I recently purchased a 46-year-old Mamiya RB-67 medium-format film camera. Many years ago, around 1999, I owned a very nice Mamiya RZ-67II – the electronic successor to the RB-67. At the time I wasn’t a huge fan of the camera, even though it took some really nice images. It was big, heavy, bulky, and difficult to use. It didn’t handle like an SLR so almost always had to be on a tripod. It was a very nice camera with several lenses and an eye-level viewfinder and auto-rewind, but once I went digital I never shot with it so ended up selling it.
What goes around comes around
Fast-forward 23 years, and I got bored with shooting eye-level. I love my big view camera, and I have had a few waist-level cameras over the years, most recently a Mamiya 645-1000s, but I had sold it off about 6 years ago. I currently have several film cameras I play with, including a very nice Pentax 67 kits with some excellent lenses. I had purchased a nice Pentax 645N film camera about 3 years ago, but I felt it was just boring to use. So I wanted to go back to a waist-level finder to have some fun.
I had hoped to find a nice late-model Mamiya 645 or Contax – a Hassleblad would have been awesome but those are now out of my play-money budget. I sold my Pentax 645 on eBay and had some cash in my pocket, so started looking around locally. I quickly came across a well-used RB-67 with a couple of lenses, so picked it up for a fair – and affordable – price. Not my first choice for a waist-level finder camera, but something I could justify as “play money” and still have some fun shooting with a waist-level finder.
My first roll of film I shot some Ilford XP5+ that I had originally loaded in the Pentax 645. I was at an IT meetup and afterwards asked some friends and family if they wanted to stay around to take some pictures. I shot on a tripod at the film-rated speed at ISO-400 and F5.6, but this meant a 1/8 second shutter. I shot on a tripod, but still there was just a bit of blurring from movement. Overall it was a fun shoot and I like the photos, but shooting at 127mm at 1/8 of a second requires a very still subject and a sturdy tripod.