DIVING DEEPER INTO RZ67
Updated: Jan 21, 2020
I just published a new blog feature to this site, so that I can update you guys regularly on some life events, photography tips and tricks and some new work methods that I'm experimenting with. As you might have noticed if you follow my work I have been shooting a lot on film recently, switching back and forth between my 35mm point-and-shoot and 120mm medium format camera. Seriously guys, I have found a new camera love! For the past year I have been obsessed shooting with my new 6 pound heavy baby. That might sound a bit strange but don't let me stop you from mentally picturing a baby with dual wielding sawed off shotguns. Let your mind wander.
No, of course not, I am obviously talking about a recent addition to my camera family: the Mamiya RZ67 professional II. I found it secondhand on Ebay for a decent enough price ($ 800) and it made its way to the Netherlands all the way hailing from Taipei. It was worth the extra shipping charges as it's damn near impossible to find a good specimen here in Holland where I live. That means if you actually need to save some of your money to eat or buy film or feed a baby.
photo: Sven @ known on 35mm & 120mm, 2019
The Mamiya RZ67 is a professional medium format single-lens reflex system camera manufactured by Mamiya. The camera accepts 6×7, 6×6 and 6×4.5, 120 and 220 film magazines and Polaroid as well as Quadra 72 4×5 sheet film backs.
Using the Mamiya RZ67 really changed the direction of my work. Because it only lets me shoot 10 frames on each roll it forces me to take more time and find original compositions. Plus I seriously can't get enough from looking into its waist level viewfinder. Literally everything looks more beautiful when you look through it. I am happy to see that the more I shoot with I get more comfortable and quick with it. It's a pretty hefty bulky beast to carry around and I haven't found a big enough camera bag for it yet. So usually I just hold it in my hands while walking to another spot which is a bit annoying so that's the next thing I need to save up for. A strap and a HUGE camera carry-on bag to fit the family (Nikon D750, Canon 5D markII, Yashica T5 or Contax G2 plus all that extra stuff)
The RZ67 measures 104 mm (W) × 133.5 mm (H) × 211.5 mm (L) with the 110mm f/2.8 lens, and weighs approximately 2.4 kg (5.29 lbs). The RZ67 name is adopted from the model name of the Mamiya RB67 (in which RB stands for "Revolving Back"), which was first introduced in 1970, thus the RZ67 also takes backs which can be rotated 90 degrees to provide a horizontal or vertical composition.
By the end of the day this beast can bring meaning to the words back pain more than any other of my minions. So why can't I get enough of this bulky beast you may wonder. It's true, it has a hold over me unlike any other. The previously mentioned Contax G2 has quickly earned a place at the top of my Favorites list when I first got my hands on it, after fawning over it for years. But then in swept the RZ67 and took its place with an unrelenting force. Have I mentioned that I'm obsessed with it?
Here's why: I can shoot 6x7 negatives on the Mamiya RZ, which makes the images that come out supercrisp and full of detail. The stunning quality and dreamlike color scheme of the images that it takes triumph all the other cameras that I own. You can shoot portraits with it at a very close range and the field of depth (aka nice bokeh bruh) is out of this world. At least if you shoot with my favorite lens until now: the Sekor 110mm / F2.8 which is the standard lens that comes with it. I haven't tried any of the other lenses yet, but I want to try the 127mm and 60mm for sure. Shame that there isn't an analog rental station here where I live in Eindhoven. Finally I want to mention the colors that come out of it.
I know that this also depends on the film stock you shoot but every camera has a different rendition of colors and the Mamiya RZ67 captures colors so truthful unlike digital or other 35mm cameras I've tried. And Oh lawd I have tried many! It resembles situations accurately and softly. My favorite film to use is always Kodak Portra 400, this works best for portraits as the skin tones come out very natural. The photos that you make with this look real and unaltered so I drag the RZ everywhere I go. I use it on 99% of the shoots I do even the ones on location. I never use a tripod either because I'm simply put: not a tripod kind of girl. I just can't stand being limited in my crazy movements. It ruins any angle-finding spontaneity. The price of the weight is one I am happy to pay for all this beauty. For now. I have my eyes set on two other medium format beauties: the Mamiya7 II and the Contax645. But maybe I need to rob a few gas stations first.
In other news my film roll archive just keeps expanding and my storage box is piling up fast. I'm only one year in and already have a problem to figure out where and how to store all the negatives. There must be a good system out there for it but I haven't found one yet. I heard filmphotography-master Garry Winogrand say in a documentary that even he had trouble filing them. The other impressive thing that he said is that he would shoot 600 rolls each year where at the end of his life he stopped developing his film altogether. I think it became too much maybe for him to cope with, a crazy thing to think about. Drowning in your photo archive is relatable to me in a way. I think I'm shooting in average around 4 or 5 rolls a week, that's 260 rolls a year. So... Help anyone?
This year I will continue to keep learning more and more about this medium; Scanning techniques, which film stocks to buy, what analog cameras work best in different situations, how to cross process, how to edit your negatives, etc.
Hopefully I can share more things with you along the way. Please let me know in the comments what you would like me to write about next!
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Lots of love XJ.