Mamiya C330 Professional S Twin Lens Reflex




Aahh yes... isn´t this a beauty? I think so, but most folks seem to prefer the Rolleiflexes. They say a Rolleiflex is more refined and sophisticated, while their Japanese cousins are most often called clunky and raw. I heartily disagree. I am very accustomed to the Mamiyas´ sturdy body and the busy front with it´s somewhat weird lens retaining clamp. When I see a Rolleiflex, I have the sense that somewhat´s missing, as if it was left alone in the middle of its development.


There´s a lot to discover on a Mamiya C330. Click on thumbnail to open a legible version.


The picture at the top of this page shows the Mamiya C330 S, the last model in a very long and also long-lived row of Mamiya twin lens reflex medium format cameras. I absolutely love it. It´s not only a very beautiful and impressive result of engineering art but also a very capable photographic device.


One of the first Mamiya C330 ads from around 1970


What makes the Mamiya C TLRs unique is the complete system Mamiya built around them. Aimed at the pros, the Mamiya C330 provided a solution to almost every problem a photographer could face. Its legendary built-in long bellows, providing very good close-up performance for free, is a feature never seen again in any camera system smaller than large format (OK, there´s also been the Fuji GX680, but that´s much more like a large format camera constrained to medium format film. Quite interesting as well, but definitely not for the faint-hearted.). On the other extreme, Mamiya also wanted to serve the sports and action photographers and provided the so-called sports finders. Don´t believe it? Look here:


Page from 70s Mamiya brochure. The complete brochure is here (9.5 MB).


Today nobody can imagine hauling such a heavy and slow machine to any kind of sports event except perhaps for chess tournaments, but back in those days there may well have been sports photographers who used the beast.



The above chart summarizes the Mamiya C330 and C220 system. I took this image from a 1982 Mamiya sales brochure. You can download a high resolution scan of the whole brochure as a (very large!) pdf file here. A marvellous 80s model and an image of Neuschwanstein are also featured in this 30 year old leaflet. The file is best viewed in Adobe Acrobat Reader after you have downloaded it to your hard drive. This way you can adjust the display to see the double pages correctly aligned.


The Mamiya Sekor TLR Lenses


Why zoom with your feet when you can haul around a C330 with 7 lenses instead?

Click on thumbnail to download the whole panorama.


As we all know, it´s not the camera that takes the image. Yes, it always takes the photographer´s imagination to have the camera pointed in the right direction and adjusted to the correct exposure values to create a great photograph, but that´s not quite what I´m referring to here. It´s also not the camera that paints the image of your imagination onto the film or sensor. It´s the lens. The camera only acts to keep the film flat and hold the lens perpendicular to it. That´s all. A good lens is what´s needed to get what you want. Mamiya knew that and created a phantastic line of lenses for the film holder called C330.

In a serious case of gear acquisition syndrome, I have collected the complete range of lenses offered for this camera. Below you´ll find pictures of all lenses, each one first attached to the camera followed by a closer sight to highlight some of their characteristics.

Need drawings of the lenses´ optical composition? A fine summary of the Mamiya TLR lens system can be found here. Unfortunately, this site is unaccessible every now and then. In case you need to have this pages´ information now, I have saved this page as a simple pdf file here. Thank you very much, Dr. Robert Smith!



I have also gathered additional information for each shown lens and provided it as a pdf file. The first two pages of every file are from the "Mamiya Professional Systems Handbook" by Mr. Robb Smith, published in 1974 by Amphoto. I wonder if these two authors, Dr. Robert Smith and Robb Smith, are actually the same person? The following pages of each file are from a Mamiya parts catalog.

Last, but certainly not least, thanks to Mr. Graham Patterson, we have the ultimate Mamiya TLR system reference here.

Let´s start with the last and most sophisticated lens available, the


Mamiya Sekor 105 mm f/3.5 DS



To be honest, this wasn´t the last lens available. The very last one was a special version of the 80 mm lens called the Mamiya Sekor 80 mm f/2.8 S. I´ll cover that lens later, together with the original 80 mm Sekor.

