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Mamiya 7 II

by Philip Greenspun, 2000


Colorful

About to leave for a three week trip to Australia, I scanned the 20 cameras in my closet. The 20-lens Canon EOS system beckoned. It is flexible, reasonably small and lightweight, and fast thanks to automated exposure, focus, and film advance. However, the last few trips I'd taken with the EOS it transpired that the 50/1.4 lens stayed on the camera 95% of the time. The extra 19 lenses stayed at home or in the suitcase. If one is going out among the streets with a camera and wants a normal perspective, the 6x7 cm negative produced by a Mamiya 7 is a much more satisfying result. Because the rangefinder design does not require a mirror or prism, the overall weight of the Mamiya and 80/4 lens is similar to that of an EOS-3 with 50/1.4 lens. Same weight, 4.5X larger negative.

What exactly is a Mamiya 7?

The Mamiya 7 is a lightweight rangefinder 6x7-format camera with interchangeable lenses. It is probably the only 6x7 camera with interchangeable lenses that is practical for travel or street photography.

Rhythm

After a few rolls, I fell into a rhythm with this camera such that I had a higher successful image rate than with the Canon EOS system that I've used regularly for six years. The key to the Mamiya's photographer-friendliness is that the camera's engineers must have read About Face , where Alan Cooper reminds programmers "No matter how cool your interface, it would be better if there were less of it." There aren't that many controls on the Mamiya 7 and it is therefore easy to keep in one's mind the fact that, for example, exposure compensation has been set to +1 f-stop. Because one's mind isn't occupied with a raft of autofocus settings, it is easy to remember to remove the lens cap before pushing the shutter release.

The only thing of which you must be careful is that you have the 120/220 pressure plate set properly. One twist sets both the pressure plate and the film counter appropriately and a small window on the camera back confirms the setting externally. However, it is best to stick with either 120 (10 exposures per roll) or 220 film (20 exposures per roll) for an entire trip so that you don't have to worry about finishing a roll only to find out that the pressure plate was improperly set (resulting in unsharp images at wide apertures).

Background

ArsDigita was expanding into 100,000 square feet of office space worldwide during the Year 2000. Even a 20x24 enlargement will tend to get lost in a large office and it is difficult to make an acceptable quality enlargement from 35mm even at 20x24 much less the 40x40 and 40x50 sizes that will hold a visitor's attention in an 8,000 square foot floor office. I'd been printing mostly ancient images from my Rollei 6000 system, Fuji 617 (panoramics do well above cubicle walls), and Linhof 4x5 field camera. I'd planned a trip to Guatemala to teach a short course on Web application design and wanted to create some wall-covering images while down there. The only camera on the preceding list that I'd consider taking on a casual trip is the Fuji 617.

Right before leaving, I borrowed a Mamiya 7 II system including the 43mm superwide, 80mm normal, and 150mm portrait lenses. The photos that you see illustrating this article were all taken in Guatemala.

Out of the box

Background: This is not a camera that you can just grab and go. Before you change lenses you must turn a dial on the bottom of the camera to close a light curtain. After fitting the new lens and composing your picture, you invariably will have forgotten to press the little release button to open the light curtain again. The camera has electronic interlocks to prevent you from wasting a roll with blank frames but the bottom line is that people who haven't read the manual won't get very far with this camera.

Image Quality

What comes out of the camera? Images that are sharp, high-contrast, and distortion-free.

Focussing

As with the Mamiya 6, the rangefinder is a joy to operate. The central area is big and bright, vastly better than the Fuji rangefinders and even a little better than the Leica M-series cameras.

Framing

With a rangefinder camera, what you see is not what you get. The Mamiya 7's viewfinder is wide enough to show you roughly what the 65mm lens captures. Bright lines appear that are calibrated to the lens that you've mounted (up to 150mm) and that shift down and to the right as you focus closer (automatic parallax correction).

Framing remains a challenge, however. At infinity, the film captures about 20% more than what is within the bright lines (i.e., you might get a street sign that will have to be cropped out in the lab). Only when the lens is focussed close do the bright lines correspond to what is captured on film.

With the 43mm lens, taking a picture requires the following steps:

  1. focus using the standard rangefinder window
  2. set exposure or confirm that the autoexposure system is doing something sensible, also from the standard rangefinder window
  3. move your eye to an accessory viewfinder mounted in the top-deck hot shoe to see what the lens will see, sort of (no parallax correction)

Metered-manual use with slide film

This is a difficult camera to use with slide film in metered-manual mode:

  • the aperture dials on the lenses are not equipped with half-stop detents
  • an LED readout in the camera's viewfinder gives the meter's recommended exposure, but only in full-stop increments.

