Mamiya C330 Lenses
Just got a C330F - fantastic camera. But the lens (80mm) doesn't seem that sharp, certainly not compared to the 80mm on my now dead 645 1000s. Its not in fantastic condition - is it the lens? or are the TLR lenses just not as good?
Hi Jim, the 80mm lens that came with my c330s is sharp enough. Don't know whether it applies to the c330f, but there was somthing I read somewhere about the black lenses been better than the silver lenses. Have a look at Graham Pattersons excellent info on Mamiya tlrs here
Jim - I second Anthony's comment. I have a C330f with 80mm (black) lens and it is quite sharp. It has the prism viewfinder on the top and it is hard to see clearly in low light. I thought there was a problem with the lens at first and realized it requires careful focus.
I'll third that comment. The 80mm on my C330f is sharp as a tack. I think there were 2 versions (maybe more) of the black 80mm, the later and possibly better version having the 's' suffix. Graham Patterson is the man to ask.
Norman is an island.Time and tide wait for Norman.
I'll forth it. Although I think that the silver lenses were also sharp, but
the issue was lack of replacement parts for the shutter assembly once
the redesigned shutters for the black lenses were put in production.
Graham is the man.
"Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." - Jim Horning
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Slightly (but only slightly) tangentially to the previous posts, late Mamiya Press lenses were reckoned by many to be a different order of creation from the early ones. I'd be surprised if the same were not true of TLR lenses.
The earliest C series equipment is nearly antique (> 50 years old). What tended to improve over time was contrast due to changes in coatings. Most of the lens designs did not change (exceptions; 105mm D/DS, 180mm Super, 80mm S). They do prefer good lens hoods.
Causes of poor performance:
Focusing error, either due to poorly adjusted eyesight or a mis-aligned screen. There's a small chance that the lens panel has been damaged, but we'll stick with the simple stuff.
Lens pair mis-adjustment. The viewing lens is usually shimmed with small spacers to match the taking lens. Taking them apart can cause the shimming to be lost.
Fungus or clouding in one or the other of the lenses. Usually causes a loss of contrast rather than true unsharpness.
You need to do a fence test, I think. Find a fence with vertical railings, preferably close set. Put a mark on one and make an oblique pucture with the marked post in the middle, focusing carefully, and at maximum aperture. Ideally repeat the process from the otherside. Make sure you are using the flip-up magnifier in the waist-level finder. If you cannot focus the edge of the central focus aid sharply, you cannot focus the camera. If you have trouble with the flip-up magnifier, try a loupe direct to the ground glass.
Aims: ensuring you can focus the camera correctly, and testing to see if the taking lens focuses in agreement with the taking lens.
The first rule is not to fiddle with any adjustments until you are sure that you know which of the elements needs adjusting. The second rule is only adjust one thing at a time.
I feel, therefore I photograph.
I have 2 80mm Mamiya TLR lenses, one a black one purchased in 1980 (#915158) and the other an older chrome version made sometime earlier (#556454). My sense, when I used these two lenses was that the black one was "sharper" than the chrome.
I did a simple test. I printed this chart
on an 8.5x11 sheet of white bond and attached it to the wall of the house that was not in direct sunlight. I shot 6 exposures through the black lens, stepping through several f/stops, and then the chrome lens on the same 6 exposures, using Arista EDU ultra 100 film and developed it in Microdol-X. I examined the negatives, an enlarger print of each and several negative scans.
To be honest, I could not determine a difference in the resolution (where the lines in the image coverge on a central spot) - - both lenses could resolve the same distinction between the lines at the same points on the lines. So if by "sharp" we mean resolution, I could not find a difference. However, I could tell the difference between the lenses in the brightness of the white space between the lines and in the darkness of the lines - - what I would call the contrast or perhaps the dynamic range. The black lens had a crisper look (brighter whitespace, blacker lines) than the chrome lens did.
Was this scientific? Not really... but it helped me understand why I had the observations I did during actual picture making. So now I choose which lense to use based on the crispness I want in the picture... or whether I remembered to bring the other one with me...
Well, I gotta tell ya. I have a pair of C220F's. One came with a black 80 mm. lens, and the other came with no lens. Picked up a chrome 80 mm. lens for very small change. Can't tell the difference between them for normal photography. Who goes around shooting test patterns anyway? Both are very sharp. These cameras can be a little difficult to focus with the WL finder for some. Takes a little practice, but you get it after a little while.
Transitioning from the newer 645 series to the TLR I'm guessing you are actually seeing comparative loss of contrast as opposed to lack of sharpness. The TLRs MUST be shot with lens hoods as they are more subject to flare than the newer super multi coated lenses you are used to. Also try changing films. I was also very disappointed with my first C220 for the same reasons but I figured out that changing to higher contrast films and/ortechniques helped. For instance, in B&W develop 5-10% longer to boost contrast. For color print, fill flash makes a world of difference. For transparency, just shoot it - the chromes are the only photos from the TLR I was ever totally happy with.