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Mamiya Press Stuff

Modify Universal "G" adapter 
for Horseman backs

When I got my first Horseman back to use on a Universal "G" adapter I could not attach it because the left end of the back would not set completely against the adapter surface. Examination revealed that the back was striking the top of the locating bar (& light trap) on the left side of the adapter. Either the back did not have enough clearance for this bar or the bar was too high. 

Well, the Graflex roll film backs fit fine. The Horseman backs would require a trip to the machine shop - - - or, perhaps it would be easier to just reduce the thickness of the locating bar. 

I removed the three screws and the bars of each of my three adapters, measured them and removed about 1/32" (.03125") from the bottom of each bar. This can be done with a file while holding the bars in the soft jaws of the vice but I used my $99.00 Home Depot belt and disc sander. I did not need to shorten the screws but you might have to touch them to the sander or file. I used  flat black paint stuff from Micro-Tools to re-seal the bars to the adapter during reassembly taking care not to paint the little black rope light seal.

Now the Universal "G" adapter will handle Graflex, Horseman, RB67, RB67 Pro-S and maybe Wista and others I don't know about.


(This is from 6 x 9 Today)

Hello John,

You have the right frame of mind - stay away from the cut film holders unless you like dark rooms.

View cameras are great fun. The are historic, nostalgic and wonderful tools. In my option nothing teaches the technology of photography like learning to use a view camera. The lens rise and shift capability of view cameras while maintaining the film plane parallel to a subject is one of the prime benefits. This can be done with modern medium format equipment but usually with a single focal length shift lens of great cost. Tilt and swing of the lens is required for more complex photography usually in the commercial or industrial arena.

"Focusing on the ground glass" is symbolic. One of the reasons Graflex is no longer with us is that they lost touch with modern medium format photography. Mamiya was equipping their 6 x 9 press cameras with nice helical focusing mounts with hyper focal scales or depth of field scales on the lens. This made them much more desirable for uses other than newspaper press. Graflex just didn't get it. When they brought out their XL line of cameras they were thinking about newspaper photographers and rangefinders only. With hyper focal scales on the Mamiya lens mount "focusing on the ground glass" was not necessary except for complex photography problems requiring lens tilt and/or swing. The ground glass was still used for observing vertical lines for critical composition.

Today, the great interest in ultra wide and panoramic photography demands more attention to controlling converging vertical lines in photography. This is usually accomplished just by keeping the back vertical. I just returned from one of my favorite places to take pictures, New Orleans, in the French Quarter. I only had about an hour available, 7:00 to 8:00 am at Jackson Square. I used my hybrid custom Mamiya Universal "flat top" with 50mm Mamiya wide angle lens and finder and Mamiya RB ProS 6x7 back. With this rig keeping the back vertical and parallel to vertical lines is mandatory. Great pictures. I carry a small $3.95 double bubble level from Home Depot in the case but after all these years, I can get buy without it. I just step back, look at the camera from two angles and adjust from there.

The Graflex equipment in 6 x 9 size is readily available at low cost. The international standard "G" back (old Graflok) provides good film handling. Web www.graflex.org is a good source of information. My bigcamera.com web will help you research ebay for MF and LF view cameras. You will find many 6 x 9 view cameras in the LF area.

The numeric description problem:
2x3, 2 1/4 x 2 3/4, 2 1/4 x 3 1/4, 6x7, 6x8 and and 6x9. ???
Lotsa confusion here. To straighten it out we look to the 6 x 9 numbers. 6cm x 9cm is the opening in the rear of the camera, not the negative size. All goes downhill from that: A ruler will show that the 6 x 7 or 2 1/4" x 2 3/4" back is actually about 2 1/4" x 2 5/8". The 6 x 9 or 2 1/4" x 3 1/4" is actually about 2 1/4" x 3 1/16" inches. The only real 6 x 9 "G" back that I have used is the Horseman. It is actually 2 1/4" x 3 1/4" and better quality (and price) than Graflex. The Wista back might be the same but I have not checked it.

Wait John, Even thought Graflex made some bad product development decisions doesn't mean their equipment is not desirable. The sexiest press camera ever is the the XL and I have several of them. I also have a Century 6 x 9. I wish the Mamiya press cameras had the big bright and wonderful XL viewfinder modules.

The Mamiya press dim viewfinder is what prompted me to develop the Mamiya Universal "flat top" with all finder hardware removed and unnecessary aluminum milled down for a flat 1/16"aluminum plate top with finder shoe. I use it without the grip on a tripod. The handle works well.

I'll have info about one of the best equipment combinations for 6 x 9 photography available today next week here at Mamiya Press Stuff.

Bob Hutchinson


Mamiya Press Backs

I have a Mamiya 23 standard that has a very perplexing (at least to me) light leak problem. It shows up as a line of overexposure just right of centre in the exposed frame; one edge quite sharply defined and the other edge more diffuse. Same lens, same back but different bodies results in the same problem. I thought it was the roll back (6x7 120 green roll back) but I just put a roll of film through the camera as if I was taking a roll of pictures but did left the lens cap in place so as to not expose the film figuring that if it was the back the leak would show up. Well the film was completely clear (b+w print film) so that kind of rules out the back. Now I am at a loss to explain where this is light is coming from, the only "shiny bit" inside the body is the end of the lever for the range finder mechanism. Incidentally the problem almost seems to go away with a 6x4.5cm mask in place, it still occurs but very infrequently.

