PAGE ONE -- MAIN ENTRY FOR MAMIYA-SIX
This article is about the spring-folder camera made by Mamiya in the 1940s and 50s. For the 1990s camera, see Mamiya 6.
The Mamiya Six is a series of 6×6 folders with a coupled rangefinder, made by Mamiya from 1940 to the 1950s. All of them are focused by moving the film plane, rather than the more common front-cell focussing of other folders of the time.
The brain behind the development of the Mamiya Six was the inventor Seiichi Mamiya. His camera design departed from the common method of front cell focussing. In order to be able to control the camera when looking through the rangefinder while maintaining a steady hold, he designed a method that allowed the film plane to move in relation to the lens. He filed his invention on 1 July 1939 in Japan, on ¶¶ 1940 in the United Kingdom and on 5 June 1940 in the U.S.A. The U.S. Patent (nº 2,305,301) was granted on 15 December 1942, but, because of the state of war between the USA and Japan, was vested in the Alien Property Custodian.
| Prototpye of the Mamiya Six|
Image in Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ) July 1951, p. 88
Scanned by rebollo_fr. (Image rights)
The first model (Mamiya Six I) was advertised in September 1940 and first went on sale in December 1940. Until the end of the World War II, the Mamiya Six was significantly modified at least three times: first in early 1941 (model Ia) with two additional improved models introduced in the next two years. Erratically, model III was released in 1942 before model II appeared in 1943. All pre-war and war-time models have a twin set of range finder windows as well as a small, seperate Brillant-type waist-level viewfinder, resulting in three windows at the front. All units have a single red film frame counter window counter on the back with a horizontal slider opening to the left. The Mamiya Six III added an exposure counter with double exposure prevention. The pre-war and war-time models were all 6x6 format cameras.
Production of the Mamiya Six was restarted after World War II. The first cameras to be sold were Mamiya Six III. It is not clear to what extent these units were assembled from existing spare parts, or whether all are totally new construction. The official Mamiya history states that ¶¶¶ These post-War Mamiya Six III were fitted with which was introduced in Takatiho Tokio Zuiko f/3.5 75mm lenses, which debuted in 1946. The first new model to appear was the Mamiya Six IV, introduced in 1947, which dispensed with the waist-level finder. It remained the sole model until 1953. The Mamiya Six V added the dual 6×6 and 4.5×6 format capability, with an exposure counter functioning with both formats. The Mamiya Six K was a simpler model, with film advance via red windows.
In 1955, the Mamiya Six IVb introduced a squarer body design, easily recognized by the square rangefinder window. Its features were similar to the model IV. The Mamiya Six K2 was similar to the model K with the new body. The body design was slightly modified again for the Mamiya Six IVs and simpler Mamiya Six P.
Chronology of Models
Given the quite erratic nature of model numbering that occurred over the years, the chronology of the thirteen major Mamiya Six models is set out in Table 1. The characteristcs of the individual models, as well as the variants within these models, are described further below. If in doubt about some of the features mentioned in the type descriptions, please refer to the visual documentation of the critical elements which provides a dichotomous key as well as a series of illustrations showing the model-specific details.
Table 1 Chronology of Mamiya Six Cameras
|pre-War Production||1940, September||Mamiya Six I|
|| Mamiya Six Ia|
|War Production||1942, January||Mamiya Six III|
|1943||Mamiya Six II|
|1943?||Mamiya Six IIa|
|| Production Ceased|
|post-War Production||1946, November||Mamiya Six III|
|1947||Mamiya Six IV|
|1953, November||Mamiya Six V|
|1954, August||Mamiya Six K|
|1955, May||Mamiya Six IVb|
|1955, December||Mamiya Six Automat|
|1956, March||Mamiya Six K2|
|1957, October||Mamiya Six IVs|
|1957, December||Mamiya Six P|
|1958||Mamiya Six Automat 2|
Dichotomous Key to aid identification of models
The Mamiya Six comes in a bewildering range of variants. The interactive, dichotomous key provided below provides an avenue at identifying the types of Mamiya Six. Once you have identified your model, click on the model name to be taken to a full description. If you are unclear about any of the criteria, either click on the criterion name or jump to this page for visual identification guides.
|Use this interactive key to help identify your Mamiya Six model|
|How many viewfinder windows are on the front?|