the Mamiya 6 – a highly subjective review


My photography career started with film.  Black and white negative film, and an old Pentax spotmatic.  I “switched” to digital with a Minolta Maxxum 7d, and shot pretty much exclusively digital from then on- up until about 6 months ago, when I got the itch again…

Now I knew I wanted to get a MF kit, as it’s hard to justify the extra work of 35mm film, given the quality of full-frame digital (ducks the angry rolls of tri-x being thrown).   Medium Format, OTOH, is a whole ‘nother beast…  I also knew I wanted a rangefinder just because, well, I love rangefinders.   That narrowed down the field a bunch – leaving basically the Fuji MF rangefinders and the Mamiya 6 or mamiya 7 in serious contention.   I took the plunge and got the Mamiya 6 (I chose the 6 over the 7 as I prefer the 6×6 negative rather than the 6×7).   Now after about 6 months of using it, I think it’s about time to write a proper review.

be forewarned – this is not an “Controlled Environment, Pixel Peeper” type review.  I’m not going to run rolls of test film against brick walls, or post MTF charts.  This is merely my overall impression of the camera after half a year of regular use (just about enough time to really get “comfortable” with a piece of gear!)

First off, for anyone thinking of getting one of these cameras – if you’ve never used a rangefinder before, there’s going to be a learning curve.  Rangefinder camera’s are different than SLRs in that you are *not* looking through the lens to frame/focus – you look through a separate window.   This window does not change with the focal length of the lens the way an SLR viewfinder does (in other words, your view doesn’t “zoom in” when you attach a longer lens) There are simply “framelines” – a glowing box/outline that shows what will be in the frame for a given focal length.   On the Mam6, these light up automatically depending on which lens you have mounted.  Focusing is also a totally different beast – instead of looking through the lens and subjectively evaluating if the image is in focus, the rangefinder uses a “patch” in the middle of the viewfinder, which superimposes 2 images over each other.  when they are “out of alignment” the image is out of focus – you simply adjust the focus until the overlaid images are lined up – taking a lot of the “guesswork” our of manual focusing.

Out of focus:


In Focus:


Despite the differences (some might say limitations) there is a lot to like about rangefinder framing/shooting:

  • Once you get the hang of focusing it can be much faster and more accurate than a SLR.  You don’t have to subjectively evaluate whether the image in the vewfinder “looks sharp” – if it’s lined up it’s in focus!
  • No “blackout” – since there is no mirror flipping up to block your view at the moment of exposure, your view through the window is never interrupted.  May not sound like a big deal, but once  you’ve gotten used to it, it’s really nice!
  • framing outside the lines.  With an SLR, what you see in the vewfinder is what you get in the  frame – you can’t see “outside of the  frame”.  With a rangefinder, the frame does not take up the whole area of the viewfinder – the the area contained by the brightlines.  This mean that with the camera up to your eye, you can actually see the area outside the actual frame of the photograph.   To me, this is the single greatest part of rangefinder photography – you can see the scene through the camera wholistically – chosing which parts to include, and which to cut out.  You can see elements *before* they actually  move into the frame, and you can see the area around your frame to determine if you need to make a minute adjustment to composition etc…   It’s hard to describe, but it is incredible.  After shooting with a rangefinder for a while, going back to an SLR feels like putting blinders on – like shooting down a tunnel with no peripheral vision.

Now on to the actual meat of the review:


The Mam6 is a solid piece of kit.   Tight tolerance, nothing loose or sloppy.   It feels like a brick of metal in the hand.  Size-wise it is fairly comporable to a 5D, but  it actually “feels” a lot smaller.  A lot of this is due to the “collapsing lens mount”.   The mamiya 6 is essentially a “bellows” camera (albeit with a sturdy shell on the outside to protect the bellows) – pressing the button on the left side of the lens mount allows the entire assembley (lens and all) to collapse *into* the body of the camera by a few inches.  Particularly with the 75/3.5 lens mounted & collapsed, the camera’s “depth” shrinks quite a bit allowing it to slip into a narrow/small camera bag.  I find it much easier to carry around as an “all day” camera than the 5D.  Here it is side by side with the 5D+50/1.8.  The 6 has the 75/3.5 normal lens mounted, and the lens mount collapsed.  (for reference the image at the top shows the camera with 75/3.5 with the mount exteded – note the difference!)