At a first glance the optical design of the Sekor 105 DS lens is not all that sophisticated. It´s composed of only 5 elements. Nevertheless people tend to praise it for its allegedly magic charateristics because it follows a very old Voigtländer design called the Color-Heliar. Heliar type lenses are said to render out of focus areas in a very pleasing way, therefore being especially suited for portraits. I don´t do much portraits, at least on film, so I can´t really testify to that. But what I can confirm is that this is a very sharp lens with very good resolution. This lens gave me this image, for example. Nothing to complain about.



The Sekor 105 DS is the only Mamiya TLR lens featuring a diaphragm in the viewing lens. You can see the diaphragm closed to f/5.6 in the above picture. It appears as a black area surrounding a bright pentagon in the left of the twin lenses. This diaphragm allows depth of field preview in the viewfinder, which can be an impressive experience in good light. DOF is really shallow with wide opened lenses in medium format, even with a comparatively (in terms of 35 mm film) slow f/3.5 lens like this. You can watch DOF grow while closing the diaphragm, but the image on the viewfinder screen is getting darker very fast. This lens also is the only Mamiya TLR Sekor  that has a self timer, which is engaged by setting the flash mode dial to the "V" position prior to cocking the shutter.

There is much debate about the Mamiya TLR Sekors´ lens coating in various forums. Most of the lenses have a brownish or yellowish coating that is believed to be a single coating. Later lenses can appear bluish or purplish. Most authorities also think of the blue or purple coatings as being single coatings. The very last lenses from around 1990 can show two or more different colours, e.g. blue and amber, but it seems to remain unclear if this is a sign of multicoated lens elements. Suffice it to say, the 105 DS has a rather modern coating compared to the amber coated lenses, giving crisp images with good contrast.

The 105 mm Sekor has seen considerable development over the years. The original Sekor 105 (without a further letter), which appears to have been sold in two different versions, was replaced by a lens called the Sekor 105 D, which later was equipped with the viewing lens diaphragm and called the Sekor 105 DS. I have added some more information about the Mamiya Sekor 105 mm f/3.5 lenses here.

There are a few quite interesting points to discuss in this document. First, Mr. Robb Smith states that the Sekor 105 D and DS lenses are older than the original Sekor 105 f/3.5. To my knowledge this is not correct. The D and DS Sekors were the newer lenses.

And second, the Mamiya parts catalog lists two different versions of the Sekor 105 D, with the internal names LD 231 and LE 131. The exploded views of these two lenses show that the LD 231 version has the same 4 element, 3 group lens design as the original Sekor 105, while the LE 131 version is built of 5 lenses in 3 groups. This means that only a certain number of the Sekor 105 D lenses and all Sekor 105 DS are true Heliar type lenses!

According to the Mamiya parts catalog, the true Heliar type 105 D is 1.3 mm longer than the non-Heliar type. This may be the only way to differentiate between them. But I guess they may also be distinguished by the colour of the lens coating. I have seen photographs of both amber and blue coated 105 D Sekors in internet auctions, so I think that only the Heliar type 105 D was made in blue coating.


 Mamiya Sekor 55 mm f/4.5



The widest lens of the Mamiya TLR line, the Sekor 55 f/4.5, seems to be the most coveted. Good ones easily reach around $ 250 in online auctions. It´s a handsome small lens with a 46 mm filter thread. As far as I know there has never been a blue insert on the shutter cocking lever, so the only way to identify younger lenses is the production number. The latest ones are said to have 6 digit numbers.




I also don´t know of any other than the amber lens coating. While the 55 mm Sekor has a reputation of being a reasonably sharp lens, the relatively simple coating and the exposed front element make this lens prone to ghosts and flare to an extreme level. It MUST be used with a suitable hood under all circumstances except when placed in full shadow. Any strong light source striking the lens directly will inevitably cause a hilarious beam of pentagonal ghosts in assorted sizes as seen below.



