Mamiya RB67 Pro-SD
Mamiya RB67 Pro-SD
I was warned: "This is a very heavy camera!" It arrived during the corona crises from Japan with FedEx on a Tuesday. I had been looking forward to this moment for me to unpack this camera. First thing I noticed was its weight, not a big surprise but still, I hadn't even opened the box it came in.
I ordered the RB67 after spending ages on Ebay, I was looking for a RB, not a RZ yet, with a waist level finder and 127mm lens and normal film back, and a Professional SD. Later on, I would look for the Prism finder and 6x8cm automatic back and a 90mm lens. But first things first.
“6x8cm, what a difference!“
I found one in Japan in good condition, no fungus, no haze, no fog, no separations and working perfectly. This one even had hardly any scratches on the body. It only took three days for the box to arrive.
When I got it out of the box the first impression was that it truly feels like a very professional camera. The mechanics are robust, the sound it makes is symphonical. luckily I had studied beforehand how this beast operated otherwise I wouldn't have a clue. Cocking and firing the camera isn't that easy. There is a certain sequens you need to follow before it will fire, especially when you have film in the back and you don't want to expose (because you want to demonstrate the sound to someone). After a few test shots it was time to take it for a spin. It is so satisfying.
“Operating this beast is so satisfying!”
With the Sekonic L-508 light meter around my neck I was armed to expose my first roll. The first thing I liked about this camera was the rotating back. What a relief compared to the Mamiya 645 with its annoying fixed back, mainly because I prefer to shoot portrait orientated format which was nearly impossible with the 645, especially with the waist level finder. Another aspect I noticed was the quality of the lens and the mechanics, it feels extremely robust and well made, even after 30 years (or maybe because of that)
A bit of history.
The first RB67 Professional was released in 1970. The system includes a camera body, back adapter, rotating film back, viewfinder and of course a lens. This version was in production untill 1974 when is was replaced by the RB67-S. There were just some minor changes. It took another 15year for this type to be replaced by this RB67 Pro-SD. The body is fully mechanical and therefore does not require battery power. The shutter is cocked by pressing the lever on the right side of the camera. The mirror within de body and shutter in the lens are cocked simultaneously. On each side of the camera body are two focusing knobs. The focusing screens are interchangeable, there are 6 different ones. The most common back adapter included in the system is the rotating back which gives the name to the camera, RB67 stands for "Rotating Back 6x7"..
The RB67 was designed to supplement the Mamiya C series 6×6 TLR system and Mamiya Press rangefinder systems but has surpassed them both in popularity. Back adapters for using Mamiya Press roll film and instant film backs are also available. Due to its heavy weight (almost 2kg for the body alone) the RB67 is often said to be unsuitable for use hand-held use. I don't agree, with a decent neck strap the RB67 can easily be used while on the move. The adaptability of the RB67 system made it one of the most popular professional studio cameras in the 1970s.
The lenses on the body have a RB mount. Lenses have with Seiko leaf shutters and focus is set on the camera body using bellows with a 46mm extension. The aperture can set with half stops, the shutter speed at full stops from 1 to 1/400 of a second and a T mode (Bulb). Because the lenses have leave shutters, the flash sync is available at all speeds which make this system more suitable for studio work than the Pentax 67.
“Incredible amount of accessories”
The latest RB67 version, the Pro-SD will take the larger K/L and L-lenses. The mount is 61mm instead of 54mm. The K/L lenses have a standard adapter which should be removed on previous body versions. The other older lenses require an adapter to be mounted to the Pro-SD.
There are a total of 33 lenses from which 9 KLs and 5 Ls. 15 Different focal lengths and only 1 zoom (100-200mm).
The RB67 Pro-SD, which was released in 1990 support the 6x8cm motorised back. Also new to the Pro-SD is the location for the dark slide, there is place on both sides of the body to put the slide while taking pictures.
This flexible system has an incredible amount of accessories. 6 lens accessories, 6 focusing screens, 9 finders, 7 body accessories, 15 film backs, 4 adapters, 3 polaroid backs, 6 press backs and 3 press focusing screens.
“Not for traveling, great for closer to home”