And here it is in my everyday shoulderbag along with the 150/4.  To give a sense of scale, that is a pocket moleskine in the side pocket…


Not exactly a “pocket camera” but when you consider that this is a *medium format* kit – it’s pretty amazingly compact.

The camera also just “fits” well in the hand. The grip is nicely contoured and comfortable.  Despite it’s somewhat “boxy” shape, it is extremely comfortable to hold/shoot with.  The controls fall well under the fingertips – the left hand focuses and sets aperture, while the shutter speed dial is positioned in a way that it can easily be rotated with the right index finger without removing one’s eye from the VF.  When combined with the meter which shows the shutter speed in the vewfinder, it makes it possible to adjust exposure without ever taking your eye away from the camera.  The focus is smoothly damped and the rangefinder works well with a decently sized focusing patch and nice bright framelines (which light up automatically depending on which lens is mounted)


as with any fully-manual camera, controls are simple – aperture is set on the lens, there is a top dial for shutter speed/ISO(ASA) with EV comp lever under it, a film advance lever (single stroke) and the shutter button.  that’s it.

Having TTL metering, the Mam6 has a Aperture Priority mode, enabled by turning the shutter speed dial to the red “A” on the dial.  In this mode, the camera will meter to the aperture set on the lens.  As I understand it, the metering system is a center-weighted average.   There is also an AEL mode, which is also aperture priority, but has the added feature of “locking” the exposure at a 1/2 press of the shutter – very useful!   The meter shows up along the left hand side of the viewfinder – the currently selected shutter speed is shown solid, while the metered speed will blink above or below it for over/under exposed.

It’s a very intuitive system overall, and enables quick manual metering.  I generally shoot in fully manual, but I’ve had good success shooting in AEL, pointing at the part of the scene I want to meter, 1/2 pressing to lock exposure, and then recomposing and shooting.  Frankly for “fast moving” photography such as street etc… the meter is good enough to just “set it and forget it” especially given the exposure lattitude of b/w neg. film.   In A (and AEL) mode, EV comp is controlled by a little lever under the shutter speed dial.  Honestly I’ve never used it – I’m either always in manual or AEL-meterlock-recompose mode!

Changing lenses:

Changing lenses is the same as an SLR, but with a catch.   The Mamiya 6 uses a Leaf shutter system, as opposed to the focal plane shutters in most SLRs.  This means that the shutter is actually *in the lens* instead of in front of the film plane.   The obvious ramification to this is that if one removes the lens, the film plane is exposed (since there is no shutter to block it!) which would prevent changing lenses while fim is in the camera.   Luckily the Mam6 solves this rather elegantly, by having a “dark slide” that covers the film while the lens is removed.   There is a little knob on the bottom of the camera that enables the dark slide, and a switch that releases it (it snaps back automatically).   The camera also has a series of interlocks which prevent you from “doing anything bad” during this process.  In other words,  when there is film in the camera, the lens-release button will not function unless the darkslide is enabled, and once a lens is mounted, the shutter will not fire until the darkslide is withdrawn.  There is a little warning light in the upper right hand corner of the viewfinder which will blink to let you know if something is set incorrectly when you press the shutter button.   This may sound complicated, but in practice it only adds a few seconds to the process of changing a lens which becomes:

  1. turn knob to enable darkslide
  2. press lens release button, remove lens
  3. mount new lens
  4. hit the switch on the bottom to remove the darkslide
  5. shoot away


The bad news is that the Mamiya 6 system, only has 3 lenses.  The good news is that it only has 3 lenses.  For me, they cover just about everything I want – moderate wide, normal and moderate tele.  The added advantage is that once you have all 3, there is no worring about “oh I need lens X and lens Y”.   It’s actually rather freeing, in a strange way.   And don’t worry about said 3 not being up to snuff – these lenses are good.  Really, Really, Really Good.   If you are coming from a 35mm system, the quality will blow you away.    The lenses are:

75mm f/3.5:

This is the “normal” lens, just shy of 50mm equiv. in 35mm terms.   Beautifully sharp and contrasty across the entire frame, straight from max aperture. I tend to favor normals, so this is my “default” lens.   Also helps that it is the smallest of the 3, and collapses nicely in to the body, making the camera wonderfully portable.

