Mamiya 7 35mm Review (No 35mm adapter required!)
After enjoying shooting 35mm film in my Mamiya 7 (6×7 medium format camera) I thought I’d put a brief Mamiya 7 35mm review together with some sample images.
Mamiya 7 35mm adapter kit
Firstly it is good to know that you don’t actually need to spend additional money on a Mamiya 7 35mm adapter kit. Yes the Mamiya 7 adapter helps for composition but there are cheaper options.
35mm to 120 film adapter (cheap version)
The cheaper way to shoot 35mm film in a medium format camera (like the Mamiya 7) is to use a 3D printed 35mm to 120 film adapter. They can usually be found cheap on eBay and will fit most medium format cameras.
Mamiya 7 panoramic photos
When I first got the Mamiya 7 camera I didn’t fall in love with it. A year or so later I decided to load the camera with 35mm film for fun and I really enjoyed the process. I often struggle with the “wasted space” in many of my 6×7 Mamiya images (*I usually prefer 6×6 vs 6×7 format) . The Mamiya 7 panoramic photos seem to let me capture just the good bits!
Hasselblad XPan vs Mamiya 7 35mm
The obvious question would be why shoot Mamiya 7 35mm photos when you can just buy a camera built for the job, the Hasselblad XPan! I’m lucky enough to have a Hasselblad Xpan but I’m still enjoying using the Mamiya 7 instead, even with just the basic 35mm to 120 adapter and no Mamiya 7 35mm mask.
Advantages of the XPan vs Mamiya 7
For the cheap 35mm to 12o film spool setup that I use in the Mamiya 7, the Hasselblad XPan offers a few advantages.
- XPan – 21 photos / Mamiya 7 – 15-16* photos (per 36 exp roll film)
- Xpan & lenses – small compact setup / Mamiya 7 & lenses – bigger
- XPan – Panoramic or standard 35mm / Mamiya 7 – 35mm pano only
- XPan – Accurate 35mm frameline composition / Mamiya 7 – less accurate
- XPan – Can load/unload film easily & quickly / Mamiya 7 – slow to load film and requires a dark bag (changing bag) to unload film
Advantages of the Mamiya 7 vs XPan
- Mamiya 7 lenses – 43,50,65,80,150,210mm / Xpan – 30,45,90mm
- Mamiya 7 – offers 6×7 + 35mm panoramic / Xpan – 35mm only
Mamiya 7 35mm panoramic photos
I’ve not been using the Mamiya 7 35mm set up long enough to include masses of example images of pretty models but here are some of my panoramic test photos so far. (I will add more example images as I take them).
Vertical Mamiya 7 pano portrait cropped down –
Standard horizontal format Mamiya 7 panoramic images –
35mm film in other MF cameras
Prior to shooting 35mm film in a Mamiya 7 camera I had experimented with 35mm film in other medium format cameras. Using the same 35mm to 120 film adapter here is 35mm film examples from a 645 film camera and a 6×6-6×7 camera.
Fuji GA645 35mm photos
Fuji GF670 35mm photos
Mamiya 7 35mm Summary
If you already have the Mamiya 7 camera and you fancy doing some panoramic images then the Mamiya 7 35mm adapter might appeal to you. If you are not expecting to use this set up a lot buying a simple 35mm to 120 film adapter will let you get the same results, just with a bit more faff. If you already own a Hasselblad XPan it is probably easier to just use the XPan. With the cost of fresh film continuing to increase, getting 21 photos per roll of 36 exp vs. 15-16* photo with the Mamiya 7 could be a deal breaker. Especially if you plan to shoot say Fuji slide film where the cost is now getting almost too much to consider. I will continue to enjoy shooting Mamiya 7 35mm photos for now until the novelty wears off. (If!)
Mamiya 7 hack! (35mm film)
I’m a simple guy and like the common sense approach to most scenarios. The problem I was faced with was the Mamiya 7 camera only gave me 15-16 photos per roll of 35mm film. The 5-6 wasted frames are just those used to equate to the same length of backing paper found on 120 film. To recap on 120 film, the start of the film roll is only backing paper then as you wind on the film the camera senses when the actual film starts (rolled within the backing paper). So for 35mm film even though all the film in a roll is useable the first section is wasted as equivalent backing paper length. Hopefully you can follow that!
DIY film hack
So if you tape a length of additional/ old 35mm film to the start of each new roll of film this section of film is used as the backing paper length. All the new unexposed film can then be used for photos which should give 22 photos per roll! 1 more than the Xpan! To discover the length of additional film needed I tore off the backing paper where the film started on a few rolls of B&W 120 film.
Did the Mamiya 7 hack work?
Yes but not fully. I managed to get 18-19 photo per roll when using my DIY film hack but not 22. The camera still wastes the first section of film even with extra film added to the end, just less of it. The good thing is the DIY film leader can be reused each time if you just tape it to the new film each time. I have used the same DIY film leader 3-4 times so far without issue.
Related film blog posts
- How to Process Film through to Digital (Develop, Scan, Edit)
- How to Develop Film at Home (Step by Step Guide)
- Rodinal Stand Development / Semi-Stand Development (Guide)