This rangefinder from 1959 was the last camera I bought in Japan, but not the last one I have to review from there. I have one more that is currently being CLA’d and won’t be returned for another month.
In fact, I bought this camera day before I left for the airport. I couldn’t resist it. A Mamiya, a rangefinder, nice and solid…and heavy. Crap, I was already over my luggage weight limit. Maybe I could just wear it around my neck?? And that is what I did 🙂
Everything seemed great. The only issue was the rangefinder patch seemed very dim. Then I stumbled upon this article about adding a square of tape to the viewfinder. As you can see, it worked a treat. Here is another article, with photos. When researching the camera I found one site that stated there were two versions released, the f2.8 and f1.9. All the other sites I found did not mention there were two. Mine is the 2.8, so I cannot attest to the 1.9 version.
There is very little to be found on the net about this Mamiya bar from a few vague lines. They generally say its name and date of manufacture.
From the photos you can gather it has an f2.8 – f22 lens, with a focal length of 48mm. Once the film is loaded you have to manually set the film counter which counts up. There is also a film reminder dial. As there is no light meter it is a simple reminder only. The film speeds range from 1 second to 1/500th with a B and a self-timer. There is also an M and X for the flash types. Ken Rockwell explains the different settings very well here. Basically, X is for the flash sync and M is for flash bulbs which take time to reach full brightness and therefore needs a different setting. The rangefinder has a short movement and can easily be moved by the index finger alone. The winder moves through slightly over 180 degrees. The viewfinder has a square in the corner where you can see the speed and aperture settings. Unfortunately, I cannot make out the numbers due to my poor close up eyesight. Too much reading maybe.
Well, that was quite technical for me. That’s enough of that. How were the photos?
I took a few in Tsukuba before I left for the airport, then finished the film on a cloudy day out in Liverpool.
Can you see where the switch in countries takes place? One of the posters might give you a clue.
Wow, what a super, not so little camera. I definitely had issues focusing while in Japan, but once I added the tape in England there is an improvement. These cameras can actually be found very cheap online so…
Keep or Sell: Keep as I would not get a great price for it and it is a great camera. Plus the skin started to fall off while I was using it so I recovered it with maps from places I love.
How cool is that!