Square format, and the Mamiya c330


The first time I’d seen square format (6x6 on 120 film) that caught my eye was in THE NEW WEST, Robert Adams’ fantastic book from 1974 that features b&w photographs of a developing western landscape (highly recommended)

Quite a few years back, I purchased a Mamiya c330 Twin Lens Reflex camera as you do when experimenting and adding bits and pieces to your collection of tools 

What I love about the c330, in relation to other square format cameras, is the bellows focusing, interchangeable lenses, and that a prism finder can be fitted to the top in place of waist-level composing / focusing 

And they can be purchased for cheap 

And the lenses are great  

I went on to use the c330 a lot, usually with a 65mm lens (the equivalent to a 42mm in 35mm format) 

Or the 55 (the equivalent to a 35mm lens in 35mm format) 

But being that my preferred formats are rectangular, the c330 would also do a lot of sitting around 

For the July road trip out to Los Angeles from Texas, my Mamiya 7ii was my choice but the camera was not cooperating 

And so I decided it was time to dust off the c330 

Problem was, both my 55mm and 65mm lenses were out of commission (stuck shutters) and I didn’t have time to get them functional before departing

All I had was the 80mm (the equivalent to a 51mm in 35mm format), a focal length that I’m not too keen on 

It was almost uncomfortable and somehow a bit claustrophobic looking through the viewfinder and trying to compose  

Never really been a fan of 50mm - my go-to lengths are 35mm and 28mm

But as I made my way across the western part of the country, I strangely grew to like it  

The format and focal length turned out to be a nice change  

And the Ilford Delta 100 processed as transparency by the dr5 lab turned out beautifully 

Such a great process, yielding exceptional detail

Having that camera on the trip inspired me to want to use it more, and with the 80mm, too, and do some additional exploring with it, maybe enough to yield a book or two 

Exposed about 13 or so rolls with it on the trip out to Los Angeles and then back to Texas 

Turned out to be worth it - happy to be back to appreciating square format again 

Photograph above made in Kingman, Arizona, July 21, 2017, with the c330 / 80mm lens / Ilford Delta 100 / dr5 combo. The film was pulled a stop, which allows for a more ‘open’ photo. A nice approach if you’re looking for smoother and flatter photos, and with good shadow detail 

Jason LeeComment