Been thinking for a little while about putting my experiences with various medium format cameras together. Basically a completely random account of film cameras I have or have had with my totally biased opinions. Things like. ”it’s too heavy” and “what pretty bokeh”. You know, the really important technical stuff. ;)
Figured I’d start from the beginning of my medium format fall with the Mamiya c33. This beast of a camera was my big push down the slippery slope of film. I randomly came across the camera and several rolls of BW film on craigslist for $50. The porrofinder on the camera was really dim, pretty much unshootable and it had seen it’s better days. So… what would Diyosa do? Make a waist level finder out of cardboard and duct tape! I eventually bought a proper waist level finder and really fell in love with the Mamiya. I cleaned it up and worked some of the grime off of the focusing screen and then it really started to get me caught up in the magic.
This camera was special, probably more so because it was my first medium format camera, it’s what really made me slow down and take my time, focus manually, see the light and meter it with a handheld, made me get extremely confused when I tell a child to move right when I mean left but the kid doesn’t really even know her right from her left. Another great and unique part of the Mamiya TLR system is that it allows for interchangeable lenses and the bellows provide for close focusing. When i eventually moved on to the Rolleiflex it was an adjustment when I couldn’t focus as closely.
Maybe much of my love for this camera is caught up in emotion (i’m sure you’ll see a trend of that as I keep posting these) but reality is it is HEAVY and excessive to carry around in a purse (but you can be darn sure I did.. and have a few ripped purse straps to prove it). Also I found light leaks to be an issue when shooting 220 film (i was told it’s because there is less paper backing on 220).
Basically… it can be a cheap way to get into medium format. It’s the camera I lend out to people when I want them to fall down the medium format slope with me. It’s built like a tank so as long as the shutter fires and there are no holes in the bellows I’m sure a good copy could be found for far less than most other TLRs. If you’re considering one, grab it.. Just don’t drop it on your foot (or hit a small child with your bag with the Mamiya in it).