Some cool magnifying mirror with light wall mount images:
Image by Damiao Santana
Evaluation: Mamiya Twin Lens Reflex Method
Picture it is early 1959. LIFE magazine photographers are utilizing their brand new Leica M-2s. Newspaper photographers are giving up the Speed Graphic in favor of medium format, or maybe even 35mm. Nikon’s prime model is the SP, a modified copy of the Contax rangefinder. Picture you want to get a camera for skilled use. This could be studio or place portraits, photojournalism (but that word did not exist in 1959!), even some product shots. It demands to be at least medium format, and you need rapidly handling and great versatility. Of course you want a twin lens reflex.
The undisputed king of the TLR was the Rollei. In 1998, you can nevertheless buy a single of its descendants new from B&H for almost 00.00. It was tiny, had a killer lens, and a fantastic precision feel. One of the Rollei’s reduce expense competitors was from a small-identified Japanese business referred to as Mamiya. It wasn’t as tiny, or as smooth mechanically, and of course no Japanese lens could compare to the Zeiss planar on the Rollei. Nevertheless, the mamiya had interchangeable lenses. Not even Rollei did that.
The Mamiya Twin Lens Reflex cameras are 6×6 cameras utilizing 120 or (in some models) 220 film which were in production from the mid 1950’s until 1994. Mamiya routinely came out with new models which added features and capability all through their production life. There are thousands of them out there, and they are plentiful on the used marketplace. Some have seen heavy professional use, some have been utilized lightly by amateurs. Some are beat up, some are still pristine. A lot of wedding photographers have used these cameras due to the fact you can nonetheless look by means of the finder and see an individual blink at the moment of exposure. I’ve lately observed a school photographer carrying 1 of these as a backup to his motorized extended roll camera.
The Japanese Yen was incredibly sturdy against the US Dollar in 1993 and 1994, and that drove up prices to the point that there was quite tiny market for this method. The story is that some of the tooling just wore out, and they couldn’t justify retooling. As I create this in August of 1998, B&H still has a couple of new lenses and accessories for sale. The costs are very high.
The pages at www.btinternet.com/~g.a.patterson/m_faq have an excellent description of all of the cameras, lenses, and accessories of this program. I won’t attempt to duplicate that data. At its most substantial, there have been seven lenses, six finders, sheet film backs, several focusing screens, and other assorted accessories.
I own two C330-F bodies, and this assessment will be primarily based mainly on my expertise with them. Features and capabilities of other bodies are comparable, but have some differences.
Handling and operation:
When employing a waist level finder, the camera fits nicely into my left hand. It really is not small and light, but with 35mm SLRs putting on weight in the 90s, it doesn’t feel as heavy as it would have seemed to a Pentax MX user in 1979. Shutter release, focus, and wind controls are in logical positions for simple use. Shutter and aperture controls, are not visible from the leading, you need to turn the camera to the side to see and set them. The viewfinder brightness is OK, but not stellar. It is significantly easier to compose with a Beattie focusing screen, but I’m not convinced it’s any less complicated (or harder) to focus accurately.
There is no exposure data in the viewfinder, and there are no coupled meters offered. Mamiya created a couple of metering finders with CdS spot meter cells. These are match needle meters, uncoupled, and almost certainly use mercury batteries. I am a huge fan of incident metering for most lighting conditions, and have nearly constantly utilised a separate incident meter with this camera.
The shutter sound is significantly quieter than a medium format SLR considering that the TLR has no mirror flapping about or automatic diaphragm snapping shut. I feel the film wind makes a far more distracting sound than the shutter.
I personal the 65mm, 80mm, and 135mm lenses–all are the later ‘black’ models. I’ve shot a test target with only the 65mm, and the 50 linePair/mm line group was resolved quite sharply at the center at all apertures, somewhat less so at the corners but nevertheless sharp from at least f/5.six and smaller sized. I am convinced the resolution limits are definitely up to skilled standards even now. The 135 is very sharp, especially at f/11 or so. The 80 is a current acquire, but preliminary outcomes look really great.
The 135mm lens focuses at infinity with the bellows racked out about half way, so it really is feasible to concentrate previous infinity and get nothing at all in concentrate. Other lenses focus at infinity with the bellows almost all of the way in.
Simply because of the bellows, the shorter lenses can concentrate extremely closely. Of course they are not optimized for macro function, and parallax is a issue, but you can get genuinely close.
The older "chrome shutter" lenses are reported to be pretty great also. But then, nobody admits their lenses are junk except Holga users. Some of the oldest model lenses may not be coated. These chrome lenses sell for considerably decrease costs than the newer black models, partly due to the fact shutter components are not available. On the other hand, if the shutter has worked for 30 years, it will almost certainly last a little longer.
The taking lenses all have leaf shutters. This indicates electronic flash syncs at any shutter speed. There is also an M sync offered for use with flashbulbs. If you use M sync with electronic flash, the flash fires before the shutter opens, and you get no flash adding light to your exposure. Many shutters that have been utilised by pros have the sync selector epoxied to the X position. It really is hard to bump the setting accidentally, but if you do change it correct ahead of the newlywed couple marches back down the aisle, it really is a disaster.
