In the summer of 2019, I sold my trusty Olympus XA in order to buy my then-dream camera: the Mamiya RB67. Although these cameras are vastly different, the XA being ideal for travel and street photography while the RB is more for studio shoots and still-life, I was convinced that when the time came I could use the Mamiya in the same situations as the Olympus. Which is how I found myself in the streets of Buenos Aires lugging around a 2.5kg camera.
The first few frames came out quite sloppy. I wasn’t used to the size just yet and shooting through the inverted viewfinder while walking and attempting to focus with the bellows was not as easy as I had first imagined; in fact, I hadn’t even considered these problems. Soon I got the gist of it, moved into the light, and began to pick my subjects with more care. By chance, the subjects began to volunteer themselves.
Walking with a camera this size is bound to bring unwanted attention, so when I found myself in the middle of a televised protest, I had to camouflage myself somehow. I chose the nearest cameraman and began to trail them, pretending to be a part of the team, asking people for portraits as I went along. People didn’t bat an eye.
These two gentlemen, seeing me with a tank of a camera, assumed I was a foreigner and jokingly requested a portrait. Answering in Spanish I indulged them, and we had a brisk conversation about the ongoing protest, although they were visibly uncomfortable by the fact that I actually understood them.
This was the same year in which I shot some expired T-MAX 100 on my Leica IIIf with my cousin giving me a tour of the city. He had then given me some location ideas, so to finish the last roll I walked to Avenida Corrientes to photograph the congress building; quite the imposing architecture.
By the end of the day, I felt like I had done quite the workout; I didn’t have a strap for the RB, and I alternated holding it with each arm for a while until I had to pack it up and have a rest. Nonetheless, I am extremely happy with the results; the 6×7 negatives give me so much to work with, and the tonality of medium format is a joy to behold.
The shallow depth-of-field that can be attained is great for street portraits. Have I used the Mamiya as a street alternative since? Yeah, a few times, and it has worked wonders. Still, I should mention that I eventually bought another Olympus XA which I did sorely miss, but the RB has proven (to me) that it can be worth its weight in gold, and that is to say quite a bit. Thanks for reading!