150mm f/4:

Stunning. An absolutely gorgeous portrait lens (appx 100mm in 35mm terms), razor sharp, with a beautiful falloff and incredible bokeh.   The images from this lens are truly jaw dropping. I have heard some complain that it is difficult to focus, but I haven’t had any problem, so YMMV.

50mm f/4:

28mm equiv.  Don’t have this lens, but from what I’ve heard it’s the best of the 3 (which is almost scary considering how good the other two are).   Saving the pennies for it now 🙂


I’ve shot with quite a few camera systems, and I can say unreservedly that the Mamiya 6 is my “”favorite” system overall.   It may sound crazy, given the limited nature of the system overall – but it’s just one of those cameras that “gets out of the way” and lets you get the shot.  From the smoothly damped action on the focus to the quiet “snick” of the shutter, to the cleverly collapsing lens mount, the camera is simply a pleasure to use – it practically “sings” in the hand.   Needless to say, the quality is superb as well (as one would expect from a medium format system).  Of course it comes with all the caveats of a rangefinder system, but it comes with all the benefits as well.   It seems to hit kind of a “sweet spot” with a combination of simplicity, usability and portability that really just *works*.

Another wonderful aspect of the system for shooters who use strobe/flash lighting is the fact that the leaf shutter of the camera allows syncing at all shutter speeds.  Unlike focal-plane slr users who must spend outrageous sums (and endure huge power losses in high-speed-sync modes) on system-dedicated strobe units to allow flash sync beyond their native sync speed, the Mamiya 6 will happily sync with any strobe right up to it’s maximum shutter speed of 1/500 sec – simply wonderful when working with lights outdoors for dropping down the ambient!

In a lot of ways, it’s hard to exactly pin down the appeal of this camera.   I recently read a review of the E-P1 which called it “a camera that you buy with your heart, not your head” (to paraphrase).  I think in a lot of ways the Mamiya is similar.   It’s certainly not as versatile as an SLR system, and in these days of high-volume shoots and fast turnaround times, it would be ludicrous to imagine using it as one’s primary camera.   But when I’m walking out the door in the morning, it’s almost always the one I grab.   It’s the type of camera that is simply *enjoyable* to use, the one that is just “comfortable”.


While I absolutely love the 6 as a whole, there are some nitpicks, nothing major but just some things to be aware of.

  • the 1/500 max shutter speed can be limiting if you want to shoot wide open in bright light.  Course you can use ND filters, but that gets cumbersome etc… (although the tradeoff to this is that you get that full 1/500 when syncing with a flash, which more than makes up for it in my mind!)
  • the meter readout can be difficult to see when wearing glasses.
  • the rather large minimum focus distance on the lenses can sometimes be limiting.

Bottom line:

If you shoot sports, this is not the camera for you.

If you shoot wildlife, this is not the camera for you.

Nor is it for weddings (well maybe) or events, or product photography (no close focus).

That being said – this camera is a unique product that is simply magical in it’s own way, and if it suits your shooting style will quickly become one of your most-loved pieces of gear.

UPDATE: My Mamiya 6 is currently in the shop for a broken film advance mechanism.  Apparently this is a not-uncommon issue with the 6, and something to be aware of before purchasing one.    Personally I wouldn’t let it stop me (and it doesn’t change my opinion of the camera) but just for full disclosure…

53 thoughts on “the Mamiya 6 – a highly subjective review”

  1. I’ve just bought myself a Mamiya 6 and couldn’t agree more with what you have written!

    I started as a digital photographer, then starting experimentation with B&W 35mm film and finally with the Mamiya – every time I use this camera it is a joy to use.

    Great review btw 🙂

  2. I just bought one but haven’t recieved it. I’m a rangefinder junkie. Just curious….what shoulder bag is that you have it in? It looks perfect for the type of bag I need for everyday shooting.