It might be more effective to work with the auto-exposure lock and the exposure compensation dial. Then the camera will set the shutter speed to within 1/6th of an f-stop. I was able to get consistently good slide exposures working in this manner on a 7-week trip to Australia (which started out as a 3-week trip; see my decompression illness story for details).

Tripod Work

Really Right Stuff

Bottom Line

The Mamiya 7 is a great camera. If you need higher image quality than 35mm, some flexibility as to lens choice, and portability, the Mamiya 7 is a faithful companion.

You can support photo.net by buying one now at Adorama.

More

Gallery

With the 150mm lens...

(note the armadillo being grilled above)

With the 43mm lens...

In beautiful Antigua, Guatemala...

The cemetery at "Chichi":

The market at Chichi:

The Maya city of Tikal...

Let's shift gears now, back to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This has been the subject of an earlier photo.net exhibit but a new house in Chatham and the newly arrived Mamiya created an opportunity to take some more snapshots. First, let's look at the views from the house and deck:

Now the interior, mostly with the 43mm lens...

Where to Buy

The USA version of this camera is stocked by Adorama, a retailer that pays photo.net a referral fee for each customer, which helps keep this site in operation. For additional retailer information, see our recommended retailers page and the user recommendations section.


PhotoCD scans by the good folks at Advanced Digital Imaging.

Text and photos copyright 2000 Philip Greenspun.

Article created 2000

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



Jay J. Pulli , July 31, 2000; 02:01 P.M.


Thrieve Castle, Scotland

Just adding a sample image of mine from the Mamiya 7 with 65 f4. Image © 1996 by Jay J. Pulli.

Jay J. Pulli , July 31, 2000; 02:04 P.M.

I've owned a Mamiya 7 for 4 years now. I bought it having recalled fond memories of borrowing Fuji 6x7 rangefinders when I was a kid working at a Harvard Square camera shop (Ferranti-Dege). It was a pleasure to work with 6x7 negs in the darkroom. I've taken the Mamiya 7 to Scotland, Italy, and numerous US trips. Although I enjoy using the camera and it (most of the time) produces wonderful images, the persistent problem I have with it is hyperfocal distance. Depth of field marks on the lens (I just have the 65 f4) are just not right. To play it safe I have to assume hyperfocal distances that are 2 stops shorter than my actual f-stop (e.g. if I am shooting at f16 I only assume true hyperfocal distances using f8). And my close-range (less than 10 ft) often seem out of focus, event though I've had Mamiya check the rangefinder. As a big user of PhotoCD (like 100 images a month) I sure wish that medium format scanning costs were more reasonable too ($15 each vs $1 for 35 mm in quantities of 100 scans). PhotoCD scans are also set for a 35 mm aspect ratio, so when you have 6x7 or 6x6 scans returned there's a lot of wasted pixels. If the Mamiya 7 had an 80 mm f2.8 instead of an f4 then it would be an ideal substitute of a Leica. Hasselbad makes an 80 f2.8 that is not huge, I can't really believe Mamiya's excuse. Because the Mamiya 7 uses a meter that is not TTL and not matrix-evaluative, it forces you to remember good metering technique, e.g. metering a neutral gray area.

Shayok Mukhopadhyay , July 31, 2000; 10:33 P.M.

I too love my normal lens, and not only for the streets, but trails too. The Mamiya 7 seems ideal for both purposes, till you look at its minimum focusing distance. I rented the system for a spring weekend in Shenandoah National Park: the wrinkled bark, the bunch of leaves, the Mamiya 7 is crippled.

Alas, you never seem to get negative real estate without trading away something you take for granted in a 35mm SLR.

Alexey Merz , August 01, 2000; 01:43 A.M.

Phil says: "The key to the Mamiya's photographer-friendliness is that the camera's engineers must have read About Face, where Alan Cooper reminds programmers 'No matter how cool your interface, it would be better if there were less of it.'" Harumph. This is, of course, what the Mamiya, Hexar and Leica users here have been saying for some years, and what Phil largely downplayed in his review of the Nikon F - and to a distressing degree, ignored in the (v. 2.0) photo.net redesign. One other thing: many people who own and use both (I confess that I am not one of 'em) strongly disagree with Phil's statement that the Mamiya 7 RF is better than the Leica's.

Sundaram Rajagopalan , August 02, 2000; 10:44 A.M.

There are some nice pictures in here, the format adds something to otherwise normal looking pictures. There's something absolutely seductive about near-square formats that I'm unable to explain. Well, heck, I dont have to. So long as I like it, I am game to being seduced. While I am at it, this page has given me enough reason to toy around more with my rackety-ass 6x6 yashica t-10(?) with a fixed 80mm lens - I love that lens-body combo.

