Introduction

Considered a “professional’s” camera, the Mamiya RB67 is a bellow-focusing, leaf shuttered, single lens-reflex, all mechanical, fire-breathing, mostly meterless design that exposes film in removable backs  in three different medium formats–6×4.5, 6×7, 6×8. It also exposes pack instant film (Fuji FP-100c, FP-100b, FP-3000b). The camera system was first introduced in 1970 and with some minor improvements is still being sold today. It truly constitutes a system, with many different lenses, finders, focusing screens, film backs, grips, motor drives, etc.

While they sold new for thousands of dollars, a complete and well-maintained RB67 Pro-SD can be had for less than $400. Some may argue that the dated system cannot compare with modern DSLR, but its merits have remained exactly the same for its entire life. Rather than focus on the merits, I’m just going to assume you are already interested in medium format film and I am going to focus on the details of the system, the different generations and what lenses and accessories are available.

What constitutes a complete camera?

General notes

The operation of the camera is bit more involved than 35mm mechanical SLRs and it can take some practice getting comfortable. I’ve collected some tips on using the camera. Some noteworthy differences

  • Bellow focusing: Rather than the internal, helical focusing on 35mm cameras, the RB67 moves the whole lens to adjust focus. Pro: you can focus most lenses pretty close. Con: you have to keep track of bellows factor adjustments by hand (using the mechanical calculator on the side of the camera.)
  • Lens leaf shutters: Rather than a focal plane shutter, the shutters are actually in the lens itself. One advantage is that the camera can flash sync at all shutter speeds.
  • Shutter cocking and film advance: After taking a picture you have to recock the shutter and mirror and advance the film.
  • Waist level finder: If using this finder, which is the most common, everything is reversed left to right in the finder. If you move the camera to the left, the apparent motion in the finder is to the right. One trick is to lift your gaze out towards your subject, adjust the camera position, then look down into the view finder.
  • I have written a page describing instant film (FujiFilm, now that Polaroid is no longer making pack film) and the RB67.

Troubleshooting

Having light leak problems? There are numerous foam pieces and bits that help seal parts of the camera. These foam seals wear down with age. For instance, every single Pro and Pro-S back I’ve bought needed to be stripped and re-sealed because the foam lost all of its resiliency and, in some cases, was completely worn away. I have had excellent service (and reasonably quick shipping) from here; pre-cut replacement foam

Another option for replacement foam is John Goodman.

For those looking for light seals for their RB67, Jon Goodman right here in the good old US of A has kits for the film backs, rotating backs and mirror damper. His prices are better than I have seen on Ebay or from Ashi in Japan. I had seen remarks on some other forums speculating that Jon had stopped selling his kits; apparently he has only stopped listing them in Ebay. Following is the email I received from him today regarding his seal kits (7/4/2013):

Hi Lee,
Thanks for the reply. I don’t have a sales website, but I participate in free forums as far away as Russia and Romania. You can see some of the instructions I’ve written here: http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/sealreplacement.html Follow the list toward the bottom and you’ll see the RB67. Somehow it didn’t get put in with the other Mamiya instructions.

The kits are broken into 3 component parts (as that is how most people seem to purchase them):
film back kit–$10 plus postage
Mirror damper kit –$6 plus postage
Rotating back kit–$6 plus postage
Postage for any one kit is $1 in the USA and for all 3 it is $2.07.
If you’re in another country, postage charges will increase but only by a few cents…$1.10 and $2.20 respectively.

I have updated the instructions over the last 3 or 4 years. I’ll attach the most recent sets to this message. Replacing the seals is not difficult. Mainly it is time-consuming and it is best done when you won’t be interrupted…early in the morning, late at night, etc.

Hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions at all.
Best regards,
Jon Goodman
9153 Loma Vista
Dallas, TX 75243
jon_goodman@yahoo.com

24 Comments

  • January 29, 2012 - 12:34 am | Permalink

    what are some major things I should check before buying an rb 067. looking at one tomorrow complete for $300 USD.

    also: where is the section on the website for the pre-cut replacement foam?

    thanks!

    • jodys
      January 30, 2012 - 4:52 pm | Permalink

      That is a good question! I realize I might be to late but… I would make sure that it appears to work. You can check the function of the shutter and mirror by removing the back and trying to fire the shutter. You should hear a click from the lens and a much larger “whoosh” from the mirror. Without film, the film back advance should operate freely–that is you should be able to move the lever all the way forward and have it return completely. There are foam rubber seals on the rotating back adapter and in the film back that may be worn, but these are relatively easy to replace. You should check to see that each of the lens’ appear to fire, as well as having the lens aperture turn freely. If you can, bring a bright flashlight and shine it through the lens so you can see inside–don’t be scared of bits of dust, but do be scared of “misty” deposits like fungus or huge scratches. Good luck!