  3. The bag is by Naneu Pro, the “Lima”. It’s a nice “non-camera-bag” looking bag (I took off the logos etc…) It’s my go-to carry bag, the padded inserts are removable as well so it can be used as a normal shoulder bag too.

  4. Very well written review. My wife is moving up to B&W med format and since there are no camera stores in the area that would carry a Mayima 6 for her to handle your review answers a lot of questions.
    Any idea what a used Mayima would go for in this day and age?
    A great review thanks

  5. I agree with much of your review. I have owned a Mamiya 6 since 2003 and it is quite simply the best camera I have ever come across. It is not flawless (no camera is) but the optical quality is simply unbelievable, and of course the camera is extremely portable.

    Most of the work on my website is shot with the Mamiya 6,and scanned on an Imacon (Hasselblad) scanner.

    My camera used to belong to Magnum photographer Ian Berry, who sold me the entire kit over the time. All three lenses are remarkable. The most often used is probably the 75mm, but the 50mm also gets loads of use. The 50mm is particularly well-corrected, so virtually no distortion. The 150mm might actually be the sharpest of the lot. At the very least it seems like the most contrasty.

    I also own the close-up attachment which is great. A little tricky to get the framing right, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you can get to within 15 inches of objects. Plus its great for throwing the background out of focus.

    If I could only have one film camera it would be the Mamiya 6. In a heartbeat.

  6. Love the review

    i only have one question…. Where did you get yours??

    and where would you recommend that i go to get one ???

  7. I’ve been using a Mamiya 6 with the 75mm lens over the past Summer for a personal documentary project and it always feels like a great fit.

    I’m wondering if you or any of your readers have used the auto close-up attachment. I’ve seen mixed reviews online. I know the attachment is essentially just a diopter lens with a huge, funky parallax lens. But it seems like it might be worth a try.

  8. Arne – Never used the attachment. I’ve got other cameras for doing close up work (which I don’t do much of anyway). FWIW, I think it’s kind of a hack to try and use a rangefinder for close up anyway, it’s not what they are good at. much rather have an slr with a good macro lens.

  9. Ed – Well it’s true, it is a bit of a hack, and rangefinders aren’t good at closer distances, although the Leica M has a very nice close-up adapter for the very old Summicron and the current 90 Macro-Elmar; much better than the Mamiya auto close-up. I’ve seen some very nice examples of work done with a Leica M and the 90 Macro setup. But I’m mostly thinking of being able to get a bit closer than the 1 meter limitation, so I can do slightly more detailed views. Thanks for the great review, best!

  10. I just bought one of these with a three lens set. It’s a sweet camera in use, clear viewfinder, logical controls. I shot one roll of B&W with the 50mm lens. WOW, detail galore with nice contrast. I can’t imagine wanting a better camera.
    It’s now one of my faves along with some of the other classics like the Rolleiflex 2.8 and the Hasselblad SWC.

  11. Excellent review, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have been shooting 120 on a Yashicamat for 8 months and have just bought (thanks Santa) a Mamiya 6 with all 3 lenses. First day’s shooting tomorrow…

  12. Hey, would you mind telling me what kind of camera bag you got there? Brand, model etc! It looks really cool. And great review btw!

    1. Hi Phil – the bag is the “Lima” model from Naneu Pro (not as well known as domke/crumpler/thinktank, but nice bags nonetheless)

  13. I have recently bought myself a Mamiya 6 with the 50mm and 75mm lenses. I agree with your review, particularly how the camera seems to get out the way and let you get the shot you want, it’s very immediate. Also, it has the best viewfinder / rangefinder i’ve ever encountered and despite looking quite large and boxy, it’s actually very ergonomic. I’ve only had 1 roll through the camera so far, but the results blew me away.

  14. I have had a 6 for about 15 years, and love it.

    Not a camera for high volume shooting. I do use it for wildlife, and weddings. However it’s a ‘High Quality print camera. holds it own with my RZ67 in portrait art. Or any thing else that calls for a top quality large print. landscapes, nudes. classic cars, You can live with just the 75MM lens however having them all makes this the tool it rely can be. The lens quality is hard to believe. Using Ektar 200 ( PHR 200) I can blow up to 6 foot by 6 foot no gran vizable. It holds its own with a 4X5 end print wise.

