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Shooting 4x5 with Mamiya Universal/Polaroid 600SE

Mark JK , Jun 06, 2008; 08:50 a.m.

Hello everyone,

What I need to purchase to shoot 4x5 with Mamiya Universal/Polaroid 600SE? Do the lenses give a good coverage of 4x5? And what is your general experience using the Universal/600SE as a hand held 4x5 rangefinder?

Manythanks Mark


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Michael Axel , Jun 06, 2008; 11:39 a.m.

Mark, what makes you think it can be used as a 4x5 camera? I don't think the back will allow for it, and surely the lenses were never designed to cover an area larger than medium format.

Mark JK , Jun 06, 2008; 11:42 a.m.

I do know people shoot 4x5 with Universal/600SE. I dont know if you have had experience with them or not but many lenses cover polaroid format (which is only smaller than 4x5 abit), and indeed some of them nearly cover 4x5. I have not had personal experience but I know its possible, just want to ask folks on here to confirm.

Jack Welsh , Jun 06, 2008; 12:52 p.m.

I don't know about 4x5, but the 127 lens covers Polaroid. The Universal back opening is only 3 3/4 x 3 3/4".

Michael Hendrickson , Jun 07, 2008; 05:34 a.m.

From Wikipedia:

"This camera uses all Polaroid 3-1/4 x 4-1/4 instant pack films, including: 669 and 690 film (color prints); 664 and 667 film (B&W prints). (Note: Polaroid 665 film has been discontinued.) With the appropriate adapters and backs it can also shoot 4 x 5 Polaroid Instant film as well as 120 format film."

Polaroid comes in different sizes, so "Polaroid format" is actually meaningless.

True, the 127mm lens might cover the 600 numbered Polaroid films, and might even cover 4x5, but the camera won't handle it, except to expose a smaller portion of the 4x5 film than a 4x5 camera would.

So, technically, while you could shoot with these films, it wouldn't be the same as "shooting 4x5" with a 4x5 camera; there's a lot of film unexposed.

Bob Mann , Jun 07, 2008; 07:24 p.m.

If you want to shoot 4x5 with a hand held rangefinder camera - why not a Crown or Speed Graphic? Cost less, more lens choices, roll film back options and is about the same in size and weight.

Jack Welsh , Jun 08, 2008; 10:20 p.m.

Since it can't show the full 4x5 format. I would just use the 3 3/4x 3 3/4 size it was made for. That's what I do with my Universal.

Anthony Sansone , Jun 19, 2008; 11:38 a.m.

Dear Mark

There are three 4X5 film holders for the 600SE. These film holders connect to the back of the camera just like the pack film holder. One is a 545i Polaroid 4X5 film holder. You can use Polaroid 4X5, Kodak Ready Loads and Fuji Quick Loads. The other type is a spring back design which will accept the 545i film holder and all the Lisco etc. 4X5 sheet film holders so you can use any film made in 4X5 size. The image size is just short of the full 4X5 image area on sheet film, but it is bigger than the pack film image area.

One day, I will make the standard spring back and a special combination of 4X5 spring back film holder and an extension back for the camera. Then, you can get 99% to the full 4X5 image area, but will need a ground glass to focus. You will be able to fit these to a Universal or 600SE. I will also make an extension back set for the camera so you can do great close up work.

The first type of film holder that has a frame attached to the 545i Film Holder has been made by several companies over the years. Some did not perform well. In the 80s and early 90s, a big bunch of them went to England. These were not very well made and did not have the film plane in the exact place required. They were not very popular and most of the holders were sent here and sold.

I still have a few 545i holders for the Mamiya Press, (Made properly, film plane in the right place), but none for the 600SE.

The Polaroid 550 film holder for the 4X5 pack film was also converted to fit the 600SE. You could use the Fuji 4X5 pack film with this holder.

4X5 is fun to play with. The huge image area is neat. Remember that the 600SE lenses have far more resolving power than the standard 4X5 lenses with their much larger image areas. If you print your images 4 feet by 6 feet or smaller, you will be amazed at the detail etc. from the higher resolving power of the lenses.

Hope this helps.

Regards Tony Sansone

Mark JK , Jun 19, 2008; 12:31 p.m.

Hi Tony again,

I have measure the opening at the back of the Mamiya Universal/Polaroid 600SE and confirm it to be around 3 3/4 square, so I guess thats really the maximum image area we can get?

I'm very curious about the spring back design, could you please show me a few photos of it? I have been watching ebay for a while but still have not found anything. I surely will be on the queue when you start producing them.

Many thanks Mark

Mark JK , Jun 19, 2008; 12:33 p.m.

I'm interested in purchasing one 545i holder for the Press to if you're interested in selling. Please let me know. Mark

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