Mamiya 7 II

The Mamiya 7 II is a conventional 6 X 7 medium-format camera with an optional accessory that allows one to adapt the back to receive 35 mm film. . Mamiya also makes nicely performing lenses for the camera, ranging from 43 mm (84°) to 210 (20°); the problem here is it lacks shorter focal lengths. For example, a 38 mm would be better suited for the panoramic purpose of this camera accessory. Bulkier than the XPan, the Mamiya simply provides the photographer with a choice between panoramic and 6 X 7 formats. And like the XPan II, it is a modern camera with plenty of automatic features. These features are certainly enough to satisfy the demanding photographer, and the really demanding photographer will be impressed by the remarkable quality of its optics.

Convenient as it is, the Mamiya 7 II very much remains a medium-format camera, so one is faced with the same dilemma as with the XPan - choosing between the quality that the larger negative provides or the speed of faster lenses that come with the smaller format 35 mm cameras.

However, when used as a 6 X 7, this camera offers the additional advantage of allowing you to crop the negative as needed - above, below, and not just in the middle. Once again, this allows one to profit from indirect lens shifts, especially in architectural photography. But also like the XPan, the Mamiya 7 II does not have shifting (PC) lenses in its line of optical equipment.

Hasselblad XPan, 45 mm lens. Photo by Aurore de la Morinerie.

Aurore Morinerie
With its panoramic back, the Mamiya 7 can take 35 mm film. Here, the 6 X 7 window turns into a 24 mm X 66 mm window.

The XPan and Mamiya, being relatively light, are easy to handle. This compensates for what one loses in comparison to the image quality of the larger 6 X 17 cameras. Their lightness also allows for the exploration of other photographic horizons, like hand-held photography. The work of Aurore de la Morinerie and vincent b. are perfect examples of this.

Before advancing to the aforementioned 6 X 17 format cameras, there remains another interesting alternative: 6 X 12 cameras. Really, the size of their film places them in the category of large-format cameras, and very large prints made from them will be of an irreproachable quality. Many companies make these cameras - Cambo, Horseman, even Silvestri and Linhof. The exposure is made on 120 or 220 film, and the format has a ratio of 2:1. This ratio, cropped down to 3:1, again offers indirect shifting possibilities. However, some of the cameras described next also permit direct shifts, which is even more advantageous. The makers of these panoramic cameras obtain their lenses from two of the best names in the business: Schneider and Rodenstock. Essentially, these are lenses designed for bellows cameras that are mounted on a threaded, helical housing that allows them to be easily focused by hand. On a view-camera, this would be achieved by racking the front and rear standards back and forth. All the lenses have the same range of shutter speeds: T, B, and then from one second to 1/500 second. In order to obtain the maximum quality, the photographer needs to stop down to at least f22. Used in this way, one will obtain a depth of field where the closest area in focus will rarely be less than one meter away. However, it is necessary to add that since these cameras do not possess a reflex viewfinder, the placement of the critical focus will have to be estimated. By determining the hyperfocal distance and by stopping down considerably, the results should never present any focusing problems.

All the 6 X 12 cameras have a viewfinder of high quality and remarkable clarity. Detachable, they can be brought along when scouting around and noting locations, or carried in the palm of the hand while hiking with the camera in a backpack. Finally, these cameras are distinguished from the other 120 and 220 film cameras we will consider by their lack of light meters. Use of a separate light meter is therefore indispensable in order to measure the light correctly and to determine the adequate exposure. When a panoramic photographer uses this type of camera, he or she works slowly, attempting to achieve quality on all levels. Exposing the film when rushed and without adequately metering the light would be counterproductive.

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  • nibs
    Which image quality can be achieved with a "mamiya 7"?
    6 years ago

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