So far as inconveniences in medium format go, I am prepared to live by them. When I was given the (yashica t-10)camera, it wasn't used for over 15 years and the shutter dial wouldn't rotate. Numerous camera shops I showed it to asked me to junk the camera. I wasn't prepared to give up and with the help of generous quantities of CH3CH2OH from the Chem. engg. dept., cleaned up the shutter dial. Lo and behold, it started woirking. And what: I even took pictures of a wedding with that camera!!! I have a feeling the light meter on the camera is working, but I meter with my eos system and transfer those settings.

I think I like the square formats more.

Detlev Horst , August 07, 2000; 05:48 A.M.

Phil, I like your pictures and to me they seem to be somewhat different compared to those taken with an ordinary SLR: you were more in touch and worked at closer distance, obviously not disturbing the people, resulting in better quality. Maybe the bright frame lines did make it easier to compose too. Fine examples for good (colour) street photography!

John Clark , August 13, 2000; 01:25 P.M.

Like Phil, I have used both the EOS and the Mamiya 7-II. Personally, I couldn't live without either. The M7-II is capable of producing razor sharp images and beautiful creamy colours, whilst being handholdable. It's a bizarre looking beastie, but I always feel less 'vulnerable' with the M7-II plus the 80/4.0 than I do with the EOS plus (say) the 28-70/2.8L. The other thing about the M7 system is that it seems beautifully balanced to me, and I can handhold to much slower shutter speeds... also, it's deathly quiet, which is great for street candids...

The downsides - there are plenty, but then this camera never aimed to be a 'jack of all trades'; it's a master of portable, high quality MF photography (such as would befit a travel photographer) and as such excels...

It's just a pity about the minimum focus and relatively slow (not to mention expensive) lenses...

John

patrick dumont , August 28, 2000; 10:22 A.M.

I went the mamiya7 route back in april 2000 for a few reasons i highlighted in the mamiya7 forum. After 5 months of use I would certainly rather use the meter with C41 than E6 film for consistent results.

Most of the time the m7 is on tripod stopped to 22 with polarizer and the metering is incident. A polarizer is actually very useable but exclusively for landscapes: the procedure for checking polarization and reporting then on the lens by screwing the filter back on is only bearable when the subject and camera are static. Cumbersome yes, but i have managed it with reasonable success. As a matter of fact it is even relatively easy to use grad filters.

I am very curious about phil's view on the use of hyperfocal markings on the M7. Warned by a few postings on the forum i have used as well the 2stops margin approach. Is'nt that too much caution? Is phil using just one stop. Two stops is really cumbersome. I am especially interested in phil's comments about the 43mm in that respect to gain the near/far view.

I was wondering in the future about the wisdom of using the M7 or my nikon on trips. Well i'll try the m7 only approach...

regards patrick

Peter Weimann , December 20, 2000; 05:02 A.M.

There are good news for those folks using this damn thing for landscapes. Mamiya now offers a special polarizer that can be shifted towards the metering element, make the reading and then be reshifted to the lens. Still cumbersome but acceptable.

Charles E. Love, Jr. -- , March 01, 2001; 11:28 A.M.

I have used the Mamiya 7 since it came out, and before that the 6 (I switched because I don't like the square format, and the 7 is only a bit bigger than the 6). I also used a Leica rangefinder for years. The rangefinder in the Mamiya does not compare with the Leica's, in my view. In fact, I would never use the 150 mm. lens wide open--I just cannot focus it accurately enough. So I would not think a fast lens would be usable wide open.

The Mamiya 7 II's focusing is somewhat better, so if you are choosing, I'd recommend it over the first model. But there are still problems--and they are design problems, because I have owned three different bodies and they are all problematic in this area.

The focusing problem becomes more important because of the inaccuracy of the hyperfocal distance markings on the lenses. It's bad enough that you have to be 2 stops conservative (as several users have noted here), but if you use the rangfinder to measure the near and far that you want in focus, the focusing difficulty adds to the problem. I have had several nasty surprises over the years, with things that should have been reasonably sharp quite out of focus, despite great care on the tripod.

The Mamiya site has lots of discussion of all this. The company has claimed that the camera might need adjustment (not in my experience!) and that some obscure characteristic of the lenses shows up focusing errors more than on, say, a Pentax 6X7 (the problem is asserted to be related to the lenses' excellence!). Anyway, if you haven't read this stuff, take a look.

These problems are especially irritating because the camera is so wonderful in other ways. The lenses are blow-you-away outstanding (I have used them all, except the new long lens), especially the 43. The whole package is extremely compact, especially compared to my Pentax. Finally, you can use it on a light tripod, since there's no mirror and almost no vibration. I love it, but would love it more if it really focused like a Leica!

