UPDATED 23rd June 2013
A great photo contribution to the Mamiya page by photographer Clayton Cubitt.
‘George Pitts and his sacred object’ by Clayton Cubitt. Image © Clayton James Cubitt
A few words on the Mamiya C330 for the many connoisseurs of this twin lens reflex medium format film camera. One of the cameras I work with is a Mamiya C330f so I have used it camera as the basis for this article. The Mamiya always attracts curiosity because it is a twin lens camera. With its range of interchangeable lenses and accessories it is more flexible than the fixed twin lens cameras. A common favourite is the 80mm standard lens.
The Mamiya C330 is a heavy camera to handle. They were once popular with wedding photographers. Now, they are mainly used by film and medium format enthusiasts. The mechanical shutters on the Seiko lenses of a Mamiya C330 are pretty much silent, just the short whirring during slow shutter speeds. When the film is wound on the shutter is automatically ‘cocked’ for firing. On the longer lenses you may sometimes have to do it manually. There are numerous ways to hold the camera and each person will find a way which is comfortable for them, with or without a grip. There are two ways to fire the shutter on the camera, one way to lock it, and you can also use a shutter release cable. Focusing is usually difficult without using the pop-up magnifying glass. The parallax caused by the distance between the focusing lens and the shooting lens is only apparent at closer distances, at which point the bellows are extended further and extra exposure time is required.
Big enlargements can be made from the fine grained medium format films currently available. Shoot wile there is film available and labs that will process the film.
For close-up shots there is an accessory called a paramender. This needs to be used along with a tripod. The paramender allows the photographer to make a simple adjustment which compensates for parallax and allows correct framing of the image.
Shooting square images is an acquired taste. If you are used to shooting 35mm then it will transform the way you view a scene and compose an image. Portraits are a delight to shoot on a square format, landscapes are different. You will find your own balance within the square frame. During portraiture people often ask which lens to look at.
The Mamiya C330 is not really for fast action shots but for more thoughtful slow image making. One step towards large format photography.
There are a whole range of accessories for the Mamiya C330 series of cameras some of which are featured below.
[Apologies for some of the images have become posterized, I don't know why.]
In 1940 Tsunejiro Sugawara and Seichi Mamiya founded Mamiya, the camera company.
The S and M symbol (above) was designed by students from the Japan Fine Arts School in 1940 (ref: http://herron.50megs.com/history.htm)
The Mamiya C330f
Looking down at the view on the focusing screen you will see a back to front image brought to you by the top ‘viewing’ lens. The image you shoot will be captured by the lower ‘taking’ lens. The image is square and the film is 6cm x 6cm (2 1/4″ square). The 80mm lens is the standard lens for this format. It takes a little getting used to composing a photograph when the image is back to front. Looking down onto the viewfinder is also quite a different feel to looking ahead as with a 35mm camera.
The (Checked Screen) screen marked with a grid (sits above the focusing screen) and assists in keeping the scene level when composing an image, especially for architectural photography. There are a variety of different screens. There is no tilt or shift facility.
There are two wheels/knobs for focusing the camera, one of which has a tensioning lever. The lever tightens the focusing mechanism and is useful for fine tuning focusing.
Top view without the collapsible focusing hood. Sliding out the small lever seen on the left hand side , allows the removable of the top unit. It is then possible to change the focusing screen. The digits on the screen work in tandem with a marker showing the amount of extra exposure required due to bellows extension. (The marker comes down as the bellows are extended during focusing.)
When a lens is placed on the camera the dial is turned to ‘LOCK’. When changing a lens the dial is set to ‘UNLOCK’, a catch is released that allows the lens to be changed, and a red flag can be seen through the focusing screen which indicates the lens needs to be locked in.
The dial on the outer edge is raised to set the focal length of the lens being used. It must be set correctly to allow the parallax and exposure factor indicators to be accurate. A pointer appear below the focusing screen which indicates the top of the frame. This occurs at close distances and the compensation is due to the ‘viewing’ lens being 5cm apart from the ‘taking’ lens. As the camera comes closer to the subject the indicator also shows the exposure factor due to the bellows being extended. You have to increase the exposure to allow for the fact that distance from the taking lens to the film is being increased.
The counter sets itself to ‘0’ when the film is wound on and the camera is ready to shoot. 120 film gives 12 exposures on 6×6 format camera. Once the 12th exposure is taken the the film is automatically wound onto the take up spool.
Indicator showing pressure plate set for 120 film. Can also be set for 220 film. This is also a holder where the type of film being used can be noted, useful once the camera back is closed!
