Mamiya C Camera

Mamiya TLR System Summary - Chapter 16

16 Common Problems

16.0 Introduction

Most of the content of this section can be found spread throughout the rest of this document. This section is intended to be a combination of quick reference and pointer to more details.

16.1 Shutter release problems

The shutter will not release unless the bellows is fully in (or out).

This may mean that the internal light baffle is raised (the camera control is in the ‘unlock’ position). This is a camera interlock feature that is not normally by-passed.

The shutter will not release.

There are several possible causes. On some cameras the multi-exposure interlock trips before the shutter. So if you start to press the release and change your mind the camera body can be fooled into thinking that you have released the shutter. This behaviour varies between bodies. Use the Multi exposure setting to use the release, then reset to Single exposure mode.

There are a few instances of older bodies not operating the cocking lever or the release lever correctly on some lenses.

The 80mm f3.7 has a quirk where the shutter release arm on the lens moves even if the lens is not cocked.

16.2 Film advance problems

The camera advances all the film.

This is usually caused by the shutter release being slightly depressed, often by a long cable release. It is caused by the multi-exposure interlock being over-ridden. This was a feature to allow film to be wound off quickly if less than 12 frames were used.

Rarely an improperly latched back can also cause this, as the frame counter does not register the film passing through the camera.

The frame spacing is uneven.

Uneven spacing, but not overlap, between frames is not uncommon on mechanical cameras. Check that the camera is correctly set to 120 or 220 where applicable, and that the film is tightly wound on the take-up spool when exposed.

This may also indicate an improperly latched back.

16.3 Focus problems

If you have routine problems focusing the camera, check:

Your eyesight must be matched by the dioptric correction in the finder that you are using. If you cannot see the boundary of the focus spot sharply, you cannot reliably focus the image. The clear spot/cross hair screen for the C330 cameras is not intended for general photography.

If it happens with just one lens, it could be that the lens needs adjustment.

If it happens with all lenses, you need to check the finder focus against the body focus.

Other focus problems

See Section 2.11

16.4 Sheet film backs

See Section 8.1. There are several versions of the backs and the dark slides are not completely compatible.

16.5 Detecting a loaded camera

This applies to the C330 set, but probably also applies to most of the other bodies with automatic frame advance counters.

Issue: If there is an empty spool in the camera take-up chamber, and the film advance is operated, the film counter advances to the next frame.

On these cameras the spool retaining knobs do not rotate as the film is advanced, and neither knob has a keyed shaft that engages in the spool. Only the drive end of the take-up spool is keyed. If the camera advances the frame counter when empty and you do not have film in the camera, there is no easy way to tell. The options are:

  1. Assume it is loaded and go ahead with normal use,

  2. Assume it is loaded and wind through the rest of the possible frames, before opening the camera. This wastes film, but guarantees any exposures are kept safe,

  3. Do a gate check, which will lose a frame if there is film present, and does risk adjacent frames.

A gate check can be done in subdued light (you will fog a frame, but you don’t want to fog adjacent frames) by:

  1. Advance to the next frame.

  2. Wind the bellows right in, and Unlock the camera.

  3. Remove the lens pair.

  4. Set the camera to Lock, which drops the internal baffle and lets you see the gate. It will either reveal film, or the pressure plate.

  5. Reset the camera to Unlock, and replace the lens pair.

  6. Lock the camera.

  7. If the camera is empty, it is probably wise to open the back and reset the frame counter.

You can avoid this by leaving the empty spool in the feed chamber until a new film is loaded (accepting the requirement to relocate the empty spool before loading, rather than after), being consistent about using a ‘film loaded’ marker, or always setting the counter to zero after operating the body empty.

If there is a reliable way to do this without sacrificing a frame, I’d like to hear it. With only a few frames potentially used, it is possible to open the camera in blackout conditions, wind the film back to the source spool, and (in the light) reload the film. Advance past the last ‘used’ frame with a lens cap in place. The issue with this is that you have to release the take-up spool from the camera and possibly the source spool as well to rewind it, and it never winds as tight. It still costs a frame if you advance an extra frame to be sure there is no frame overlap.