So I get a call from my buddy, a photographer in the Dublin area near Pleasanton, CA. He left a message on my voice mail. He needs my help.
Okay a friend that needs my help is something I can rally around, so I return his call.
“Nick, I’m at a swap meet thing and there’s a Mamiya RB 67 for sale. What do you know about them?”
So we run down the list of what I know about them while he’s trying to decide to let loose of a couple of bills or not.
I have two RB67’s. By no means are they a “spry” piece of work. They are a working camera. A commercial camera. And tipping the scale at “Oh crap, that’s kinda heavy”, they are a man’s camera.
A friend told me of a wedding photographers workshop he attended. The speaker asked “How many of you shoot weddings with an RB67?”. A few raised their hands and the speaker said “Did you notice they grunted when they raised their hands?”.
You get the idea.
Well I go back in time when I used to do more retail types of photography. Seniors, family portraits, etc.. I remember how much I used those cameras. The rhythm you got into when you were shooting.
Cock the shutter,
thumb on film back safety,
It was a big photographic machine. Designed to get rebuilt, not tossed aside. It was the Semi truck of cameras. It got rebuilt, tuned up and put back into service. The mirror moved so much air when you tripped the shutter, it could keep a ping-pong ball suspended for minutes. Some people said their old worn out Mamiyas never quit being useful. They would just get reassigned duty as small boat anchors.
Aahh. Those were the days.
Film was actually an asset. You would buy it on sale and freeze it. Over time you would cull out the emulsion batches you liked. And before you knew it, Kodak would be announcing a price increase on film. Cha-ching. Your freezer full of film just appreciated.
I remember debating when I did a gig which film would be best. Which chrome film do I reach for? (Ahem, that’s what we call slide film. It wasn’t a cunning reference to a web browser). Do I go for a medium contrast reversal film or its higher contrast cousin? It’s gotten too sterile now. You grab your camera with the one sensor and tweak ISO’s and characteristics in Photoshop.
Processing my own B&W was therapeutic. A cerebral game of patience and craftsmanship. Chemicals gently agitated so as not to create any bubbles that may ruin the emulsion. Checking your negative density the old-fashioned way by holding it over a newspaper headline. If you could read the headlines print through the negative, you were golden.
What a trip down memory lane.
My buddy bought the camera with two lenses, two film backs and two Polaroid backs.
I promptly posted a YouTube video to help show him around his camera. I held one of my black beauties as a demonstrator.
It had been so long since I had held it. I almost didn’t remember the dance I had choreographed. My hands fumbled a little and my memory ran a little on the *be patient while loading* side.
I need to take my film out of the freezer. I need to shoot film again.
Wow. Those were the days.