inside).
- Mamiya 7 dark slide (curtain) wont close – need to advance the film after taking a photo before you can close the dark slide / remove the lens.
- Mamiya 7 shutter won’t fire – One possible cause is the dark slide is still in place (it happened to me!) Release the dark slide (as in the video) and try again (*also make sure the film is advanced!)
- Mamiya 7 battery is dead – the camera takes one SR44 or 4LR44 battery
- Mamiya 7 without battery – the camera has an electronic shutter so needs batteries to operate. Once the battery LED is blinking it shows low battery so it is a good time to replace soon.
- Mamiya 7 battery check – if the shutter speed LED (bottom left of the viewfinder) is blinking the battery is low and needs replacing.
Beginner’s Guide to Mamiya 7 Problems – Video
Mamiya 7 How to Load Film – Video
35mm Adapter for Mamiya 7
Is a Mamiya 7 camera the right choice for you?
Confused as to what medium format camera to buy? Do not panic! Join me for a 1:1 Zoom call to discuss whether the Mamiya 7 camera is really the best option for you.
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Wait! Do you have film?
After reading this article hopefully you are now ready to get out and start shooting! Have you got film to load? Here are some of my favourite films that I use in the Mamiya 7 camera.
400 speed film is better suited to medium format cameras as the lenses let in less light that many 35mm prime lenses. For example a 35mm camera 35mm* f2 lens @ISO 100 = 65mm f4 @ISO 400 on a Mamiya 7 camera (Approximately 35mm* = 65mm is closer to 32mm in 35mm terms).
- 120 Kodak Portra 400 – Amazon UK / US
- 120 Kodak Portra 800 – Amazon UK / US
- 120 Fuji Pro 400H – Amazon UK / US
Black and white film:
- 120 Kodak TMax 400 – Amazon UK/ US
- 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 – Amazon UK / US
- 120 Ilford HP5 400 – Amazon UK / US
For a full list of film stocks you can now click here – NEED FILM?
More Mamiya 7 camera related articles
See the links throughout this post +
- Mamiya 7 Lens Review (6 Lens Camera System)
- Mamiya 7 35mm photography
- Mamiya 6 vs Hasselblad
- Hasselblad vs Mamiya RZ67
- Leica M6 vs Hasselblad
- Mamiya 7 Specs (With thanks to Ken Rockwell)
- Mamiya 7 Manual PDF
More Videos / Mamiya 7 Alternative Cameras
Want something smaller? Contax T2!
Treat yourself to a Leica instead! Leica Buyer’s Guide
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39 thoughts on “Mamiya 7 Review: 5 Reasons Not to Buy!”
Hi Matt, I agree completely. I had used Mamiya 7 some years ago and I didn’t like rendition of the lens. Perfectly sharp, but somehow lifeless. Just one question for you: why you haven’t tried Plaubel Makina 67 yet? I’m quite sure you would love it and you would make wonderful pictures using that amazing camera! It’s lens is nothing less than miracle.. give it a try;)
Thank you Lukas, I’m glad it’s not just me then! Ah yes the Makina.. I toyed with the idea several years ago but was put off with the scare stories that many cameras are not calibrated / need calibrating. It shouldn’t put me off I know so I’ll put it on my todo list! Thanks for the nudge! 🙂 Matt
They’re all hype. The RZ67 II is an absolute masterpiece. I always tell everyone who handles it, if you think it’s too heavy, get fitter!
Haha yes I love the RZ too David, I shot a wedding with a Polaroid back on it recently as the guy gave me his old stock of FP100C! (You can’t do that with a 7!). Yes it’s a big camera but well worth the effort! .. and you don’t need to go to the gym later if you shoot the RZ all day! 🙂
Excuse my ignorance here, does anyone make Polaroid style film anymore for use with the RZ?
I have a Chamonix 045F1 large format camera and the resolution of the RZ when scanned is every bit as good.
