OddCameras.com              Mamiya Universal/23/Press System

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 Press camera had built-in bellows for compensation of converging lines, there were also a ground glass and sheet film magazines available.

The 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.

The Universal was a Super 23 model without the bellows and with a different, larger fixation for the backs, including a Polaroid Pack 100 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.

There 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 ../jpgother/icon_mamiya_uni_lenses_IMG_9272.JPG and the Press/Super 23 models ../jpgother/icon_mamiya_23_IMG_9177.JPG 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 facilitates 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.

Back view.

Right side. Dark slide.

Seen from above. Camera has a bubble level

Left side with grip socket and Polaroid film exit.

Bottom side.

The Polaroid size ground glass. It is used to determine the exact focussing and framing.

Hood open..

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.

Camera side.

Adapter installed.

Adapter and roll film back.

Vertical "M" adapter. This adapter lets you turn the orientation of the pictures without turning the camera.

Camera side.

Adapter 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.

This is the space no. 1. There is a smaller no. 2 as well. Its for makro work. Camera side up.

The other side. You can fix a any ordinary back to it...

which can be locked via the silder.

The "G" adapter. It allows you to use graflex 2x3 accessories on a Mamiya Universal.

Adapter installed.

Adapter with graflex roll film back.

Adapter 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.

Mounted 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.

Universal Instax

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.

I 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.

Meanwhile the Lomo Belair back isn't available any more. But there is a new Instax back with major improvements: it has a dark slide and with some modification of the viewer, it can eject towards the top. You can see this back here (link opens in a new window).