Bruce Percy , June 10, 2001; 09:27 A.M.

I've had the Mamiya 7 II for three months now. It has been my first choice in moving up to 6X7 from 35mm.

In the past three months, i've shot a lot of film; primarily so that I can get used to the quirks of a new camera before I take it abroad with me on my travels later in the year.

My impressions are thus:

It's a fantastic camera. I've been very impressed with the image quality of all three lenses (50, 80 & 150).

Things that have gotten me:

1. Focusing. How many times have I forgotten to focus the camera? I've lost count. I think this is because what you see in the special rangefinder windows looks in focus, and since i've come from 35mm where you trust everything you see in the viewfinder, i've come a cropper with focussing. It's just a matter of getting used to this feature of rangefinders, and obviously not a crit of the actual camera.

2. I keep forgetting to reset the curtain switch on the bottom of the camera once a lens has been changed. I don't think i'll ever get used to this one.

3. The adapter rings for the heliod polarizer - esp the the 80mm one has a small ballbearing that is used to press in against the lens to reduce the chance of the main ring becoming undone. I've found that because this ballbearing is positioned at the bottom of the ring, it tends to hang down, thus provides difficulting in putting the main adapter ring over it. In fact, i've found that sometime the main adapter has been installed, but upon inspection, isn't correctly seated. Bit fiddly.

4. The panoramic adapter is a bit 'cludgy'. But worst of all is that when it get's to frame 18 (bear in mind that each frame is equivalent to 2 35mm frames), and is thus at the end of the roll, if can often jam because the film leader will allow you to try and roll the film on further. I've had a few scary moments thinking that I wouldnt' be able to do anything with the camera because it wouldn't allow me to rewind the film. I couldn't even get the lens off, because the curtain couldn't be pulled over. Nightmare situation.

5. The first sample of the camera (this is my second) had a tendency to lock up mid roll. I couldnt release the shutter, wind the film on, use the film curtain to release the lense. The whole camera became totally unusable, and I had to ruin the roll of film by opening the back as this seemed to be the only way to get the camera out of it's 'lockup' mode.

Apart from these issues, I think it's a great camera. On the plus side:

1. The meter is very accurate. Regardless of what lens I have on, it still seems to provide very good exposures.

2. It's very light, and compact for a 6 X 7. I'd say it's a little smaller than an EOS1 + booster. So that isn't bad.

3. The lenses are excellent. They're also quite light and small for the format.

4. It's very well built.

All in all, i'm very happy with my camera. Moving to medium format appeared to be a real compromise to someone like me who's used to built in zone meters, autofocus etc. But I feel quite at home with this camera now. At first I didn't trust the meter, because of how simple it is, but the results have proven to me that it's remarkably accurate.

Andreas David Galeati , August 21, 2001; 02:56 P.M.

The Mamiya 7II camera is a very excellent camera that even people with a lot of patience can struggle using it, professionals and advanced amatuers alike. It has a lot of quirks like, snapping and clicking a bunch of security buttons when changing lenses and also can be troublesome when focusing distances of 40 - 200 meters. The camera also can blow its clutch when using the 35mm adapter, for your film advance lever will give up and your stuck with a non functioning camera. When using the 220 film, it is possible to lose one or two shots for the plate may not be applying the proper pressure to advance it appropriately. This has been something that a lot of people have been unhappy with, especially wedding photographers. If you can work around these problems with ease and become disciplined enough to overpower this problems, the Mamiya 7II is fantastic. The quality of the lenses are absolutley great! You can't ask more from these tiny lenses. The image quality is razor sharp with fine contrast, and the detail of the subtle parts of the negative/positive come right out. The camera has the feel of an SLR and the rangefinder focusing system will bail you out in low light situations. The camera is expensive, but with years of experience with other medium format cameras and an affinity for the ever present 35mm feel, the Mamiya 7II will make your dream shots come true.

Tom Rose , September 19, 2001; 02:18 P.M.

Looking to sell more images to picture libraries, and finding the otherwise perfect Fuji GX680 way too heavy to carry all over the place, I bought my Mamiya 7 II a year ago. I went into the camera shop intending to buy a Fuji 6x9, but the assistant showed me the Mamiya, and after holding that the Fuji seemed cheap and nasty. For image quality it is in a completely different league from the finest 35mm system.

Since then the only other camera I have used is my go-everywhere, pocketable 35mm compact.

My problem now is, what do I do with a room full of Nikon bodies and lenses? I thought I would keep them for the long-teles, macro lenses, shift lens, fast standard lens, and convenient zooms ... but the only time I have touched a 35mm SLR was to finish off a film that was sitting in one of them.

