Introduction to Mamiya 7, Mamiya RB67 and Light Meters.

Recently I have been introduced to the workings of a medium format camera. During the course I will be working with 35mm film, 110mm film and 120mm.

Mamiya 7

This was my first experience with a Mamiya 7. Focusing on a video tutorial, I was able to understand the basic workings of using such a camera.

– Firstly, the lens removes the same as any other, whilst the filter remains on along with the lens hood. It is important to check the lens cap is taken off as when you look through the viewfinder you do not see through the lens, therefore it is possible to shoot without realising the lens cap is still on. To turn the camera on, the switch has to be on white, whilst red is off.

– On the top of the camera body is a dial to which the shutter speed an ISO can be set. Along with this, there is a stop meter to change the exposure, to over or under expose the image. Along with this, the hot shoe flash attachment is also found on the top of the body. To change the aperture, this is found on the lens ranging from f4 to f22. Mamiya 7 also has a timer.

– When focusing with the Mamiya 7, firstly there is a ‘ghost image’ which will appear through the viewfinder. By adjusting the focus ring, it will bring these 2 images together therefore focusing the photo.

– In order to load the film, the back firstly has to be opened. The pressure plate in the back of the camera can be altered in accordance of the film being used. The more film there is, the less pressure needs to be applied. To change this, the plate simply has to be turned with the white dots aligned to the correct size of film. To release the spool, there is an orange latch to press which releases it, allowing you to then move it to the opposite side. Following this, the film is put in and drawn across into the middle of the spool. This then has to be wound on until the arrows line up in the middle. Whilst doing so, the curtain in the camera needs to be closed whilst loading the film, which can be shut by turning the switch on the bottom of the camera. This also needs to be closed when changing the lens. Once the back is closed, the camera needs to be wound onto the first frame as well as releasing the curtain allowing you to begin shooting.

Mamiya RB67

This was also my first experience with a Mamiya RB67, to which another video tutorial was used to introduce the workings of the camera.

– The lens cap removes like any other by pressing the two bits on the edge and removing, whilst the filter remains on. To put the lens hood on it is simply pushed forward, protecting the lens from any flare.

– On the lens there are 3 gauges enabling change of depth of field, shutter speed and aperture. These are simply turned to apply the required settings. To remove the lens, the white dot on the lens has to be turned and aligned with the red line in order to be released. To put the lens back on the white dot has to be aligned with the red dot on the camera, turned and locked into place.

– The viewfinder is a flip up top, to which is just lifted and then the catch on the side is pressed to lift up the magnifier. This is simply pushed back when finished and the sides are pushed in to close down the flip up top.

– The focusing ring is found on the side of the camera, this is turned in order to focus the image. It is also possible to lock the focus if required. There is another on the alternate side but has no lock.

– To remove the magazine, the release lock has to be held in and the slide moved on the top, as well as the same on the base. In order to load the film, 2 levers have to be unlatched in order to open up the back. Once open, the inside can come away from the outside. To release the spool, the catch is pressed in so it becomes loose and can be moved to the other side.

– Tear the paper off the roll of film and slot into place. Pull it round the back and thread into the crease of the spool. This is then pushed through and winding continues until the arrows line up. To make sure the inside is placed correctly back into the outside, the thicker side of the roll of film is next to the side with the hinge. Following this, shut the back and close the levers. Wind on the camera until it stops and the indicator will then show 1. Place the magazine back on, and lock the slides which were opened when taking it off.

– To shoot landscape or portrait, the magazine is simply turned to suit. In order to be able to press the shutter it has to be unlocked, as well as the slide of the magazine has to be removed. The lever on the side also has to be slid forward to reset the mirror and the film has to be wound on.

Light Meter

This was also another first experience, this time working in the studio along with a light meter.

There are 3 variables which control light when photographing – aperture (f stop), shutter speed and ISO (light sensitivity of film or sensor). The higher the number of the aperture, the smaller the ‘hole’ is creating a large depth of field with more in focus. The lower the number, the larger the hole is creating a small depth of field with little in focus. A slow shutter speed means the shutter is open for longer allowing more light to pass through, whereas a fast shutter speed means the shutter is open for a short amount of time with smaller amounts of light passing through. To freeze movement or action a fast shutter speed is used, whereas to blur motion, a slow shutter speed is used. By using a light meter, this gives you the ideal readings in the environment you want to shoot with appropriate lighting.

Ansel Adams introduced the zone system, where there are 10 zones. Zone 0 is pitch black with no detail whereas zone 10 is bright white with no detail. Zone 5 is mid grey, with maximum detail. When using a light meter, it will always give you an exposure for zone 5.

There are a number of settings in which the light meter can be used, such as when using a flash cable. By taking the reading first this gives you the f stop and shutter speed you need, allowing you to take the photo with an exposure for zone 5.

During a workshop we experimented with 3 different shots. Firstly was a portrait, with the light to the side of the model and the reading taken from in front, resulting in a well lit image. Secondly was a silhouette effect, by placing the model in front of the light and the light meter in between the light and model. Thirdly, we worked with a light ‘explosion’. To do so, the light meter reading is taken infront of the model, with the light again behind the model. It was extremely interesting to work with these 3 different ideas to see how the light meter can be used to create some effective shots. With greater knowledge of using a light meter, I will now be able to experiment further and use them with my own work.


~ by victoriasimkissphotography on October 2, 2012.

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