Mamiya TLR's...

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by ChristopherCoy, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    About 15 years ago, I apprenticed in a professional's studio. I worked after school and sometimes on weekends, filing his negatives, cleaning the studio, assisting him on shoots etc. Well he was selling two Mamiya TLR's with lenses, and I remember being completely in LOVE with them. He offered me one of the bodies, along with a lens, and allowed me to work off the price tag. I dont even remember which model it was. I shot a lot of rolls with that camera, and it accompanied me to each of the workshops that he put on for the local photography club.

    Somehow, through all of the moves in my 20's, the camera got lost. I have no idea if it is at my parents, at one of the houses of the many friends I roomed with, if its in some ex's drawer, but I know its gone. And since I've gotten back into film, the fact that that camera is lost is absolutely killing me. I know I paid, or worked off about $350 for that thing, and now I wish I had it even if all it did was sit on the shelf.

    I may not be ready to move into big film again just yet, but I have got to replace that camera otherwise it'll drive me bat shit crazy.

    I'm not as well versed with TLR's as I am with 35mm and digital, so I'm not quite sure what I should be looking for, and the things that I need to pay attention too. There is a local ad for a C33 with a lens that I've inquired on, but was just reading that the C33 had body problems which where later fixed with the C330.

    Any advice or things that I should know before jumping into one of these again?
     
  2. CGW

    CGW Member

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  3. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Just that 1) 6x6 is hardly "big film" and 2) if you shoot 35mm now jump right in, the water is fine.

    I'm not well versed in the Mamiyas. I have a Yashica TLR I like a lot. The Mamiyas are a lot bigger and heavier but also a lot more versatile.
     
  4. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I have a C-330s and a C-220f, 55, 65, 80, and 135mm lenses, plus waist level and metered porrofinder. I spend most of my time shooting these and a 4x5 and love the squares most. I cannot say enough good things about my TLR's.
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I've had a C330 since I bought it new in the 1970s.

    At one time I had 4 different lenses, but I'm now down to two - 65mm and 135mm.

    The black lenses marked with a blue "dot" are the most recent - you are less likely to suffer part availability problems.

    The C330 plus the left hand trigger grip that also works with the RB67 is a great combo.

    EDIT: I just noticed that you posted this in the "Large Format" forum. If you think that a C33 is large format, there are some photographers here on APUG who could really give you a scare :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2011
  6. btaylor

    btaylor Subscriber

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    I recently sold all my Mamiya TLR gear, 2 C330 bodies and the finders, lenses, etc. I had a C220 and a C33 many years ago and didn't like them too much, the improvements to the C330 are well worth it, IMO. Overall I found them a bit awkward to work with, heavy, kinda clunky. But the lenses were amazingly good, I've never used anything that topped them. Very versatile system and reliable. It's all pretty cheap now, too.
     
  7. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    I have had a C220f (a small part of the Buyin' and Sellin' Circus I ran off to join a few years back) and I liked it, both the ergonomics and the photographs. The only issue I had with it was that a plastic knob of that particular, late model had sheared off, rendering the loading/unloading of film a "poke a screwdriver into the works" affair until I found a spare part (in Pakistan, of all places). Compared to the expensive Rolleiflex 2.8, a well-maintained C220 or C330 and an 80/2.8 is positively a bargain.
     
  8. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    I have a C330f with a set of lenses and it is a GREAT camera.

    The "2" series have knob wind - the "3" series have a crank. C3s and C33s are now very old and therefore probably suspect. I'd leave them to the collectors. I would stick with a C330 (or C220 with a bit less functionality for a bit less money).
    The C330s is the latest and 'best' and you pay a bit more for it, but really the difference isn't worth the price (it can take different focussing screens). The " f " for me is therefore the best bargain.