There is a normal folding waist level finder with a reasonably low power flip up magnifier. It really is compact, and functions nicely. There is a rigid "chimney" finder with a 3.5x full field magnifier, and a flip up 6x lens that magnifies the center of the screen only. This finder blocks outside light considerably much better than the folding finder, and I consider correct concentrate is less difficult, it doesn’t weigh any more, it really is just a lot more bulky.
Waist level viewing is reversed left to right. With practice, you can follow moving subjects, but it does take practice. Every now and then, I am shocked when I see a photo I took with the TLR, and every thing is reversed from the way I don’t forget seeing it in the viewfinder.
I’ve in no way utilised any of the eye level prisms. There is an all glass pentaprism that provides correct left to correct viewing. There is also a porroprism, constructed from mirrors. Reports are that the pentaprism is much brighter. It is also heavier and much more high-priced. I’ve heard mixed reviews on the porroprism finder–mostly that it is dim, and the image is modest.
Yes, there is parallax error. The viewing lens is 50mm greater than the taking lens. Some models have a finder indication exactly where the leading of frame cutoff lies. The body has to be set for the appropriate lens mounted for this to be correct! You can tilt the camera to compensate, and typically this is fine. If you happen to be trying to do precise near/far compositions, attempt to discover a ‘paramender’ device. This mounts between a tripod and the camera body. Right after composing, turning a lever raises the body so the taking lens is precisely exactly where the viewing lens was. At shooting distances for complete length photos of men and women, parallax is not a concern. At head and shoulder distances, it is.
Use lens hoods. The front lens elements are not recessed deeply into the lens barrel, so a hood can make a massive difference. The black lenses all take either challenging to uncover 46mm filters, or simple to find 49mm filters. I use a 49mm tiffen metal hood with a 46 to 49 step up ring for the 80 and 135 lenses. The 65mm lens will vignette with a screw on a hood or filter, so attempt to find a single of the certain Mamiya hoods for this or the 55 mm lens. These hoods clamp to the outdoors of the lens barrel. I epoxied a 67mm filter ring (no glass) to the inside of the box-shaped 65mm hood, and I attach filters to that and they don’t vignette. I chose 67mm just because I currently had a bunch of them for other lenses.
Except for some of the 105mm lenses, the viewing lenses have no aperture, so there is no depth of field preview. The net page referenced above links to a postscript program that prints out a depth of field calculator wheel. I printed this out and laminated it. This is the easiest device I’ve seen for managing depth of field with this technique. I tend to trust depth of field scales much more than dim stopped down photos on ground glass, so this operates properly for me.
For customers seasoned only with 35mm, the depth of field you get with medium format can be a shock. It’s narrow. Program on stopping down about two stops far more than you would if shooting 35mm. Preserve reading for my comment on tripods.
If you hold down the shutter release and wind the film, the film does not stop at the next frame, it just winds on. This is a feature not a bug. It lets you wind off a partially exposed roll of film speedily. If you begin winding the film and you don’t understand your cable release is locked, it appears like a bug.
My 330-F bodies are somewhat sensitive to early stress on the shutter release. Push it down slightly and release, and the double exposure prevention kicks in and locks the shutter release. For numerous years, I kept the single/multi control at multi and avoided this dilemma. If you do this, you have to be truly careful when altering lenses to make sure each the lens and body are in matching states: shutter cocked and film wound, or shutter not cocked and film not wound. You won’t jam up anything like you can with a Hasselblad, but you can simply get double or blank exposures.
As with all cameras, for maximum sharpness, use a tripod. A lot of folks speak about how simple it is to handhold a TLR or rangefinder at slow speeds. Maybe it is accurate, but I’m not convinced. I’ve taken good pictures hand held, but all of the framed 11×14 enlargements on my wall had been created with cameras bolted securely to tripods.
The Mamiya TLR is not a ideal camera. What is? But it functions nicely for a lot of applications. I believe it is wonderful for individual, or two person portraits with the 135mm lens. It was a wedding photographer favourite for numerous years, and I’ve completed some good landscape and travel photographs with it.
Medium format has been named the excellent compromise format. The TLR would not be my 1st decision for sports photography, and when I’m chasing my little ones, I use 35mm, or a Fuji 6×9 rangefinder. I can get a lot more detailed landscapes on 4×5, when I have space to carry it.
I haven’t really watched the alter in rates over the years. I’ve heard a comment that the market has crashed for Mamiya TLR gear lately — no demand for one thing with no meter, motor or flashing LEDs. If that’s so, I consider it good news for me. I am not promoting mine, and maybe I can discover a great low-cost 250 mm lens now.
Overview Copyright © 1998 Mike Rosenlof. All Rights Reserved. Revised: 19 August 1998
Links sobre Mamiya: