If it’s a feeling you want when shooting film photography, then it’s a feeling you’ll get when shooting with the ageless and greatest medium format, Pentax 6×7 MLU. It’s by far my favorite analog camera. The mechanics of it work beautifully. The sound of the mirror slap is the most satisfying indication that you’ve just made a photo. This camera is part of the second generation (1976), and the MLU (mirror lock-up) feature was added along with other critical upgrades.
The early days of these cameras saw a lot of studio time, surrounded by strobes and reflectors as a favorite tool for editorial & fashion photographers. Its tank-like build, makes it a perfect choice for this type of photography, due to the fact that it weighs just over 3.5lbs, and therefore doesn’t lend itself to hand carrying. There are wooden grips available to distribute the weight, but I’ve added a pricey pair of strap lugs to my kit instead, which allows me to use it in run and gun environments like protests or hikes.
Portraits and landscapes are where the Pentax shines though. The standard Takumar 105 2.5 is my go-to, I also have the Takumar 55 f3.5 & SMC Pentax 165 2.8. The 35mm equivalent works out to be roughly 1/2 of the focal length listed on the lens. So the 105mm shoots like a 54mm perfect for most outings and is known for its creamy bokeh.
A wide selection of viewfinders makes framing up your images enjoyable. In lieu of an internal meter, there’s a through the lens meter prism option, I use my KEKS meter. Also, a standard prism viewfinder and overhead viewfinder are available. The overhead is my choice more often than not, as it allows me to take a photo of the image showing through on the focus screen. But the standard is much more useful for portraits.
Between the amazing lens options and the 6×7 format, the image quality is one of a kind. You know an image was made with a Pentax when you see one. Shoots 120 or 220 film and are readily available on the used market. Making these a welcomed addition to any collection. If this camera is calling your name, grab it from Photodom now, it’s on sale!
Shedrick Pelt is a D.C. creative originally from Huntsville, Alabama by way of Harlem, New York. Committed to culture and community, Shedrick has worked as a photographer, designer, and creative director for 10+ years, primarily focused on photojournalism and portrait, music, and commercial photography. Check out his body of work here!