John Clark , November 05, 2001; 04:44 A.M.

It's now almost two years since I bought my Mamiya 7-II and I am finding it to be just about the ideal camera for travel. I am always blown away by the quality of the images, although as some have mentioned, it is important to be critical with focusing and it's all too easy to forget when the viewfinder image appears sharp. A recent purchase of a Contax G2 system has meant that I am not using the Mamiya as much as before, but I still look forward to any excuse to take it with me. Obviously, although the G2 is basically at the top of the tree with regard to 35mm pictures, the Mamiya produces results which really do eclipse it.

I haven't yet bought a second lens for the Mamiya - they are very expensive and I'm biding my time, waiting for a secondhand, mint 43 or 50 at sensible money (and I am prepared to wait for some time ;-) - so I can't really comment on the peculiarities of the lens mounting system as I've rarely used it. However, I shall one day need to report back on that aspect of the camera!

To this day I am impressed with the general ergonomics of the Mamiya; its comfortable shape, tactile, quiet shutter, bright, clear viewfinder and ease of use have always made it a joy to use. I've never had any problems with the panoramic adaptor (other than some initial problems with the back's catch not holding - that was user error, rather than a flaw of the camera) but I am interested and a little anxious about the problems others seem to have faced.

I still heartily recommend the Mamiya 7-II and find it to be all I expect of it and more. Still my favourite camera!

John

John Clark , July 22, 2002; 02:59 P.M.

Hi folks.

Finally bought a 43/4.5 secondhand in the UK, and at the same time bought a 150/4.5 (from the same dealer - thus getting me a better deal). What can I say? The 43 is everything it's cracked up to be - a fantastic lens. However, I'm going to take a moment to praise the 150 - I didn't expect it to be as good as the 43 or 80 but it's an incredible lens, and so so sharp. Beautiful, and not as difficult to focus as some had led me to believe.

One last word must go for the RRS plate which mates beautifully to the M7. Being UK-based, it took a leap of faith to purchase the plate from Really Right Stuff, but apart from being expensive it is exquisite and exactly the right shape. Perfect for the purpose of mating the M7 to my B1, although I don't think it will work with the panoramic adaptor (although I haven't tried this yet).

John

Terry Roth , November 12, 2002; 10:59 A.M.

I had a Mamiya 7, with 80mm and 150mm lenses. The lenses were indeed sharp, I obtained 120 lines/mm on Tech Pan film with the 80, and 100 lines/mm with the 150. But resolution isn't everything, both lenses produced prints with a harsh feel--perhaps bokeh comes into play here. I found the rangefinder spot no easier (or harder) to focus than my Fuji GSW690, and did not like the dim lightmeter---the lightmeter was so fussy (I am red colorblind) that I wound up using a Pentax spotmeter in preference. I took the camera down to Point Lobos, looking for Edward's tripod marks. It was VERY disappointing to discover that the DOF marking s on the lenses were "optimistic"!!! Several o/wise nice shots were toast because of that. I sold the camera, and have been happy with the Fuji GSW690--the lens on this model is every bit as sharp as the Mamiya, and makes a more pleasing, lifelike ("3-d" ??) image. Folks call the Fuji's "Texas Leicas" not because of the build quality---basically they're like steam locomotives, but because of the dazzling quality of the glass. The 90mm on my GW670 is not the world-beater that the 65mm is, it's more comparable to 80mm Planar, 90mm RB67 lens, etc.

On balance, the "pro" aspects of the camera---neat ergonomics, interchangeable lenses, sharp but harsh glass----were offset by the cons: fussy ergonomics, bad bokeh/DOF, and hard-to-see meter. YMMV.

terryroth2@attbi.com

Toby Cline , March 08, 2003; 01:14 P.M.

Howdy guys,

I just bought my 7II and I love it. This is my first medium format camera and the large, sharp slides that come out of this baby blow me away. Being new to rangefinders, I have a tendency to leave the lens cap on when taking that 'perfect shot'. If you happen to do this occasionally like I do, then try this little trick that I have learned. Get in the habbit of not advancing the film until you are ready to take your picture. This keeps you from winding to the next frame right away. Or, you can get in the habbit of always looking at the lens BEFORE you advance the film. That way, when you take a shot with the lens cap on, and then walk a few feet away, and then realize that you left the lens cap on, simply walk back to the spot you just took your picture, flip the mulit-exposure button, re-cock the shutter, take the lens cap off, and take the picture again! If you took the picture with the cap on, and then advanced the film, your screwed. If you check the lens cap before you advance the film and walk away, you may save yourself a dollar and a wasted opportunity.

