See Through the Mamiya 7 with 65mm Lens

Nov 3, 2018
5 min read

The Mamiya 7 is probably one of the most wanted medium format and I’m sure that lots of you are curious about how it feels like to shoot with this wonderful rangefinder. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this camera yet, it’s basically a lightweight 6×7 rangefinder film camera, with a state of the art lens line-up. Simple as that!

It’s the best companion for photographers who want to travel (relatively) light, without compromising on image quality. Sure it’s a little more intrusive than a standard 35mm rangefinder but the jump in quality is worth the extra load.

Today, you’ll get a taste of how it looks like in real life by coming with me on short walk in the streets of Torre Del Pla, near Alicante in Spain. You’ll be watching all along from inside the viewfinder window.

The Mamiya 7 viewfinder covers frames lines for three lenses: 65mm, 80mm and 150mm. For the wider and longer lenses like the 43mm, 50mm and 210mm, a dedicated external viewfinder is required.

Quick note about the 50mm: you can read that some people are using it without external finder as the built-in finder window seem to match this focal but you loose the space on the edges, which I find quite useful to compose.

Today we will be shooting with the 65mm lens, which is roughly equivalent to a 32mm lens on a 35mm camera.

For this little experiment, I shot a roll of Kodak Portra 400, that I overexposed by one stop. I decided to try that because there was plenty of light on that day and wanted to get a little boost in contrast and saturation. This works great with all colour negative film in general and especially with Portra 400, which I tend to find too flat when shot at box speed.

In the video, you can see how bright and fairly large this 0.57 magnified viewfinder is. Even though the 65mm frame covers almost the entire finder, there’s still a little room on the edges to see elements coming into your frame. For me this the lens that suits me the most my style of shooting and makes composing a real pleasure! Focusing very easy with this bright rangefinder patch and the butter smooth focusing ring makes it very precise.

At the bottom edge of the viewfinder you can see very little obstruction from the lens. I usually have the vented lens hood attached but it doesn’t cover much more of the finder. I took it off for the episode because it’s broken and keeps falling down. Yes, Mamiya 7 hoods are fragile little princess!

There’s also LED indicators below the finder window, which tells you about the shutter speed, over-underexposure, which my camera couldn’t catch but it’s in there…

Now that you know everything, let’s look at some real life examples shot on this Mamiya 7.

You can notice here that the frame lines are lower. This is because I’m focusing on a closer object and the frames moves to correct the parallax error and provide a more accurate curate framing.

The over-exposition really boosted the saturation in the reds, maybe a little too much on these two above!

Missed that one. I wanted the plane on the right side of the pilar but was too slow!

You may also have noticed that the frame lines on each sides have little humps pointing toward inside. These are here to help you composing with the Mamiya 135 Panoramic Adapter Kit. This adapter allows you to shoot panoramic images using 135 film. I honestly don’t see the point of using that as you can simply crop your image afterwards and guessing the imaginary horizontal frame lines (marked in blue) isn’t something that I would be comfortable with.

Mamiya 7 viewfinder frame lines with panoramic adapter

Talking about Xpan, I did a similar experience a while ago shooting with the 45mm lens. Check out this article if you’re also interested in the Xpan point of view.

I hope this will give you a good idea of how it feels to shoot and compose with this camera. The 6×7 aspect ration is also something that I quite like and, correct me if I’m wrong, can’t be found on 135 camera. The standard 2×3 ratio that we know is slightly wider, rather than the 6×7 which is closer to the 1×1 but still leave me more flexibility to compose that with a square format.

That’s about all I have to say about the Mamiya 7 viewfinder and I’ll conclude by thanking again my lab Nation Photo for their continuous support to the blog and the channel by processing all my films! These guys are putting a lot of efforts in making sure that we will still be able to have labs in the future that can develop and scan our films at an affordable price.

You can find all pictures in high resolution in this Flickr Album

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