Mamiya ZE SLR camera

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jason_withers, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. So, I recently purchased a Mamiya ZE camera on a well known auction site. For about $30, I got the camera body, the mamiya sekor E f/2 lens, Mamiya auto film winder and Mamiyalite flash. I figured I would take a gamble on whether or not the camera was working. Well, wouldn't you know, it was not working correctly when it arrived. (Yeah, I know, I should have asked first). The film advance would not cock the shutter and thus, the shutter release would not do anything. Otherwise, the camera was in really good shape externally since it seemed to have been stored in the included case. All other included accessories worked without a hitch.
    Anyways, I had heard about Garry's Camera Repair in Illinois on and thought I would give him a try. So, for $68.00 he completely overhauled the camera (repaired or replaced broken parts, CLA, checked/correctd timing, checked the light meter, etc.) and dismantled/cleaned/inspected the lens and put eveything back together. I this the price was pretty fair conidering what other places wanted to charge me when I called around. What do ya'll think? I haven't run any film through the camera yet but I plan to this weekend to see how it performs.
    I found an online manual for the camera but no meaningful reviews so to speak. Does anyone have any experiene with the camera? I have never used a Mamiya branded camera before and thought I would ask.
  2. That was my first 35mm that I purchased new way back in the early 80s. It took wonderful photos...the lenses were great. The only problem I had with it was that there is no full manual option to it, so I upgraded to the Mamiya ZE-X. Used them for about a decade until I just plain wore them out.
  3. Almost everyone made a M42 mount camera, back in the day. Some, like Pentax, transitioned to a new mount and did quite well. Two prominent "others" Mamiya and Fujica were less successful. Both quit making SLRs soon after. I have yet to find a fully working Fujica AX-3, and my first Mamiya ZE-X was also a dud, despite a trip to Garry's. The nice thing about these less-than-wonderful mounts is that quality lenses can often be had for cheap.
    I had a ZE for a while. Not sure if it ever worked. I think it's in my box of junk cameras.
  4. I have a few of these, not working. At some point I'd like to have a working one because I have the 50/3.5 macro. I would be surprised if Garry's would touch one of these. He has worked on Canon and Minolta cameras for me. Mamiya did not stop making SLRs soon after transitioning to a new non-M42 mount. While the M42 mount 500DTL and 1000DTL cameras were still being sold, Mamiya introduced the Auto XTL. This was in about late 1971. I have two of these as well as a selection of lenses. It is a decent and reliable camera with shutter priority automation, full manual control, spot and averaging metering and a nice selection of lenses. It would compete with the Konica Autoreflex T, Miranda Autosensorex EE and a few other also-ran auto exposure SLRs. Two things hurt its sales. The price was high and other companies did not want to make lenses for it. A later version was called the Auto X1000 and there was a model made with the Sears name. Some camera manufacturers were afraid to change lens mounts. Not Mamiya. In a surprise move Mamiya went back to the M42 mount but with cameras and lenses which had full aperture metering. These were the SX series cameras. The DSX models had both spot and averaging metering. The MSX models had only averaging metering. There were also Sears versions. These are pleasant cameras to use but by the time they came out the screw mount design was considered obsolete. The SX cameras also did not offer exposure automation. Mamiya changed course again with the NC1000 and NC1000S. The S model has user interchangeable focusing screens. The cameras have shutter priority automation and were also sold under a Sears name. When they are working they are nice enough to use. They have bayonet lens mounts and decent metering. The problem is that the aperture pin mechanism in each lens can get gummed up and if the ring is forced, the pin inside the lens will bend. These cameras were not exceptionally well made. The older SX cameras were sturdier. Very few people bought the extra focusing screens for the NC1000S and the whole line did not sell well. Finally, Mamiya brought out the ZE system. This is, mechanically and electronically, Mamiya's worst line. The mount is a bayonet type similar to that of the NC1000/S but is a certain number of degrees out of phase. There must be very few people successfully using any ZE series camera.
