I’m pleased with my recently purchased Mamiya-6 Folder. I’m beginning to understand its little quirks and it’s starting to do a reasonable job for me. Here are my early impressions…
I have long wanted a medium format folder, particularly a 6 by 6, and have been looking at several options for about a year. There is something quite beautiful about a vintage camera, especially a folder. Perhaps my feelings were shaped long ago when I was a five year old kid in the backstreets of Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s, watching my Dad take pictures with his 35mm Contessa folder.
Many 6 by 6 types were made but my ‘short-list’ narrowed down the range to: Agfa Super Isolette, Zeiss Super Ikonta, Certo6, Voigtländer Perkeo, Voigtlander Bessa and Zeiss Nettar. In truth, I would probably have been happy with any of these.
The risks attaching to buying a 50 year old camera are obvious. What really mattered to me was the camera’s condition, although one with a rangefinder was a bonus for me. Hence the long wait, as there are many folders out there in terrible condition. I realised though that any very old camera would need some rehabilitation, and this proved to be the case. When it arrived the shutter was sticky and the rangefinder need adjusting – both issues were simply resolved by my local camera repair shop.
The Mamiya-6 Automat is 6 by 6 format, a rangefinder and has an excellent lens (Zuiko f3.5, 75mm). This particular one had a leather carrying case that was in good condition, a clear lens and light-proof bellows. It came in its original box with a filter and a light shield. The carrying case is important as there is no ready means of attaching a strap to the camera without one.
Here are my early impressions of the Mamiya-6 Folder camera. A few things that I particularly like:
- Inside the body there is a removable plate that keeps the film flat in its plane. A great touch!
- Loading a new film is very easy and fuss-free.
- The focus is operated by a thumb-wheel which comes easily to the right thumb when the camera is lifted to the eye. Lovely and fast! No fiddling with a ring on the lens body.
- Like any folder with bellows, the lens adjustments for shutter speed and aperture are fiddly – and impossible with winter gloves on. Not a major issue though.
- The lens adjustments have to be gauged by eye against the number marks on the lens – shutter and aperture stops do not ‘click in’, as in modern lenses.
One of the nicest things about the camera is its compactness and weather-proofness in its folded state. This means that more often than not, this camera is with me wherever I go.
Finally, it doesn’t take a bad picture:
Conclusion: I hardly leave home without it!