Over a year ago I switched from a Nikon DSLR to the Fuji mirrorless system. One of the reasons besides the form factor was the decrease in weight that this fifty something body would have to carry around on assignment. So with that in mind what do I go and do, I buy one of the heaviest beasts of a film camera on the planet. Yep the Mamiya RB67! Hokey smokes it’s huge but so is the size of that negative!
I have drooled over these for sometime and my last wanderings on eBay showed a lot less of them showing up on the used market than even a year ago. A bunch of them are coming from Japan but not so many from the U.S.. My favorite used camera gear site KEH was out of stock of good ones and actually running low on a lot of used film gear. I am not sure what the reason is for this, maybe the resurgance in film usage but I don’t know. In any event I did find one on eBay from an actual photographer. It didn’t look as beat up as a lot of these get so I took the chance. Boy was I lucky! The beast is a beauty and everything works as it is supposed too. It took several visits to eBay to complete the kit but now I have three working lenses and four film backs. (Don’t get me started on how fun it is to replace the seals on those film backs.)
In my infinite wisdom I bought this studio camera to take out on hikes for landscape photography. Ouch! The camera and lens weighs in at six pounds and if you start adding different prisms and such the weight keeps climbing. They say due to the size of the camera it’s impossible to shoot handheld. Well it’s not impossible but you will need to keep those shutter speeds towards the higher side and using the optional hand grip helps greatly. For the most part though mine sits on a tripod.
If you are wondering, yes I do get quite the workout carrying this and a backpack full of it’s gear around. Yes I do feel it in my muscles the next day. So why do I do it? As stated earlier, that size of a negative. It’s the next best thing to 4×5. The details are amazing and it is just what I was looking for in image quality for my film fine art photographs.
The camera itself is kind of an odd combination of SLR and large format camera. You have removable lenses but the shutters are in the lenses instead of the camera, much like a large format camera. Well except the lenses are huge! You also need to remove a dark slide i/e like a large format camera before taking a picture. You have multiple levers, buttons and settings you have to set up before you ever make the camera go click. Oh and it’s not a click but a wonderful combination of shutter and mirror movement noise that is as sexy as hell! I love it!
I have affectionately named her ‘BAC.’ which stands for “Big Ass Camera.” So welcome to my summer workout program as I team up with my partner BAC to make sore muscles and beautiful photos.