Welcome to Road Test, our new online series where we take some of the world's most wonderful (and wacky) cameras for a test spin. We'll evaluate their usability, durability, and distinctive features – gauging how great (or shit) the camera is, with photos to boot. Taking the driver's seat is our main man, Morgan Rudolph.

Morgan is the perfect candidate to guide us through the realm of photography gear; he wields his pen with expertise and knows his way around a camera. Essentially, he's a better-dressed version of Ken Rockwell. To kick things off, Morgs took his Mamiya 7 for a spin, diving deep into its intricacies...


Photos and words: Morgan Rudolph

Medium format hits different—big cameras, big negatives and big resolution! Many photographers, including myself, are drawn to medium format for the purpose of producing large-scale works for print or publication. For better or worse, recent years have seen medium format cameras skyrocket in popularity and price, many achieving cult-like status.

At the vanguard is the Mamiya 7, a 6x7 rangefinder camera hailing from Tokyo, Japan. Mamiya, now a subsidiary of Phase One, debuted its swansong model in 1995 before discontinuing a whole 19 years later in 2014. Minor revisions were packaged in the Mamiya 7II from 1999 onwards, including a brighter viewfinder, third neck strap lug and multi-exposure capabilities. Available in either black or champagne gold with 6 interchangeable lenses for approximately $2,800 AUD (camera body only) when new, roughly $5,200 AUD adjusted for inflation today.


Focal Length

43mm 50mm* 65mm 80mm 150mm* 210mm

35mm Equivalent Focal Length

21mm 24mm 32mm 39mm 71mm 105mm

Maximum Aperture

f/4.5 f/4.5 f/4 f/4 f/4.5 f/8

Minimum Focus Distance

1m 1m 1m 1m 1.8m 7m


390g 456g 380g 290g 520g 481g

External Viewfinder Necessary

Yes Yes No No Yes Yes

* Introduced with Mamiya 7II

What’s the appeal? Whereas most 6x7 film cameras are burdensome and conspicuous, refer Fujica GM670 1,745g, Mamiya RB/RZ67 2,595g/2,490g, Pentax 6x7 2,235g and Plaubel Makina 67 1,280g; the Mamiya is in my opinion, the only featherweight title contender tipping the scales at 1,210g when coupled with the standard 80mm lens. With absolutely zero compromise on optics, it’s no wonder this camera is lusted after by professional travel and documentary photographers alike. The near-silent leaf shutter entirely eliminates troublesome mirror slap whilst shooting long exposures or when stealth is of the essence. This camera produces 56x69.5mm exposures, approximately 4 1/2 times larger than the conventional 35mm format.


  • 185 degree single stroke film advance.
  • Exposure compensation +/-2EV in 1/3 stop intervals.
  • 4 sec.–1/500 sec. electronic leaf shutter with flash synchronisation at all speeds.
  • Vivid viewfinder with parallax compensation and automatic lens frame indexing for 65mm, 80mm and 150mm focal length lenses.

It’s not surprising that the Mamiya 7 is widely considered one of the greatest cameras of all time. At the time of writing, respectable examples can fetch anywhere in the ballpark of $4,000 AUD (camera body only), hardly the kind of pocket money you can scratch together between the couch cushions nor from the ashtray of your 1997 Camry. There is no shortage of stock trading online, ranging from mint to dint-and-lint. 

My only two gripes, the unsealed viewfinder lends passage to unwelcome dust and the somewhat fragile plastic construction. Perhaps the latter is a fair compromise concerning its aforementioned weight and portability. Typical of rangefinder cameras, focus calibration is necessary with subject-to-lens distance discrepancies. 


  • World-class optics
  • Comprehensive lens offering
  • Nimble to carry and operate


  • Affordability... Mamma Mia! 
  • Durability 

I personally found the Mamiya 7 very intuitive to pick up and learn. Shooting with this camera has since become second nature, its ergonomic form blends into the palm of my hand and the viewfinder is now an extension of my right eye. Manual settings are very much a breeze thanks to the blinking LED display, which illuminates the required shutter speed for the desired aperture. I’m yet to experiment with the 43mm, 150mm and 210mm focal lengths, however, I can tell you the 50mm, 65mm and 80mm produce razor-sharp photographs with minimal light fall skirting the negative.

In Mamiya’s own words—compact, light, quiet and fast. Suffice to say the Mamiya 7 floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee!

You can pick up the Mamiya 7 via the Japan Camera Hunter, HERE. Check out more of Morgan's work via @mqrgs

September 09, 2023