Camera Review: Mamiya RZ67 Pro II

Production Years:

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.

Film Used

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.

Dip2

 

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.

Pros

  • 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)

Cons

  •  1/400th max shutter speed
  • Heavy
  • 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)

 

Wrap Up

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.

 

Comments

  1. So with those first four (two black and white, two color –the couple and the cans), you’ve scanned in the entire photo and removed the outer black “bars” and edges to make square presentations? That’s what got me confused. Also, does the RZ II have Av mode? or is it strictly all-manual or all auto-exposure? Thanks!

    • Hey Jairy. Chris here. Yes, the scans were cropped to just the image. I do that a lot with the RZ instant scans. I like the square look. For the most part the RZ is a manual camera. There is a metered prism for it and with that you can put it in a “AV Mode”. I have not tried it to see how accurate it is as I mainly use the waist level finder and my light meter. I do want to try it at some point though.

  2. Great writeup Chris! i’m borrowing a Polaroid 600 SE at the moment, but for something that big i kind of want more versatility, plus i love the square format, so i’ve been chewing over the RZ. in your mind is there a compelling reason to go for the Pro II? does the polaroid back fit the regular RZ or only the Pro II?

  3. Yuri. The Pro II adds half stop shutter speeds. Not a deal breaker in my opinion. I have full stops so ingrained in my head, I seem to only think that way. And yes, the back will fit any of the RZ’s

  4. Lisa Anderson says:

    yeah Jon the reason I’m interested in one as well! I have camera lust! ;o)

  5. Charles Edwards says:

    I primarily shoot in studio, on a tripod, and use the fp-100c pack to test my composition and exposure; this stuff is great for that!

    Yes, the Mamiya RZ67 Proii is a great and heavy camera. I’m a big guy and I take the RZ with me out street shooting as well as on back packing trips. I just attach an L-grip, BlackRapid strap, ThinkTankPhoto pro speed belt with a couple lens pouches, strobe stuff and speed changer 2.0. I can carry it around all day without being exhausted.

    I scan my 2.25 transparencies in at about 50 MP and it is pure joy to look at them on a light table as well.

  6. Felipe Cornejo says:

    Thanks for the review, I was thinking in to buy a RZ67 pro II, but now I’m secure. It’ll be my first medium format camera, I can’t wait more, the only thing I want is to shoot!!!!

  7. What flash were you using with the RZ? I’m looking into getting one but not sure which to get.

  8. I recently got a RZ67 myself, but only just now tested it with flash.
    Has anyone else had trouble with the PC sync on the lens or the hot shoe on the body?

  9. I was wondering what scanners you guys use/enjoy to upload your instant and film images?

  10. Hello Chris as I am fairly new to pack film, I was wondering are the above images scans of the actual Polaroid itself or are the images of the scanned “negative” after bleaching process. Secondly what is the advantage/disadvantage of scannig the actual Polaroid vs. negative is their a big jump in resolution? Thank you in advance die your response 🙂

    Mike

    • Hey Mike. The first two B&W images are scans of the negative. The B&W negatives do not need to be bleached, just washed. All the other images are scans of prints. Usually with B&W I prefer to scan the negative as I feel there is more detail in the negative that comes out in the scan. With the color film, it all depends on how you expose. If the print is perfect, the neg will usually have blown highlights. If the print is underexposed a little, the negative is usually perfect after bleaching.
      We have tutorials on both scanning B&W and bleaching color negatives in the How To section of the blog.

  11. Hello – I am doing a open uni photography degree and wanted to experiment / explore film and medium format but scanning the negatives and manipulating digitally. I had been considering the mamiya 645, mainly due to second hand cost but someone gleefully expressed the merits of the Mamiya rz67 pro2 , but mentioned the file sizes could get big. camera weight i think I’ll be OK with if I cant fit this to my black rapid sports strap. Anyway do you think the rZ67 pro2 is a good way to go, Im happy growing into a learning something beyond my current skill set, or is the 645 a safer bet. Any advice would be great. Oh, I’m a 50 year old and have just got into photography for the last 5 or 6 years and love it

    • The RZ is an amazing system and the size of the negatives is huge. That said, the portability of a 645 system is great if you are wanting to use it in the field. The negatives are smaller, but still large in comparison to 35mm. Landscapes and studio work the RZ will work beautifully. Families, weddings, and portraits of a similar nature would be faster to shoot on a 645 system. another thing to note is you get 10 frames per 120 roll on the RZ and you will get 16 on the 645 system.

      • Thanks for your feedback. I think I have made my mind up to go for the RZ system in case I buy a 645 then wish I stretched myself and went with the bigger negative / bigger camera
        What is about the RZ that makes it slower for families and weddings etc, is this because your are changing film rolls more often? I assume if this was key you have multiple backs pre loaded to help speed things up slightly?

        For landscape work I expect this slowing down to be of an advantage however film and processing will be more expensive if its less frames to a roll 🙂

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