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.