Mamiya RB 140mm Macro (hats off to...)

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by philosomatographer, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Subscriber

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    This is a post to anybody considering this lens: BUY IT!

    I have the old 'C' series lens, and one with some element separation at that. I have been making Black and White images through it for more than a year, but only yesterday scanned my first colour images (Provia 100) from this lens, and not only is the lens still technically perfect (zero distortion, chromatic aberration, sharp etc) but there is another, indiscernable quality to the way this lens draws shapes, colours, and out-of-focus backgrounds, that is immensely pleasing.

    This image was made at f/8, with a very busy background, which the lens renders very smoothly and in a manner which is non-intrusive to the foreground:
    [​IMG]
    Note: This image is down-sampled from a 60mp scan, a "non-analog" process I know, but I've shot and wet-printed enough B&W through this lens to be able to write about its merits on this forum I hope :wink:

    In many forums I see posts about the confusion of using this lens, with all the rings on the lens (four in total):

    [floating element] -- [shutter speed] -- [aperture] -- [DOF and exposure compensation calculator]

    It's really quite simple: Adjust the floating element to approximately the focused distance to the subject. The clicks are for really close focus in conjunction with the two available extension tubes (marked "1" and "1+2"). Most other RB lenses have the floating elements in anyway, so perhaps it's just the four rings so close together, with the many text markings, that look imposing.

    Even though all lenses on an RB67 can close-focus because of the bellows (and, frustratingly, the "normal" lenses focus closer than the "macro" lens, another source of confusion...) they are all optimised for infinity, and none of them approach the image quality of the Macro lens at close shooting distances, especially at wider apertures (the manuals of the other lenses recommend to stop down to at least f/11-f/22 for decent performance).

    It's strange: With other systems (e.g. 35mm) you can easily "breathe new life" into your system by aqcuiring a macro lens, because it will focus closer than your normal lenses. With an RB system, aqcuiring this lens will not make any new level of magnification or composition available to you, but this lens will open your eyes to new levels of image quality in Medium-Format Macro.
     
  2. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Subscriber

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    Wide open, this lens has really good resolution, together with pleasantly shallow depth of field (well, as most lenses at close focusing distances do, but at f/4.5 one might expect a bit more....)

    [​IMG]
    (Provia 100)
     
  3. R/D

    R/D Member

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    Thanks for the post. What do you mean by "element separation" ? I was debating on getting either the 150mm or the 140. I am turned off by the fact that on the 150 you cant use the lens normally from f4 -8. I was also confused that other lenses can focus closer. I looked everywhere online and couldn't find any real info about the 140 C lens so this review is just what I was looking for.
     
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  4. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    The 140 and 150 are two entirely diferent lenses with diferent uses: the 140 is is high quality macro, the 150 is a Soft Focus that gets sharper as it is stepped down, a bit like an Imagon.
    The real use for the 150SF is for portraits and weddings.

    I love these shots !

    I have the 150SF (on purpose), but now you made it clear to me that the 140 should be on my list.... THANKS !

    Peter
     
  5. whlogan

    whlogan Subscriber

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    Mighty fine work and analysis, there.... wish more folks would do as well

    Logan
     
  6. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Excellant shot! I have to get one soon.

    Jeff
     
  7. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Subscriber

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    Good for Landscape Too

    One interesting aspect of the 140mm Macro lens, is how highly corrected it is for infinity work also. With my favourite 35mm lens, the Olympus OM Zuiko Macro 90mm f/2.0, it's really only so-so for infinity work, but I would have to say that at infinity also, the Sekor-C 140mm Macro is my sharpest Mamiya lens.

    Here is a test I did (when visiting my parents at the coast) last year:

    [​IMG]
    (Ilford FP4, taken around f/11, maybe f/16 - didn't make notes)

    And a 100% crop, scanned on an Epson V700 scanner:

    [​IMG]

    It's always amazing how much more grain shows up when scanning a negative than making an optical print, but it gives an idea of the detail resolved (scanner film flatness and focusing issues aside).
     