You can see my film efforts here… https://www.davidclapp.co.uk/portfolio/view/111
Fuji stopped the FP100C, FB3000B etc sadly as you probably know but I still use it as have a fridge stash. I’ve also been shooting some Instax film in my 4×5 🙂 … post to come when i get chance
Great photos David! Nice job
I primarily shoot with two Hasselblad 500CMs, a 500C, and a Pentax 67.
For the 6×7 format, the Pentax 67 is an excellent camera which should not be overlooked, in my opinion.
Hi Michael, thanks. Yes I know the 67 has quite a following! If I didn’t have Hasselblads, the RZ and others I would be tempted to try it. Thanks for the recommendation. Matt
I completely agree. God bless Ken Rockwell, even if he doesn’t update his film pages more than every decade, but all rangefinder lenses aren’t automatically sharper than all SLR lenses, and I’ve read too many first-hand accounts of people who ditched the Mamiya 7 for Hasselblad or something else. I found out myself comparing the 5cm f/1.5 Leitz Summarit to my 1970s Takumars (admittedly the age gap between the two is immense). That said, I do agree with his reasoning about the Mamiya 7 vs. a Leica; it costs less and will give you image quality miles ahead of the Leica, but still it’s a Jack of all trades and a master of none. I had a friend willing to sell me his Mamiya 7 for $1500 and another friend who had a Mamiya RB-67 for $250. Which do you think I chose?
Thanks Joe. The RB? 🙂 I like rangefinders but for MF cameras the SLRs just seem to offer a lot more. The Mamiya 6 isn’t bad and I like the small size but when i’m in the Hasselblad zone that is unmatched for portraits for me (RZ is amazing too!)
Yeah I dunno, never liked the square format, I think for portraits and off-the-cuff shots I’d go for a 6×4.5 camera. But then I really have no experience with medium format yet.
I go through cycles.. I used to love 6×6 but recently I have been preferring the rectangle format of the 35mm cameras..
You need this 😉 – https://mrleica.com/mamiya-rz-645-film-back/
It was awesome review. But This camera is costly. Can you please suggest me few alternatives and cheaper than it. I would highly appreciate this.
Hi thanks. It depends what you want from the camera. If you want 6×7 maybe a Mamiya RB67 (cheaper than the RZ67), if you want a MF rangefinder check the Mamiya 6, if you want any rangefinder look at an older Leica model (M2/M4-P tend to be cheaper).. it really depends what you want the camera to do?
Just get regular RZ not Pro II. They are quite close to RB prices.
Thanks, good advice. I already have the Pro II but good for anyone else reading this.
Pingback: MrLeica.com – Film camera review / chat – Why I use 35mm, 645, 6×6, 6×7, 4×5.. – camerasite
Matthew, you should have kept your Contax 645 and Zeiss 80mm f/2 That was some portrait combo unrivalled.
The Mamiya 7 is too big, unwieldy and awkward in my opinion.
The GF670 is an absolutely fantastic travel camera – but needs tlc and careful handling – very expensive now.
There is no camera that has everything – they all have good and bad points.
Brett Weston produced images that equalled 8 x 10 contact prints with his Rollei SL-66 and 80/120/250 lenses.
At the end of the day, it’s not about the equipment. It’s about the photographer.
Hi Stuart thanks,
Contax 645 – agreed! Wish I had kept and it would be worth 2-3x more now! Hasselblad H3D or H2D gives a similar setup but I miss the 80f2 lens!
Mamiya 7 – yes I struggle with it
GF670 – agree amazing but yes I also worry about knocking it as value so much now
RZ is better for portraits, Hassy 2nd – for user experience though I preferred Hassy before
Mamiya 6 quite good – but I prefer SLR for portraits etc
GA645/ GS645 – smaller but I prefer 35mm currently
4×5 too slow for portraits (for me)
..so i’m back to mostly 35mm.. especially Leica but Nikon also. Both have benefits and 35mm lets me get the shots.
