View Full Version : Surprised at how good Mamiya lenses are.

1-Nov-2014, 02:18
After a good long 6month period I have finally got my 8x10 enlarger going, and spent the afternoon getting it ready for printing, aligning the baseboard with an adjustable precision level, cleaning everything and generally settling in for an evening printing.
Was itching to print some negs from a pile of 6x17 negs I have been accumulating, I have not long had the Linhof - its a version 1 with the fixed lens, a SA 90mm f5.6

Well. I thought I had not focussed properly, or something major, and these were on prints with and without the centerfilter.
I double checked the focus points around the easel etc. This is enlarging only to 16" wide. The prints were nothing special that's for sure.

The mamiya 6x7 with 37mm fisheye, 65mm L/A and 127mm lens has produced some of my favourite and really really sharp images.
I have not started shooting with my homemade 8x10 yet, and am really not too fazed at the end of the day as I really enjoy getting each different camera out on the joys of using each camera anyway, but am genuinely blown away by how awesome the proII is.

I guess I was kind of expecting that the 6x17 negs would be sharper than 6x7, which I was really looking forward to, as I love the 3:1 aspect, but this is not the case by actually a long shot.

The 8x10 I 'made' out of a Plaubell 4x5 monorail is sporting a modern Sironar-N 240mm so will be interesting to see how that goes in the grand scheme of things. Cannot really compare totally as it is the most impractical thing to shoot. At least I do not have to make wet plates onsite I guess :)

So I guess this post is a round about way of saying that in my experiences with many cameras and formats, the mamiya proII 6x7 with the left hand grip (essential kit!) and especially the 37mm fisheye and 65mm L/A is a really special bit of kit.
A nikon 120mm SW shooting 4x10 and then printing to 1200mm wide, well. That's the next project..... One would hope that the bigger prints will really show benefits of larger negatives.

Over and out.

1-Nov-2014, 03:56
It's a bit like comparing apples and oranges, Japanese lenses tend to be designed to slightly different criteria to German lenses.

I agree Mamiya lenses are excellent, very sharp, I have some for my 645s and previously used Mamiya TLRs. However all my Schneider and Rodenstock lenses including the Super Angulons (65mm, 75mm, 90mm & 165mm) are also excellent, very sharp used properly. Remember LF lenses are usually optimised for f22 whereas MF lenses are probably at their nest at f8/f11.

Other factors like camera shake, particularly if working hand held, are a factor. Personally I find you notice the sharpness difference at larger print sizes.


1-Nov-2014, 04:06
Also, enlarging a 6x4,5 negative to, say, 30x40" will require a Rodagon-G or G-Componon lens, if you want utter sharpness. Not really so for a 4x5", and especially not 8x10" negative. The 80/2.8 I used on a 645 Pro TL Mamiya was incredibly sharp already at f5,6.

1-Nov-2014, 12:26
The shot I took was tripod mounted and I think from memory f16, possibly even f22. I did have a center filter on that particular shot, but its the proper Schneider one, and it was super clean. The shot was taken using the scale of focus lattitude so I stopped it down enough to get the foreground in focus that should have placed infinity at good focus also, with the actual distance placed in between the two - but I think this may have been the problem, so the next place I will start looking is the focus adjustment on the heliocoid on the Linhof cone; I have a groundglass that fits in the back of the Linhof.
When I enlarged it, I am using a Rodagon 210mm, but it has cleaning marks on it. In saying that, the foreground is sharp, so I doubt this was an issue.
The other negative I enlarged which put me on this lack of sharpness tangent is an IR shot, which was a focus guess, so that is not a good indicator as sharp focus in IR is a bit hit and miss. I had a very sharp IR shot from the mamiya same location.....

I will check the focus adjustment of the Linhof and reassess this. Such a portable camera so would be great if it was sharp too! I am not obsessed with sharpness but get a real kick out of the insane detail the larger formats bring.
I am on the cusp of moving to 8x10, I have as of yesterday a functioning 8x10 enlarger, a CL81 reel now from catlabs for my jobo, film in the fridge, film holders, camera now operational, tripod arrived last week that is strong enough to take the big beast...
Now I just need to find another chunk of time without family or work obligations! used up my allotment this weekend on getting the enlarger going :)

1-Nov-2014, 17:27
There is something off with the camera set up. I shoot a lot of 617 with SA, the F8 version and it takes very sharp images. My 617 camera has a helicord, but also with ground glass for focusing. My guess is your lense is miss focused at infinity & so all of your shots are off slightly.

2-Nov-2014, 03:44
I used a Mamiya 7II for a year. REALLY sharp lens. If the lens focuses any closer (say 3 feet, Leica range), I would probably still have the camera.

However, while it handily matches or in fact exceeds the best Leica lens, it's no match for the 617 (or 4x5) film.

