M Other Family - Mamiya 7II

Discussion in 'Equipment & Media' started by Pete Askew, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    Living in the same case is another rangefinder which I have to confess I haven't used for about 2 years - battery re-installed and ready to go though.

    Formerly my favourite travel camera especially when fitted with the 65 mm lens, the Mamiya 7II is a 6x7 format rangefinder camera shooting 10 frames onto 120 roll film. In the main picture is the body fitted with an 80/f1:4.0 with, from right to left, a 50/f1:4.5, 65/f1:4.0 and the 150/f1:4.5. There is the ultra wide 43 mm lens available for the camera but it's too wide for most of the photography I do and a 210 mm lens. There is also a panoramic adapter allowing you to shoot wide onto 135 film. Each lens is fitted with an electrically actuated and electronically controlled leaf shutter that is extremely quiet but, of course, if the battery goes flat the camera will not function. Aperture control is on the lens and the camera can operate in manual mode as well as aperture priority / aperture lock mode. Film advance is manual and you can double expose by pressing a button to recock the shutter without advancing the film. The rangefinder is very accurate but the 150mm lens is a challenge to focus. The lenses are, as with all Mamiya's range, superb.


    One of my favourite things about these cameras is the option to mount the strap on the side so it hangs perfectly without falling forward. I only wish other manufactures did the same. It is a large camera but pretty light (there's not much in the housing after all) and below is a comparison with a Leica M6.


    One of the most important aspects of rangefinder-based cameras (and other cameras without mirrors - at least in smaller formats), is that the design of lenses, especially wide angle, is not compromised by limitation on the back projection of the rear elements. This is illustrated with the 50mm lens for the Mamiya 7 and it can be seen in the image below that the rear elements (ie from the silver-coloured mount, back) extend a long way and would foul a mirror if one were present - it ends up about 1 cm from the film plane. Beside the lens is the viewfinder to help with framing of this wide angle lens.


    Obviously, as the shutter is in the lens you need to have a way to allow you to change lenses mid-roll. As with the C3 this is achieved through a secondary shutter (Hassleblad use dark-slides incorporated into the backs plus a secondary curtain in the body). Under the camera is a key that you turn to wind the shutter / blind across the film to enable you to change the lens without fogging the film (it is interlocked so you can't remove the lens when it is not in place nor make and exposure when it is). A button allows it to snap back out of the way. My only criticism of this camera is that the key is made of plastic and mine cracked within weeks (still works and would be easy to get repaired but didn't see the point as I suspected it would break again). A metal one would have been more appropriate.

    All-in-all a very nice camera to use. So nice in fact that I think I will!! :)
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  2. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    I remember a time when i was watching every single one of these on ebay
    It still seems the logical way for me to have/use a medium format camera...
    Size is a major factor, and although big, its not c3 big, or at least, it has seemingly better handling than the c3 ... would you agree?
    Apart from anything, i have a penchant for RF cameras ... ... ...
  3. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    Not better but very different. The quality of the negatives it produces is superb and it is just like using an other rangefinder and so you would find it very natural. But I still like 6x6 and WLF's (as well as LF) for the style they impose if you know what I mean.

    There is one very famous portraitist (so famous I can't remember his name!) that shoots location portraits with a 6x7. I even used one when I shot a wedding once (something I only do under extreme duress). Most of the wedding was done on a Hasselblad fitted with a P20 back (formal shots) and a Fuji S2 Pro ( a camera that I ended up hating with a passion - now given away to a friend) but the bride entering the church and the signing of the register (the area out back was tiny) were shot with the Mamiya 7 and were a joy to scan and edit.
  4. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    Here is a scan of a print made from a negative shot on the Mamiya 7II + 65mm lens. Even though it was taken a few years ago I can remember that it was taken, hand-held, at 1/15s at f1:4.0 using Ilford Delta 400 Pro film rated at ISO 400, developed in ID11 (N) nad printed onto Ilford MGIV gloss RC paper. The scan is from the final 12" x 16" print but the final print based on the printing map was made at 20" x 24" and is currently hanging here in the studio in Potsdam ( I know that Asun will remember the print because it was on the wall temporarily in the UK office, where it was printed).

    Copenhagen - an evening shot from a boat on the canals (the ripples are from the slow beat of the motor as the boat turned to let us off).


    And here is a snap of the final print hanging here in the studio (must buy a better passe-partout and some anti-reflective glass!).

    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  5. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore Moderator

    That Copenhagen image is beautiful Pete! It's challenging enough to hold oneself steady at 1/15th, let alone doing so in a boat. Very well done indeed.
  6. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    Thanks Brian. That's why I remeber the shutter speed so well - even though I braced the camera I was amazed to have got it so sharp.

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