..but I will keep trying to use MF and LF too, just to mix it up a bit.
Thanks for your great input
I had every Leica film M and R body you could think of.
I sold the lot when I bought a Contax Planar 50mm f1.4 Nikon fit from the Bokeh Factory
An absolutely outstanding lens!
I bought a mint Nikon F6 from Japan to pair it with. I can still use film – win win. the 50mm Contax Planar also goes on my Nikon D750 win win.
I was so impressed with Tom at the Bokeh Factory’s first lens that I ordered up another one.
This I time I ordered up a Contax Planar 80mm f/2 for 645. Mamiya fit.
I’ll use that on either a Mamiya 645 1000S or a Mamiya 645 Pro TL with winder.
The 80/2 should be with me by the end of the month
Thanks Stuart nice! You may approve of a lens I have but i’ve yet to ‘advertise’ the fact. The Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4 (Nikon F mount)(Copy of the old Topcor lens). On my FE2 this lens is amazing.. I wish they made the same lens experience in M mount but sadly Ms are limited to 0.7m. It sounds like you have an awesome setup already but I will try to share results with this lens when I can (always juggling a million different things!) . .there are a few samples on Flickr..
..I have a M645 and the 80/1.9 lens but it is a different beast to the 80/2. I’d love to have that lens on my H2D. That is the MF camera I look to use more next.
Thanks Matt for that great info – you are well covered too!
An amazing amount of thought and work went into this article! Thank you for taking the time to put it together! I shoot mostly medium format and large format. Medium format: Mamiya Press; Mamiya 645 1000s; Mamiya C-330 Professional f; and Mamiya RB67 ProSD. Like your comments above, EACH camera has its “pros and cons”. I prefer “mechanical cameras” over cameras such as a Mamiya 7. If something goes wrong with the camera, or lenses, I can usually fix it myself, or have someone else repair it; often much cheaper because there are no electronics involved.
But……..I know where there is a Mamiya 7, (with three lenses), available for a decent price, (But, a heck of a lot more expensive than the mechanical cameras I mention above!). And, I have been thinking about purchasing it. Your article digs down to the “nitty gritty” of the kind of information that I like to find before I make a purchase like this. Thank you again for taking the time to put all of this together! I am convinced about NOT buying a Mamiya 7. I think I am covered with what I already own!
Thanks for your feedback Barry. Yes I am still trying to love my Mamiya 7 as the lenses are sharp but still trying! There will be more YouTube videos to follow on this – Lenses, 35mm Pano etc.
Sorry, but isn’t the problem only, that you need to learn to shoot with a Mamiya 7?
I’m not a professional and have only trained and trained
Buy some rolssof Portra and overexpose it, for example shooting the roll after ISO 200.
Thanks Bjatni, yes I use a lot of cameras so I guess I am just very fortunate in that I use other great cameras so I have those to compare to it. I still use the Mamiya 7 occasionally (more for pano now) but The Mamiya 6 is a better camera from the Mamiya team. (For me anyway. If people like 6×7 then the 7 would make more sense).
I own several medium format cameras: Hasselblad, Norita 66, Fuji GX680, Exakta 66. I like them all and everyone has a special character. But the one I take for travel is always the Mamiya 7 (and the small Ricoh GR II). I have several lenses and the best one is for me the 80 mm. I compared it to the Planar from the Hasselblad and to the astonishing Xenotar MF of the Exakta and, in my opinion, the 80 mm from the M7 is one of the best lens ever made, it gives very nice photos plenty of character. The other lenses I own are also excellent (50, 65, 150), may be the 150 is the weakest one of the line. Of course if you want a Mamiya 7 for macro and for head portraits is not the camera for you, the best place for a M7 is travel & lansdcapes & street. I also recognise there is a lot of hipe behind (as in many other cameras by the way), I think that nobody should pay for it more than 1000 € with the 80 mm. It cost me, in excellent condition, 800 € with 80 and 150 mm lenses 5 years ago.
