My Father was a forensic photographer and I first took a picture in about 1968 using his Pentax Spotmatic. When I was a teenager my Father bought a Mamiya C330 Professional F, which I thought terribly old-fashioned, being a TLR and having no exposure meter. I bought a Mamiya 645 Pro and three lenses which was far more modern, having a prism finder and even auto exposure! I eventually sold the entire outfit to buy my first digital camera, with a whopping 5 megapixels. Meanwhile, my Father sold his C330F outfit to buy a Mamiya RZ67 Professional, which I inherited when he died. The RZ was a fantastic camera and I even had the shift lens, but it was far too big and heavy so I sold it.
I returned to film photography 18 months ago using an Olympus OM4Ti which I managed to pick up “brand new”, still sealed in its box. I also bought a 50mm f/1.2 lens for it, but was disappointed in the image quality I was getting from the small negatives. I recently had the chance to buy a “brand new” Mamiya C330F and snapped it up, selling the Olympus outfit to pay for it. Of course, it’s really about 45 years old but had been ordered from a dealer back in the 1970s by somebody who didn’t turn up to collect it.
It sat in the dealer’s display cabinet until it was bought by a collector in the 1980s, he also kept it in a display cabinet. It was spotless, in the original box, with the slip of paper protecting the pressure plate still inside and the strap still sealed in its bag. I had to replace the light seals and the foam around the focussing screen, then I put a roll of ILFORD FP4 PLUS through it to test it.
All was good, both lenses focussing at the same point and there were no light leaks. I went out on a Royal Photographic Society landscape photography workshop hosted by Alex Hare, who was surprised by very happy to have somebody turn up with a film camera. We visited a local boatyard and I took advantage of the close focusing ability to get some shots of the peeling paint on the old boats and a telephone box. It was very early morning and the soft lights and colours cried out for colour film so I loaded a roll of Fuji Pro 400H.
Of course, when shooting close with a TLR, parallax is a big problem, the view you see when composing your picture is observed through a lens that is higher than the one that takes the picture. Mamiya provides a solution for this with a moving parallax indicator in the viewfinder, which shows where the top of the actual photo will be, provided you remember to tell the camera which lens you have fitted. There’s an even better solution, the “Paramender” which lifts the camera by the exact distance between the lenses after framing the composition and before taking the photo.
These images were all taken with the Mamiya Sekor 80mm f/2.8 lens and the Paramender on a tripod, using the waist level finder. It’s amazing to think these shots came from (probably) only the second roll of film ever to go through this camera. I’m delighted with the quality of the pictures, and am now using the camera on a regular basis.
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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