Using a Mamiya RB67 for Landscape Photography

The Mamiya RB67 is a professional medium format single-lens reflex system camera using 120 film manufactured by Mamiya, the naming of the camera RB67 stood for Rotating Back 6 × 7. Between the camera body and film back is a rotating system allowing you to shoot landscape mode, then rotate the back and shoot in portrait mode without having to move the actual camera itself, the RB67 system made it one of the most popular studio cameras in the 1970s.
The camera is solid and well built and you can quickly tell when using the RB67 it was made to be a workhorse camera. The RB67 is an all-mechanical camera, no electronics whatsoever ever, not to be confused with the Mamiya RZ67, the RZ67 lenses have a built-in electronic leaf shutter.

This camera was a popular studio camera, BUT is it any good for shooting landscapes?

Firstly the RB67 is a hefty beast
RB67 ProS Body - 1400g / 3.8lb
Sekor C 50mm lens - 785g / 1.73lb
Sekor C 90mm lens - 710g / 1.56lb
Sekor 180 lens - 776g / 1.71lb
Film back - 480g / 1.05lb

So my Mamiya RB67 with film back and my 50mm lens has a Total weight of 2665g / 5.87lb, but naturally when I head out with my camera I want to take all 3 of my lenses and an extra film back, which gives me a weight of 4631 grams / 10.2lb, that's just the camera and lenses. The cameras size and weight can make handheld shooting a little difficult, but if using a strap or have some good light it certainly is possible to do so, but ideally you will want/need a tripod if shooting landscapes.
I use an old Manfrotto 190Xpro B tripod and a Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head, the geard head allows for fine adjustments which I have found to be so helpful with this camera.

Build Quality

The RB67 is very well built and feels very solid, mostly metal with a few touches of plastic. It certainly feels like this camera could take a lot of abuse when out and about, The RB67 is all-mechanical, everything is done manually and mechanically, also means no batteries to worry about.
The RB67 can also be very easily stripped down, ideal for cleaning or replacing parts.

The Viewfinder

It's BIG, it's BRIGHT and it's BEAUTIFUL, simple as that.
The view is flipped horizontally - left is right and right is left, down is still down and up is still up, takes a while to get your head around.
You can also use a get prism finder for this camera, some with an inbuilt light meter.

Focusing is done via the viewfinder/ground glass and knobs on either side of the camera to adjust the bellows. There is also a magnifier that's pops up to allows for more precise focusing. The bellow focusing systems also allows for some macro work.

No inbuilt light meter, you will either need to buy one or use an smartphone App.

Shots per roll of 120 film
Just 10 with a 6x7 back

Loads of lenses available ranging from 37mm - 500mm
Shutter speed and apertures are all set on the lenses.
Most lenses have a shutter speed range from 1/400 to 1 sec and T mode, T mode (similar to BULB) keeps the lens shutter open when fired and will close only when the shutter ring is moved back onto the 1 sec mark or when the shutter cocking lever is slightly pressed.
Lenses are equipped with leaf shutters and have depth of field preview lever is also built-in to the lens. The lenses fit to the body with bayonet type system with a locking ring.
Lenses also have the mirror lock up system built in, this is also where you attach the shutter cable, only when using Mirror Lock up, otherwise the cable attaches to the shutter on the camera body.

Mirror Lock up
Ideally when using for landscapes you will want to consider a cable release and setting the camera to mirror lock up, mirror lock up can be set on the barrel of the lens where the cable attaches.
Mirror lock-up involves flipping the mirror up before the shutter opens, allowing the vibrations to die down before exposing the film, the RB67 has a big mirror "slap".
To use the camera when "mirror lock up" is enabled you attach the cable release onto the lens and use the shutter button on the camera body to flip the mirror, when you're ready you then use the cable release attached to your lens to fire the shutter.
Mamiya did a dual cable release for using mirror lock up, you can often find them on eBay

Filter sizes
Most of the lenses use a 77mm filter thread.

Using the RB67

The RB67 is such a lovely camera to use, this video is an above view using my Mamiya RB67.

Step by step guide to each step on the video

Open the viewfinder
Cocking the mirror down
Adjust the focus
Set capture and shutter speed (on the lens)
Remove darkslide
Camera is set to mirror lock up, fire shutter on camera body to flip mirror up
Using cable release to fire shutter
Reset mirror and advance on the film

Film Backs
One of the great things about this camera is the ability to have multiple films backs with different films, you can pop them on and off without having to finish the roll of film. I will normally have one loaded with B&W and another with colour.
You can also find motorised film backs, polaroid attachments and 6x4.5 backs, loads available on eBay

All mechanical
Waist-level viewfinder
Leaf shutter lenses
Very bright viewfinder
Rotate from landscape to portrait perspective
Amazing image quality
Changeable film backs

So is it worth using this camera for landscape photography...

It may be big and heavy, sometimes it may get jammed, but you can just have to give it a whack on the side, it can take abuse, drops and knocks, no electronics for water to damage (but its not waterproof), you can hear the sounds off all the leavers, cogs and springs from the mirror and the clockwork mechanism and spring being tensioned when re-cocking shutter, and when released it all goes off with a beautifully satisfying slap, this thing is an absolute pleasure to use, it will slow you down, you will want to take your time and sometimes you will hate it, sometimes you will want to launch the thing as far as you can (which wont be very far), but most the time you will absolutely love using it and everything about it, and when and if it all goes to plan, the quality and results can be stunning. Yes this is a great camera for shooting landscapes.

>>> RB67s on eBay <<<

Photo samples

Seven Sisters - Film, Fuji Velvia 50 - Lens, 180mm

Fishing boat - Film, Fuji Velvia 50 - Lens, 90mm

Beachy Head Lighthouse - Film, Fuji Velvia 50 - Lens, 180mm

Windswept tree - Film, Ilford Pan F 50, Lens, 180mm

Tree - Film, Ilford Pan F 50, Lens, 180mm

Same shots as above, but switched film back to one loaded with Velvia 50

Beach sunset - - Film, Fuji Velvia 50 - Lens, 90mm

Boat - Film, Ilford Pan F 50, Lens, 180mm

Sea groynes - Film, Kodak Ektar 100 - Lens, 180mm

Storm Angus - Fuji Velvia 50 - Lens. 90mm

Autumn - Film, Fuji Velvia 50 - Lens 90mm

You can view more photos photographed with my Mamiya RB67 on my website HERE


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