Mamiya 7 Checklist
Getting closer to perhaps buying a Mamiya 7, I'd like to ask the group if you could help me draw up a check list of what to look at when examining the camera that is for sale. I have ZERO experience with a Mamiya 7 and only know what I have read. I have a VERY short list.
1. Rangefinder- is it accurate.
2. Film mask- no light leaks and deploys and retracts fully.
3. Film advance lever, solid and not in bad shape.
What else should I look at?
I am looking at a Mamiya 7 w/43mm & 80mm lens for around $2200. Is this a good price? I can probably haggle it down a few hundred more, but want to make sure the gear is in good shape.
The store offers a 3 month warranty and I can easily shoot 40-50 rolls of film through it in that amount of time.
My only hesitation is the meter. I keep reading how weird the meter is for this camera. I am not an expert at metering scenes and feel this could really come back to bite me. Anyway, that's a different topic.
I own a Mamiya 7II and find the in-camera metering point a bit weird. Supposed to be centre-weighted but can actually be all over rangefinder patch. Only way to be sure of position is to use turn out lights in room and meter off single bulb to get position. (Mine is centre-lower-right...!). Hope this helps and good luck with purchase...
Last edited by coigach; 02-25-2013 at 10:50 AM. Click to view previous post history.
If it's from a store with a warranty, that's a good thing. The chassis of the Mamiya 7 is made of plastic, so do
- Check it out for dings/cracks/damage.
- Make sure the iso/shutter/mode dial is in order.
- Check that the 120/220 back plate is in order and swivels as expected
- Light meter (I find mine quite accurate, meter off darker areas and light)
- Check that the inside is clean and free of dust.
- Check that the curtain moves into place and releases nicely.
- If you are getting the 43mm lens, make sure you are getting the wide angle view finder
Mine is a 7ii (difference is multi-exposure and the lens change curtain mechanism).
As for the price, I think it's good. I paid $2300 for a 7ii with 80mm & 65mm lens. All in excellent condition. The 43mm lens and viewfinder cost me $1000 alone. So, if yours is in good condition, I'd say that sounds like a sweet deal.
Enjoy, of all my cameras, I love my 7 the most.
Actually, only the housing is made of plastic - the chassis (underneath) is die cast aluminum. Cracks in the housing indicate possible impact, so check the camera carefully and hopefully buy from a seller who offers return privileges.
Originally Posted by Ghostman
My Mamiya 7 had a *very* stiff shutter dial, which needed to be fixed. Check that out. $2200 with the 80mm and 43mm seems like a good enough deal, I'd try to knock off a hundred or so though. The 43mm is a pricey lens, and make sure you get the finder with it.
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In addition to what else has been offered:
-see if focusing matches between the lenses, especially infinity. Not that the RF is all that important with the 43mm
-see if there are marks around the RF adjustment cover, it's the round plastic cover to the right of the finder (on the back); if so, it's seen amateur service. Not a deal killer, but make sure RF still works, and use to bring price down.
-Check the multi-exposure feature, if your paying for a 7ii, you might as well use it, it's saved me a few times from 'lens cap syndrome.' You can also check the shutter this way.
-My meter is pretty much a spot meter, just below the rangefinder patch. Try a point source of light, figure out where the meter reads in your sample, and if it is agreeable to you.
-The 43mm viewfinder is a pain to replace, make sure it comes with the package. Check the bubble level in the finder, they often dry out, although this might not be critical.
I have both the 7 and 7II. For 90 percent of shots, the difference between them is minimal. The 7II viewfinder information is easier to see when shooting into bright light than the 7, but that is about it. I have never used the multi-exposure feature on the 7II. If you plan to do multi-exposures, you will need to get a 7II, not a 7.
As for metering, I haven't had problems. It is quite accurate for most situations. The one time I had issues was in the Grand Canyon. I was shooting by the sunny f/16 rule but I noticed my meter was giving some strange readings. I finally figured out it was because I was wearing a broad rimmed hat. Sometimes the sun would hit the meter directly, throwing it off, and sometimes the meter was in deep shadow from the hat. When I got into a situation where I couldn't rely on the f/16 rule, I made sure to take off my hat.
Of course one of the first things you should do is run film through it - set up a test scene with constant lighting (vs. outdoors unless it's clear or solid cloudy - you want unchanging lights, so indoors with a bright studio light is best). Get a solid grey background (for B&W just a solid mid-tone of any color) and add something like a product packaging box with fine text. Or take a sheet of cardboard and a sharpie and make a big grid to check focus all across the plane. Stick a small whiteboard or card in there and mark shutter speeds as you shoot. Take it outside and shoot down your street, look for something distant to check infinity focus on, with all lenses. Run the film and grab your loupe - check for light leaks, accurate shutter speeds, etc. Check for fine focus (on the text). Check the film advance (overlapping frames or wildly different spacing between frames).
You might dedicate a roll to getting every shutter speed with the proper aperture to have the 'same' exposure - that way you can see if any speeds are wildly off. (IE f8 @ 1/125, f11 @ 1/60th, etc). There are testing devices for shutters but if you don't have one this will give you a good overview of where the shutter's at.
You can quickly blow through 3 rolls of 120 doing this, but if you process yourself you're looking at under $30 for a no-surprises test - well worth it, and it's the first step to getting "second nature" with a new camera.
Take a look at the foam seals, and google a bit or contact John Goodman and see if he offers a kit and if re-foaming is easy. Look for any place that would have foam for damping, too (maybe not an issue with an RF camera - SLRs often have foam to damp the mirrors, etc)
Fantastic suggestions everyone. Thank you very much!
I can't reiterate what others have said ... mainly ... GET THE 43mm VIEWFINDER! I don't have one, it's a nightmare, finding one less than $300 is impossible and I'm stubborn and refuse to pay more than $100 for one... really terribly frustrating.
Secondly, dreaded "lens cap syndrome" with these RF's is a tough lessen to learn, the multi exposure savior switch has saved me a couple of times already, but not as critical as that darn viewfinder.
Saw your other post as well ... I still say the Mamiya 7 is a great system and even with it's quirks you won't be disappointed. My biggest complaint is one that is really only an issue in winter, the curtain release button, with gloves on it's impossible to use, I don't understand why it had to be made so difficult to use. The actual curtain closer feature between the two (7 and 7II) isn't such a big deal, I prefer the 7II but the 7 isn't bad either.