If you’ve ever looked into medium format cameras, you’ve probably come across the Mamiya RB67. So often that you might even be sick of it. Today I’m here to tell you that the hype is one hundred percent deserved.
The simplest advantage to a medium format camera over 35mm is that it allows you to take a photo with much higher image quality. It gives you images that have more detail, finer grain and are more suitable for larger prints. And the RB67 does not disappoint in that regard. I can tell you from experience that these photos will put 35mm to shame, even if you have top-of-the-line lenses like the Canon L and Sigma Art models.
The Mamiya RB67’s biggest draw to me is its versatility. Do you want a camera with the full power of 6×7 medium format? It’s got that out of the box. Do you want the extra shots you get with a 645 camera? There’s a 645 film back just for that. Eye level or waist finder viewfinder? Why pick only one? You don’t even have to shoot medium format film in it! Pop in an adapter and you can shoot your favorite 35mm stocks in a true panoramic format. If instant photography tickles your fancy, that’s an option too. Want a different focusing screen? There’s so many choices you could use a different one every day of the week. Owning a Mamiya RB67 is like having a dozen cameras in one. You just have to find the right accessory.
I believe that the most underrated feature of the RB67 is its focusing system. Its bellows focusing has been praised for how close you can get to your subject while still having them in focus, but what I’m really talking about are the actual knobs of the camera. It has been something of a revelation to me. The control over your focus is much finer than what you’ll get out of most lenses’ focus rings. It’s so good that every time I use a camera that uses a focus ring I feel a twinge of sadness because I know something better is out there.
Popular consensus places the Mamiya RB67 in the pantheon of gold standard medium format cameras alongside those such as the Pentax 67 and the Hasselblad 500 series. After shooting hundreds of photos with it, I’d say its seat is well-earned. They aren’t making any more of these cameras any time soon, so if this camera catches your eye, I suggest you experience it while you still can. I promise you won’t be the same after you shoot with a Mamiya.