    Never had any mechanical issues with it.

    Ron Veelik

  15. I’ve shot many weddings with Mamiya 6. I always wore two cameras with 50 and 150, or 50 and 75, depending on the situation, and loaded with fast film, unless the wedding is outdoors. They take beautiful pictures, very classic feel on film, that are very difficult to reproduce with digital, and I’m pretty competent with digital workflow. I still offer film as a part of my service, but digital is okay for ceremony, and I’d say better for reception coverage.

    Besides, I shoot a lot of headshots/portraits, as well as editorial and advertising, and I offer film capture for high end clients. The camera I use for that is Mamiya 6, but could be other cameras, depending on the nature of the shoot.

    I’ve been using these cameras for more than 10 years and I love the fact that there are only 3 lenses. I’d rather have these than having to choose good ones from a sea of crappy lenses… like most 35mm world.

  16. Thanks for the fun review, although I realize its been quite awhile since you wrote it. My only question concerns your claim that this camera has TTL metering. My understanding was that it meters thru the viewfinder.

  17. I found myself back on this site, and so thought to comment.

    Yes, on the Mamiya 6 – and Mamiya 7/7II – the meter is actually working through the viewfinder. I almost always use a handheld meter, and comparing the handheld readings with the in-camera meter, there is usually some differences. From what I’ve read the camera meter is most accurate if the viewfinder is shielded from extraneous light. But, really, an in-camera averaging meter like what’s in the Mamiya 6 can only be moderately accurate.

    Still, it’s a wonderful camera. I have a 50 and 75mm, plus a close up attachment. I especially like the feel of the 50mm. The close up attachment is indeed difficult to use but it is a very worthwhile addition. If you can find a close up attachment for sale I’d grab it: they are very hard to find.

    There seem to be a lot of the bodies and lenses on Ebay these days, so if you are into roll film it seems like a great time to try the Mamiya 6 out.

  18. Just got my Mym 6 today. I can hardly wait to use it and see the prints. Your article helped me a lot. Thanks.

  19. Interesting review, and ongoing thread. I had both the 6 and the 6MF back in the late 90s–thought I would offer a couple of comments about the differences between the two. The 6 was the original, and the MF was second, with MF referring to ‘multi-format’. In the view finder, different outlines became visible to show the field of coverage for the lens that you were using at the time–thus a small box illustrated the field within the viewfinder for the 150mm, a bigger one for the 75mm, etc. The viewfinder coverage itself (about 32 degrees, I think) is of course the same size for all three leneses. Many hated this intrusive information on the viewing screen, though I personally like(d) it. Also, on the control dial on top of the camera, on the 6 “aperature Priority” and “aperature priority lock” were indicated by circle and square icons (not all that intuitive) which were replaced on the 6MF with “AE” and “AEL”. Not much difference otherwise.

    At the onset of the digital revolution, I sold my enitre set (one of each bodies, the three lenses, and the “macro attachment” (never really very good–an area here digital macro 35mm photography greatly excels)). Well, a decade or more down the line, and it seems there are limitations to digital photography–especially in the area of medium format, and above. SO, like many others, I have beaten a path back, and have just re-acquired an M6 set (body and 3 lenses)–so much better in many ways than anything 35mm can do, for landscapes at least. And, amazingly, film is still widely available, processing can be done just about anywhere, and now I can scan my own negs and chromes, and print them digitally, bigger and better than even the best of the best of 35mm DSLRs, incluidng my Canon Mark 5D. Interestingly, some companies have also taken note of this trend–Fuji has introduced two new 6×7 rangefinder cameras over the last two years (their GF series) so hopefully Mamiya will consider bringing this line up back to life. In the mean time, I will search the used markets to grab another body or two–just in case–these aren’t going on the market again–I on;t make the same mistake twice!!

