Scotland with the Mamiya 7 by Brett Price

Scotland with the Mamiya 7
by Brett Price
Hey Steve,
I thought I would share a few photos and my experience with another rangefinder I had the pleasure of borrowing from a friend for my trip. Thanks again for creating a place where people can do this. I’ve had 3 other posts on your site, all of which highlight my experience with different rangefinder cameras and systems. I thought it would be good to post another 🙂
I recently did a 10 day trip across the U.K. with my girlfriend. I brought my Leica M7 w/ 50lux ASPH, (I wrote about it also here )  Hasselblad Xpan (I wrote about it also here ) and the Mamiya 7 w/ 80mm f4 that I borrowed from a friend. My normal 6×7 camera is the Pentax 67ii, which I decided not to bring due to the sheer size and weight. It is a truly massive camera and I went this whole trip out of one bag so every pound I could save counts. I was at first resistant to this… I love bokeh and out of focus qualities to cameras and the Pentax has the fastest lens for 6×7 that exists, the SMC 105mm f2.4. It is a fabulous portrait lens that melts backgrounds like butter not unlike the Noctilux. But 2 days into the trip, I didn’t miss the extra weight…
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The great thing about the Mamiya 7 is the weight and usability. It’s not the smallest camera but its footprint against 2 other common 6×7 cameras, the Pentax 67 and the Mamiya RZ, makes it look like a olympus pen in comparison. The image quality and sharpness is superb, it could easily be the sharpest camera system I’ve ever shot with. The predecessor to this camera was the Mamiya 6, which allowed the camera to collapse into itself to make it even smaller to carry. This was such a great design its a real shame that Mamiya didn’t incorporate it into the mamiya 7. The other drawback is the lens speed. f4 is as fast as you’re going to get on any of the available lenses which can be frustrating at times when the light is going down. I can only speak to the 80mm but I’ve heard that almost all of the other lenses are just as good in terms of their performance.
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I had never been to Europe before and I have to say that I suffered a bit from carrying 3 cameras with me. Before I left I couldn’t make up my mind as to which one I could leave so I just took all 3. I honestly wish I would have left one of them behind. Probably the Xpan although I really love some of the photos I got with it. One lesson I constantly forget is that you really only need 1 camera most of the time. If I had just brought my Leica alone I would have made it work and been able to get great photos with it and I probably would have never missed using anything else but alas, that is not how my brain works all the time and sometimes I make things harder on myself. It’s a mistake I’m sure ill make and pay for again and again.
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Overall the trip was great. Scotland is just as beautiful as I always imagined it would be and the people we met while there were some of the kindest I’ve come across. I think my favorite place was St. Andrews, a small little coastal town north of Edinburgh which is probably only know due to the golf course that its famous for. It was the only place out of anywhere we went that had almost no tourism, it felt like we had it to ourselves and for a photographer that is heaven.
As far as the other locations, there are some shots from Loch Lomond, and Beachy Head, UK.
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All images were shot on Kodak Portra 400 or 800, Fuji Superia 400, or Kodak Tri-X and scanned using the Fuji Frontier or Noritsu Scanner at my local lab. Filmboxlab.com
I constantly post to my tumblr brettprice.tumblr.com or my website www.iambrettprice.com if you would like to see more. Thanks for letting me share with you guys again. Happy shooting.
Cheers,
Brett Price

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44 Comments

  1. I am nulling over the idea of investing in a Mamiya 7 .. I actually live pretty close to At Andrews, it was really helpful reading your blog! Not just to hear what you said about the Mamiya but also to see the images you shot in Scotland!

    I love the 6×7 format .. but I have a Rollei 2.8D .. so I am stuck with my decision ! Its such big investment!

  2. Brett, the first shot of your girl friend ~ pushed me over the top… I now have a Mamiya 7, on the way. This shot contains the epitome of what I now want to do – 1.) Portraits & 2.) Landscapes : Looking at this photograph – F I L M – is MY DIRECTION now… NOTHING has the look and feel of FILM. I am BACK – Full Circle ~ Thank you ! And thank you Steve; for sponsoring your FILM SERIES . . .
    Mike

  3. Isn’t Scotland the best? My girlfriend and I went to Edinburgh and the Northern Isles (Shetland and Orkney) this past June and loved all of it. I brought my Mamiya 7ii and 80mm lens but didn’t use it as much as I should have. After I got back I bought the 43mm lens and I really wish that I’d had that one on the trip. It’s the most amazing lens for landscapes that I’ve ever used. It cost about a grand but was well worth it.

