The 67: Mamiya v. Pentax

I had a little conundrum last week, believe it or not, when I had to choose one medium format camera to bring on vacation. I was feeling the 67 format, and wanted something that would truly reflect the beauty of, say, afternoon light in Florence.

Hmm, I thought. I probably want something with low depth-of-field capacity. And nothing too sharp.

But o dear, my Pentax67 is a beast! Heavy like you wouldn’t believe!

I brought it anyway.


And most of my pictures look like this:


I shot F/16ish most of the time, in bright sunlight. I am a dorkus. Sometimes planning does you no good, buddies.

Anyhoo, so then I come home and am straight off to a wedding in the idyllic Connecticut countryside. This time I wasn’t lugging that medieval wood-handled thing. The Mamiya II was my friend.


The wedding was at 5:30pm, cocktails at 6. I had no choice but to shoot f/4, as far open as that thing gets. And somehow, I ended up with the picture I thought I would have taken with the clunker up top.

Things are sometimes bass-ackwards.


This is Jessica Dimmock*, of Jessica Dimmock fame. The wedding was lousy with photographers. Jess was shooting with the G9 she won at NYPF.

*Neither Jessica nor I condone the use of nicotine. Though sometimes it makes for a kickass photograph.

OH RIGHT- the point of this post: why aren’t there any lenses for the Mamiya II that go lower than f/4?

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There are 13 comments for this article
  1. Matt Armendariz at 9:58 am

    Man oh man, that shot is just beautiful. And I must say the Mamiya II is my choice when traveling for a film camera. It’s just compact enough and my lil arms don’t get tired.

  2. Jeremy at 10:58 am

    I believe the deal with the slow Mamiya 7 lenses, and other medium format rangefinders, ie nothing better than f4, has something to do with the mechanics of a rangefinder vs. slr, the pentax, and the lens protruding too far into the body with larger f stop lenses. It is a great camera through and you made a really nice shot. Jeremy

  3. Rachel Hulin at 12:17 pm

    dude, i did not think it was possible. my point was that this is a shot i would typically take with the pentax, as it opens wider. sorry if i was unclear…

  4. dbram at 5:31 pm

    I’ve owned both cameras. Both are terrific. The pentax 67II has an amazing meter and a 75mm 2.8 lens that will rival anything out there. As mentioned, the Mamiya cannot go faster that f4 because of the design of the camera.

  5. cvanwye at 6:46 pm

    Back when I was shooting film, I went back and forth between my Pentax 6×7 system and my beloved Voigtlander Bessa II 6×9 for my personal work. Most of the time I was seeing 2:3 rather than 6:7 so the Bessa was my choice. Most of the time I kind of liked it’s soft images but other times longed for a sharper 6×9. I tried the Fuji and didn’t care for it and finally put together a great Mamiya Super 23 system with 6×9 backs. Although not nearly as portable or quick shooting as a the new little Mamiya it gave my wide images and pretty sharp lenses. Of course they are all stored away now, but I can’t bring myself to sell them.

  6. Geoff Smith at 11:16 am

    Ditto on the above advice. As you know, one of the great things about medium format (vs. 35mm and digital, esp. APS-C digital) is the extreme selective focus you can do owing to less apparent depth of field with the larger format (especially w/ 6×7). The Pentax lenses, by opening wider (in general and especially with the nice f/2.4 of the standard 105mm lens) and focusing much closer than the Mamiya lenses will give you the best selective focus short of using a larger format like 4×5. I agree that both cameras are great and, along with the Mamiya RZ, represent the high water mark for the 6×7 format, which is my personal fave. By the by, I think the slower Mamiya lens thing may have something to do with having leaf shutters in them. I don’t know why, but whenever I see a leaf shutter lens (even for e.g. the Pentax 67), they rarely open up wider than f/4.

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