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Taking oldies for a walk: Mamiya RB67 Pro

Over the years I accumulated cameras. I now have somewhere between one and two dozen different cameras in my shelves. Recently some gear went on ebay, but the camera count did not really drop.

My rule is to not keep cameras just for decoration. They must be functional, and they have to be used. All of my gear was at least after acquisition used a lot and only ended up on shelves when either their function was not suitable for my needs (like some TLR medium format cameras) or if they have been upgraded to better cameras, like some analogue SLR stuff. Every once in a while I load one of them with a film and go out to shoot with them.

I took my Canonet GIII QL19 for a walk just as my Canon AE1 Programm. This time I loaded the beast: My massive Mamiya RB67 Pro.

My friend Martin suggested to spontaneously get some cameras out in the evening sun and shoot some photos. We drove up to Lübars and used the last bits of sun for some evening photos. Luckily we took his car, as the Mamiya and the tripod are not really a mobile system.

Fuji-01

The colour photos are all done with my Fuji X100S, the black and white are all the Mamiya RB67 Pro with either a Fomapan 100 or an olde Ilford HP5 400, shot at 200.

Mamiya-05

The setting sun did not leave much other option then to shoot it against the horizon. Unfortunately I did not load a colour film, although I do appreciate the tones and grain of the BW film.

Mamiya-02

And here the same scene shot with the Fuji.

Fuji-03

With a turn of the magazine the 6 by 7 format is put into vertical mode. A lovely format as I find. 6×7 brings the disadvantage of only fitting 10 photos on a roll of standard 120 film, but it is worth it.

Mamiya-01

The depth of field is amazing. Even at several meters distance there is still a strong separation of foreground, focus point and background, with extremely high detail even when shot wide open.

Mamiya-04

This camera is made for portrait shots. Unfortunately for Martin he was the only one around, so he was forced into some hipster posing.

Fuji-07

Fuji-06

Fuji-04

Fuji-10

Fuji-09

Fuji-08

Mamiya-03

The Mamiya RB67 is a fantastic camera with amazing quality. I am using the 127 mm lens with f/3.8. Even wide open this lens is incredibly crisp. The high quality comes at a price though. The whole setup weighs something around 3 kg, not counting the tripod. Holding the camera instead of using a tripod makes it challenging to compose, focus and release the shutter without dropping it. The Mamiya is a workhorse that likes to be properly set up on a tripod and then be used for some planned shooting. It is a bit slow to use as well. Film transport and loading the shutter happens with two separate levers, if you keep putting the metal shield back there are easily four to five actions to be performed between each shot.

That doesn’t mean the system is bad. It is just made for an entirely different purpose than my regular point and shoot street photography. From time to time I enjoy getting the old beast ready and taking some photos with it. My success rate is usually high, the time I take to take each shot results in a low count of bad photos.

I should find some time to plan a proper project and shoot it with the Mamiya.