Depending on the subject captured, this may or may not be an asset.

The other day I have done some shots to compare the Mamiya TLR wideangle lenses to their younger cousins, the mighty Mamiya 6 wide and normal lenses. Let´s see how they compete! Here´s the TLR Sekor 55 mm, showing the Gothic House at the Wörlitz Garden Empire park.




Followed by an image created through what reportedly may be among the best lenses ever, the Mamiya 6 Sekor L 50 mm.


Don´t see much difference? So do I. The biggest difference is seen in the lighting situation and in the distribution of blue tones in the sky. I didn´t nail the best polarizer orientation in the 55 mm TLR picture. Using a polarizer is somewhat difficult on both cameras, though, and pretty much by chance I maintained the right position with the Mamiya 6, getting a nice even blue sky.

Even at pixel level the TLR Sekor doesn´t disappoint me. In the following image pairs the TLR 55 mm is first, followed by the Mamiya 6 50 mm.




Somewhat off the center the world champion Mamiya 6 lens is a tad sharper, but not enough to matter in real life prints at reasonable sizes.







In the center of the image I have a very hard time to see any difference in image quality. Hooray! My olde 55 mm Sekor can still keep up with the best medium format lenses available! To be honest, the above examples don´t tell us much about distortion or declining resolution towards the edges and corners, and the Mamiya 6 Sekor is expected to run circles around the TLR Sekor in these disciplines. But in my humble opinion you really don´t have to be ashamed about your TLR Sekor´s performance in at least 95 % of imaging situations.

More information about the Mamiya Sekor 55 mm f/4.5 is found here.


Mamiya Sekor 65 mm f/3.5




The community seems to be split into those who celebrate this lens for its sharpness and resolution and those who dismiss it completely. I´ll add my opinion in a few seconds.



There are three lenses in the whole line that bear 49 mm filter threads instead of the 46 mm ones. The Sekor 65 is one of them. The reason for the wider thread is that the front element of this lens (and of the 180 mm and 250 mm lenses as well) is much bigger than those of the other lenses. The drawback of the bigger lens elements is that the lens barrel is very thin at the front. To prevent damage the thin filter thread is reinforced with stiffening rings. These rings have to be removed before attaching screw-in filters, so many of them got lost over the years. It´s worth searching for lenses that are still equipped with the stiffening rings, but be prepared to pay a bit more.

While I was at comparing Mamiya TLR and Rangefinder lenses (remember the 55 mm Sekor above?), I certainly mounted this 65 mm lens as well. Let´s go!



Oh boy, the polarizer, again! OK, you may now compare this capture to the Mamiya 6 50 mm Sekor I have shown above together with the 55 mm TLR Sekor or to the Mamya 6 75 mm lens below.



Click on the thumbnails for full pleasure! Once again, you won´t see too much difference. Here are some details at pixel-level, the first one of each pair showing the 65 mm TLR image.




Yeah! Very good! Remember the TLR Sekor is proudly holding up against one of the best medium format lenses in the universe!




The lower one is from the 50 mm Mamiya 6 lens, hence the difference in scale. Taken together, we see two very different breeds of lenses, being decades apart in technology, performing very, very closely. Ha! Don´t just dump your trusty Mamiya Twin! At no reasonable print size will any serious spectator be able to distinguish it from the output of the world´s best camera (scroll down a bit until you reach the "Mamiya 7: $3.900" section).

But let´s just be honest, dear friends. Surprise, surprise. The times, they are a-changin´.







That´s the current state of the digital art. Sigma DP2 Merrill. Taken from the same position as all the 50, 55, 65, 75 Sekor images above. Also at pixel level. 100 %. Believe it or not. I did not, until I did this small shoot-out. Before, I honestly thought that medium format film still had an edge against tiny silicon sensors. Nope, not true. Not anymore.