    Remember each lens has it's own shutter - so you need to give some thought to both the optics and the shutter being in good order before you buy, it easy to get caught out with a lemon as they are getting quite old, now. The shutters are, I'm told, easy to work on. But, as I know from my own experience, it is getting very hard to find a dealer who will service them. Better to spend a bit extra on buying a really good one that doesn't need servicing rather than to get a bargain which leaves you with the problem of trying to find someone to service it...
     
  9. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I didn't notice that until I read your comment since I just click new posts and read.

    Yeah, as I said above, 6x6 is far from large format. I love my 4x5 but a lot of really ULF shooters only grudgingly acknowledge 4x5 as large. Some think large begins at 8x10!
     
  10. Thingy

    Thingy Member

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    My first proper medium format camera was the Mamiya 330f with a modern 80mm and an older 135mm lenses. They are excellent cameras, albeit rather on the heavy side with excellent optics. The bellows focussing allows one to take macro photographs with the ordinary standard 80mm lens - plus the silver needle in the viewfinder tells you how much exposure compensation to apply for a given bellows extension. If only Hassies did the same!
     
  11. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    Oops! Sorry about that.

    I have absolutely no experience with large format, have never even seen a large format camera I dont think, so to me medium format IS large format. Still though, I posted in this forum in error. I should have paid more attention. I apologize.

    Mod's can you move to the Medium Format area?
     
  12. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    Totally second the above comments about C330s-Rolleiflex quality but not collectors' prices!
     
  13. PaulC

    PaulC Member

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    I've just (by coincidence) posted three pics from my C33. It's a fabulous camera. I don't know what the 330 was meant to fix that the C33 didn't have but I have heard they changed some metal gears for plastic, making the newer version less reliable. On another forum an old pro told me that the only TLR able to stand up to being knocked about in the North Atlantic on a small scientific research boat was the C33. So don't necessarily hold the age against it.

    It's likely any of them will need to have the light seals changed. I've done that with both my C33 and my C220 (which is also a good option, lightweight and without the cocking gears that have the potential to go wrong). Replacing the seals is very simple on these two models and there's someone selling them on e-bay for a few dollars.

    Oh - and shutter speeds are often significantly slower than marked so reckon on getting a CLA on any lenses if you want top-notch results.
     
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  15. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    Pretty much all I have to say on this subject is covered by the link in post 2 :cool:

    Any camera that would be subject to professional use (and these were very popular in the wedding and portrait business) needs to be examined for wear and tear, even if they were not 15-20 years old which is what you should expect for C330/C220 models.

    I wouldn't go back before the C33, don't get a C33 with a 220 back unless you get the 120 back as well, and I would probably avoid the C220f. I'm inclined to avoid the C330s, but that is a personal bias.

    Graham
     
  16. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    I have an assortment of Mamiya TLRs and I wouldn't hesitate to buy a C33 if it's in good condition. The condition should trump the model number--so I'd stay away from anything that looks thrashed. I consider the differences between the C33 and C-330(f/s) relatively minor.
     
  17. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    I bought a C330 with an 80mm lens and waistlevel finder secondhand about 15 years ago and slowly built up an outfit -- 55 and 180mm lenses, hoods for all three, a paramender and a prism finder. The C330 worked fine until the film transport finally packed it in. I managed to find a good clean C330s body for a very reasonable price and now have a working outfit again.
    The results have always been excellent. Photo dealers have told me the film transport is a weak spot in the C series, especially if the camera body has been well used.
    I considered an RB67, but the prices for those back then were out of my reach (never mind a Hasselblad) and MF SLRs because of their complexity are risky to buy secondhand. But I learned MF on a Yashica and I'm comfortable with the TLR design. The paramender is a necessity if you want to do close-up work, for which the Mamiya with its bellows is ideally suited.
     
  18. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    A mod can probably move it but I don't think anyone cares. Just sort of funny to those of us who do shoot sheet film and think of our medium format cameras as the small ones. :wink:

    Actually I do shoot 35mm some but mostly only in low light now where I need a faster lens than my f/3.5 Yashica, or for color slides. The Yashica has laregely replaced the 35mm for a walking around photo tool.

