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Mamiya MAGAZINE 35

The MAMIYA MAGAZINE 35

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In my Adox 300 article I mention another 35mm camera with interchangeable magazines – the Mamiya Magazine 35. It was also introduced in 1957 and was made by the Mamiya Camera Company. Like the Adox the Mamiya was a bit on the basic side for features, such as offering only a fixed lens, but it did have a coupled rangefinder. A 5cm Sekor f2.8 lens was standard with an f2 Sekor being an option. The shutter is a Seikosha-MXL with speeds 1 to 1/500th.

At first glance it’s a fairly plain camera that you might not look twice at, in fact viewed from the front and back you wouldn’t even know that it separates. It feels solid and looks well made; the viewfinder shows a bright frame with parallax lines and a rangefinder spot. A rewind knob and a film counter are noticeably absent from the top plate. The baseplate has the film counter, a film reminder dial and a round red wheel to unlock the magazine from the rest of the camera. Rotating this also slides the darkslide into the closed position so you can change magazines at any stage. On top of the magazine is the rewind knob that rotates freely without any unnecessary lock or ratchet. 


The inside of the magazine looks just like any other 35mm camera back, its door is opened via a slide lock on the side and a cassette is then loaded in the usual way. Attaching the magazine to the camera and turning the lock wheel secures the magazine in place and opens the darkslide. The camera’s wind lever is connected to a slotted drive that fits into the magazine’s film sprocket drive slot. There is a small indicator in the base to show if the film is advancing.

I noticed that the magazine can be removed either with the shutter cocked, or un-cocked with the film not wound on. This makes blank frames and double exposures possible - intentional or not! But there is a procedure to follow to avoid this. A red dot behind the film wind lever shows when the shutter is cocked, a white dot shows when the shutter has been fired. A similar red dot on the magazine indicates the film has been advanced, a white dot indicates an exposed frame, and so you just match the dots when changing magazines. It’s a simple system that avoids the need for manufacturing complicated mechanical interlocks.


In comparison to the magazine systems of Adox and Zeiss Contaflex I found the Mamiya is much simpler in operation and easier to use. Although it sold in USA for $89.50 it was at a time when rangefinder cameras had to compete with the new SLR’s like Pentax (at $150) that offered reflex viewing and lens interchangeability – probably more desirable features. So the Magazine 35 was not the sales success Mamiya hoped for, but I think it remains one of their most innovative cameras.

 

 

 Text and photographs ©2013 Geoff Harrisson

 

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