Please don´t be too shocked, though. The other day I discovered that my Sigma DP2 Merrill leaves a Nikon D800 in the dust. I bought the 800 to replace my D7000. I should have known better: the D800 is exactly the same as the D7000 in terms of pixel density. Not better, just more of the same. The Sigma manages to pack more and cleaner information into far less pixels. It´s a kind of magic. Here´s the whole image.



Of course this little trip into digital may be regarded as blasphemy on a page dedicated to a grand olde film camera. But I feel we have to tell us the truth. For more than a decade we film aficionados have been convincing ourselves that digital will never be able to cope with film quality and resolution. We may certainly have reached the point where digital went ahead of 35 mm film even some years ago, and very clearly today medium format film finishes second to a Foveon sensor that´s barely a third of 120 film´s size. The very day Sigma manages to slice its sensors even only in 645 size will be large format film´s doomsday. No doubt about that.

So why should I stay with film? Easy: the perceivable resolution difference only hurts us pixel peepers. The whole image is just as good, be it film or Foveon based, so we can choose whatever pleases our eye. The film image appears smoother, and the Ektar colours are special. Everything containing a hint of red is pumped up in volume. I tend to like that!

I have got more information about the Mamiya Sekor 65 mm f/3.5 here.

Quite surprisingly, the 65 mm Sekor, along with the 105 mm and the 250 mm Sekors, seems to have vanished by the end of the 80s. I didn´t know, but Popular Photography did:


Click on the thumbnail to download a legible version.


Mamiya Sekor 80 mm f/2.8



The Mamiya Sekor 80 mm f/2.8 was the standard lens suggested for the Mamiya TLRs, and I think most of them were originally sold together with this lens. As with most "normal" lenses, it is the fastest lens of the whole system. Wide open it shows good center sharpness and resolution, but it gets weaker in the corners. This may be actually be an advantage for portrait photographers. Stopped down a bit the performance improves significantly.



Unlike most of the other Mamiya TLR lenses the Sekor 80 saw a bit of development over the years. The lens element configuration seems to have been left unchanged except for the viewing lens, which apparently was modified in the Sekor 80 S lens. But the lens coating obviously was improved somehow. The first of the "black" 80 mm Sekors had the usual amber or brownish single coating as shown above.



Later lenses had the more modern bluish or purplish coating. The one shown above also has the "blue dot" shutter lever. Apparently many people seem to believe that this notorious blue dot indicates some kind of better lens technology, but to my knowledge the blue insert only corresponds with the shutter used, which definitely has no effect on the image quality.



There´s absolutely no reason to worry too much about the different lens coatings. The above image was taken with the amber coated non-blue-dot Mamiya Sekor 80mm f/2.8. I actually had to decrease the saturation of the original scan of the Velvia 100F slide. There´s pretty much enough colour and contrast left to give a showy, crisp image. I doubt that the Sekor 80 S lens (below) would have rendered the Orange Favourite tulips significantly better. You can find a very good explanation of how lens coatings work here.

Mamiya Sekor 80 mm f/2.8 S



Recently I found a brand new Mamiya Sekor 80 mm f/2.8 S lens. Brand new, in the box, untouched. Quite interestingly I got it from a seller located in Lithuania. The box contains a guarantee registration card of a UK based vendor. How did it find its way to Lithuania and manage to stay unused, I wonder?

I almost hesitate to use this lens because it bears absolutely no sign of use. This will almost inevitably change once I mount it onto the C330. The lens retaining wire easily leaves marks on the lense´s mounting plate. Perhaps I´ll try and cover the most vulnerable spots with protective tape before I mount it.



As I said above, the Sekor 80 S lens was the very last one Mamiya offered for the C330 system. I don´t know the actual production dates, but it may well have been released around 1990. My specimen has the usual two letter sticker commonly found on the black Mamiya TLR lenses. Mr. Graham Patterson has some ideas on how to interpret the letter codes. Look at chapter 2.6 in his Mamiya TLR System Summary.