Let me tell anyone who is thinking about getting this camera, and reading this web site in hopes of hearing something positive about the 7II to put them over the edge and allow them to rationalize the expense -- go get the camera today! If Mamiya of America isn't offering a good deal through B&H or Adorama, then try Harry's Pro Shop in Toronto at http://harrysproshop.com. You don't pay duty or taxes and the shipping is under fifty bucks. They are usually 30% cheaper than the big boys in NYC. They may be 50 bucks more than Robert White in England, but Toronto is right across the border if you have to go to the store and is also just a cheap phone call away, where as England is on the far side of a large pond and can be expensive to call or pay shipping prices.

I drooled over the RZ for over a year before I discovered the 7II. I realized that I could never afford the 12,000 dollars it would take to buy all the lenses and accessories that I wanted. Even then, how could I carry three or four lenses, a body, film, light meter, etc, etc, and not get fed up with all of its hassel and weight? I'd probably end up walking around with a Nikon F100 and one or two quality zooms because I don't have assistants to carry all my stuff. The 7II is light, portable, and you can easily carry 3 or 4 lenses, which will cover almost all normal situations. Did I mention those lenses are razor sharp? Try getting the same quality out of Nikkor or even Zeiss glass. If you need any further convincing, just go to Ken Rockwell's homepage @ www.kenrockwell.com.

Happy Shooting!

Questions? Just e-mail me.

Danilo Gurovich , April 04, 2003; 07:30 P.M.

I too, Gave the Mamiya 7 a very hard look and decided on the Fuji GS690III, because I believe that the lens quality of Fuji is superior.

The only interchangeability I would need is to go wider, and a GSW690 + GS690 is cheaper than buying a Mamiya with two lenses, plus you end up with better glass, simplicity, no batteries and a great camera.

If you want a telephoto effect, just crop it. I use Tech Pan and a grain focuser won't show anything even past 11x14! I'm not put off at all by the use of polymers on the body and the loud shutter. I use this camera with zeal and I'm very happy with the results, especially tripod mounted Tech-pan and 50 speed Fuji Chromes. I'm going after a 617 next, as soon as I get a bigger enlarger!

Image Attachment: woody.jpg

DAVID BURKE , April 28, 2003; 07:17 P.M.

I have owned a Mamiya 7 and then upgraded to the Mamiya 7 II. The camera that I used before was the fuji range finder 6X9 The fuji lens is not nearly as sharp as the Mamiya lenses (look at hte MTF) Especially the contrast. This camera requires some getting use to especially for it slow apperture. I have been using a monopod for my pictures and find out that it complements nicely with the Mamiya 7. Compared to the Fuji, the range finder is so much brighter and easier to focus than the fuji camera. I find two set back with this camera: 1-lack of close up focusing. (cannot get full head shots without cropping) 2-Lack of lenses at lower f stop i.e 2.8 etc... My feeling is that Mamiya range finder does not want to compete with its Reflex cameras because I do not believe that with todays computers one cannot manufactor such lenses.

David

Robert Clark , May 08, 2003; 11:08 A.M.

The last comment and indeed the whole review brings up certain conclusions. Good as this camera is, there is a niche for something better. An MF Leica M6 or M7 or a Konica Hexanon: Excellent, accurate, longer base rangefinders, better build quality, TTL metering, possibly also TTL flash and most importantly of all faster lenses. Why not a 75 or 80 f2.8? This must be possible. Or better still an f2.5 or dare I ask f2?

The simple timeless functionality of the Leica with its fast lenses, durability and repairability is surely the benchmark for the ultimate in MF. And highly desireable in a camera format which is usually used quite thoughtfully and by discerning, demanding photographers. I imagine this would only be made by a company with no investment in MF SLR, such as Leica or Konica, (or Nikon) but we can live and hope.

Howard Henrickson , August 28, 2003; 07:55 P.M.

Stuart, A new 7 should be double checked for focusing cam accuracy as soon as you get it. I bought used and assumed I would get the camera adjusted. Once that is done or checked you should be happy. Concerning DOF, closing down 1 stop may work for 6X or 8X enlargements, I use 2 stops for 13X. Great camera, exceptional optics!

Mike Stacey , February 08, 2006; 08:58 P.M.

The Mamiya lenses are frighteningly sharp with great colour rendition. I'm hard pressed to tell the difference between a print made from my Mamiya 6 x 7 compared to my Horseman 4 x 5 with 90mm Nikkor lens. DOF was a problem until I discovered that for max. DOF just set the F stop to F11 and use the DOF scale to set infinity on the max marker, then change the aperture to F22 and shoot. Ewverything from about 4 feet to infinity is then in sharp focus. See attached.

