120folder.com          Mamiya Six

The Mamiya Six is a 120 film folding rangefinder camera, 6x6 format, first issued in 1940 by Mamiya Optical Co.,Tokyo. The camera was an innovative design by Mamiya Seiichi, a Japanese camera  designer. It focuses by moving the film plane, not the optics. It was built until the end of the 1950s and there are plenty of different models.

The camera shown is the model IVB, issued in 1955, hence a late model. It's easily recognizable by its square rangefinder window. There are also some pictures of the model V, issued in 1953, with a fairly unique feature: it has automatic film advance for two formats, 6 x 6 and 4.5 x 6. I bought it for parts, as on the photos, but later gave it away to a skilful camera lover, who told me that he has restored it by now. So this technical beauty hasn't got lost.

Size (mm): 143 x 105 x 52
Weight: 810 g
Lens: Olympus D-Zuiko 3.5/75, closest focus 0.95 m
Shutter: Seikosha MX, B, 1 - 1/500, F 3.5 - 22
Finder: coupled rangefinder, double exposure warning
Film advance: automatic, double exposure prevention

Here are some photos of the camera. There is a short introduction to the use of it and how it feels at the bottom of the page.

Camera front closed. Top: shutter release button, rangefinder window, opening button, viewfinder window, film advance with exposure counter.

Seen from the back. Near top: film advance lock release, viewer, focusing wheel. Red window, not necessary in ordinary use.

Seen from the bottom. Tripod socket.

Seen from above.

Camera front open. Speed setting ring.

Seen from above, camera open. Shutter cocking lever near the speed setting ring, aperture control. On top: film advance knob with automatic exposure counter, shutter release button, distance indication window
with depth-of-the-field scale.

Left side, camera open. Synchro setting lever, dented wheel for aperture control.

Right side, camera open.

Camera back open. Note the cover of the moving film plane.

Film chamber. Cover of the film plane slid open.

The Mamiya Six V. It has a round rangefinder window. Note the little lever under the rangefinder housing, it slides a viewfinder mask for the 4.5x6 format into the view. Seikosha Rapid shutter, similar to the MX, without the synchro choice.

The distance indication window is a bit different. Film counter can count up to 16 when set so. Camera opening button sits on the housing, not on the bed.

Film chamber with 4.5x6 masks put into place. they are hinged and fold into the spool housing when not in use. Note the little lever to set the film counter according to the film size. It changes the advance gear as well. A quite complicated mechanical solution, but still working perfectly.

Handling a Mamiya Six is easy, it's like other folding rangefinders except for the focusing wheel, which is even more fluid than ordinary focusing. Loading film is quite as usual, you just have the cover plate of the film plane in addition. Check, whether the film counter is on the dot mark. It normally stays there when you have taken out the previous roll. (If not, move it there by turning the advance knob and actioning the film advance release lever.) Open the camera back, slide the plate out and put the film roll into its place, the knob on the bottom retracts the spool shaft. Same procedure for the take-up spool. Insert the film paper backing into the spool and advance it using the knob until the start arrow meets the white index marks (near the take-up spool). Slide the film plane cover into place. Close the camera back. Then action the film advance lock release once and move the film via the advance knob until it stops at "1".

Open the camera. Cock the shutter, set speed and aperture. Set focus via the wheel on the camera back. Press the shutter release button. That's it. A red indicator will fall into view, it's a double exposure warning. Action the lever to unlock before film advance and it will disappear. To close the camera, press the hinges of the struts as usual, it will fold easily.

The Mamiya Six is a very nice and sturdy camera, easy to use. The IVB model is a very good choice, it's quite modern. There is an "Automat" model which combines film advance with shutter cocking, but it is quite rare.

Mamiya Six810143 x 105 x 52CAuto, DEPOly. D-Zuiko 3.5/75 | 0,95Seikosha MX, B 1 - 1/500 | 22