Martin Aislabie
2-Nov-2014, 09:19
Film flatness is a big issue on all film formats - and very significant on the very flexible roll film base of 120.

Does your 6x17 keep its film very tight as it advances to the next shot ?

Some of the most stunningly sharp shots I have ever seen were printed from 6x17 negs.

If you are struggling to get a stunningly sharp shot - then there is something clearly amiss somewhere in your set-up.


2-Nov-2014, 20:10
Martin I am wondering how to tackle that, as the negs clearly have loosely defined edges with the 6x17. In fact they are kind of curvy indicating to me that the film is just kind of hanging out in the back of the camera.
shouldn't the pressure plate hold the film snug on the alloy camera body? even if the film was loose i would have though the image might be not so sharp mid frame but one would think that the edges would be sharp.
I will definitely investigate, but not sure what to do as the mechanics of the linhof are inaccessible.
First thing I am going to check is helocoid adjustment then get onto film flatness, or maybe vice versa.

Maybe I should make some hot mods to the linhof and vacuum back it....

The end goal is 4x10, but as I will only probably be enlarging to 48" wide if I can get the 6x17 working sharp then I will probably hold off for a bit or flag it. But then again, I am tempted to go 4x10 just because if I don't I never will, and If I do then I have done it, and will never wonder what it would have been like to do it. Done.

Kevin Crisp
2-Nov-2014, 20:15
The Mamiya 6 lenses are outstanding. But so is the lens on a Kodak Medalist 2.

2-Nov-2014, 21:04
It would help if you specify what camera you are using and which 617 holder. If you are scale focusing, sounds like may be a helical cone camera like a Fotoman. I would also check the focus with the ground glass to make sure you didn't lose some shims or something.

3-Nov-2014, 01:21
Hi Richard, as per my original post its a version 1 Linhof 6x17 technorama with the fixed 90mm 5.6 SA. I am beginning to suspect that its my relative green-ness to 'large' format (I would call 6x17 large only as it uses a large format lens I guess...) and brand new to the technorama.
The reasons for me saying this is;
- I was relying on the depth of field scale on the linhof as an absolute, rather than a scale of diminishing sharpness.
- the negatives are held flat on the camera body by the pressure plates I found out tonight, but the blunt edges on the sides of the negatives were caused not by the loose negative but by the fact that the sides of the technorama frame are recessed slightly
(by blunt sides I mean the shape of the exposed image - I thought it was odd initially that they were kind of concaved slightly)

The Linhof seems to hold some tension after a frame is wound on - I am looking to improve this by packing both film compartments somewhat with adhesive foam or something....

I use a viewfinder with the Linhof, so yes I intend as you say to use the groundglass to check the focus scale on the helicoid. always seems to be dark when I get around to sorting that out.... So by shims you mean like oversized washers between the lens and the cone? Fixed shims?

3-Nov-2014, 02:03
Hi "resurgance", sorry I missed the reference to Linhoff. As they are the "rolls royce" of the camera world, I'd *imagine* that their film holder would hold the film as flat or flatter than other holders. Besides the "fuzziness" of the DoF scale (remember that the "acceptable sharpness" is also dependent on print size and viewing distance etc.), lens have diffraction limits. i.e. stopping a 35mm lens down beyond F11 can degrades the images. 4x5 usually holds well until F32/F45 or so.

In any case, given that it's a Technorama, and a SA lens, it should equal or better than MF setup, if everything is locked down and well exposed etc.

The shims refer to that some times the lensone needs to be calibrated for the exact lens. A ground glass should tell you whether you can focus on infinity (at the infinity mark). Some cameras use shims, some you just make adjustments to the helicoid.

Anyway, first test is to confirm focus with the ground glass. Good luck.

3-Nov-2014, 23:50
Thanks Richard,

Stewart is the name :) I went with resurgance after a real active interest in diving local resurgances, (until I got the bends that is...) But it relates somewhat to my interest in Photography at least a few years back anyway, when after having kids I rekindled my passion for photography itself and particularly analogue. I had previously had a 10 or so year 'break' from photography.
The break, for the record, came after my camera stopped working, and I decided that I wanted to experience the things I did for what they were instead of previously it was all about how to capture experiences on film.... two distinctly different mindsets for me.

I thought I'd share that since I seem to be in a sharing mode and I had my pseudonym placed inside quotation marks :)

Thats great to hear your feedback about the Technorama being capable of fine images. One of my favourite 6x17 photographers is Helmut Hirler, and he has some amazing images! I like to think that my version 1 Linhof is not too far off the latest version that he used, in terms of me being only limited by my own technical and artistic boundaries....
I'm not very time rich right now, so wont be able to get cracking on the ground glass until the weekend.