Ever since reading Ken Rockwell's review, I've wanted a Mamiya 6.
"This is my favorite version, and actually, my favorite camera of all time." - Ken Rockwell
It's a medium format (6x6cm) interchangeable lens rangefinder camera, manufactured between 1989 and 1993, for which Mamiya made just three (leaf shutter) lenses: 50mm f/4, 75mm f/3.5 and 150mm f/4.5.
After coveting this camera for a while, a full system of body and three lenses came up on Ebay for "the right" price and, after prevaricating for a few days, I snapped it up. But why did I want one so much?
Well, for a medium format camera, its small. This is thanks to the fact that it's a rangefinder (so no mirror to worry about) and the fact that the lenses can be collapsed into the body when not in use. Also, its idiot proof! The camera has interlocks to stop you shooting when the lens box is collapsed, when the lens cap is on (so no "Claptons" here!) and if there's no film loaded. It's really easy to shoot: I have never seen a rangefinder patch so bright and the guidelines in the viewfinder automatically adjust for the attached lens. The light meter is averaged across the viewfinder and gives excellent results, particularly when using the auto-exposure mode. The fact that each lens has its own stepless leaf shutter means that the camera is almost silent and can flash sync at all speeds (4s to 1/500s). Oh, and the batteries last forever!
So, was it as good as I'd hoped? Absolutely, as you can probably tell from the tone of the above paragraph! This camera really is a joy to shoot. After using both Fed-4 and Petri 7 35mm rangefinders before, I swore I would never get another after finding them hard/frustrating to focus in anything but perfect, bright light. The Mamiya 6 has changed my mind: focusing is so easy thanks to the large viewfinder and the bright rangefinder patch.
With all the pro's I should at least mention one con: changing lenses is a bit of an involved process. Because there is no mirror and the shutter is actually in the lens, you have to deploy a builtin screen over the film, by turning a control on the base of the camera, before you can remove the lens. To deploy the screen, you first have to wind the film on. Once you have changed the lens, you then have to remember to stow the screen. The good thing is that the camera provides electro-mechanical interlocks to stop you getting this sequence wrong, but I did have to read the manual to get the steps in the right order.
So, I loaded up a 120 roll of Ilford Delta 400 Professional and what follows are five of the images I took around Dundee.
All in all, I was very pleased with the results. Whilst not all of the twelve shots were well composed (mea culpa), they were all well exposed (thank you auto-exposure mode!) and in focus. I had this first roll of film professionally developed to ensure good results and to verify the cameras operation, however, as can be seen in the last image, a few hairs made there way on to the scanner! I will rescan them in due course...
Anywho, if you can, buy a Mamiya 6! You won't be dissapointed.