The camera body:
-Focusing is smooth via two round knobs on either side of the body, good for left/right handed use. There is a tensioner on the left hand side. The viewfinder image varies for the different lenses. The 80mm viewing lens is quite clear. In low light the outer part of the image can be a little dark. The focusing mechanism is based on a rack and pinion system.
The bellows system allows the lenses to be used for close-up work.
-no mirror flips up when an exposure is made so the camera operates as silently as a Leica rangefinder
The Mamiya C330 is used with a selection of interchangeable lenses:
55mm f4.5 wide angle lens: not the easiest of lenses to focus!
80mm f2.8 blue dot: Is the lens I use the most. The blue dot means it is fitted with the latest of the two Seiko shutters fitted in the all black lenses. It gives crispy sharp images and produces great results with colour transparency film.
105mm f3.5 DS: has a depth of field preview on the viewing lens. MORE TO COME
135mm f4.5: Great portrait lens. Produces a pleasant bokeh for head or head and shoulders portrait. (The portrait below of Lee Harwood was taken on on a 135mm lens.)
This lens also has a balsam defect.
Stopping down the lens would mean it wouldn’t affect the image.
Taking photos at a wide aperture may mean some softening around the edges of the image or possibly no effect at all.
Can only find out by trying the lens on the camera.
180mm f4.5 Super: doesn’t require long bellows extension as it is a ‘telephoto’ lens as opposed to being a ‘long lens’. Aperture from f4.5 to f45. Shutter speeds up to 1/500th second.
Lens hood for 180mm and 250mm lens: An all metal construction lens hood, Made in Japan. I have never come across a 250mm lens for the Mamiya.
Lens hood for 80mm lens: Metal finish with a square opening reminiscent of the Leica lens hood.
[MORE MAMIYA C330 INFO I NEED TO SORT: serial numbers, Seiko shutter is mechanical and very quiet. Seiko lens history Lens cases: Lens caps ]
Focusing screens There are seven different types of focusing screen made of acrylic resin. They are: Type A: Matte. Type A2: Matte for wide angle lens. Type B: Rangefinder Spot 4º. Type B2:Rangefinder Spot 6º. Type C: Microprism. Type D: Cross Hair. Type E: Rangefinder Spot/Microprism.
Paramender Model 2: Paramenders help to overcome parrallax problems when focusing at close distances. There is a 50mm difference between the viewing lens and the taking lens. The paramender helps to bridge that gap once composition is complete. The red marker in the viewing screen shows where the top of the frame lies whilst you compose the shot.
This Mamiya paramender 1 has had a hard life. The no.1 paramender is not as smooth to operate as the no.2. You have to rotate the knurled knob to raise and lower the camera. [It'll be easier to see how it works when I put some images up with the camera and tripod in place.]
CdS Magnifying Hood provides through the lens spot metering and also a larger image in the viewfinder. It runs on two 1.5 Volt batteries. (Using lower voltage batteries will give the wrong meter reading.) (Photo to follow)
(Someone invented a magnifying hood which is a Hassleblad/Mamiya hybrid! Hassleblad glass.. assume it’s the only one of its kind.)
The common filter size is 49mm, and the one that’s difficult to find filters for is 46mm. You can buy a step-up ring which converts the 46mm to 49mm. I think there are other step-up rings also.
There are two flash synchronisation settings. They are X and M. It is best to leave the marker pointing to X, which is for synching to electronic flash. The flash will synch at any shutter speed. The flash cord fits into the socket on each lens. The flashgun can be attached to the left side of the camera body or to the top of the pistol grip. Might be a bit heavy depending on the size of your flashgun.
[The 'V' setting is only on selected lenses. It is used for timed exposures.]
Loading film: is best done in subdued light. Make sure the film is firm tension and flat. With a bit of practice it is easy enough to feed the film into the take up spool. Light pressure on the take up spool as you wind it on until the ‘START’ markers appear, which line up with the two red dots on the camera body. The backing paper faces you as you feed the film on to the take up spool!
I use transparency film Fuji Provia 100F and Fuji Velvia. There is little margin of error when using slide film. Colour negative film has more exposure latitude and is good for scanning.
Porofinder: There is a Mamiya branded reflex finder, there are also cheaper copies which tend to give a darker image, hence very difficult to focus in low light.
Light meter: Unless you are using a metered hood, a handheld meter is required for taking exposure readings. For portraiture and near distance incident readings work well. For longer distances a spot meter is needed. A meter on a 35mm camera can be used. (I use a Sekonic and Minlota meter…) Use the same meter all the time. Get used to the reading that it gives. I prefer incident light reading whenever I can work with them. Bracketing with transparency film is usual. With time, you can get the metering right first time!
The cable release screws into the chrome shutter release button which protrudes at the bottom of the body.