  8. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Subscriber

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    Just a reply to say that I am glad this mini-review is useful to people - I had the same problem, not finding any concrete information / examples of this lens anywhere, so I thought I'd share some of my experience. I just hope this doesn't contribute to price inflation of this lens! (sometimes obscurity is good for second-hand values :smile:

    The 140 Macro does not replace something like the 150 SF, or even an old non-C 127mm f/3.8. Both these lenses have a soft, atmospheric look with shallow DOF wide open, much more like an old twin-lens reflex (which is a very nice look indeed).

    The 140 Macro is an ├╝ber-corrected, perfect flat-fielded lens which yields a different look suitable for critical subjects. I have not seen any typical optical flaw exhibited in any of my prints or scans.

    Note: The images I posted earlier are directly linked to my DeviantArt.com account, I hope the URLs are stable so tat they stay visible. I plan to get a subscription here at APUG soon though.
     
  9. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Element separation is when the glue joint begins to fail. Usually in older balsam cements. It's disturbing but is not normally noticeable in prints, it's much more damaging in theory or imagination.
    A len with separation can be recemented but the cost is far more than just buying a different lens. IMO the cost is justified only when the lens is very unusual.
    But if you have a choice of one with & one without. Get the one without.
     
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  10. jasonhall

    jasonhall Member

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    To add to what John has said, somtime they glue two elements together basicly making it one solid element. This is the glue joint that John speaks of. Even some high end lens can have this issue and I have seen it on several Mamiya lens. Have yet to see it cause a problem however. I had a 80mm for a Mamiya C330 that did this,and the 90mm C lens on my RB67 also has an element seperating. Still my most used lens.

    Like John said, if you have choice get one with out it, but if the only one you can find do show signs of seperation, just point it out to the seller and ask for price break. Explain how you will have to have that repaired before useing it!! :D

    Unless its very advanced, I don't think it will make a difference you can see in your prints/scans.

    The big problem now is to show you what it looks like.

    Jason
     
  11. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Subscriber

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    Well, I don't personally have an image of what it looks like (what a way to waste a frame of film...), but I can show you what a view through such a lens (with some element separation) looks like - all the images I posted above :wink:

    This is the best example I could find thus far: Look at the edges of the lens.
    [​IMG]
    (source)
     
  12. jasonhall

    jasonhall Member

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    I think that is a pretty darn good illustration, and to me that one is getting sort of on the bad side.

    BTW, very nice photos in this thread. The first one is an excellent example. Nice work and good write up. I would love to have one, but my needs right now lean much more to needing a 55mm.

    Jason
     
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  13. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Subscriber

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    Jason, you mean a 50mm (or 65mm)? They can be found quite reasonably, cheaper than the 140 Macro it seems. Good luck in finding one! Also, just for fun, I posted here on how the 50 actually makes a very good Macro lens for certain types of subjects :smile:

    The 65mm is optically better than the 50mm, but the 50mm is a lot of fun due to the very much wider angle of view (the difference is substantial).
     
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  15. jasonhall

    jasonhall Member

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    To be honest, I don't know the lens line up nearly enough. I knew it was "50 something". I have the normal 90mm and the 180mm, both C lens. I use the 90mm almost all of the time. I am not normally into landscapes, but this camera and the way it forces me to use it, screams landscape! Also doing still lifes indoors of old buildings. It became very clear to me that I needed a wider lens. The 65mm may fit the bill. I am really not sure what will be best for me.

    Thanks

    Jason
     
  16. R/D

    R/D Member

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    Would anyone recommend the 140mm for portraiture at all ?
     
  17. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    I've read that its excellent for portraits because you can do close-ups as well as normal portraits. The only thing you probably would want a different lens for is full-body portraits, since the lens's 140mm focal length puts it between a normal and telephoto lens. You'd have to back up really far to get a full body shot.
     
  18. jasonhall

    jasonhall Member

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    What are you looking for in a Portrait lens? Very sharp, or something a little more soft and less contrasty?
     