This lens shows an assortment of colours when viewed at different angles, which may indicate multicoated lens elements. On closer inspection you can clearly see that the viewing lens has different dimensions than the taking lens. Unfortunately, I did not find any lens diagram for the Sekor 80 S on the net, but I think it´s safe to state that in this lens the viewing lens has a different layout than the taking lens. Thus, the two lenses cannot be swapped as with the other Mamiya TLR lenses.


Mamiya Sekor 80 mm f/3.7



There has also been a "budget" version of the 80 mm Sekor, the 80 mm f/3.7. According to information on the net, it was meant to be offered together with the Mamiya C220 as an amateur outfit. Today nearly all C220s are offered together with the "pro" f/2.8 Sekor. The f/3.7 Sekor is very hard to find, so I believe that most Mamiya customers ordered their C220 together with the pro f/2.8 lens.

The 80 mm f/3.7 Sekor was equipped with a Copal shutter instead of the usual Seiko ones. It is quite easily distinguished from all other Sekors because it has its shutter cocking lever on the left side. It also has the smaller 41 mm filter thread that the older chrome lenses and the first black 105 mm Sekor had.

Additional information about the Mamiya 80 mm Sekors is found here.


Mamiya Sekor 105 mm f/3.5



The first black 105 mm Sekor had the same smaller filter thread as the older chrome lenses. Because the lens barrel is smaller the taking lens seems to have a bigger shutter than the other black lenses, but the shutters are the same. A later version of the 105 mm Sekor had the same 46 mm filter thread as the other black lenses, as shown below.



I have added some more information on the Mamiya Sekor 105 mm lenses here.

Mamiya Sekor 135 mm f/4.5



Much to my surprise the Mamiya Sekor 135 f/4.5 lens is the one that´s most frequently offered in very good shape at the auction site, while simultaneously being the least expensive one by far. It would seem that many photographers had this lens in their bag but did not use it all too often. I can´t imagine a good reason for that. It should be a very good portrait lens. Unfortunately, I didn´t consitently take notes of which lens I used (yes, I know, I should always take notes!), but I´m pretty sure that the image below was taken with this lens.






Oops! The shutter is exposed at the rear of the taking lens, so handle with care!

 There´s more information about the Mamiya Sekor 135 mm f/4.5 here.


Mamiya Sekor 180 mm f/4.5 Super



It seems to be generally acknowledged that this particular lens represents the essence of Mamiya´s expertise in optical technology. Therefore it´s called "Super". Or so we think. I suspect the "Super" suffix was added because the "normal" 180 mm Sekor and the improved version were sold simultaneously for a certain period. Actually the design of the 180 mm Super Sekor isn´t too elaborated, but it is indeed unique and delivers very good sharpness and resolution. As far as I know there has never been a "blue dot" version of this lens, and it has solely been sold with the amber coating.



Just like the 65 mm and the 250 mm lenses, the 180 mm Sekor needs a wide diameter front element, expanding the filter thread to 49 mm. As a consequence, the lens barrel is again very thin and delicate and was originally protected with chrome stiffening rings. My 180 mm Sekor Super doesn´t have the reinforcing rings any more, but complete lenses are still reaonably easy to find today.



To show an example for the Sekor 180 Super performance I fired a random shot right into the middle of one of my flower borders. Nothing special at all. Kodak Ektar 100 color negative film, scanned with the Nikon Super Coolscan LS-8000 scanner. Brought to life with ColorPerfect. No further image adjustment, no colour changes, no levels, no sharpening. I think that´s pretty impressive technically. Perfect colours with no tweaking at all!

The Sekor 180 Super shows really good resolution and sharpness, but to my eye the out of focus areas are a bit harsh. Perhaps I have been spoilt too much by the wonderful creamy yields of my DC Nikkors.



This is a 100% crop of the above image showing the actual pixels at the usual 96 dpi screen resolution. At this resolution the complete image would be 228 cm or 90 inches wide. No sharpening applied to the scanned image. Not too bad, eh?

The following sequence shows how the self-cocking device works with the 180 mm Sekor. An extension lever is provided on the lens barrel. You need to pay attention to its position when attaching this lens. It´s most easily done if the shutter is cocked before mounting the lens. Then you can hold down the extension lever to let it securely slip under the camera´s cocking device.