    It's true that at least in the U.S., the Fujica X mount cameras did not sell very well. Quite a few models were made before Fuji gave up.
  5. Fuji and Mamiya never quit making SLRs in medium format. To this day Fuji still makes the Hasselblad H system and Mamiya the 645DF+.
    And Fuji still calls the lens mount for their mirrorless digital system "X-mount."
  6. Some say that in 35mm Mamiya and Fuji came to the bayonet party too late, but I think the overwhelming competition from Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Olympus, Minolta, and Yashica-Contax made it tough. We sold Fuji X mount 35mm SLRs at the family camera shop and never had a problem moving them. But of course, the medium format success that these companies have had is hard to ignore. Thanks for posting.
  7. Jason,
    A very interesting camera. I didn't realize that Mamiya made such a change from their standard issue M42 like my 1000DTL Thanks to Jeff for filling out the details.
    I found a comprehensive test in the Aug. 1980 issue of Modern Photography. They also test several lenses. I will note that the lenses show rather weal contrast. It will be interesting to see your results.
    Here is page 1 of the test.
  8. Here is page 2 of the test.
  9. here is page 3 of the test.
  10. Here is page 4 of the test.
  11. Here is page 5 of the test.
  12. Here is page 6 of the test.
  13. Here is the final page of the test.
  14. And last but not least here is an ad for the Mamiya ZE from the same issue of Modern Photography.
  15. When a camera magazine or other product evaluation publication examines a camera you are getting a snapshot. What are the features? How well is the camera working today? What's the price? A brand like Petri or Kowa might be recommended but this was based mostly on the retail price. For a little more money the same buyer might have been able to get a Nikkormat or Canon FT QL. The Nikkormat or Canon FT QL would typically give less trouble and last longer but these factors were not considered when the review or comparison was made. Mamiya's 35mm camera offerings were already slipping in quality by the time of the NC1000/NC1000S. The ZE equipment has an even worse track record. It is interesting to see how Mamiya made use of electronic contacts to communicate lens information to the camera. Praktica had something like this many years earlier. Apart from that I think of the ZE models as being very poorly made. I only hope I can get one body working so I can try out the 50/3.5 macro lens.
  16. The Nikkormat's predecessors Nikkorex F and Zoom 35, were actually made by Mamiya. Sadly, not quality products either.
  17. I cant believe the mighty Ricoh was missed. Welll, it wasnt so mighty. I worked for
    the distributor of these cameras in the 80s, right along some of the best photo gear
    of the tkme. But during consumer camera shows, we would "go through" several
    bodies because they broke all the time. I was the flunky that would box them up and
    send them in for repair. My Mamiyas were only slightly better. I have one 1000dtl
    that still clunks along.
  18. Thanks Marc for the test articles, they are pretty interesting!
    Jeff: Yeah, Garry seemed to have repared it but I guess when I get my pictures back, we'll see how well it was repaired! I like that it is a light weight camera, at least compared to my Retina Reflex III, it's pretty light! It's also a nice feature to have aperture priority mode, you set the aperture and the camera sets an appropriate shutter speed to correcly expose. The meter on the camera seems to respond well to the light. Also, its my first camera with an automatic winder mechanism, pretty cool!
    I had a hard time finding any local business that offers 1-hr photo. It seems that all of the Walgreens and CVS stores got rid of their development machines some months ago. I settled on Walmart but didn't realize that the negatives won't be retured; only a cd of the scanned pictures! I'll try and post some scans from the CD, or I'll scan the actual pictures if they aren't any good on the cd.
  19. It may be that those Mamiya Z series lenses are of good quality and are orphaned by poor camera bodies…. so would they be a good purchase for Mirrorless systems and adapters? I tried the 50mm Macro on a Nikon V1 and was pleased.
    -- Dan Dempsey
  20. Hi everyone!

    I got a Mamiya ZE Quartz on an online auction for $65 (wich i consider a good deal, because i got three lenses as well). Everything seems to work fine, except the auto mode. No matter the light conditions, the LED lights up 8 times/sec at LP, it exposes for 1 sec when i press the shutter release.

    Might be that the batteries are running low? Or is it just broken?

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