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  19. R/D

    R/D Member

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    I would like something sharp. Most of the portraits I would take would probably be head shots and from the midsection up. Although I could use the soft focus on the 150mm I really need a lens to be sharp at all stops for closeup work such as still life objects and non macro detail work such as tree bark etc. I wish one could use the 150 without the soft focus disks while still maintaining sharpness but that is not the case. One of my main subjects is cemeteries and I need to isolate headstones and monuments from cluttered backgrounds while maintaining maximum sharpness.
     
  20. luis ducoing

    luis ducoing Member

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    Philosomaphotographer Do you think that this exelent information also applies to the RZ 140 macro? I am debating between the RZ 140 and the RZ 150 3.5
     
  21. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    1.) I don't find the 150SF that soft when used without the disks. Not the sharpest lens in the collection, but not bad. But...

    2.) There are two lens on either side that are incredibly cheap and will do what you need them to do. The 127 and the 180 are both very sharp and will work with whatever your needs are withing the cemetery world.

    tim in san jose
     
  22. rulnacco

    rulnacco Member

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    As Tim said in the post above both of those lenses--particularly the 127--are very sharp indeed. The 127 is perfect for midsection & up shots, the 180 for the headshots. You'll be able to focus pretty close with the 127; you might look at KEH.com for the lenses and an extension ring for even closer focusing, as their prices on all three items (the 127, the 180 and the extension ring) are very cheap.
     
  23. R/D

    R/D Member

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    Thanks for the advice folks I will look into the 127 mm
     
  24. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Subscriber

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    Hi Louis,

    I have never used the RZ series of lenses, but to my knowledge the RZ lenses are usually optically the same formulations as the K/L series of lenses for the RB series, and the 140mm Macro K/L is certainly superior (resolution, flare-resistance) to the old C-series lens I use, and posted about here.

    So, the RZ 140mm Macro can only be better, you can't go wrong. The one thing the 150mm 3.5 will buy you is shallower depth-of-field, so for typical portraits that would be my lens of choice. But for close-up optical quality, I don't think there is contest between any other lens in the Mamiya line and the Macro, none of them are as highly corrected.

    It all thus depends on what you need...
     
  25. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Subscriber

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    High-Magnification Example

    This weekend I scanned a rather un-artistic shot where I wished to illustrate (for this thread) the level of optical correction of the 140 Macro. I have earlier-on shown the good performance at infinity, here it is at the opposite end of the spectrum: Around 2:1 magnification (I think, but it's more than 1.5:1 in anyway) by stacking two 82mm extension tubes, and adjusting the lens' floating element to minimum focusing distance. This is slightly outside the intended usage range of this lens (which end at a No.1 + No.2 tube, not two No.2 tubes).

    A close-up of mould (fungus, no idea which type) growing on a Papaya fruit (natural lighting, this was a long exposure):
    [​IMG]

    Now this image is limited by three factors, I imagine:

    1. A *very* heavy and unwieldy camera combination on a poor (1950s) tripod. Mirror-lockup seems to have done the trick though, the leaf-shutter is marvelously vibration-free for this sort of work.
    2. As ever, a non-professional scanner with flimsy plastic film-holders.
    3. Shallow DOF, yet also some diffraction by shooting at f/22 to get as much DOF as possible. Shooting at f/32 or smaller would have made it even softer.

    I have extensive experience with Macro lenses from Olympus and Canon, and (aided by the 6x7cm format being 'easier' on lenses for resolving power, no doubt) none of those systems have a single Macro lens that can do infinity to 2:1 this well. Of course, none of those systems have a Macro lens as darned difficult to use as this one!
     
  26. xtolsniffer

    xtolsniffer Member

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    That's a good shot! I regularly use my RB67 in the field with the 140 macro plus the no. 1 and 2 tubes stacked together. It is quite a heavy setup, but with a focussing rail, mirror lockup and the chimney finder surprisingly easy to use. The only downside is trying to remember which knob to loosen on the tripod/ball head/focussing rail/camera to stop the whole thing from flopping over with an alarming 'thunk'. The quality makes it worthwhile. Interestingly, the manual for the RB67 ProS states that the 127mm lens is the only one that will not have vignetting when the no. 1 and 2 tubes are stacked together, but I can't say that I've ever seen it in other lenses.