  20. I got my first roll of film back. The prints were spectacular. I made 2 into 12 x 12s and gave one to my cousin for this 60th BDay. He loves it. A great camera!

    1. Brian where did you buy your camera and how much approx. did you paid for it?. I am a photography student I am looking to buy this camera as a part of my projects. Thank you so much

    2. I bought my mym over a year ago now from a local camera store. Shot many rolls. Very satisfied. I live in Winnipeg Manitoba. I don’t dare using in winter. Up to minus 25 I shoot with a Nikon F5. Love it.

  21. Hi
    I have the Mamiya 6 MF too, with all 3 lenses. I had a time when I felt in love with this camera and I was in Sri Lanka and shot a lot of wonderful pics.
    What I do not like is the backend process. It is hard to get films in my surrounding, too. But processing MF is a nightmare, if you use the drugstores, the result is a mess.
    I tried one time b/w, with less success, because I want only develop the film and then scanned it with an old Epson Scanner. The results are not what I am expected. How do you do the backprocess? Do you use only b/w and an enlarger?


  22. Klemens,

    I have been very happy with my results of home developing and then scanning B&W negatives. I use an Epson GT-X970 scanner (AKA V700 in the rest of the world) as well as a much cheaper Epson V600 scanner and they both work well. I have recently started using the Vuescan software and it has a steep learning curve but works very well.

    For landscapes I still shoot color slide film in 120 and take it to the local store to get it processed. Here in Tokyo it is still very easy to get film processed. If there are no film processing labs in your area you can send it to online companies that will do it for you.

  23. Thanks for this review! It has just convinced me to buy the whole set (body + all 3 lenses) for just less than 1K euros. Thanks again!

  24. Hi, I also have a Mam6 and I’m quite satisfied with it.
    Your review is quite helpful.
    By now I think you have the fantastic 50mm F4, huh? 🙂
    My question is like this.
    Is there any kind of good strobe for Mam6?
    If you have any infomation about it, please mail me back and let me know.
    My web is and my main stuff is Hasselblad.
    Best Regards

  25. I can’t really answer for Ed but some reasons I can think of are the lack of close focus for full face shots, lack of any zoom lens, and the difficulty of precise framing. Also, I don’t really know how this unit works with flash guns but that would be required for weddings as well. And I suppose wedding photogs would almost always prefer a camera with exchangeable film backs.

  26. nice review. I’ve been shooting bw street photography with mine for about 10 years now (over 500 rolls of film through it and no problems (knock on wood)). I use the 50mm and it is amazing. This lens is SO much sharper than my old Plaubel Makina W67.

    Now if they would only bring out a digital version of this camera.

  27. Hi, thank you for your report. I’m slowly getting tired of digital, at least lately acquired gear would prove it 🙂 I’ve got Leica M6 and Hasselblad 501C with 80 and 150mm lenses. As we all know, Hassy isn’t really walk around camera and is better suited for tripod work (mirror slap and even with mirror up I wouldn’t go below focal length for shutter speed).
    My question is, would you consider model 7 over 6? I’m a bit confused as to which way to go. I do like square format but I know I can crop. I want walk-around MF camera and know that RF is the only way to do it. Yes, I have Leica M6, but frankly you can’t really compare it with the output from MF camera.

    1. Hi Hexx,
      a friend of mine used for a lot of his motorcycle trips all over the world a Mamiya 7 II with a couple of lenses. The pics are speaking for themselves – please refer to and then klick to Fotografie (sorry only German language, but Possi reply to your questions all time of course in Englisch). I had spoken with him and he agreed to my meaning, that the Mamiya 6 MF is great camera with superb lenses. If you are lucky with the square format then go with Mam 6, if you need the bit more of 6×7 the you should take the Mamiya 7 II. The best on that is that Mamiya is still producing the 7.

      I like the both, but I use only my 6, the 7 is of course a bit expensive, if you want it new.

      I also agree the tiered feeling with digital. I have an Olypmus E-410 with the set optics and yes, it is a good tool for quick shots, but you will loose control after a short while and you get be tiered of all the programs and tricks …. you got it.

      I really think about 4×5 large format, but I know, that for my kind of photography my Mamiya 6 will give me more than enough satisfactory.



