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Mamiya RB67 - Cheap but worth it??

Manuel Panzera , Jan 12, 2006; 07:18 a.m.

I've been looking at getting in to MF and have been considering the Mamiya RB67 as you seem to be able to pick them up dirt cheap. I know they call this a work horse but most of the ones I've seen look more like an old ass if you ask me, but that may just be in appearance. Given that they have probably all been owned by pros who would have treated them pretty harshly are they still worth the deal do you think? A lot seem to have had the seals all done rather substandardly.

Cheers Manuel

Responses


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Marck McGill , Jan 12, 2006; 09:22 a.m.

And the answer is: it depends. Of course they could be in perfect working state as well as in badly worn out conditions.

Since old-as-new units go for ridiculous prices as well recently, I'd say to spend a bit more and pick up a unit in good shape.

William Markey , Jan 12, 2006; 10:20 a.m.

If you buy one from www.keh.com, you can choose how your's looks by their different quality choices. And they provide a guarantee so you can make sure it works. I have an old model RB with a little wear on it, but it works like a charm--it makes the most beautiful portraits! For me, I use the 180mm "C" lens about 95% of the time.

reinhard scheuregger , Jan 12, 2006; 04:11 p.m.

manuel, i've just bought an RB 67 Pro S with a 140mm macro plus the motor back for 400 euros. after some testrolls i can only encourage you. definitely worth the money ...

jim feldman , Jan 12, 2006; 05:56 p.m.

There are 3 models/revisions of the bodies and lenses.

RB67 Pro. 1970-1973. You may find them in good cosmetic condition, but there's bound to be issues with light seals and there's no double exposure interlock between the film back and the body. Parts will be a challange.

RB67 Pro-S. Made about 1973-1990 or so. There are some decent units of these floating around. Just because they were pro used, doesn't mean they're worn out. They were built for long use and meant to be serviced like your car. If you can find one that has been sitting on a tripod in a studio and got regular CLA's (clean, lube and adjust), I wouldn't be too worried. Long term exposure to heat is probably more an enemy than just milage, so watch for units that might have been sitting in attics or storage units. Parts may be tougher to find.

RB67 Pro-SD. Current model. has a slight larger lens opening, but adapters exist to mate with older lenses. Shift lens available.

Lenses:

Early lenses are called non-C type (no green "C" on the front). All lens elements may not be multicoated, and so are more subject to flare.

C type should all be multi-coated. Most are a good value.

KL's are the current generation lens for the SD's and include shift lenses. Some new APO models are supposed to be quite special.

There only two things I've seen go "bad" on the lenses (other than mechanical damage). The first is glue seperation between elements. Should be obvious around the edge if you hold the lens up to a diffuse light. Badness, but if the price is good (as in near free) you'll probably be able to stop down and avoid it. Fungus is somewhat similar (looks like spider webbing), but I've never seen it in the RB lenses.

Shutter issues. Usually repairable, but I've never seen an RB shutter that was less than a 1/4 stop off at all speeds and the 1/400 is infamous for being way off. Usually I'm happy if all (but the 1/400) are within 1/3 stop and consistant. Oil on blades isn't fatal but needs to be fixed.

Even if you shop at a reputable store, plan on sending the whole rig to be CLA'ed before you start using it.

Victor Moss , Jan 12, 2006; 07:39 p.m.

My first RB body was bought circa 1995, a used Pro model (not even ProS). Still works like a charm. With the current price drop, I added a ProSD body and replaced the lenses with their K/L versions. Forget about value, if you are comfortable with its limitations (size, weight, noise, low automation) it is one of the most flexible MF system around.

Having said that, when buying used, I would go with a dealer. My original 120 back developed a light leak and that is one of the recurring problems with this system. Although, one must say, that at current prices it is easier to order a used one from a dealer than to bother sending for CLA. Also, as others have mentioned it is quite possible to end up with a body with no life left in it (with a dealer you can get a warranty). Be wary of ebay lenses, there are quite clever ways of disguising defects that only surfaces after a few months (victim here).

Jon Raspa , Jan 12, 2006; 07:41 p.m.

I bought a RB67 Pro-S from KEH, and it was worth every cent I paid. The thing can take a beating and still work great. It requires no batteries, is simple to use once you figure out the interlock system, and the lenses are excellent. The thing that tipped the scales for me when I bought it was that this camera is a professional's camera. Not something that hobbyists or advanced amateurs buy so that they can show it off. It was made to last with heavy use and demand on it.

And you pay a low amount of money for a professional grade lens. almost every lens is multicoated, which is supposed to be really good. So you are getting a professional grade system for what is a rock bottom price right now.

Patrick Pritchard , Jan 12, 2006; 09:57 p.m.

The Mamiya RB IMHO is the ultimate studio camera. I had two, and sold one off due to lack of use (might as well let someone else have fun with it). Sadly I haven't used mine as much as I am not in a studio setting anymore, but in terms of the entire system, and quality of glass, it can't be beat.

The exception to this is the C220/C330 series, also by Mamiya. I loved the square format, and the TLR is the ultimate for shooting. :)

Neil Cowley , Jun 13, 2006; 10:00 a.m.

I'm picking one up to use the SFC150 lens exclusively - we'll see how it does! but for $400 for the set it's definately worth a try.

Daniel Valente , Feb 08, 2009; 05:03 p.m.

I am looking to pick one of these up. I have been looking to get into MF photography after shooting with dslr for a while (have been learning while in college). The rb67 intrigues me just for sheer size of the negative and the ability to scan with my flatbed scanner (an Epson 4490). The question is should I look for a used rb67 or look into getting one of the mamiya 645 models. I have seen some reasonable rb67s for around $400 w/ a 120 back WLF and 90m f/3.8. Is this a reasonable price? or should I look into something else. I mostly shoot landscapes and outdoor portraits / in situ full-length portraits.


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