dante stella stories photographs technical guestbook

Mamiya RB-67 Pro-S

The following are based on my notes from when a friend had me sell his RB-67 system. I took the liberty of having some fun with it first. I got to play with the body, three different finders, three lenses (one of which did not work), and three backs (including Polaroid).

Configuration and Basics: The RB-67 is a unique camera. It comes in three sections: body with focusing bellows, mirror assembly and finder mount; back (rotating on four pins); and lens.

The backs for this camera are copies of the Graflex RH lever-wind backs (same Graflok back), with the exception that they now have an interlock that prevents you from removing the darkslide when the back is off the camera. The neat thing is that the Graflok back is on a frame that can be rotated 90 degrees. That frame can be substituted for one that takes a Polaroid back.

Design influences:  Who knows.

Loading: This has all of the disadvantages of the original Graflex system - tough to load inserts that fit into interchangeable backs. There should be a maxim that because your camera can take interchangeable backs, you have to have them. Film winding is a separate operation from shutter cocking. This is not a problem at all if you are using a Polaroid back.

Viewfinder: There are many. The waistlevel provides a nice view, although you cannot put your eye right up to its magnifier and expect to focus easily. The pentaprism provides a decent view. The chimney finder is the strangest; it incorporates a CdS cell on a little arm that can be manipulated. It's an interesting form of spot metering.

Shutter release: the shutter release is on the lower front corner; the grip makes shutter release a whole lot easier.

Lens: I was able to use the 50mm f/4 C lens and the 180/4.5 C lens. Both were fantastic (at least on Polaroid) and very bright and clear through the finder. RB-67 lenses are huge, though. Lenses cannot be dismounted unless cocked.

Operation: here comes the push, the whoosh and the return. Pressing the shutter release causes (in this order) the shutter to close, the mirror to flip up, the baffle to open, the shutter to open and close. The mirror returns when you recock it with the lever on the side.

Upshot: I really liked this camera for Polaroid, where you get a 7x7cm image on 3x4 inch film. The 180 was pretty impressive overall. I may even develop a grudging respect for this camera! But for the rest of what I use 6x7 for (I have a Fuji GM670 and a Pentax 6x7, it's a monster.