Mamiya Sekor 18 cm f/4.5



Before the Sekor 180 mm Super was introduced, a somewhat simpler designed 180 mm lens had been in the game for years. As with the former chrome lens, even the later black one was labeled with the focal lenght given in cm instead of mm. Thus, this was the Mamiya Sekor 18cm.



Here both 180 mm Sekors are shown side by side. The red "Super" logo easily distinguishes the newer one from the 18 cm Sekor. Note that my older 18 cm lens has a newer "blue dot" shutter cocking lever. This is indeed astonishing, because I have never seen any hint that even the newer Super Sekor was ever available with a blue dot. I doubt that the older lens would have been honored to be equipped with a newer shutter than the newer lens.

This is what the guy who sold me this particular 18 cm Sekor wrote me. "Ah, the ubiquitous blue dot. Yes, it is a blue dot shutter, apparently. I've seen a number of 180mm black series lenses with the blue dot insert, just as I've seen many 180mm Super series lenses without the blue dot. I think Mamiya's approach to production scheduling was pretty chaotic, and there is much random overlap between production runs. And, of course, to further confuse the issue, repairs done by Mamiya techs often installed newer blue dot parts in place of older ones."

Well, maybe. On the other hand, I have seen quite a few Sekors with blue dots in this vendor´s offers that are commonly thought not to have blue dot shutters. In his favor I may state that this 18 cm Sekor is in nearly mint shape, as are all his offers at the auction site.




The older 18 cm Sekor (right) is a bit longer than the 180 mm Super. It has 4 elements with a very thick front element, while the Super Sekor has 5 elements. Both were only available with the "standard" amber coating.

As you can see in the last two pictures, I have meanwhile managed to find a new 180 mm Super Sekor which is in pretty pristine shape, too. It really pays to have a certain degree of patience while scanning the auction site for Mamiya lenses. Every now and then a very good sample will surface, and if you are particularly lucky, the seller may have placed it in the wrong category, so competition will be weak.


Addendum: more information about the Mamiya Sekor 180 mm f/4.5 Super
and the Mamiya Sekor 18 cm f/4.5


Mamiya Sekor 250 mm f/6.3



 Hee hee! At this stage the whole thing bears a remarkable resemblance with a howitzer.

The gargantuan 250 mm Mamiya Sekor is one of the hardest to find today. User reports reach from "excellent" to "unusable". Apparently this lens wasn´t sold in as large quantities as the smaller ones. This may be explained by the narrow field of use as well as the extraordinary retail price. They are expensive still today, but back then they set you back about twice as much as a Mamiya C220 body alone!



German Mamiya Pricelist from 1968

900 Deutschmarks for a Mamiya Sekor 250 mm f/6.3 in 1968! That would be about $ 2K in today´s money! And it was more than twice of the normal to moderate lenses´ prices. Even the more extreme 55 mm and 180 mm lenses were still around 30% less expensive. It´s no surprise indeed that the 250 mm Sekors are scarce today. You can download the complete 1968 pricelist (German, 4 pages, 3 MB) here. Note that the "normal" 180 mm Sekor and the Sekor 180 Super were sold simultaneously.

A decade later the prices were a bit more levelled. The 250 mm Sekor only cost exactly as much as a Mamiya C330f body alone in 1979, ca. $ 700 in today´s money. The complete German pricelist (one of four pages shown below) is found here. Quite interestingly, the 105 mm Sekors D and DS were sold simultaneously in 1979, while the non-Super 180 mm Sekor vanished.




Unfortunately, I can´t tell if the 250 mm Sekor can compete with the better Mamiya TLR lenses. My sample suffers from a typical Mamiya TLR lens problem. The lens coating seems to have decomposed somehow, resulting in a somewhat "foggy" apperance as shown above. The resulting dirt cannot be removed, this lens is lost.



