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Mamiyaflex II
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Mamiyaflex II • 1952

Below are some sample images from the camera:

The Mamiyaflex represented an odd detour for the Japanese camera industry. Before and after WWII, Mamiya mostly followed the industry trend of producing some very nice copies of German medium-format cameras. In 1951, however, Mamiya produced a close copy of an American tlr, the Kodak Reflex. It seems likely the presence of great numbers of U.S. military personel in the country had an important bearing on the source of Mamiya's design decision, and it must also have raised some eyebrows at Kodak. Mamiya also followed Kodak's lead by introducing an upgraded second model in 1952, the Mamiyaflex II, which incorporated auto-shutter cocking and and an auto-film advance counter.

Photographers today looking to shoot a medium-format tlr will particularly appreciate the Mamiya's capacity to accept standard 120 film, as opposed to the now-obsolete 620 Kodak. While shutter operation and focusing smoothness compare very favorably with Kodak's tlr, the optics of the Mamiya come up a bit short.

It is not surprising that the Mamiya Sekor lens could not achieve the sharpness of the four-element Kodak Anastar, which was one of the great lenses of the era. It is a little hard to fathom, though, why Mamiya did not choose to brighten the screen image of its reflex with the addition of a Fresnel intensifier as was the case in the Kodak Reflex II. It may just be that Mamiya saw that the design strategy emodied in the Reflex II tradition was a dead-end, and that the path to success was much more likely to point in the direction of new ideas which would be incorporated in their innovative press cameras and the extraordinary C-line of twin-lens cameras.


The Mamiyaflex II Manual is at the Butkus site.

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