Retromodo. The RZ67. Sweet Versatility

Mamiya RZ systemMamiya’s RZ67 was the meccano set of medium format cameras, with a system of film backs, lenses, finders and accessories that made it a popular choice with commercial photographers, especially studio photographers who valued the flexibility of the RZ67 system and the robust build quality of the equipment.

Three versions of the RZ67 were released. The original model, the RZ67 Pro I, had an electronic shutter with a range of eight seconds to 1/400 second. It was released in 1982. The Pro II and Pro IID followed.

It accepted 6x7cm and 6x4.5cm, 120 and 220 film magazines as well as Polaroid and Quadra 4x5 sheet film backs. A range of 20 lenses, including a 500mm telephoto (equivalent to a 238mm lens in 35mm format) and a 180mm variable soft focus lens made the RZ67 a versatile base upon which to build a camera and lens system to tackle a wide variety of photographic work.

The “R” in the camera’s name related to the film back’s ability to be rotated to enable a vertical or horizontal alignment of the film to suit the subject at hand. It’s been difficult to track down original pricing for RZ cameras. Any reader with a memory of their first RZ purchase is welcome to share their knowledge of pricing from the 1980s.

And what would you pay now? I found an RZ67 Pro II with a 120 back and AE prism for $750 and in the same listing a Mamiya Sekor 500 DTL+ 50MM f2 lens for $150. That’s an RZ67 system, ready to shoot with a wide angle lens, for less than $1000.

If you’re tempted to buy an RZ, here’s the tip. Be sure to check the condition of the bellows that are used for focussing. If they’re worn or flaky, pass on the purchase. Gizmodians answered the call for locations of secondhand dealers of medium format gear and we thank Michael Gethen for pointing us to European Camera Specialists in Drummoyne, NSW, which Michael says often has some rare and unusual kits.

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