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  1. #1

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

    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:

    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

    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. #2

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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....)


    (Provia 100)

  3. #3
    R/D
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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.
    Last edited by R/D; 08-05-2009 at 08:22 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #4

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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. #5
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    Mighty fine work and analysis, there.... wish more folks would do as well

    Logan

  6. #6

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    Excellant shot! I have to get one soon.

    Jeff

  7. #7

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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:


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

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



    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. #8

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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 :-)

    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 über-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. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by R/D View Post
    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.
    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.
    Last edited by John Koehrer; 08-06-2009 at 11:02 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Koehrer View Post
    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.
    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!!

    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

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