      Pre cut foam is available from http://aki-asahi.com/store/

  • iMiM
    February 15, 2013 - 7:17 am | Permalink

    Hey there,

    I`m having a problem with my Pro S these days…whenever I try to take a picture with my filmback on (slide is taken out) it won`t react. However, when I remove the back, it works all fine…anyone has an idea what might cause the problem? Right now I don’t have access to another back, so I can’t really tell which part of the camera is not working…experiences anyone? Thanks!

    • jodys
      May 7, 2013 - 10:20 am | Permalink

      Assuming that you have a Pro-S back attached, there are three different interlocks. When the shutter is pressed, there are linkages that check

      a) that the dark slide is removed
      b) that either the film is advanced or the multi-exposure lever is pulled (red dot showing)
      c) that the back is rotated fully horizontal or fully vertical.

      Every so often I have an issue with my Pro-SD like yours that is resolved by rotating the back out of its detent and then back again.

      • Ngoyo
        September 20, 2013 - 11:54 pm | Permalink

        You better check the foam in your revolving adapter. I used to have the same problem with my Pro-S: sometimes the camera would not fire, rotating it back and forth once or twice solved it. This developed into massive lightleaks. Apparently the foam inside de revolving adapter gave out, this interfered with the interlocks. After replacing the revolving adapter with a new one, the problem was solved, no lightleaks, no blocks.

        • Peter
          July 17, 2014 - 3:03 pm | Permalink

          I’ve had similar problems with my backs on the odd occasion. I usually just flick the double exposure switch forward for that one shot then whack it back afterwards. It can be a little irritating as you’re just going for that killer shot and … nothing. Scratch head for a few seconds then realise it’s not because the dark slide’s been left in this time! Of course if you have a pro back (not pro-s or pro-sd) the switch isn’t there. I do love the camera though.

  • Steve in NSW OZ
    February 20, 2013 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    Hey from Down Under!
    I’m having same problem!

    If I find someone to help I will let you know!

    Our local “Camera House” has just now gone into liquidation (because I buy all my gear “On Line”
    of course!) so I may not be able to get local help.

    Some of my “pins” don’t seem very straight.
    I have never actually used this camera.

    Bought the body and backs from “Roberts Camera Store” on EBay.
    Bought a beautiful 180 lens seperately on EBay.

    It all worked when I put it together but now that I’m trying to put some film through it I find same prob.

  • Peter M Schulz
    May 7, 2013 - 5:04 am | Permalink

    Please make sure the switch on the magazine is not on the red dot
    Or your film counter is faulty

  • Gillian
    June 1, 2013 - 6:14 am | Permalink

    Great website! I just bought a RB67 Pro S from Japan this year! There’s so much that I want to learn about this camera because I know it has so much potential and your website is just so helpful with answering all the questions I have, so thank you! :)

  • Lee Houde
    July 4, 2013 - 3:56 pm | Permalink

    For those looking for light seals for their RB67, Jon Goodman right here in the good old US of A has kits for the film backs, rotating backs and mirror damper. His prices are better than I have seen on Ebay or from Ashi in Japan. I had seen remarks on some other forums speculating that Jon had stopped selling his kits; apparently he has only stopped listing them in Ebay. Following is the email I received from him today regarding his seal kits (7/4/2013):

    Hi Lee,
    Thanks for the reply. I don’t have a sales website, but I participate in free forums as far away as Russia and Romania. You can see some of the instructions I’ve written here: http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/sealreplacement.html Follow the list toward the bottom and you’ll see the RB67. Somehow it didn’t get put in with the other Mamiya instructions.

    The kits are broken into 3 component parts (as that is how most people seem to purchase them):
    film back kit–$10 plus postage
    Mirror damper kit –$6 plus postage
    Rotating back kit–$6 plus postage
    Postage for any one kit is $1 in the USA and for all 3 it is $2.07.
    If you’re in another country, postage charges will increase but only by a few cents…$1.10 and $2.20 respectively.

    I have updated the instructions over the last 3 or 4 years. I’ll attach the most recent sets to this message. Replacing the seals is not difficult. Mainly it is time-consuming and it is best done when you won’t be interrupted…early in the morning, late at night, etc.

    Hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions at all.
    Best regards,
    Jon Goodman
    9153 Loma Vista
    Dallas, TX 75243
    jon_goodman@yahoo.com

    • Peter
      July 17, 2014 - 3:04 pm | Permalink

      I second Jon Goodman. His kits are very good, I’ve done 2×220 backs and my Pro-s body with his gear. Cheap too, highly recommended.

  • Panoramic PEI
    July 20, 2013 - 7:35 am | Permalink

    Excellent Website!
    Great useful info for all Mamiya RB owners.

  • Mike Jones
    August 3, 2013 - 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been using a used Mamiya Pro S Rb67 camera for the past year, and I’m delighted with it. I only have two minor irritations:-

    1) I cannot find a lab in the USA or Canada which will develop 120 print film, and which can provide reasonably priced enlargements from the 6X7 negatives. Are there any labs which specialize in medium format film, and which don’t charge crazy prices! I could of course do it all in a dark room at home, but I stupidly got rid of all of the gear ages ago.

    2) I haven’t yet been able to find either a used or new film slide projector for 6X7 slides. Any thoughts? (No luck with e-Bay or KEH yet)

    Mike

    Tel: 248 495 2908

  • Jeff steeves
    March 26, 2014 - 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Mike Jones if you are still looking for a lab to develop try ABC photo in Vancouver canada. I looked and found the largest slide projector available will only do 6 by 6 slides.

  • June 11, 2014 - 11:49 am | Permalink

    Hi,

    somehow couldn’t find a place to ask so I hope this (place) is right. First of all: excellent site I just stumbled upon. I just bought a RB 67 Pro S (sans lens) for a fair price and am currently awaiting the body. I wonder about lens compatibility: would it be possible to use for example the excellent 2.8/110 on a Pro SD body? I understood that the lenses for the RZ are electronically controlled by the camera body BUT that they still have shutter controls on the lens – like the older lenses for the RB bodies.

    Next thing I wonder is equivalent to 35 mm: I could not find a reference to both 90mm or 127mm in terms of comparison, so do you know what they would be equal to?

    Thanks a bunch!

    Rolf

    PS: I am using FINDLab, USA for all my C41 based processing and scanning I found them excellent in service, quality (every image is color corrected by a fellow photographer!) and price even when sending film from Germany!

    • jodys
      June 12, 2014 - 6:13 am | Permalink

      Well, I’ve never owned a RZ lens to try, but I think that the consensus is that it won’t work. You’ve pointed out the essential difference. Looking at a picture of the RZ f2.8/110mm I don’t see any shutter controls. Perhaps certain older RZ lens had those controls?

      I will say that you will likely find the RB lens equally excellent. The difference in speed between f/3.5 and f/2.8 is pretty small. The latest 127mm RB lens would be awfully close in angle of view. With a KL version, I suspect you’d have very similar quality in the coatings. They seem to be somewhat different formulas, but I’ve never seen a real detailed comparison between the 110mm RZ and 127mm RB, so I can’t say for sure. Don’t forget that you can use faster film, since you will have so much less grain. Furthermore, I’ve found the RB to be surprisingly stable and well dampened. I regularly handhold at 1/15s shutter speeds.

      A 90mm would be a pretty close match to a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera. 180mm would be something like a 90mm lens.

    • roby2987
      August 26, 2014 - 11:27 pm | Permalink

      Hi!

      You cannot use any RZ lens on a RB body.
      AFAIK, they would mount on camera body, but you won’t have any control on shutter speed, because RZ lenses do NOT have the shutter speed ring (speed is controller from the camera body).

      The opposite (using RB lenses on RZ body) is possibile.

  • glenn
    July 22, 2014 - 12:53 pm | Permalink

    hi
    i have an rb67 pro s and am looking for a polaroid back. however, i want one that will give me a centered image, not one with just one black border on one side. when i inquiry to sellers, they are not sure. i purchased a Lane back and sent it back because of the one border. can you steer me right please?
    thank-you
    glenn

  • christian
    August 15, 2014 - 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much for putting your site together. It has helped me greatly in deciding on what camera to buy and also on how to use the damn thing!
    Again well done and thank you!

  • Norman Lee
    October 1, 2014 - 5:44 am | Permalink

    Just started using an rb67 pro s w/90mm.
    Wondering whether or not buying a pro sd back would eliminate issues with bad seals that seem to happen with the pro s.

    • jodys
      October 3, 2014 - 11:21 am | Permalink

      Yes, the ProSD doesn’t use foam seals.

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