Presenting the Mamiyaflex C2

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by craigd, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. A few weeks ago I went into my local camera store to drop off some film for developing (or was I picking it up? whatever...) and found over a dozen old cameras on the counter. Apparently one of the store's long-time customers had passed away and his widow had promptly boxed up all his camera equipment and brought it into the store to put on consignment. Many of the cameras were quite old -- small box cameras and folding cameras, including a Zeiss Nettar -- and unfortunately many of them were not in usable condition. A few even lacked lenses, or were merely lenses without bodies.
    One, however, aroused my curiosity: something TLR-shaped in a brown leather case.
    The Mamiya logo on the front of the case got my attention. What was this, a C22, a C330? No... something a little less common than that, a little older, but not too primitive...
    It was a Mamiyaflex C2, and in much better condition than the other cameras from the same collection. You can tell it's a C2, not an earlier Mamiyaflex, by the presence of large focus knobs on both sides. Later models, meanwhile, would not be labeled Mamiyaflex.
    I opened the top and looked into the waist-level finder. The view was impressive even without the fold-out magnifying lens, and amazing with it. The camera was clean inside and out, and the store had already shot a roll of negative film to test the shutter and lens, with excellent results.
    I was sold. I'd been interested in TLRs for a while, never having used one before, and the Mamiya line was appealing because of its interchangeable lenses. The included lens (a Mamiya-Sekor 8cm f/2.8 with a Seikosha MX shutter) looked like a good place to start. I've since added a 180mm f/4.5 (the ideal portrait length for 6x6, I think), but haven't done much with it yet.
    The camera is pretty easy to use; the main thing for me to get used to was the absence of a double-exposure prevention mechanism. With most cameras, I advance the film immediately before shooting; this is a habit I developed on 35mm cameras of the 1960s and later, where advancing the film also cocks the shutter (and of course we don't want to leave a cocked shutter sitting around for who knows how long). But I find with the C2 that I need to advance the film immediately after shooting to be sure that I will neither get a double exposure nor waste a frame by advancing again without shooting. Which means I have to trust that I actually did advance the film after shooting, but somehow that seems easier than remembering whether I still need to or not. (Cocking the shutter, fortunately, is a completely separate action.)
    Another thing to get used to was the vertical parallax. The focusing screen includes a couple of ruled lines to help you estimate the actual top position for mid-range and close-range shots, but it will take some experience to know when to use them. A paramender was included with the camera when I bought it, but I wasn't shooting from a tripod for this first roll, so it wasn't an option.
    I've heard before that Mamiya TLRs are heavy, and perhaps that's true compared to, say, a YashicaMat. I, however, am used to carrying around a Pentax 67 for medium format work, so comparatively I find the Mamiyaflex fairly comfortable. I could carry it all day without difficulty. It's certainly heavier than a Nikon F2, but that's no surprise.
    These first images were shot on Delta 100.
    1. Serrated roofline
    2. Three crosses
    3. Last quick shot to finish the roll (which I rather like despite that fact)
  2. Glad you posted this. Brings back memories. My dad once had a C33. Nice images, BTW.
  3. Nostalgic stuff, Craig. My first "serious" MF camera was a C3, and I went on to accumulate a full C330 kit, which in turn went on to become the only camera outfit I've had stolen. Sigh... Fine cameras, with truly excellent lenses, especially the 180mm. Any TLR system has it's drawbacks, but I've always considered Mamiya came closest to perfecting one. Nice work from your first roll and I look forward to seeing the next.
  4. Lovely camera in beautiful condition and cool story, Craig. I also own a Mamiya (C330), and it's one of my favorite cameras. Interesting, it looks very similar to your 'flex! Seems there was not much to improve -- except for adding a double exposure prevention interlock!
    Nice shots too! Looking forward to see more pictures taken with this true classic.
  5. Nice find. I have the Mamiyaflex C, the model before yours (late 57-early 58) with the 105mm lens. Wonderful camera capable of matching anything modern.
  6. Lovely images and a great camera - I have a huge soft spot for TLR's :)
  7. I too have this same model that I got about 12 yrs ago for just $10 in a garage sale. It's a wonderful camera. Mine is cosmetically a real beater but works flawlessly. I used it a lot for bicycling by putting it in a large waist pack. I preferred this camera because I didn't want to subject my pristine Rolleiflex to any hardships. I hate to use the old cliche "It's built like a tank" so I won't do it. While it is a tad heavier I really enjoyed using this and the results were right on. Later I got a C220 a more modern version of same but I still prefer using the the C2--it has a brighter viewfinder strangely enough.
  8. I'm another C330 alumni, so I really appreciate these earlier Mamiya TLR's. I eventually transitioned to an RB67 but the C330 was my first real "pro" system. Nice results with your's, Craig, and a great find for your first TLR.
  9. Great stuff Craig!
  10. Looks nice! I'm getting anxious to try out my recently acquired Mamiyaflex C, though I have to do the red window thing with it - I had to remove a gear and the counter release on the winding mechanism because two of the gears had gotten chewed up and wouldn't allow me to wind the film.
    * If anyone has a spare winding mechanism for a C or C2 I'd love to take it off your hands!!*
  11. You lucky Dog! That's one beautiful camera. I'm the guy that came in the shop just as you were leaving, and felt honored just to be ableto sort through the old musty box cameras! That first shot is real winner the gables and eaves! Very Cool! I've never handled one of those but I've always read they have bright viewfinders. Way back in the 1980ss when we took over new offices the previous tenants (architects) left some desks behind and in the very narrow drawer under the surface I found a ground glass fro a Mamiya. It'S buried in the cellar with some other long not seen artifacts such as 2x3 film holders and film squeegees. Well that'S a fine camera you have and I wish you continued happy shooting!
  12. I've had fun with a C2 as well. One question: How is the frame spacing on yours? I find that in order to get the spacing right (no overlaps), I need to wind the film on until the arrow is about one centimeter past the mark that you supposedly should stop at. I attribute this to a change in the thickness of film over the years. But maybe my C2 is just slightly defective in this regard?
  13. Frame spacing on my C2 is pretty good. There are no overlaps, though the size of the gap varies a little. I'm not sure what you mean about "the mark that you supposedly should stop at" -- the C2 has a mechanism that lets you advance the right amount and then stops. I just rely on that.
    Thanks to everyone for their kind words.

Share This Page