    Real large format (and I mean "real" in the sense of authentic, not "very" - IOW sheet film cameras) are an entirely different world, very rewarding in their own way but definitely different. I just made three prints for a local show, two from 4x5 and one from 6x6cm. The ones from 4x5 are printed with slight cropping on 11x14 paper with 1/2" borders, on TMY film, and are absolutely grainless to the naked eye and very sharp, even though shot with, in one case, a lens made in 1947. The 6x6 is printed about 10.5x10.5 square (very slight rectangular crop) on 11x14 paper, shot on FP4. Grain is tiny as one would expect but you can see it if you look very closely. I could have maybe made a slightly better negative of the same scene with the 4x5. I'd have exposed more carefully and have more shadow detail and not have to print the base with grade 3.5 and then burn in highlights with a soft MG filter, and it might look slightly better but only slightly. BUT that would have taken me 10-15 minutes to set up and take, at least. I shot it with my Yashica in maybe 20 seconds including a reading with my Luna Pro. I didn't have time for 4x5 there, but the medium format was a great tool.

    I love 4x5 but I only use it when I go out with the big bag and tripod for the purpose of photography. Walking, out doing other things and I might see something photo worthy, the medium format is a great compromise, as quick to use (almost, no automation in my case though it is available) as the 35mm, with quality closer to the 4x5 than to the 35.

    I know that's an aside but since it was in this forum and you said you'd never seen a large format camera (not unusual!) I couldn't resist comparing. :D
     
  19. PaulC

    PaulC Member

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    A simple and versatile alternative to a paramender is a tripod with a central column that is raised by a crank handle. Two full turns of the handle on mine raises the column by 5cm ... exactly the difference between the two lenses. A new tripod is also likely to be cheaper than a secondhand paramender.
     
  20. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I have three Mamiya C TLRs, Two C330Fs, and a C33 that I bought second hand I've owned and used them extensively for over twenty years, I had all of them serviced last year not because they
    broke down they have all been very reliable and never let me down, but because I thought it was abut time and no machine works forever without any maintenance, the main disadvantages of the C33 are it's weight and the lack of the ability to accept interchangeable focusing screens but on the plus side they are built like Tiger Tanks and are probably as bulletproof. IMO the best buy of the Mamiya TLR range is the C330 F because of the ability to shoot 120 and s for 220 film and accept interchangeable screens and lighter weight. however I would recommend whatever Mamiya C TLR equipment the O.P buys he allow the price of a CLA in the equation and he will have dependable medium format gear that will last a lifetime.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2011
  21. ajmiller

    ajmiller Subscriber

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    As you're the oracle on all things Mamiya TLR Graham I'd be interested in your reasons why please?
    Thanks!
     
  22. Thingy

    Thingy Member

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    How about one of these beauties, and it weighs only 22kg! :whistling:

    http://www.ebonycamera.com/cam/main.SV2024.html
     
  23. X. Phot.

    X. Phot. Guest

    Just bought a clean C33 this past fall. Having already owned numerous 120 film cameras (6x9, 6x6, 4.5x6) over a period of some 5 or 6 years, this was a watershed event. The C33 taught me how much I really enjoy 35mm and LF film. The camera is one of the "higher quality" 120 film cameras that I've used.
     
  24. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    Well, I think I started something... I'm watching a total of 11 auctions on Ebay. A few C220's, some C33's, and some C330's. They seem to be going for around $150-$175 or so.

    I dont suppose anyone here has an extra they'd like to offload?!?
     
  25. X. Phot.

    X. Phot. Guest

    I know I'll regret this in the morning, but I will put mine up for consideration. Pictures and data available upon demand. Located in the OKC area.
     
  26. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    Sweet! And I'm about 2 hours South of you on I-35, just past the Texas border! Matter of fact, we're going to exit 1 tonight! LOL Winstar.

    Can you pm me the info on it?