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Mamiya Portrait: anybody got any information?
Post by Havoc on Dec 19th, 2015, 09:46am

I got this camera on a whim with only a small photo to go on. Never realised what I would get into. I'm more interested in the Mamiya medium format cameras and tought this was one, something like a rare variation of the C330.

But it appears to be using 35mm film. Well it could be 35mm film without perforation, I don't know. That's the problem I don't know anything about this camera except a few things I managed to find at the Mamiya historical page, like that is is from 1972.

So I'm looking for any little piece of information I can find. Or an address of someone/somewhere that could tell me something about it. In english because my japanese is non existant.

This is what it looks like:

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I put the C330 next to it to give an impression of the size. It takes 100 feet rolls of 35mm film in backs. The format isn't the standard 24x36 but rather 34x45. The Mamiya site says it take 550 photos on a roll.

Lens is a 90-230/4.5 lens with a fixed focus but diaphragm is variable to f/32.

Funny thing is that the viewfinder is directed towards the subject! There is an oval in the viewfinder.

It is mains powered but I don't have the power supply. But it came with some spare parts.

From discussions on another forum the conclusion is that this is a camera to photograph large numbers of "official" portraits like in the army or schools.

Could tell a bit more and put a few more photos up but I'd like first to have the mods nod of consent as this isn't the 35mm camera most people think of. But I don't have any idea where to look for information so I'm clutching at straws. At first I'd like to just know more about the camera like why they were made, a typical customer, things like that. Then I'd like to get enough information to build a power supply to get it working again. It's a nice conversational piece and looks great. But a working camera is just that bit more special.
Re: Mamiya Portrait: anybody got any information?
Post by pailes on Dec 21st, 2015, 07:19am

I don't have any information for you, but I just wanted to say this this thing looks incredible cheesy
Re: Mamiya Portrait: anybody got any information?
Post by leonAzul on Dec 22nd, 2015, 09:50am

Congratulations, this is an excellent find!

Just out of curiosity, does that finder rotate around 180º, otherwise that shutter release cable seems to be rather too short to be practical. smiley

I suspect that it is oriented that way only for storage or shipping, and that, in application, the finder would be turned towards the operator, rather than as a really sophisticated "selfie" device.

I'd also be curious whether you discover only a single sprocket for the film advance mechanism; this might have been designed for the use of bulk cinema 35mm film stock.

That there was an institutional client for such an apparatus is probably very close to the truth. Can you imagine why there might be a need for processing large numbers of identity photos in East Asia during 1972—1975?

Re: Mamiya Portrait: anybody got any information?
Post by Havoc on Dec 22nd, 2015, 4:14pm

Well, the viewfinder can rotate 360° but it has to point in that direction. This camera can only be used for a single purpose and that is making portraits. As there is interest I'll put up a few more photos to illustrate what I found so far. Mind you this is just from turning it all over, looking through each hole and taking apart a few things.

As the lens is fixed focus, you can only take portraits with it. So the viewfinder is directed to the subject. What he/she sees in the viewfinder is his face. To guide there is an oval (to frame the face), a horizontal line at the top (I guess to align a hat/cap) and a vertical line at the bottom (like to align a tie). This only works if the viewer is pointed to the subject. Turn it 180° and the face of the subject is upside down. Also to put the camera in its transport box you need to remove the viewfinder, it doesn't fit in the box.

The control is completely electromechanical. Here the control panel at the side:

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The wire with the push-buttons is just a copy of the "all action" button (the top one) and the "beam light" (the one at the side). No all action probably runs a sequence of the rest. As far as I can tell:
- winding: film transport control
- shutter check: self evident (?)
- speed light: probably flash, from what I can make of the electronics it makes a contact that is brought out on a connector at the side. But not a typical PC connector, more industrial.
- numbering light: this is pure speculation. But if you look at the front then you see an opening. You can slide a thin card in it and then this gets positioned under a set of mirrors and is lighted by 2 lamps. The mirrors give out at the film gate. My take is that this is to copy a "number" on the bottom of the photo. A bit like the typical prison shots. The slots fits perfectly for a 80 column punch card and I don't think it is a coïncidence.
- beam light: this I found out is for projecting a crossed beam that crosses where the subject has to sit.
Most of these I got from drawing and following the wiring.

This is the other side opened:
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Everything slides out:
- left is the shutter, very elementary, a vane with foam on a rotating electromagnet.
- the tray in front is the "beam light"
- the tray a bit out of the camera is the "numbering light"

The beam light looks like this inside:

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And when working it projects this:
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"Before focus":
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'in focus":
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This is at 2.3 meters.

The beam light looks like this:
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The paper in it was folded to the size of a punch card. You can see the backs of the 2 mirrors.

I don't have a photo of the film backs right now. But the film doesn't need to have any sprocket holes. Inside there are only rubber rollers and 2 square axles to drive the rolls. The pressure plate sits on springs and magnets so likely it is pulled back to put less stress on the film when winding.

Hope you like it and that some information turns up. I'd really would like to get it working again. But it was stored in less than ideal conditions and the lenses need taking apart for cleaning.
Re: Mamiya Portrait: anybody got any information?
Post by Havoc on Aug 28th, 2017, 2:54pm

I still don't know more about this camera except that there are at least 2 others of them around. Saw an advert for alu Mamiya boxes and they looked suspiciously like the one this camera came in. Went there and got 2 boxes that are used to put the film magazines in, 2 pieces in 1 box. That's for 1100 photos.

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Only problem is that there is a large space besides the magazines. I tought the viewfinder would fit but no, it doesn't. So there must be something else missing. Could be the power supply.
Re: Mamiya Portrait: anybody got any information?
Post by leonAzul on Aug 30th, 2017, 07:06am

Thanks for the update. I am enjoying your research and discovery about this unique apparatus.

I notice from the photographs what appear to be supports for a tray of some sort in your new-found case. Perhaps, as you say, that was for a power supply, set of tools and cables, user-supplied auxiliary lighting, clamps, etc.