1982 RZ67 Pro Introduced,
1995 RZ67 Pro II Introduced,
2004 RZ67 Pro IID Introduced (still in production)
Today I’m reviewing the Mamiya RZ67 ProII. Yes, you read that right, our first review is of a medium format film camera. Hang with me for a few, and I’ll explain why this camera system is so amazing for instant film.
First off, a little history. The RZ was introduced in 1982 as a predecessor to the popular mamiya RB67. It’s primary use was as a studio camera in the fashion world, but has proven itself a very versatile field camera. The RZ has gone through two updates since it’s release, with the last being the ProIID, which accepts not only polaroid and 120/220 film backs, but digital backs straight out of the box. With all of the accessories and lenses that are available for this camera, calling it the swiss army knife of film camera systems is an understatement.
The RZ is medium format film camera. It accepts 120 and 220 film and shoots in a 6×7 format. But, since this is an instant film blog, lets talk about pack film. With the addition of a polaroid back, Fuji pack film becomes an option for you. Current off the shelf offerings are going to be FP-3000B for black and white photography and FP-100C for color photography. There are several expired Polaroid 3.25 x 4.25″ that will also work with the camera. Keep an eye on future blog post, as we will be reviewing these films and the many things that can be done with them after the shot is taken.
Best Use and Shooting Environment
This is where the RZ shines. Unlike most of the integral Polaroid cameras, the RZ has separate shutter speed and aperture controls. It’s a medium format film camera remember. One that has some amazing glass and a leaf shutter that syncs at all speeds. Because the RZ has leaf shutter, you can hand hold at crazy low shutter speeds, and with f/2.8 glass, you can shoot this thing in very low light without flash. Just meter your scene and shoot. If shooting in low light, the FP-3000B will give you the film speed you need. If using the FP-100C and need to supplement flash, no problem. The RZ has a hot shoe on the camera and a sync port on the lens. I’ll go over some pros and cons in a bit, but it’s fair to mention here, that the RZ doesn’t use the entire frame of your pack film. It shoots a square image in the middle of the frame. What you see through the finder is what you’ll get. Thats not a bad thing, just think about your composition before shooting.
Form and Function
Time to eat your Wheaties! One thing the RZ is not, is light. Weighing in at close to 6 lbs, it’s heavy. Start adding on things like metered prisms and you’ll be cussing at the end of the day. Unlike the classic Polaroid cameras that use integral film (battery in the film pack), the RZ has an electric shutter that requires a 6V battery in the body of the camera. Dont worry though, the RZ wont leave you stranded if the battery dies. It has a safe mode that will fire the shutter at 1/400th of a sec even if you have a dead battery. Some other features the RZ has is a waist level finder and a bright focusing screen with a magnifier that pops out if needed for fine focusing. Shutter speed is controlled on the body and aperture on the lens. There is a cocking lever on the body that sets the shutter and if using 120/200 film, advances the film in one motion. Shutter release is on the body and available on the optional L-Grip (highly recommended neck saver). The RZ has bellows focussing. Knobs on the sides of the body move the focal plane of the lens away from the body, giving you precise control and crazy close focusing ability. The body has a multiple exposure setting and if shooting 120/220 a rotating back that allows you to shoot portrait or landscape without tilting the body. Another great feature of having a camera system that takes multiple backs is the ability to change backs before a pack or roll of film is done. Just pop in your darkslide, change backs and rock out another film stock. Film loading and unloading is a simple. Open the back, insert the pack and shoot. When you take a shot, pull the numbered white tab to expose another tab. Pull the film firmly through the rollers and thats it. Wait the allotted time on the film and enjoy your instant memory.
- Full manual controls
- Removable backs
- Shoots Instant film and 120/220 film
- Tons of Accessories and lens choices
- Syncs flash at all shutter speeds
- Multiple exposures are a breeze with the RZ
- Bellows Focusing
- Leaf Shutter
- Cost is cheap compared to other medium format cameras (complete systems can be had for $700 to $800 USD)
- 1/400th max shutter speed
- Does not use full frame of instant film
- Waist level finder takes some getting used to
- Cost compared to other instant cameras (if you are used to seeing thrift store Polaroid cameras for $5.00, prepare for sticker shock)
This camera is the reason I shoot instant film. I love the control I get with the manual settings and the versatility of shooting 120/220 film with it. Like I said earlier, it’s heavy, but so worth the weight to get all the features it has. It’s built like a tank. Mine is 17 years old and functions like new. Tell me the same of your 5 year old $3000.00 digital camera. It can be had cheap, and since it’s still in production, prices are stable. Give one a try and I’m sure you’ll get hooked on controlled instant photography too. The next picture is of the man who told me to buy the RZ. Thanks for the push Jon.