My medium-format rangefinder film camera is an early-1990s Mamiya 6. Upon its release in 1989, Mamiya had branded this model as the New Mamiya 6, in order to distinguish it from an earlier “Mamiya Six” camera that had been introduced in the 1940s.

My Mamiya 6 with 50mm f/4.0 lens and leather strap photo
My Mamiya 6 with 50mm f/4.0 lens and leather strap

Most of the time, I am shooting this rangefinder camera with the 50mm f/4 lens as shown above. This is the widest lens available for this camera. Sometimes I also shoot it with the “standard” 75mm f/3.5 lens pictured below. As a third lens for use with this camera, Mamiya also produced a 150mm f/4.5; unfortunately I don’t own that lens (yet).

Mamiya 75mm f/3.5 lens for Mamiya 6
Mamiya 75mm f/3.5 lens for Mamiya 6

Due to the vibration-free and quiet electronic leaf shutters, both lenses deliver sharp images at every aperture. The richness of details in the resulting medium-format negatives is spectacular. For a medium-format camera, its form factor draws far less attention in public than let’s say a Hasselblad or a twin-lens reflex camera would.

The lens mount can be partially collapsed when the camera is not in use, which makes the Mamiya 6 an ideal compact travel companion. The lens will retract 37mm (about 1.5 in.) into the body – please see the following photos for a comparison of the camera’s footprint with the 50mm lens being collapsed vs. the lens being expanded.

Top view of Mamiya 6 with collapsed 50mm lens
Top view of Mamiya 6 with collapsed 50mm lens
Top view of Mamiya 6 with expanded 50mm lens
Top view of Mamiya 6 with expanded 50mm lens

The massive bright viewfinder makes this camera a joy to use, and focusing is really easy and fun. The finder and magnification are fixed, and frame lines will automatically adjust based on the currently attached lens. Please see the image below for an example view through the viewfinder with the 50mm lens attached:

View through the Mamiya 6 viewfinder (with framelines for 50mm lens) - the scenery is a southbound view from my apartment in Tokyo.
View through the Mamiya 6 viewfinder (with framelines for 50mm lens)

The camera has a built-in dark slide that allows the lenses to be changed with film in the camera. It can operate in auto exposure, auto exposure lock (AEL), and manual modes. With a few exceptions, I always shoot it in AEL mode. This corresponds to the “filled square” setting as seen on the exposure dial in the image below. That dial also includes a smaller window for setting the film speed/ISO, and allows for exposure compensation of -2 to +2 EV (in ⅓ EV increments). The internal meter on my camera still works very well, and I didn’t find it necessary so far to carry an additional external light meter.

Top view of Mamiya 6 with detail of shutter speed dial
Top view of Mamiya 6 with detail of shutter speed dial

The Mamiya 6 will capture twelve 6 cm × 6 cm images on 120 film rolls, or 24 images on 220 film. The type of film is easily selected by adjusting the position of a pressure plate that is included in the back cover (visible on the righthand side in the image below). Inserting and changing film is easy, as there are pinches on the bottom of the camera body that conveniently help to snap the film roll and taking spool into place.

Back view of Mamiya 6 with open rear cover
Back view of Mamiya 6 with open rear cover

Please click here to view all photos on this site that were taken with this camera, or refer to one of the topical galleries below:

I got my mint Mamiya 6 at Nisshin Camera in Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan. At the same store, I also found the matching 50mm f/4 and 75mm f/3.5 lenses.

The horse-leather camera strap, customized with my name, comes from ‘Acru‘ in Osaka, Japan.

My Mamiya 6 with 50mm f/4.0 lens and leather strap - Alternate view photo
My New Mamiya 6 with 50mm f/4.0 lens and leather strap – Alternate view

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