This isn't something that just started. I purchased this lens 100mm f3.5, bodies and backs together and have had this problem since. All these pieces are in pretty good condition and would hate the have to use the 6x4.5 mask all the time just to get ride of the little problem. Any help or suggestions would be most graciously appreciated.

cheers, Graham

-- Graham Collins


All the answers have been produced. However, as nice as the Mamiya backs are, the basic design of the back allows light to seep in where it shouldn't with just a small amount of flex. It's long and can twist quite easily. The design, mounting system and photographer, using the right side of the back as a right grip, does little to help. This is why the back system fell away as the Graflex roll holder system became the "G" standard.

The Graflex roll back has problems too but it is short and stiff and the Graflok mounting system holds it securely to the back. The double row type foamless light seal between the clamshell and the insert does a respectable job as long as it is kept "very black". "G" adapters are easy to find for $45-$65 for the Universal. Harder to find for other Mamiya press. I have fit one "G" Graflok to a Mamiya Standard 23 (the one without bellows) after a trip to the machine shop, but it's better to use a Universal.

The RB and RB ProS type backs are an answer. Excellent improvement of the Graflex RH design, running about $200.00 at ebay. No 6x9 available though, dig up the bucks for a Horseman 6x9, 8 exposure or 16. Horseman says $425.00 will get you either one and you can have two at twice the price. Even used they are stabbing.

Bob Hutchinson



Hello Graham,

I, like you, prefer not to modify the bellows back Mamiyas.

It is my understanding that Mamiya made a few G adapters for the Std. 23, but I have never seen one.

G modification for Std 23:

Tools needed: 7/32" counter bore with 3/32" pilot. Drill press. Milling machine.

Remove attachment devices from adapter.

Machine light seal dikes down to flat of adapter, leaving the four machined surfaces untouched. I got local machine shop to o this - $45.00.

Align and clamp adapter for a try. Determine position of holes to be drilled for #4-40 x3/4" attachment machine screws. They need to be through the machined adapter surface, so they will be close to the corner. Drill 3/32" pilot holes through the adapter. Use 45 degree x 1/64" or Greater chamfer on mating side of holes to eliminate any raised surfaces around hole. Counter bore attachment holes about 7/32" deep on the inclined surface. Align adapter again on body and use 3/32" drill down through pilot holes to mark body for drilling and tapping #4-40 thread. Drill and tap. Open the four pilot holes for #4-40 machine screws.

Use 45 degree x 1/64" or greater chamfer on mating surface holes to eliminate any conflicts in mating surfaces. Check for flatness and easy make up of mating surfaces, no light leaks allowed.

Carefully cut 3mm foam about 5/16" wide to fill non mating surfaces, apply. Top and bottom will have 1/16"" to 1/8" contact surface for foam. Assemble with foam and check no light leaks at mating surfaces Apply photo flat black (available from Fargo) to adapter mating surface and assemble immediately while flat black is soft.

There you have a nice little Mamiya Standard 23 with Graflok back. Costs: Body with 90mm lens- $135.00, adapter - $55.00, milling work - $45.00, counter bore tool - $13.50. Economy and cost savings - NONE, just buy a Universal with G back.

Picture1 of Std. 23 Graflok
Picture2 of Std. 23 Graflok


Make Your Own "Flat Top"

When the rangefinder goes away on a Universal, as in my case, I obtained a good body with broken (dropped and useless) rangefinder and modified it to become a great wide angle delight. I removed all rangefinder parts and had the unnecessary aluminum milled off of the top of the body. I cut and shaped a 1/16" aluminum cover. I then made a shoe mount from 1/8" x 3/4" x 1 1/2" aluminum bar, mounting the shoe square on the bar rear end and the bar to the aluminum cover. This resulted in the shoe being 3/4" to the rear of the rear of the now boxy camera body. With a Graflex roll holder on this body with the top lowered 1 3/4" inches or so, the finder must be mounted slightly to the rear so one can get an eye to it. It is now a Mamiya version of a Graflex rangefinderless XLS or XLSW.

I use this hybrid with the 65mm Mamiya and a Koni-Omega 60mm finder and the 50mm Mamiya with matching finder. With a couple of Graflex RH-8 rollholders this camera and either lens arrangement makes a great wide angle outfit. Unlike the Graflex XLS and XLSW with Graflex lens arrangements, these Mamiya lenses have good distance and and hyper focusing scales.

To tell the truth I like the less expensive 65mm arrangement best even though it is older and inconvenient to operate with a proper lens hood in place. The 50mm on the RH-8 format is serious wide, about 85 degrees of view.

Early Universal Flat Top


Bob can be reached at 713 467-0077 or bob@bigcamera.com or bob.hutchinson@wirelessindustry.com