The Camera Site

Mamiya Camera Company of Tokyo, Japan.

Mamiya ZM

Mamiya ZM, released in October 1982, was the last Mamiya 35mm camera to be produced. It has an aperture-priority automatic time control, based on center-weighted TTL readings, and an automatic shutter-speed range from 4 seconds to 1/1000 and a manual range from 2 seconds to 1/1000. The most noticeable difference to the earlier models is a body bulge on the right (left in the picture) for a more comfortable grip. I assume that ZM was only made black painted. I bought this one on , a Swedish online auction house (very recommendable). With the same buy I got five Mamiya Sekor E/EF lenses, which I later noticed to be quite difficult to find. The lens in the picture is Mamiya Sekor Zoom E 1:3,5 - 4,5 f = 28.50mm.

Shutter Quartz controlled metal focal plane shutter. 4 - 1/1000sec (AE) 2 - 1/1000sec and B (M)
Exposure meter Center-weighted . Meter is activated by touching the shutter release button
Exposure control Automatic exposure with aperture priority. Two steps exposure correction and exposure lock
Viewfinder Horizontal split image and microprism collar. Shutter speeds from 1/1000 to 1 sec, B, Overexposure and "long time" warnings.
Size and weight 140 x 88 x 5mm , 480g
Film advance Advance lever or Mamiya Winder ZE
Battery Two LR44 or SR44 , 1.5 Volt.

What happend?

My opinion is that Mamiya SLR cameras should have stayed "alive". But the truth is that Mamiya gave up on 35mm SLRs in the early 80s and the ZM is the last of the line but the decision was not caused by the producer itself.

J. Osawa & Co Ltd. was the worldwide distributor of Mamiya products and one of the leading trading houses for consumer products, they even sold lenses for the ZE-cameras under their own label. But in 1984 they went bankrupt. This was one of the greatest economic failures in the Japanese history. Apparently this occasion was also the main reason to drop the Mamiya 35mm line.

Today (2004) Mamiya is a maker of some of the best professional medium-format cameras, which still are the most important product branch of the company (about 40% of the total turnover). We shall see how Mamiya can rise to the challenge of the future.


Film Age

The hundred-year-old story of using film in cameras has come to the last act but the show goes on. Next play will tell the story of digital photography and digital processing of a picture. I am neither a futurologist nor Nostradamus but I can see and I am able to turn my eyes. One hundred years of R&D and all the great inventions in vain, a huge amount of capital and enormous capacity of human brains used for nothing?

Definitely not. During these passed decades photography has become a part of human life. It has achieved an essential role in media, art, science and even in trivia. Only the sheets and ribbons coated with light sensitive materials, which are beamed down to history. Achievements of this era are despite the fact unchangeable.

Somebody could say that you see what you want to see and manipulating pictures is today easy as children's play. True as water, but making changes has at least two sides. Genetic engineering is manipulating and the aim could be good or bad. Things have never been unchangeable and today photography is in the state of change.

A little study of history attests that people that have been against changes have mainly been wrong. At the very least they have not succeeded in stopping the caravan.

B/W film is made from light sensitive silver bromide crystals suspended in a gelatine emulsion and coated onto a plastic backing. Tell me what are the essential differences between silver bromide crystals and the digital CCD (Charged Coupled Device) image sensors?

I admit that there is a long way to that over 80 million pixels (in theory) of Fuji Velvia 50 but the gap is decreasing day by day. The sharpness is certainly a basis for a good picture. . But at a certain point, pictures don't improve with pixels. The photographer takes the picture and camera is only a tool for that.

Colour film has traditionally been held as the standard for photography. It produces rich, warm tones and incredible colour detail that consumers have become accustomed to. Film has achieved this by using three layers of emulsion to capture full colour at every point in the image. Today, the rich, warm tones and detail of colour film that the people came to expect is suffered over the convenience and immediacy of digital.


Many photographers who swear on the film accept digital processing of the photographs. Why then record them digitally straight from the beginning? I know that some are strictly against any kind of manipulation but digital photography never means manipulation and manipulation is not a phenomenon born besides the digital cameras. I remember toners, various photo papers, shadowing and all other gimmicks to get pictures look different.

Texas Instruments patented a film-less electronic camera in 1972; In August 1981, Sony released the Sony Mavica electronic still camera. To reach the quality of a film, digital cameras have still over seventy years time to advance. And they do, Foveon X3 direct image sensor is a good example towards the features of the photographic film. It has partially the same methods of "doing" the picture as a modern colour film. Perhaps it is not the solution, but we shall see and don't worry about megapixels, just be patient. The rapid advances in digital technology, a future where digital photo quality rivals that of film is probably not too far away.  A minor concern in the case of really big images; feel free and use sheet films for another ten years.

The major procedures of film processing are developing and fixing. Developing is to convert the latent image into an image. Exact reproduction of all colours might not be possible, although some films do rather better than others. Colours are represented using yellow, magenta and cyan dyes, and the exact light absorption of each of these dyes will be reflected in the range of colours any film can produce. CCD image sensor records red, green and blue light and the rest of the colour spectrum forms in our eyes. Thus we can say that the picture develops inside the electronic circuits and then it will be fixed and stored in memory sticks.

Accurate colour is not always preferred, and so manufacturers have tended to give photographers some choice in how their pictures should look by providing alternative colour materials. Digital cameras have revolutionized the world of photography. Now anyone with a digital camera, PC and printer has the equivalent of a colour darkroom and photo lab in their own home. Many effects that in the past were made with various filters are today possible to do afterwards with picture processing software. We don't use pigeons anymore to send a letter nor a tinderbox to light a fire because better means have been invented.

An invention before the round wheel comes to my mind: Carriages were extremely inconvenient those days with their quadrangular cartwheels, bump after a bump after a bump. One zealous inventor proposed his revolutionary idea. Let's make them triangular, that means one bump less on every rotation.
©2005 Reijo Lauro