  4. The Mamiya 7 shots simply blow away any digital photos that I have ever seen or have ever taken. I may opt for a Mamiya 7 II even though I have a Hasselblad. Only used the Hasselblad for weddings in the past. I wonder how much longer medium format film is going to be around. Nothing can touch it. The Mamiya lenses are spectacular. I think they are as good as any Leica or Hasselblad lenses……maybe better.

  5. The Mamiya 711 is a nice camera with fine lens. I had the 6×7 with 65mm and 150mm. I found my self using the the 65mm the most. The pics of the young lady look as if they a bit processed, but are done well.
    I have said this before, when using film, then transfering to digital. The next piece of equipment to be talked about are scanners. It would make for a fine article. Good work from being to end.

  6. Hi Brett,
    great pictures. My favorite is also #5.
    I am amazed by the colors of your color negatives. Are they coming out like that from the Fuji Frontier or Noritsu scanner or did you post process them?
    I also have a Mamiya7 but was never happy with the colors of my color negatives scanned with a minolta scan multi pro. Slide film comes out great.

    Regards
    Jakob

  7. Great shots Brett, as good or perhaps even better than your xpan shots. I hope the film you’re working on is going well. Were these all shot at f4?

    • Most of them yes. The landscapes might be shot at a higher stop. I love rangefinders for their ability to ND without disrupting what you see so that was common on this trip.

  8. Brett,

    Beautiful photos, as always. Your eye for the “amazing” in the “seemingly routine” continues to astound me!

    Thanks for sharing.

    All the best,
    M.

  9. That first photo of the girl in the woods is absolutely gorgeous! haunting. Mezmerizing. Deep. Just beautiful. All of the shots are really nice really. Thank you for sharing.
    Have you tried mounting your Pentax Tele on the mayima?

  10. I agree with kentpix. As much as I loved my Mamiya 6 & 7 bodies, I’d never go back unless they were digital. I’ve got 20 rolls olf Mamiya 6 Fujichrome Velvia from a trip to California in the late 1990’s. The thought of accessing converting and reproducing that imagery is daunting at best. If you’re trying to make a living in this biz, there are very few pro’s shooting film; the very successful Rodney Smith comes to mind. Brett, your imagery is still beautiful!

    • Good points made there about the professional use of film in our time, digital productivity & workflow has no equal for most working photogs and that is a given.

      Still a number of top photogs who way prefer film over digital, Elliott Erwitt being one in particular but then they only use film for personal use and not when they are on the clock.

    • I’d have to disagree here. I think there are still tons of photographers shooting film. The wedding industry especially. I think I read somewhere that like 8 of the top 10 wedding photographers based in the US are shooting exclusively film. I even work for a brand new lab that only handles film and they are not lacking in business in anyway, in fact they are growing. I think digital has kinda made everyone into a photographer so while there might be a much much higher ratio of people not shooting film, I don’t believe that its not being utilized in a professional manner.

      • If you are a wedding photographer and shooting digital it is way too time consuming. The tendency to take way too many photos makes post processing a daunting task. Shoot film, send it off or take it to a lab and there are proofs to show in a few days. Depending if the lab is nearby, proofs can be ready the next day. So much less work when shooting film.

  11. I don’t get this love of film. I’ve shot film for 30 years and all my best work over those years sits in storage because you either havge to set up a complete darkroom to print negatives or you have to scan negatives which gives you unacceptable quality or is too expensive. As a professional photoghrapher I LOVE DIGITAL. The supposed difference between digital and film is negligable in my mind and not worth the expense or extra time. Just saying…

    • Aye, that’s the point – “When scanned well ..” Makes me realise seeing these and other images that as good as the Epson V700/750 is that even with MF there is no real substitute to getting a decent lab scan on a Fuji/Noritsu.

  12. This is pretty much my dream camera but I want to get the 43mm lens. It’s nice to see a camera like this on this website. Thanks a bunch.

  13. Lovely work 🙂 Shot 5 is my pick – love the contrasting colours and composition. Curious – if you’d only taken the M7 – what glass would you have chosen, as you say – to make whatever you have work for you.

  14. Gorgeous photos. I have wanted one of these cameras since college. I personally love a range of focal lengths and can’t go 3 days, or 30 minutes when traveling, without shooting the full range on my 5D from 24mm to 300mm. You simply can’t always zoom with your feet, and a 50mm does not give the same look of the same frame taken from further back with a 200. But these images make me jealous of people who don’t feel a need to have 5 different perspectives.

