This post is a review of a small 35mm rangefinder camera made by Mamiya in about 1977.
For the £10 it paid for it I received the camera, a National PB-3 flash gun, a case for the flash, a camera handbook for the Mamiya, a ‘focal Photo Guide’ entitled “All about Flash” and a small brown leather (or simulated leather) case for the camera. Although the camera is nice the item which really attracted me to the ‘package’ on eBay was the little national flash gun!
Mamiya 135 EE rangefinder
The camera is a typical small rangefinder from the late 1970’s. It’s a very uncomplicated ‘point n shoot’ camera with only the focus to worry about. The focusing is accomplished with a split rangefinder which appears in the central portion of the viewfinder, the second display being yellow coloured. As usual with a rangefinder, when the two images align in the viewfinder the camera is focused. There are also a set of zone focus symbols on the bottom of the focus ring for people who don’t want to bother with the rangefinder. To be honest with a 38mm lens, the zone focus system probably works almost as accurately as the rangefinder on most apertures.
The exposure is controlled completely by the camera when the ring on the lens barrel is set to auto mode. In the viewfinder window, there is a meter needle which shows both the aperture and shutter speed the camera will use. Both the aperture and shutter speed are selected in unison, so for example when the shutter speed is 1/60 the aperture is set to f/2.8 and there is no option to use ‘program shift’ so it isn’t possible to get any control over depth of field. Mind you, as I said above the lens is quite wide, so in most situations nearly everything will be in focus anyway. The exposure system uses the now illegal PX-675 mercury cell, but my camera seems to work so I guess the battery I have fitted still has some life in it.
The film speed is set with a ring mounted round the lens which adjusts the size of the aperture in front of the light sensor which is also mounted in the front lens ring. The advantage of having the light cell mounted here of course is that any filters are automatically compensated for in the exposure calculation. This is the same arrangement the Yashica rangefinder cameras like the MG 1 used.
There is a hot shoe flash socket and there are dedicated flash exposure positions for a mamiya flash gun which was sold with the camera (not the one I have) so the flash was adjusted to suit the film speed.
The shutter is quite quiet in operation, and the whole camera is small and discreet – this would make a great street camera. Before I could use it I would need to change the light seals because the originals are completely disintegrated but that is a simple job to do.
The flash gun which came with this camera is a National PB-3 with a fold out reflector. This is a great little item and was really the reason I bought the camera. It’s fitted with a 15v B154 battery which I would guess is now pretty difficult to get and would take one use flash bulbs which must be even harder to get so I doubt I could ever use it but it’s certainly something to enhance my collection.
- Mamiya 135 EE 35mm rangefinder camera.
- 38mm f/2.8 mamiya sekor lens
- 1/60sec to 1/650sec shutter range
- Fully automatic exposure
- 25 – 400 ASA film speed
- Zone focus + rangefinder focus
- PX-675 mercury battery
- Mechanical self timer