Mamiya Press Super 23

Mamiya Press Super 23

Mamiya Press Super 23

Mamiya Press Super 23

Mamiya Press Super 23


Mamiya-Sekor 100mm f/3.5

Mamiya-Sekor 100mm f/3.5

If you’re looking for an attention getting camera, look no further. This is surely my weirdest looking camera. It’s a rangefinder but it isn’t very compact. It’s rectangular shaped but the long edge goes vertically rather than horizontally. The film back looks like an ancient scroll and the grip sticks out way too far. Film advance is done with a standard right thumb lever on most backs but shutter release is left handed. Definitely an attention grabber!

The Mamiya Press is a unique camera by any definition. The first model was released in 1960 and as the name would indicate, was geared toward news and press photography. The much larger 4″x5″ Graflex Speed Graphic was the workhorse of the press corps in the 1930s and 1940s, so the Mamiya Press could probably be regarded as a next generation press camera. It is certainly a strange looking camera. It doesn’t look like a field camera or a folder with the trademark bellows right behind the lens. But it also doesn’t look anything like an SLR.  It takes medium format film, both in sheets (which are no longer sold in that size) and roll (120 and 220).

Even though this camera is a rangefinder its designed to be fully modular. It can take a variety of film backs, has a removable grip and interchangeable lenses. It even has a tilt and swing function in the back for use with ground glass focusing screens. The viewfinder can display framing lines for three different lenses and the shutter release works by way of a traditional cable that runs from the grip directly to the lens. The film back for roll film looks very strange since it sticks out beyond the body at least an inch on either side. The system chart you see below is from the instruction manual.

System Chart

My copy came with the standard 100mm f/3.5 lens and the 6×7 back. There are several other lenses in the system, ranging from a 50mm to a 250mm. I’ve also found a fairly beat up copy of the 6×9 back. I received this camera as a gift from a friend and co-worker whose father used it extensively, many many years ago. Imagine my surprise when I opened up the back and found a roll of film! It was exposed so I sent it in, but either there was a light leak or someone opened it because there was nothing on the film.

Look here for some samples of photos taken with this camera.

7 Responses to Mamiya Press Super 23

  1. Mistake. The longest lens is of course not gigantic 500mm but more realistic 250mm, which is, in order to reach 6x9cm coverage, quite big and heavy and in the second hand market quite expensive. There were 2 versions of it: first a f: 8 and later a f:5.6. It was coupled with the rangefinder as are all the other Mamiya Secor lenses for this camera. This feature should be underlined since the similar US made Graflex XL offered a 270mm lens but not coupled to the rangefinder and only intended for focusing on the focusing screen. To cover 6x9cm with a rangefinder camera, usually the longest lens is 150mm or 180mm, like the Mamiya 7 and the former Linhof Press 70. Best regards. Edmund.

  2. revdocjim says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I’m not sure where I got the 500mm info but I see in the manual that 250mm is the max. Correction made.

  3. Bruce Sdunek says:

    Note that the 250mm f8.0 lens does not couple to the rangefinder, the f5.6 version does.
    2 1/4 X 3 1/4 film is still available. See Freestyle.
    I have a Super 23 in chrome, with 50mm, 100mm & 250mm lenses, several roll backs, one that does 6X7 cm, 6X6 cm square and 4.5 X 6 cm with masks. Viewfinder masks are also provided to match the back mask. Also a ground glass back and 12 film holders.
    Just a real vesitile camera, and with the weight, it also is good for muscle building.

    • revdocjim says:

      Thanks for the helpful info. I just never used mine enough to really get comfortable with it. Alas, now it’s been sold, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to own and use it a bit.

  4. Pingback: HP5 on the Mamiya Press Super 23 | Chemical Cameras

  5. Pingback: Tri-X on Mamiya Press Super 23 | Chemical Cameras

  6. Vuthy Chrun says:

    Correction the 250mm comes in f8.0 and f5.0, not f5.6

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