    2. I have a Mamiya 7 with the 80/4 lens. Picture quality is superb as expected. The lens might be considered at bit too long physically for plain walking around. It gets in the way sometimes, I assume the Mamiya 6 is better in this respect. You probably cannot go wrong with either one though!

    3. Thank you, in the end I obtained Mamiya 6 MF with 50 and 75 lenses. I take it with me on all my trips and pretty much replaced my Hasselblad V system for MF film and Leica M6 as a walk around film camera. Hassy is used now only with digital back and Leica will go on eBay 🙂

      I love collapsible lenses on the 6 system. The camera is very portable and as you mentioned, once you hold it, the size/weight disappears completely – ergonomically really well thought out camera and both 50 and 75 lenses are excellent.

  28. I have a Mamiya 6 that I just acquired. I have a focusing question. Objects that are relatively close I have no problem lining up the images in the box. Now if I try to focus on something far away it doesn’t seem to line up. Is that to be expected or should I take this in for service? Thanks

  29. It’s too bad no one is looking after this page. It continues to be a very useful resource page for Mamiya 6 owners and potential owners, and the comments section has provided some decent dialogue. Unfortunately of late it is flooded with spam…

  30. Hey everyone, I got my first Mamiya 6 a couple of days ago but I don’t have any lenses for it yet unfortunately. I’ve been shooting an RB67 for a while now and the portability of the 6 was what attracted me to it (apart from the iq of course). The lenses are very scarce, are there any reliable resources in the UK for them?

  31. I completely agree with the review. I switched to digital several years ago and still shoot Nikon (currently awaiting my new D810), but I once owned a Mamiya 7 system and missed it. My new Mamiya 6 system, compiled from various Japanese sellers, is currently being calibrated and possibly a CLA for the body and I can’t wait to use it. I like the limitations and the large negative. I believe I’ll probably add a Mamiya 7 body with a 43mm lens in the future to complete my photography preferences. I echo all of what was said above by the reviewer. Incredible lenses in both systems. Thanks for helping to keep film alive. Now if I could just find 220 transparency film. If anyone knows a good source, please let me know. Thanks.

  32. I know nothing about the calibration of the M6 and what is involved.
    I am looking at buying an M6… Is calibration a big and expensive process if it needs to be done…??
    And who does it… I live in Sydney.
    Cheers Bradley

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  34. Here’s my two cents from having used this camera for only 6 months. Like any camera, the M6 is what you make of it. However, the M6 has some aspects that make it easier to take better photos (i.e., have a higher keep rate).

    As other’s have professed, the lenses are stupendous. All 3 are exceptionally sharp. There is no sacrifice among choosing your lens aside from. . . your freedom to frame your shots based on your surroundings, and how much depth of field you want.

    The 150mm lens is my favourite. I even find myself preferring this lens for landscape shots, which makes choosing the 50mm or 75mm mostly a decision based on framing limitations. That being said, the 150mm is the hardest to focus and you will have to work in order to harness its true potential. If you have the patience, it’s well worth it. I am getting better with each roll, and have achieved good focus and sharpness at f/4.5 (, f/5.6 (, and f/8 (
    I should also mention that my M6’s RF is not calibrated to my 150mm. I chose to learn that specific lens, and for every shot (between 6 and 12 feet), I know how to make the necessary focus correction with the aid of the distance-from-subject scale on the lens (e.g., I will focus the lens at 1.95m for a subject that is 2m away).

    Here is a general guide as to how I choose my G lens:

    I cannot get far enough away from my subject = 50mm
    I am too far from my subject = 150mm
    I don’t know how close/far I will be from my subject = 75mm
    I want to be able to shoot quickly = 50mm or 75mm
    I wan’t to play with depth of field = 150mm
    I want some nice bokeh = 150mm
    I want to take a head and shoulder portrait that fills ~1/3 of the frame = 150mm @ ~6 feet
    I want to take a head and should portrait that fills ~1/4 of the frame = 75mm @ ~3 feet

    Thank you all for your comments, they helped lead me to this camera!