  15. Great photos! I have the same problem you do…can never decide which camera to bring….the Leica M7, Mamiya 7ii or Pentax 67. If the Mamiya was only a stop or two faster, I’d probably leave the Leica at home. I can do close focus and open wider with the Pentax, but it’s a beast and now am pretty much resigned to using it for formal portraiture. Portra is a great film with lots of flexibility, even in 35mm, and with fast Leica or Zeiss glass, It’s great for travel and can get decent enlargements with an Imacon, Noritsu or Frontier (although I prefer Velvia and Provia). I pretty much take the Leica with me whenever I travel or am with family. The Mamiya comes along when I have landscapes in mind, but can work well for environmental portraits too (as you see above). The other thing is I not only do I prefer medium format for the detail and tonality, but because there are only 10 frames to the roll in 120, I don’t feel like I have to waste a bunch of exposures in 35mm to finish the roll, or let it sit in the camera for a period of time. Decisions, decisions….I guess there’s never a right choice, only to make the best use of what you have and get creative by working with those limitations. I just hope film will still be around for awhile…Fuji discontinued Provia 400x, one of my favorites. 🙁

  16. I owned a Mamiya 7 and 7II and some of my favorite files are from that camera. The file quality is just amazing. B&W tones just look so smooth. Nothing I could ever replicate with digital.
    Great images. D!RK

  17. I do hope most people viewing this piece are clicking on the photos and then enlarging them to their proper size. If anyone doing that can put hand on heart and say they will get better quality and a more pleasing image from any digital camera then sorry but they are either drunk or on drugs. lol

    Cracking images, wonderful scans and proof (if ever it were needed) that film is oh so relevant even in 2013. And reason why I will never sell my Mamiya 6, OK now I am greedy after viewing these and would love to add a 7 vII to that as well.

    • Funny, it depends on your definition of quality. I look at these images (all wonderfully done) and they remind me of every time I get back or do a scan of 35mm or 120mm. That is, I am always slightly disappointed in the clinical perfection of the images but overwhelmed at their beauty. I would say that digital gets us a razor sharpness and perfection that in most cases just does not hold a candle to the rendering of a medium format lens projected on film.

      • Yes, you are spot on Chad, digital does give us razor sharpness & perfection. I guess some people see that as where it’s at and is exactly why they love digital imaging whereas others have the opinion that clinical brilliance is not what a good photograph is really all about.

        Funny really when you think about it and compare say painting to photography. I doubt there are many (if any) artists that believe their paintings are about clinical brilliance, resolution or the like. They are mainly concerned with their representation of a scene and their style I would guess, not being a painter I can only guess. lol

        Film does not equal perfection, maybe that’s exactly why many love it so much because it’s not about copying a scene or a person but showing our interpretation of it and for me film makes that so much easier. YMMV of course, there are no rules.

  18. Brett,
    These are superb photographs. I have a Mamiya 7ii with the 50mm, 80mm and 150mm lenses. All are phenomenal, but not to be too over the top, the 80mm really stands out against those two lenses and right up there with my various Leica lenses. The 6 x 7 cm format scans beautifully (I usually shoot black and white and develop it as a positive through DR5.com). The only drawback is that 120 gives you ten pictures to a roll and it gets expensive fast. But it makes you slow down and think about your photographs; all of yours reflect this quality!

  19. Ahhhhh, film.
    Ahhhhh, medium format film.
    Love it!
    Think of all those Playboy photos shot in the 1950’s and 1960’s on 120 film and how wonderful the colors and look are.
    Still can’t get this with digital…wish we could.
    Love your pics.

  20. Brett, I must say your post on the M7 revived my interest in 35mm, and Plustek must thank you for making me buy their scanner!
    I’m also a fan of the Mamiya 7 and I had been shooting mostly Medium Format because of bad scanners, until I saw your previous post. Thanks!

  21. Hope this doesn’t offense you or your girlfriend, but now the pic 5 is my wallpaper.

    Really great job man, congrats!

  22. Great images! In the past, I had 2 Mamiya 6 bodies and all the lenses (except the 32); eventually purchased the Mamiya 7. They were the ultimate in high-quality yet light weight medium format film cameras. How cool would it be to have a Mamiya 6 or 7 body design with a 6×6 or 6×7 digital ccd chip?

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