Grip holder: There are at least 4 models including a multi-angle grip. I use one which enables me to release the shutter via the grip. (It can also be used with the Mamiya RB). The camera feels more stable with the grip.
Tripod: Doesn’t need a heavy duty tripod. Does need a good tripod for close-up macro shots. The camera only feels heavy after carrying for a while!
Leather case for Mamiya C330
Bottom of case with tripod mount and catch
Detail of stitching on leather case
The Mamiya leather case is a rarity. This one is black with a nice texture. All the spaces exist for accessing the controls on a C330f. Not sure if this one fits all models. When the front part of the case is removed the tripod mount can be used with the case still on the body. There is also a soft leather case (pouch), a compartment case and a Mamiya aluminium custom case.
[Things to do: Mamiya Manual and other printed literature, will scan some of this stuff and put it on the blog...Write about Balsam defects and Lens mould]
Light tight seals decay over time
They should be cleaned, and is relatively easily replaced at most independent camera shops. I have removed the seal with lighter fluid, (perhaps nail polish remover will do it) can take quite a while to clear. You can buy one sided sticky rubbery/spongy material (don’t know what it’s called) which does the job. If you leave the seal decaying then it will spread around the inside of the camera as it’s quite sticky.
Portrait of Sussex artist Dion Lloyd Salvador shot on Mamiya C330f on black and white film.
Scanning images: I shoot mainly colour transparency or black and white films. I use a Nikon Super Coolscan 8000ED which scans 35mm and 120 film. It’s a very good quality scanner. Drum scanning or professional photo lab scans may be a better option. It depends on your requirements and budget and final usage.
Portrait of Lee Harwood – Poet shot on Mamiya with 135mm lens. The image on the left is the one featuring on this blog… perhaps it is too sharp! The image on the right is going to be published and I have prepared it as a softer image more in keeping with what I wanted from the image from a film perspective. There is a great emphasis on sharpness in the digital debate that other ‘qualities’ are forgotten.
I often produce several variations from one image whether in the darkroom or with Photoshop.
The original portrait was shot on the Mamiya with my 80mm lens (probably f8 or f11), and scanned on a Nikon 8000 Super Coolscan. The following two details were taken from a 26Mb tiff which would print at 10 x 10 inches at 300dpi. They were cropped out of the image as 500 x 500 pixel square portions and then downsized to 72 dpi to display here. A small amount of sharpening was added.
Details from 10″ x 10″ file
A photograph shot on the 80mm lens, Provia 100F transparency film.
All text and photographs 2008-2010 ©Bip Mistry unless otherwise credited.
Camera Equipment For Sale – Mamiya C330 and lenses:
Mamiya 80mm (blue dot) lens for Mamiya C330 twin lens etc range of cameras. Black.
Mamiya 135mm lens for Mamiya C330 twin lens etc range of cameras. Black.
Minamata by W. Eugene Smith and Aileen M. Smith: First Edition, hardback. Excellent condition.
Email me if interested: email@example.com
Dear Bip Mistry,
I just wanted to extend a warm thank you for your blog post regarding
your immaculate Mamiya C330.
I have been using my own C33 for many year, received from a retired
professional who used his C330 full time, his backup C33 was in 100%
mint, unused condition when I received it, along with the majority of
its accessories. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the original “Mamiya
C-Professional” hard case lined with red velvet like texture, it’s
quite a rare sight that you might be interested in. I have only seen
2-3 surface on e-bay over the past 4 years, and never again in person.
Same thing goes for the Chimney finder which I’ve been trying to get a
hold of for years now. On top, I noticed you had the Mamiya leather
case. I’ve tried finding that too- the only 2 things to complete 100%
all accessories and lenses to this camera ever made. I’m hoping one
day they will surface.
I has always wondered the origins of the “SM” Logo over the years, and
have always assumed it was for Sekor+Mamiya, but realized that it was
actually Tsunejiro Sugawara and Seichi Mamiya. I had never known, and
the fact that you traced down where it was produced at the school of
fine arts is pretty incredible. Thanks for sharing.
Anyways, I just wanted to thank you for sharing, and showing your
Mamiya camera, a rare sight on the internet today. Seems this camera
and its system is long forgotten by gear-heads obsessed with the
latest and greatest in digital cameras.
May the world of photography bless you for years to come with your C330.
The Mamiya brand name on the back of the leather case
Metz portable flash unit for sale, 2 flashguns plus battery pack.
Mamiya lens hood for 80mm lens.
Mamiya lens hood for 65mm lens.
Mamiya 135mm TLR lens (has balsam)
Bowens SSR MkII flashmeter.
Just send me a message,