“That guy must really like his camera, he hasn’t stopped looking at it for the past 10 minutes?”
At least that’s how I imagine the average ‘Joe’ might regard someone shooting Street Photography with a TLR camera, such as the Mamiya C33.
In all honesty I’ve never felt more comfortable photographing strangers and candid situations, than when using the Mamiya C33 TLR Medium Format camera.
Admittedly the ‘outfit’, with it’s 135mm Sekor lens (90mm in 35mm terms) does weigh as much as a Carling 8-Pack (whatever one of those is). Fortunately this minor (?) handicap is utterly negated by the unorthodox (by modern standards) shooting style.
Stood at the pavement’s edge, or in the middle of a shopping thoroughfare and often for 20 minutes at a time, I probably do give the impression of someone with a less than healthy love for his ‘equipment’.
On the other hand, I would be surprised if such behaviour was considered unusual nowadays, what with the propensity for many to spend considerable time studying their smartphones, rather than their surroundings (or current direction of travel)?
Hence the ‘TLR advantage’ and the reason for my preferring such a hefty and ancient piece of 1960’s photographic equipment, over a modern (and admittedly more competent) digital camera.
With the Mamiya, I can be (to other people) whatever I want to be. Over-indulgent retro geek? No problem. Fixing a stubborn and bewildering problem with my camera? Easy as pie. Leant against a phone box taking a nap? Ok, maybe not. 🙂
Most crucially however is that at no point do I give the slightest hint that I’ve taken someone’s photograph.
With my gaze (and face) transfixed downward on the gorgeous 6x6cm viewfinder, there is never the requirement to look in the direction of the subject, or to lift the camera to my eye, or raise it to shoulder height.
With a slow and steady twist of the focus wheel from my left hand and a barely perceptible twitch on the shutter with the right thumb, the shot is taken and the subject is none-the-wiser.
With practice, picture taking can even become quick. Once the camera is set for the average light conditions (on this occasion, two settings, sunny and shade), focussing can be clearly observed on the sizeable ground glass viewfinder. Click !!!
Now, with the shot in the bag, it’s a simple matter to continue ‘appreciating’ your impressive (and somewhat unusual) piece of photographic nostalgia.
“Can you still get film for that?”
The Mamiya C33, or any TLR for that matter, is still as relevant today (if not more so) as it was fifty years ago. Film continues to defy the naysayers, becoming more popular and clearly less of the fad it’s resurgence was claimed to be some ten years ago.
I’m also not ashamed to admit that I’ve indeed found myself admiring ‘my kit’, for up to 10 minutes on occasion.
If you are looking to buy a Mamiya TLR camera, eBay UK always has a fine selection of used cameras here.