Mamiya 6 MK 4 folder 1947 a very nice vintage shooter with coated Tessar Zuiko lens.
Today I have received my mamiya 6 folder from 1947,
its a very solid, HQ Camera with great sharp coated
4 element Zuiko Lens ( a good Carl Zeiss Tessar copy)
In the 1990s, Mamiya introduced a highly-regarded, plastic-bodied camera called the Mamiya 6. But today I’m going to show you its distant ancestor from the 1950s—the only similarity being that they are both 6×6 format rangefinders. Some make the distinction between Mamiya Six (spelled out) for the company’s early 120 folding models, versus Mamiya 6 for the modern plastic ones. But in fact, the later 1950s folders are actually engraved MAMIYA-6 (note the hyphen).
The Mamiya Six series began around 1940. Mine is the mid production model, introduced in 1946, which was a more sophisticated version.
Its identification as the Mamiya 6 Mk4 model is common in collector circles, but it’s not marked as such on the camera.
Despite its many refinements, by 1958 the market was moving away from this style of camera. Folding designs were beginning to seem archaic and excessively fragile. Even the venerable folding Kodak Retina line would switch over to a rigid body style by 1960. And amateur enthusiasm for 35mm film was rapidly eclipsing 120.
But “Medium Format in Your Pocket“—with a rangefinder for accurate focusing—is a great idea, one that deserves to be revived today (despite the archaic appearance of a camera with, *gasp* bellows).
In the world of 120 folders, this one is not particularly small; yet compared to my Minolta Autocord TLR it’s about 2/3rds of the volume, and saves 15% in weight. And it folds up to a tidy package about 2 inches thick with few projections to snag on a coat pocket.
Unlike some folders, its body style is nicely graspable, particularly by cradling the dropped door in your left hand. Unfortunately it lacks neck-strap lugs. (These would have been provided by the original leather case, which I am missing.)
The camera’s styling is angular and businesslike, rather than plump and cute like some of its folding competitors. The look seems to have been inspired by Zeiss folders of the day, especially the Super Ikonta III
Right down to the horizontal stripes embossed in the leather). However Mamiya bettered Zeiss by having their film winder also cock the shutter (hence the Automat name). The necessary linkage is hidden behind a cover at the front of the dropped bed—an easy way to ID the Automat models.
The cocking linkage does not work if you wind while the camera is folded (unlike a Retina). In that case, you’ll need to manually slide a cocking tab on the top of the shutter. (You can re-cock the shutter for double exposures in this way also.)
This model is meterless. The ASA dial is simply a reminder of which film you have loaded. Frankly, I prefer that to any untrustworthy 1950s selenium-cell meter marring the camera’s looks. The Seikosha shutter has (unevenly spaced) speeds from 1 to 1/500th second, set via a somewhat hard-to-grasp knurled ring.
An unusual feature of all the Six models was that they focused by moving the film plane, rather than the lens. Before seeing this in person, it sounded like a strange idea to me. But I’ve discovered no particular penalty in close-focusing distance, or film flatness. It allows for a more direct rangefinder coupling, and a focus thumbwheel on the camera body.
The thumbwheel focusing does require some mental re-adjustment. I always half-expect that turning it will advance the film (as it would on my Olympus XA compact). However its location is actually quite convenient. There’s a distance and depth-of-field indicator atop the camera, but the coarse gradations of its footage scale make it pretty ineffective.
The moving focal plane means the camera has a separate pressure plate which slides out from the body during loading—if this part is lost, the camera becomes essentially worthless, because focus will be totally erratic.
Compared to the ubiquitous red window, and competitors’ sometimes balky automatic frame-spacing methods, the Automat’s film-advance scheme is refreshingly easy. (If you want quirky, try a Balda Baldax sometime.)
Thread the film, then wind with the back open until the Start arrow lines up with white dots near the takeup spool. Remember to replace the pressure plate, close the back, and wind until the knob stops and “1″ shows in the advance knob’s counter window.
Following that, frame spacing and shutter cocking are automatic. After you expose frame 12, the knob can turn continuously again until you’ve wound all the backing paper onto the takeup spool. Easy!
A red window is provided on the film door if you feel the need to check what’s happening inside there (it has a nice spring-loaded cover); but in my experience it’s superfluous.
Today’s film must be a bit thinner than the 1950s stuff: My Automat’s film advance tends to give pretty tight spacing between frames. To avoid this, you may want to wrap a couple of strips of cloth bandaging tape (about 4″ long) around the takeup spool’s inner core.
This camera’s viewfinder is no prize—it’s kind of small and dim (even when new, and certainly now after 50 years). Yet the automatic cocking and film advance, along with the thumbwheel focusing, rank a Mamiya-6 Automat as one of the user-friendliest 120 folders.
The original Six was Mamiya’s earliest product, before they had their own lens-manufacturing capabilities. For many years they used other companies’ optics (including, briefly, one Nikkor lens).
But in the 1950s Mamiya generally used Olympus D.Zuiko lenses. The D is not someone’s initial: It’s an Olympus code for the number of lens elements (D=4, E=5, F=6, etc.). Thus a D.Zuiko is a 4-element Tessar-type design.
This is a breathtaking brilliant performer, as snappy as some of the best competitors like ISKRA, Seagull 203 and Agfa Super Isolette.
And the Mamiya- Olympus Zuiko lens seems to give agreeable bokeh in most situations.
While my Six has a focus scale labeled in feet, not meters, Mamiya’s name only made rare appearances in US photo magazines of the 1950s.
And in the accelerating 35mm wave of the 1960s and 70s, the brand never achieved the same success as their competitors.
Instead, Mamiya earned their greatest recognition with their professional medium-format cameras.
In that arena they were hugely innovative:
They began with the landmark C-series twin lens reflexes: Pro-duty TLRs with—uniquely—interchangeable lenses. They developed an interesting press camera series in the 1960s; then followed it with the workhorse RB67 cameras; and finally invented the first 6×4.5 system SLR (and continued to develop that with new versions all the way into the autofocus era).
A camera as nice as this Mamiya-6 Mk4 folder certainly deserves to be used. You wont find a sharper lens in a classic folder.
Mamiya 6 Version 4 with the best Lens available.
D- Zuiko fully coated 4 elements Tessar Copy.
An Iskra, Certo 6 or Agfa Super Isolette doesnt make crisper shots!
Here are some of the results you can get with
the Mamiya 6 folder with Olympus Zuiko High End Lens: