My Mamiya RB67 film camera

I talked a little bit about this on my wedding photography Instagram page, but indulge me as I share it again here. Back when I was a vet student I did many work placements, and among them was one at a vet clinic in Malaysia. This was in the year 2012. Almost every day I would see this old man come from upstairs walking through the clinic as he said hello to all the staff there. After a while I decided to ask one of the vets who he was. She said that the vet clinic used to be a photography studio, and now that he’s retired, he lives upstairs.

One day I decided to strike up a conversation with the man. I never got his name, I think I just called him uncle, and spoke in Cantonese to him. I mentioned that he must have had some cool cameras back in the day, and he said he has one upstairs that he doesn’t need any more. He then brought it down to show it to me, a Mamiya RB67, in its original box and everything. He said I could have it as he would have no use for it. I had no idea how to use it, nor did I know how much it was worth. The next day I brought some money to the clinic and even though he said he would just give it to me for free, I gave the money to him and brought the camera home.

There are frame lines drawn on with a marker, I’m assuming it’s for things like passport photos.

I brought the camera to Melbourne, and it sat on my shelf for many years before I decided to use it. When I finally tested out a roll of film with it, I was surprised with how sharp the images were!

This photo was from the first roll I shot with the Mamiya RB67, and it’s on a film that’s been discontinued (Kodak Portra 400VC).

I’ve enjoyed using the camera since, and the first photo I posted on the Make Room Instagram page was also a photo taken with this camera. Last year I managed to get in touch with one of the vets from that clinic, as I intended to bring the camera back to Malaysia to shoot a portrait of the man who gave me the camera. I learnt that the man had passed away, and I had missed out on the opportunity to speak more with him. I promised myself to tell more stories with the camera, and even ran a giveaway competition on Instagram for a photo shoot with the Mamiya.

This year, my friend told me about a local legend called Yoshi from Nagami Camera Services. After reading up about him online, I really wanted to bring my Mamiya in to him for a clean, and have its light seals replaced. I emailed him in June, and he told me that he was planning to retire in July. He said that I should bring the camera in quickly to get it fixed before his retirement.

At the entrance of what I assume is his home, where there’s a sign directing people to the “back wing” of the house where his workshop is.

The entrance to his workshop.

Yoshi inspected my camera and agreed that it was quite dirty, and that the light seals needed replacement. He then pulled it apart and found that the mirror was acting in a weird manner. He then disappeared into another room, and brought back with him another Mamiya RB67 of his own. He showed me how the mirror was supposed to work, and said that mine was faulty. With a smile he politely said that it would be more cost efficient for me to buy a new one than to repair it. I was both disappointed that this camera that held so much sentimental value to me was faulty, and that I couldn’t have a camera repaired by Yoshi. Still, it was really nice being able to meet him.

I may get another Mamiya RB67 in the future, and continue to use the lens that I already have. It’s such a wonderful camera to use, with all its little features that I had to learn, and was my gateway into medium format film photography. If you care at all, the photos of Yoshi and his workshop were taken with a Leica MP, on Kodak Portra 400 film.

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