Image Attachment: 2005Aug-Forster-2-4.jpg

Tom Rose , April 16, 2007; 10:16 A.M.

An update to my earlier comment.

After the novelty of the Mamiya had worn off I have gone back to using a Leica M

The very quiet shutter, wonderful image quality, and great fill-flash capability are (for me) outweighed by the pain of only 10 shots per roll, slow lenses, oversensitive shutter, and the size of the thing

Mamiya 7 II. A great camera ... for some - not me

Jesus Garza , April 21, 2007; 02:51 P.M.

Love the photos. Fantastic! The camera is a winner if you can get a discount. Again, congratulations to the photographer. jmmgarza.com

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Dante Ciullo , April 26, 2007; 09:21 P.M.

I'm a die-hard RZ fan. I love the 6x7 neg and the results from that camera. That said, lugging it around Italy for three weeks in the early summer of 2004 was a chore. I've never regretted taking it because of the 20x24 images I now have hanging on my walls are amazingly sharp and contrasty ... results I'd not have seen in a 35mm or high-end digital.

I'm headed back to Europe this summer. Not wanting to give up the 6x7 neg and not wanting to carry my very heavy RZ ... I bought a Mamiya 7II with a 43mm and 80mm lens. My testing of this camera has proven that I made a wise decision for a travel camera.

Image quality from the 7II is just as amazing as from my RZ. True there is a hyperfocal issue ... but the answer is not shooting at f/22 with your infinity mark at f/16 or f/11 as most people suggest. This is a little off-topic, but I think someone looking at the 7II, or using a 7II might want to know.

The problem with this shooting at f/22 or f/16 approach is the distortion caused by stopping all the way down. Two generally accepted rules-of-thumb are that a lens is sharpest two-stops from wide open and that stopping down to the minimum f-stop actually reduces sharpness while maximizing depth-of-field.

My testing has shown that using the guide in the lens manual gives you a good starting point for getting proper hyperfocal results. Though, those results need to be tested too.

I found that the 43mm lens, focused at 7m and stopped down to f/11 produced the best hyperfocal results with that lens ... just slightly better than f/8.

With the 80mm lens, also stopped down to f/11, the point of focus setting on the lens is a little more tricky. The right side of the infinity mark needs to rest just inside the right-side f/11 marking on the lens. The focus point is on the far-right edge of the zero on the 10m mark.

My best suggestion is testing it yourself and get truly sharp results with maximum depth-of-field without gaining the distortion caused by stopping down to f/16 or f/22.

I find that both of these lenses produce the best results between wide open and f/11. f/16 and f/22 were softer at the point-of-focus, even though they obviously had more depth-of-field. And, when shooting things that aren't hyperfocal ... I've found that f/8 on both of those lenses really is the sweet spot on those lenses.

Just my 6x7 cents worth ...

Hoan Tran , June 02, 2007; 01:31 A.M.

I have owned a Mamiya 7 camera with three lenses for a little over two years. The camera has helped me taking so many great outdoor, high resolution photographs. There is only one small complain that I kept forgetting to remove the len's cap before taking pictures. Since I purchased the camera, my quest of finding a great outdoor camera has come to an end.

Robert Budding , June 23, 2007; 10:11 P.M.

Sorry, but I so very little value in f/2 or f/2.8 lenses for 6x7 except, perhaps, for the widest lenses. I normally shoot 2 or 3 stops stopped down relative to 35mm just to get enough DOF.

Andrew Prokos , September 08, 2007; 02:48 P.M.

I tried out one of these on a weekend trip to Washington DC. I had never used a rangefinder camera before and still am not sure who the target use for this type of camera is. I do a lot of Washington DC photography in general and I have to say that the photos I shot that weekend were all razor sharp. I was very impressed with the detail and color saturation from the Mamiya lens. The only problem is that night shooting is very difficult with this camera and I found some of my night shots were blurry from not focusing properly.

samuel wilson , July 14, 2009; 01:41 P.M.

Nice review of the camera. I have a house right down the street from you in Chatham.

Frank Fitzpatrick , April 26, 2010; 06:51 A.M.

Very good review of the Mamiya 7 which was the final thing that convinced me to buy into it. Since then have always loved it.

Although it does not have half stops this can be achieved simply by setting the lens midway between  two f stops. Simple, but it works.

Tim Layton , October 09, 2010; 07:20 A.M.

I love my RZ67 Pro II but it would be nice to have the ability to still enjoy the benefits of the 6x7 without carrying around my RZ.  As of today (October 2010) camera shops don't exactly carry these in stock any longer unless you live in one of the few very large cities it seems where you can find MF used equipment.  The two pro shops that I have in my city don't even carry anything film related any more and won't even take a film camera in for trade any longer.  What a shame...  I would like to check this out before buying but it seems that is not likely an option for me.  Does anyone know of the best place to find a new or used Mamiya 7 II besides e-bay for used equipment or B & H/Adorma for new? 

