The best camera system for the professional use of Polaroid/Fuji Pack Film is undoubtedly
the Mamiy Universal system. It is based on a well-known and popular photographer's
model, the Mamiya Press.
The Mamiya Press was - as the name suggests - a very popular press
photographer's camera for the 6x7 and 6x9 format, with a large, coupled
and reliable view/rangefinder, introduced in 1960. There was a 90mm
standard lens, a very good 65mm wide angle with its finder and a 150mm
tele lens with its mask to be clipsed into the viewfinder. Since the
had built-in bellows for compensation of converging lines, there were
also a ground glass and sheet film magazines available.
Super 23 was a major redesign of the Press camera in 1967. It had a
bigger view/rangerfinder with bright framelines and parallax compensation, built-in masks for the
standard lenses (100mm, 150mm, and 250mm), and a sturdier lens
fixation to be able to carry the new bright but heavier lenses. There were now lenses from a 50mm super
wide-angle (equivalent to 21mm with 24x36mm film) to the large and
heavy 250mm F5 telephoto lens.
was a Super 23 model without the bellows and with a different, larger
fixation for the backs, including a Polaroid Back. It was introduced in 1969. Because of the
larger size of the Polaroid films new lenses were necessary. The 100mm
standard was replaced by the 127mm, both lenses have an excellent
reputation. The 65mm wide-angle got a 75mm sister. The 150mm was usable
without changes for the larger format. FYI: the 50mm and the 65mm
lenses show some vignetting in Pola format, as the 100mm 1: 2.8,
whereas the 100mm 1: 3.5 can be o.k. (I own 3 of them), but there are
also reports of a slight vignetting. All lenses are fully synchronized
up to 1/500 sec.
The Polaroid 600SE was subsidized by the
Polaroid company, as already some other model before. They hoped for
ample film sales to professionals. In the early 80s the 600SE and it's
accessories were about half the Mamiya prices in Germany.
In order not to ruin the Mamiya-market and not to subsidize
non-Polaroid photographers, the two systems were made incompatible.
Neither the lens fixation nor the back connection fit to one another.
And no, a simple exchange of the "claws" for the backs does not work
(see Do-It-Yourself pages). Not even the handle is the same, the one of
the 600SE it is firmly attached. After all, later there was an adapter
for the Mamiya roll film backs, not subsidized of course, extra-expensive and very rare.
was also a model Polaroid 600 (a very unfortunate name, as there are the 600
series cameras for integral film) with fixed-mounted 127mm lens. This
was significantly cheaper.
Here are some cameras of my Mamiya system:
A Universal with a Fuji Instax back, 3 Universals with Pola-backs, an old Press model and a Super 23 with roll film back.
This section will deal with the Universal cameras. There will be subpages for the lenses and the Press/Super 23 models Click on the images to go these pages.
Body, front. This one lacks the name plate.
Body, back side.
Front body cap.
Front body cap installed.
The grip socket.
Grip attached. The grip has an integrated cable release and a hand strap. It faciitates the handling of the camera a lot.
Grip from the back.
The hand strap can be adjusted.
The grip has a very handy accessory shoe. Instead of the grip you can mount a tripod socket for portrait mode.
Tripod adapter installed.
A Mamiya Univeral with Polaroid back attached.
Right side. Dark slide.
Seen from above. Camera has a bubble level
Left side with grip socket and Polaroid film exit.
The Polaroid size ground glass. It is used to determine the exact focussing and framing.
The hood taken off. There are lines for 6x9 format and indications for 6x7.
The "M" adapter which lets you use the Mamiya roll film backs. For these backs see the Press/Super 23 page.
Adapter and roll film back.
Vertical "M" adapter. This adapter lets you turn the orientation of the pictures without turning the camera.
installed. Picture blurred, sorry. The adapter only makes sense when
used with spacers or for a sheet film holder. Without spacers you can't
mount a Mamiya roll film back.
The "G" adapter. It allows you to use graflex 2x3 accessories on a Mamiya Universal.
Adapter with graflex roll film back.
with pack film holder. 2x3 pack film was very handy, it gave you 10
sheets of film in a row, but isn't produced any more. There is still a
grafmatic 2x3 holder for 6 sheets.
As the "G" adapter is hard to find, you can try a DIY solution on the base of Universal ground glass.
The "G" adapter and the ground glass. Obviously the base is similar.
The ground glass dismounted. it's only 4 screws and the bars to either side. Do not unscrew the rest.
A graflex back on the ground glass franme.
Seen from camera side.
on camera. There are 2 problems to solve. The sliding bars do not reach
the back. Either you displace the bars or you make bigger bars. And you
will have to do some sealing work to get the thing light tight.
As Polaroid peel-apart film isn't produced any longer and even Fuji
ended the production of its pack 100 film, there are only 2 solutions
for instant photography with a Mamiya Universal: Polaroid 600 film or
Fuji Instax. I have made a back for Polaroid 600 film, but it has a
major snag: the picture is double inversed (top-bottom, left-right) as there is no
mirror. Polaroid cameras have a mirror between the lens and the photo. You can see this back here. The link opens in a new window.
The camera shown here has an Instax back. As the Polaroid 600 back it has not enough room for a dark slide. So there
are three options if you want to
interchange lenses: you loose one photo, you pull out the cartridge in
the dark and push the cardboard dark slide on top of it or you
interchange optics in a sleeve. As you can't eject the photo towards
the top because of the viewer, the broarder frame is on the top of the
picture. Some pictures of the camera:
Mamiya Universal Instax
Left side. Ejection handle.
Right side. Lever to push the photo towards the rollers.
Bottom. You need an extension to mount the camera on a tripod.
Seen from the back.
have bought this back from a guy called option8 who does Instant
conversions. It's made from the Lomo Instax back for a Lomo Belair. It
works fine. I would prefer a motorized back. There was a Kickstarter
project from Rezivot which did not ge through. That's a real pity. If
you hear about a motorized Instax solution, please let me know.