  35. Hi. Headed to Rome to shoot some 120, with my twin lens Rolleiflex and the Mamiya 6. I just got the Mamiya, with the 75 and the 150 lenses, and shot test film yesterday. Just developed it this morning and it seems the framelines, the glowing box, allow a tiny bit more beyond the box’s inner edge to be in the neg. Am I off on this? Is it the outer part of the frameline to consider? Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. (The film looks gorgeous, btw.)
    Liese R.

    1. You are not off on this the Mamiya 6 manual page 21 has a section “Photographic area covered” that says “The composition will be within the lines of the bright frame [as follows]: 83% of the field of view is visible at infinity, and 100% is visible at the minimum focusing distance.”

      Meaning 17% more beyond the box’s inner edge will be in the neg if your subject is at infinity. This goes down to 0% as your subject gets closer, to the minimum focus (1m for 75mm lens).

  36. It is very interesting to read all the experience.
    I’m looking to buy one 6 MF, and the two lenses I will agree to find are the 50mm and the 150mm.
    In my surch I can not understand the age of the lenses.
    Did some one know where to find a database with the year of production and the serial number.?
    Do we have some differences withe the age of production.? or they are the same design and quality of glasses.? What about the multicaoting.?

    1. Laurent,

      My understanding is that the lenses available for the Mamiya 6 – at least the ones I owned – the 50mm and 75mm – did not go through any variations.

      Both lenses were great. The 50mm in particular was stellar, as good or better than any medium format lens I’ve used, including Zeiss. It’s a solid, well made lens.

      I never used the 150mm, as I like wide to normal lenses, and because of the long minimum focusing distance.

      Not sure if you are aware yet, but there were two different “modern” bodies, the Mamiya 6 and the Mamiya 6MF. I owned the 6 version. The difference is that the MF had the capacity to use a panoramic adapter, and thus had added marking in the viewfinder window to frame panoramas.

      I also used the Mamiya closeup attachment for the 75mm, which allowed for a closer focusing distance. It was cumbersome to use, but incredibly well made and designed, and gave great results. I’ve been hanging onto it for when I get another Mamiya 6 – although I have it up on Ebay, I’m not in a hurry to sell it.

      Great camera, hope you find one in good shape. An important thing to look for in a used body is that the film winding mechanism is in perfect shape. If the winding mechanism breaks, and because Mamiya doesn’t sell the parts any more, the camera can be difficult to have repaired. Unless you need the panoramic capability I’d go with either model, and let the condition be my guide.

      Note: there was a much older Mamiya 6 design, a folder. Not sure if it had interchangeable lenses, but worth checking out to be sure you get the modern versions.

  37. Thanks for writing this blog & thank you to all who posted comments reading & re-reading these I have recently acquired an Mamiya 6 and 75 & 150 lenses … I’m looking forward to putting some Ektra 100 colour as well as Portra 400 and of course some b&w Ilford HP5 and learning what these lenses can do …I’m into landscape & candid sort of street photography ….its been 35 odd years since i last developed film so I’m going to send it to get it processed looking to get negs back & CD back with digital files … any advice on where to send (I’m based in North Lincolnshire in the UK) and perhaps what quality of digital file to get much appreciated …

    thanks in advance for any comments ….Swanny

  38. This is an amazing source of information about Mamiya 6/6MF. Thank you, Ed for keeping is alive! I’m glad to see that the thread started in 2009 is still alive and keep growing. I’m hoping somebody will read that in 2020 (or later!) and say: “Holly shit, I want that camera!”. It’s so great to see these brilliant pieces of (photo)-engineering (like Leica’s M and Mamiya 6 cameras) still being used today and helping thousands of people to pursue their passion in photography.

    It’s 2016 and I just bought my 6MF with two lenses (50 and 150). Super excited to try that out and have already got some film (beloved Portra and Tri-X).

  39. I bought recently the camera with the three lenses. Extremly fine system to work with stunning results. Sharp as can be. Did recently a city trip and i,m glad to tok this camera with me.
    Indeed need some time to work with a rangefinder in stead of reflex camera but after adapting to it its wonderfull.

    Cheers Robert

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