Scott Page , November 05, 2010; 01:45 P.M.

"Does anyone know of the best place to find a new or used Mamiya 7 II besides e-bay for used equipment or B & H/Adorma for new? "

Tim, I bought a brand new 7ii and a few lenses recently from a dealer on ebay. There are several dealers on ebay of new equipment. These dealers are located in either Japan or Hong Kong and their prices are vastly less than US dealers. The camera and separate lenses purchases came really fast. I think the camera w/ 80mm lens from Hong Kong only took 3 days to arrive.

As to the camera itself, its wonderful. I had a fuji for 2 weeks and hated it. I've loved the 7ii from day one and only get more enamored with it the more I use it. I haven't touched my Hassy and my Rollei since getting it.

Eric Moss , November 11, 2010; 09:15 P.M.

How is your 7 II doing?  I'm considering buying from the Hong Kong dealer, as well, and wondered about your experience.  I'm considering starting with the 65mm to get the widest view (think Yosemite) while avoiding external viewfinders.  Thoughts on it vs 43/50/80?  Also, does anyone have experience with the Nikon 9000 scanner for 6x7 negatives and/or slides?

Tim Layton , November 11, 2010; 10:08 P.M.

Eric, I am glad to share my experience with you.

How is your 7 II doing? 

I just wrote an article on the M7 here.  I posted some photos as well. 

http://blog.timlaytonphotography.com/2010/10/mamiya-7-rangefinder-out-for-the-first-spin/

I went with the 7 because for me there were no material differences between the 7 and 7 II.  You can read up on the differences here, but they are trivial in my opinion. 

I'm considering starting with the 65mm to get the widest view (think Yosemite) while avoiding external viewfinders. 

I went with the 80mm lens first (39mm equiv in 35mm) and I have this lens on 90% of the time.  The sharpness, contrast and all the good things everyone says is really true.  The external viewfinder does sound bad but when you look at the prints you get from it,  you don't think about it again.  For me personally I went with the 43mm because I really needed the wide angle of this lens and there just wasn't enough difference between the 80mm and 65mm for me.  Just let your needs drive your decisions, but the 43 and the 80 are a great combo. 

Also, does anyone have experience with the Nikon 9000 scanner for 6x7 negatives and/or slides?

I don't have a Nikon 9000 but have researched the heck out of it.  Just a couple notes to consider.  Nikon doesn't support Snow Leopard on the Mac platform so if you have a new Mac you have some issues to deal with.  On the Windows side from everything I have read you are good to go with 32-bit OS's if you use the Nikon software or you can go 64-bit if you go with Vuescan or Silverfast softwares. I can't seem to find a Nikon 9000 ED anywhere (new) that isn't several hundred dollars over list price.  Something doesn't sound right to me here so I am very hesitant to invest that kind of money. 

I do however have an Epson V750 and it does great for web output and a good job on up to about 20" prints in my opinion.  The same image scanned from my local pro shop at 4000 dpi on their film scanner has more detail, better contrast, tonal range and shadow detail than my Epson produces.  I was told that the Epson V750 (their top end scanner) effectively tops out at about 2400 dpi.  I don't know this to be true but people smarter than me have told me this.  I recently posted a question here to try and get more detail. 

I hope this helps.  IMHO you will love the Mamiya 7 or 7II and I think you will agree with the many users that talk about the amazing prints they produce.  It is a joy to operate and as long as you have a set routine you won't get tripped up.  Don't forget you are not looking through the lens so any filters you apply, etc you can't see. I found the metering on this camera to be very accurate.  I carried my spot meter with me for the first few rolls and don't do it any longer because it is so accurate.  I use the AE-Lock mode the most.  I basically scan my scene and then based on the lowest amount of shadow detail that I want to capture, I lock in the exposure accordingly.  You will probably want ND filters because of the limitation of ASA100 and ASA 400 film.  I use .3 (1 stop), .6 (2 stops) and .9 (3 stops) ND filters with excellent results.  When I shoot B/W I routinely use yellow, orange and red filters for both contrast and stops and I get excellent results with this config as well.  I can basically shoot in bright sunlight with ASA 100 film and a ND filter and I am good to go. 

Tim

Eric Moss , October 09, 2011; 09:38 P.M.

Hi all,

I'm so glad I got the Mamiya 7 II.  The results are just lovely (see my Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/27163343@N00/?saved=1).  I wish I could get more than one in 50 shots that I was proud of in terms of composition, but any blame rests squarely on this side of the camera.

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