As indicated in the above picture, the Mamiya TLR lenses can be disassembled reasonably well. Dust and dirt can be cleaned off the lens elements (but deteriorated lens coatings cannot!). If you attempt to tear a lens apart please take care of the location and configuration of the very delicate thin "washers" that are needed on several lenses to assure correct spacing of the lens elements. These can quite easily be forgotten or mixed up when reassembling the lens, which will result in focusing problems.

I am still searching for a good 250 mm Sekor to take a few shots with in order to assess wether this lens is truly as bad as many user reports suggest. Based on the extraordinary price and the comparatively sophisticated lens element configuration one should safely expect excellent performance.

Update: Yes! I have found a Sekor 250 mm in very good condition! It´s so good indeed, it seems to be virtually unused. I´m absolutely curious about how it will perform. The howitzer is back :-)



So here´s the very first image I took with the Mamiya Sekor 250 mm f/6.3. The picture shows Schloss Wörlitz and the steeple of St. Petri, both located in eastern Germany in the Garden Empire  of Dessau-Wörlitz, part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. A most beautiful place to visit!



Kodak Ektar 100, f/11, scanned with Nikon Coolscan LS-8000 ED, developed with ColorPerfect. No further adjustments. No sharpening. This is not a bad picture, technically, far from it. But quite obviously, the Sekor 180 Super is a good bit better.



The detail above is shown at pixel level (1:1 @ 96 ppi). The brick walls are clearly resolved, and even some faint detail is visible in the windows. The edges are not quite as sharp as, for example, a Mamiya 6 or a Sigma DP2 Merrill would have captured them. No doubt. But this is a 250 mm lens! Neither the 6 nor the Sigma can look that far.


Finally, you can download additional information about the Mamiya Sekor 250 mm f/6.3 here.


In Use


I don´t know what you would like to capture with a TLR, but Mamiya had a few freaky ideas:



Law enforcement! Click on thumbnail to view a bigger version.



The waist-level finder is one of the features I like the most on this camera. It displays an incredibly large image that helps a lot in composing a good photograph. The image is upright but reversed and needs a little getting used to. If you turn your camera to the right, the viewfinder image will move to the left. Once you get accustomed to that unusual behaviour you will love that big display. Any other SLR or rangefinder viewfinder will seem atomic compared to your C330.



Correct focusing is critical with medium format film because DOF can be really shallow with larger arpertures and the big film size can be enlarged so much that every minute focus error will jump into your eye instantly. The viewfinder provides an enlarging lens that´s absolutely useful for focusing, as is a focusing screen with a split image and a microprism ring that was available as an accessory.



The Mamiya C330 S and its light meter (below)


Because the Mamiya C330 is a fully mechanical, non electronic, non digital device, you will need a light meter. This may be any analog or digital hand held meter. Or perhaps your digicam as shown above. Chances are you already carry one in your pant´s pocket all day long and don´t even know: today your smartphone is able to be your light meter, too. There are several promising light meter apps around, including this one that appears to be the most sophisticated today.

If you want to keep every single electron at bay and stay strictly analog, you may also use your brain and calculate along the Sunny 16, or use this photographic sliderule. In case you are very serious about your photographic education and competence, you can indeed learn to use nothing but your own eyes to determine the correct exposure, everywhere, anytime.


Mamiya TLR History Snapshots


The Mamiya TLR mission terminated in 1994 after a history of nearly 40 years. At the very beginning there were several "Mamiyaflexes" with fixed lenses, but Mamiya quickly departed from the Rollei way of life by adding interchangeable lenses and the famous "C" letter. There has been a Mamiyaflex C, C2 and C3 before Mamiya dropped the "flex" and introduced the multi-digit numbers, starting with the Mamiya C33. At this point the series was split into a "pro" range (C33 and, later, C330) and "consumer" models called C22 and C220. Later upgrades added letters again (C220f, C330 f and S).


Mamiya C220 with Sekor 80 mm f/3.7


I have a separate page for the Mamiya C33 here and a downloadable German Mamiya C2 sales brochure here.







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