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A medium format rangefinder camera from Mamiya, ancestor to the Mamiya 7. Like its descendent, it offers the choice of 120 or 220 roll film merely by rotating the pressure plate that holds the film in place (as opposed to other cameras that require one to switch to another interchangeable film back), much quieter operation than single lens reflex cameras, built-in metering with aperture priority exposure, and flash sync. It comes with a smaller range of lenses—50mm f/4.0, 75mm f/3.5, and 150mm f/4.0—but all are of quite exceptional quality: according to reviewers, in fact, their optical contrast is unmatched in the SLR world.

In addition, unlike the Mamiya 7,

  • its single viewfinder works for all three lenses;
  • it exposes a 6cm x 6cm square of film, both recording as much of a given image circle as is possible without vignetting and permitting the photographer to ignore the potentially thorny dilemma of whether to rotate the camera; and
  • it allows its lenses to be folded 1.5" into the camera body, with the result that its user can store a respectable medium-format camera in less space than required for a professional 35mm SLR.

As of mid-2003, one can be had in "like-new" condition with all three lenses for under $3000, which is not bad for this sort of camera. I managed to get mine with the 75mm lens for under $1000, which means I now have a nice medium-format camera I can stuff in my (largish) pants pocket and carry around everywhere, getting all sorts of shots I would never have a chance at with a larger, more expensive rig. This camera has been discontinued, so expect the availability of cheap, old, worn ones to increase while the ones in good condition get rarer and more expensive.

Of course, I could have just gotten a Holga...

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