Thanks you got it for an absolute bargain price!! My camera came with the 65mm so the 80mm is the only lens I’ve not used. Do you not think the Hasselblad has much more character? The M7 files are very flat looking. If you like the 80mm view get yourself a Fuji GF670. Hand on heart, hype free that has the best lens of all my MF cameras except maybe the SWC/M.. that has a killer lens. And for travel the GF670 wins easily for size too… if you can find one! That’s the camera I took when I visited the US. I will do a YouTube review when I get chance.
Everything depends on everybody’s taste. In my opinion and comparing M7 to all cameras I have tested, optically and mechanically M7 deserves the fame it has. The hype is behind its high prices, that are not justified. I have not tested the GF670, I am sure it is a great travel camera, but it has a fixed lens I think, that makes a big difference.
Thanks, yes the Mamiya 7 (or 6) have the advantage that you can use a variety of lenses. I enjoy the 50/150 combo on the Mamiya 6 for example and so I can’t do that with the GF670. But yes optically I think the Heliar lens on the GF670 has the edge (SWC/M is also excellent)
I have a Rolleicord and I am really looking to replace it because 1) 1/250s is too slow, 2) waist level viewfinder makes portrait challenging sometimes, 3) focusing properly takes a while, 4) I would really like to get a chance to change the lens…
Hi many, options! See some of my YouTube videos.. if portraits Hasselblad H2 (645), 500cm (6×6), RZ (6×7), Mamiya 645 (645).. Mamiya 6 nice too but less suited to portraits as cant get very close. (See reviews and example photos for all mentioned cameras plus many more). Matt
you such an asshole. where is my comment with non agree with your arguments?
Thanks, when did you post it?
..I looked back through the last few months of notifications and can’t see other comments from you? (You only see comments if I see them as I have to click approve before they are visible here. WordPress way of stopping spammers).
So glad to read this article! I bought a Mamiya 7 about 6 years ago for all the reasons you listed above. Didn’t pay a crazy amount for it, I think about 450 GBP at an auction so this isn’t buyer’s remorse, kinda glad I got it for the price inflation.
But as a camera to shoot, it’s never worked for me. I’ve always figured this was my failing which is why I stuck with it and still have it, glad to hear I’m not alone. Just a few of the issues I’ve found:
Shutter is so quiet and soft it’s hard to tell you’ve taken a picture and it’s easy to waste frames by mistake
Camera feels very fragile (it may not be, just feels it to me) which, combined with the current value make me nervous to take it anywhere
Hard to focus and frame accurately for anything other than landscape (truthfully, I have this with all my rangefinders, so that might be on me)
Images are good but don’t seem to warrant the “finest lenses ever made” statements, maybe the 80 mm I have isn’t as good as the wide angle / portrait options
Hype has made it impossible to buy any of the accessories at a realistic price so additional lenses, 35 mm panorama kit etc. might as well not exist, at least with my budget
Relatively slow lens makes it hard to shoot in lower light or indoors without a tripod
The whole “I drink IPA and only listen to vinyl” image that’s sprung up around it…
I do like the 6×7 format negative, that makes more sense for the pictures I take than cropping 6×6 and it’s handy that you can do landscape and portrait format without heavy prisms or rotating backs. Still think I’ll cash in and replace it with a Bronica or something else that hasn’t exploded on YouTube.
Hi Simon, thanks and sorry I missed this. Yes I sold my Mamiya 7 too after trying everything I could to make me like it! (Every lens and pano). I’ve never missed it. I agree with all you points but must say I kept the Mamiya 6 and that does have many pros vs my Hassys etc. I like the speed of focus/use/size/6×6.. I just need to use it more. I’m a sucker for 35mm vintage Leicas! (Older than Ms so affordable. Mamiya 645 and RZ are still cheap compared to other brands too even after all the hype.