Mamiya 6 Adventures in Rome.

Cruising along the streets with my Mamiya 6 in my right hand just snapping away. As I walked up the Spanish Steps this young woman stood up just in front of me and billowed out her scarf. Being usually prefocused around ten feet I lifted the camera to my eye, framed and pressed the shutter. I kept walking up the stairs. I wound on to the next frame. She sat back down.

The Mamiya 6 rangefinder camera is a medium format rangefinder (a true rangefinder, not just a body that's gussied up to look like one...) and it was available with the holy trinity of medium format square lenses: the 50mm f4, the 75mm f3.6 and the 150mm f4.5.  It is one of the ultimate street shooting/documentarian/reportage cameras ever made.  The rangefinder was nice and bright, the camera was like love in your hands and the ultra quiet snick of the in lens leaf shutter was....ultimately discreet.

I took two Mamiya 6 cameras and the three lenses with me on a trip to Rome, along with several hundred rolls of Kodak T-max CN-400 film. The camera was far better a camera than I was a photographer at the time.  So much so that it contrived to change owners during the bloody purge to digital and its sale stands to this day as one of my all time stupid decisions. I didn't know just how good that camera was until I looked into the rearview mirror of time and dug into the folder of juicy, sharp negatives.  The CN-400 was never my favorite film to print but once you throw it in a scanner it's a revelation.  I only wish I had already been scanning my film back then....

There are really only four cameras I regret selling, the Mamiya 6 is one, my original Leica M6 .85 ttl is another, my Linhof TechniKarden (because it signalled the end of big format film for me) and my Hasselblad 201F (because it worked with the 110 f2 Planar lens).  All the other cameras come and go but those were different. Like a girlfriend you broke over with over something silly and have come to realize just what you lost...and it haunts you from time to time.

If you have a Mamiya 6 don't sell it.  You will regret it. If you had handled some of the premier film cameras of their day you might understand the constant search by digital camera buyers today.  You don't miss what you've never had but you sure miss your water when you well runs dry...

Holding tightly to my Hasselblads and shooting till the film runs out..

Just pausing to reflect for a moment.

Someone once told me to be sure and celebrate my victories, triumphs and even little accomplishments. I pop open a bottle of Champagne each time a carton of new books arrives. I get a chocolate croissant the morning after I wrap a nice job. I buy a new pair of goggles every time I hit a big goal in my swimming. I have to think of a new way to celebrate today. The Visual Science Lab blog just hit the 8,000,000th pageview today. How fun. Seems like we're honing in on the million a month club. Not bad for the mad ramblings of a neurotic photographer in a small town.  I think I'll celebrate by inviting over one of my favorite subjects and shooting a few rolls of 120mm Tri-X. Yes. That sounds about right. Thanks for keeping me company.