Mamiya Ruby with Kodak 400

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The Mamiya Ruby is a nice looking rangefinder but it does not have a particularly well specified lens .  It is a 48mm f2.8 Mamiya-Sekor comprised of 3 elements which is pretty much the minimum to offer any kind of correction but despite that it performs better than what the numbers suggest.  The focus is incredibly smooth without a hint of play with a nice bright circular focus patch. The full range of focus is achieved through just under 180 degrees of turn at the front of the lens.  All these characteristics together make a great focusing camera.  The film advance is also a nice smooth motion with little resistance, just an agreeable continuous ratcheting sound that ends with a click.  While it does have an uncoupled selenium light meter on the top plate I find its use unnecessary because the camera is  completely manual and mechanical, you just select the shutter speed and aperture you want.  I tend to take general measurements with a digital camera and use them as the basis for setting any manual film camera.  Why not you really cant beat what is effectively a light meter with thousands of sampled points presented in a histogram.  You should however take into account the difference between film and digital. With film it isn’t so necessary to protect highlights as it can be with digital. so a little over exposure is okay in fact underexposed colour negative film results in a ‘thin’ negative lacking in detail.  Thin in this case refers to that characteristic of a negative looking transparent without an easy to see or use capture not its physical thickness.  Back to the camera, Its fortunate that the front element of the lens is set quite deep because being from 1959 whatever lens coating it may have does little to help when unwanted light reaches the lens.  If light from the side does hit the lens it flares like a rainbow or negatively effects the contrast or both.  There is another updated version of this camera that has an f1.9 lens with 6 elements which I haven’t had a chance to try but does sound like a better match for the quality of the Ruby.

The film I used was an out of date roll of Kodak BW400CN which has been discontinued as of  August 2014.  The nice thing about this film was that you developed it in C41 colour chemistry. A person could always convert their colour scans to B&W after the fact if they felt they must but just couldn’t be bothered to actually shoot black and white film.

 


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