The family has grown again. Talking about my camera family. Recently a very special new member was adopted: the classic, famous Mamiya RB67 Pro. Totally not made for me. That’s why I bought it.
What’s the RB67? Well, something like a Hasselblad. It’s a stupid answer, I know. But still it is the best description for people not deeply into the history of medium format cameras.
Some specifications: The very successful Mamiya RB67 Pro was built from 1974 for 15 years, totally manual, medium format 6×7 film, leaf shutter, bellows focusing, and handy 2.7kg heavy with my 140mm lens attached.
How to carry the beast comfortably I have not yet figured out. Maybe this is the reason why it was mainly used in studios on strong and sturdy tripods.
No Shift from Digital
At first a statement: I do not want to miss the development of digital cameras and digital image processing! Shooting digital is a pleasure and in many occasions it made photographer’s life much easier on the one hand. On the other? Ask some photographers who still know the good old film times. Quite a few downsides came with digital, too.
Having said that, digital photography comes with a price: capabilities and options, making it more difficult to focus on the essential. Sure it is possible not to use options. But even easier it is not to have them in the camera or in post. Shooting with simplistic tools can give you a creativity push, sometimes. Also simplistic tools in general require more technical knowledge to shoot. Means more fun!
BUT: Opting for film is not better nor worse than digital. It is simply different.
Simple but Quality
Shooting with my lovely Alpa and Phase One combination already was one step back from fast digital mass shooting. Still digital sensor, but analog in the front and a snail speed shooting process.
Opting for the Mamiya RB67 means taking the analog approach one step further. Or better: much further. This camera has no batteries, everything is fully manually operated. No light meter inside, but on the other hand no hassle with charging batteries, no laptop needed – lots of rolls of film instead.
The RB67 was built as a studio camera. In many photo studios around the globe this workhorse was operated for decades day by day as one of the most reliable tools built in photography history. It’s simplicity for sure added to its incredible longevity.
So we have learned the camera is mainly made for studio, it is heavy, bulky, difficult to shoot hand held and therefore my conclusion was: I will use it as a travel camera, shooting hand held. Hope I won’t regret.
Why Travel with RB67
The Mamiya RB67 as said is totally not practical for travel. But I have to find some pro’s, also for convincing myself it will be worth all the hassle.
Its modular build allows for easy cleaning of each and every part of the camera. When far away from camera service for a long time this could be a benefit. It will always shine like new.
The camera is fast to shoot. Well, not really. But compared to my Alpa every camera is extremely fast to operate.
Ok, lets better focus on its reliability, which really is a clear plus.
Then as last: being built pretty simple the camera allows for some repairs by yourself which in the field sometimes can be pretty helpful.
And of course, not to forget, photographer’s favorite: It shoots very good pictures. Just by itself.
I think I have to confess there is no good reason for me to use this camera. I simply want to. The RB67 feels good and is fun to shoot. And it is challenging.
Time to take my new toy out for the first trip! Where to go I won’t yet tell, but the trip is scheduled already. My flight is booked, takeoff in just a couple of days. I am excited for more than one reason!
But first, as always when a new camera is added to your portfolio, a lot of testing has to be done. Two weeks I will have to get to know the beast in an out.
A new camera is fun. A new camera is work.