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2 Lenses, General

2.1 Fittings

As a broad generality, all lenses will fit all bodies. But early bodies will not have focus, parallax, and exposure compensation scales for the focal lengths introduced later. The original 1/400th Seikosha-MX shuttered lenses and some Seikosha-S shuttered 180mm lenses will not fit C33 and later auto-cocking bodies. The problem with the MX series is that the lens cocking arm is located higher than on the later lenses, and the auto-cocking lever will not engage. It also fouls the lens lever for manual cocking..

Some lenses are known to fail to cock properly on later bodies. This appears to be due to the auto-cocking lever not moving the lens cocking lever quite far enough. At least one case has been recorded of the body cocking arm needing more travel than the lens shutter arm permits.

Lenses of different focal length have different back focus distances. In practice this means that the bellows extension required for infinity focus is different. This is common with bellows focusing systems, and does have the benefit of giving the optical designer more freedom.

2.2 Lens hoods

The lens hood diameter refers to the square clamp-fit Mamiya hoods. They will only fit over slimline filters. Conventional screw-fit hoods of suitable dimensions may be used in the filter thread. The Mamiya hoods are of two basic designs. The first design, used for the 55mm, 65mm, 180mm, and 250mm were square with the upper flap hinged at the front. This permitted the angle of the top flap to be set so that glare from the top of the hood was invisible in the finder. The hoods for the 80mm, 105mm, and 135mm lenses were of a circular changing to square aperture rigid type. The 80mm and 105mm chrome lenses used 42mm hoods, the 80mm and 105mm black, and both 135mm lenses used the 48mm hood. All the 180mm and the 250mm lenses used the same hood. These hoods are generally metal. There is also a telephoto lens hood for the chrome series that consists of two rigid square shades in a single plastic unit. (Compiler’s Note: This item is huge!)

2.3 Optical design

There was a change in physical and optical design between the chrome and black series lenses. One known effect is that the 105mm D and DS lenses have a different back focus from the 105mm chrome and the early 105mm black. This means that the scale on the C330 and earlier bodies is incorrect for the later lenses. The C330s (and probably most C330f) have scales for both 105mm lenses. It should also be noted that earlier bodies do not have scales for the focal lengths introduced later. The lenses will function, however. The 180mm (black) and 180mm Super (black) are different optical designs, but appear to share the same back focus.

2.4 Lens coating

This is a contentious issue, probably stemming from a lack of understanding of lens coating in general. Lens coating has been common since the Second World War, initially as general single coating, then as single coating tailored to individual lens performance, and most recently coating of internal elements and multiple coating for optimum corrections. Coating is used to reduce reflection from the surface that contributes to flare and lack of contrast. It also helps compensate for minor variations in glass batches, and in multi-coating the performance over a range of wavelengths is made more consistent.

The chrome lenses were single coated, and the black series had single coatings which may have extended to various lens elements. Some late black series lenses have had multi-coating, but there is a lack of substantive evidence as to when it was introduced, and on which lenses. The 55mm, 80mm S, 105mm DS, and 180mm Super are the most likely candidates, as these were later or more extreme designs.

Even the best of these lenses won’t have the class of coatings that appeared in the 1990’s.

2.5 Shutters and flash synchronisation

The original chrome lenses were fitted with shutters having a maximum speed of 1/400 second (Seikosha-MX). Later chrome lenses were improved to a 1/500 second top speed, giving a conventional range from 1 second to 1/500, plus B (Seikosha-S). The changeover seems to have occurred during the production life of the C2. The final black series lenses used a Seiko shutter with 1 second to 1/500th second plus B settings. Some shutters exhibit a leaf with a raised tip. This ‘anti-crash’ feature is intended to reduce the chance of the shutter blades locking when closing. It usually indicates a newer shutter, often with a blue insert in the shutter cocking arm. The 80mm f3.7 black lens had a Copal shutter. At least one Seikosha-MX shuttered 80mm lens was labelled ‘f=8cm’.

The lenses all have integral leaf shutters, providing X and M synchronisation at all speeds. Connection is via a standard 3mm co-axial PC cord on each lens. Lenses which have been in professional hands sometimes have the flash synchronisation levers fixed in the ‘X’ setting. This is usually achieved by cementing a small stop to the lens barrel. Obviously the inadvertent shift to ‘M’ with electronic flash had happened once too often! There is around 200 milliseconds delay between releasing the shutter (and closing the flash contacts) and the shutter opening on the ‘M’ setting. This delay was to allow flash bulbs time to reach full illumination. Since the delay is a mechanical process, and the M setting is rarely used, longer delays are quite common and the shutter may stick.

The PC connection on most lenses consists of a hollow stud. The centre hole is one side of the flash contact, and connects to a wire running to the shutter assembly. The outer portion of the stud is the other contact, and connects to the lens mounting through its mounting screws. Intermittent flash problems may be caused by the mounting or wire becoming loose. This can be tested using a resistance (Ohm) meter. (A resistance meter applies a negligible current and voltage across its probes. Higher voltages or currents may result in damage.) Set the lens to a slow speed (say 1 second), and cock it. Insert the PC cord, and hold the resistance meter probes to the terminals at the other end of the cord. When the shutter is fired, the meter will register if the flash circuit is made. A slow speed is necessary to be sure the meter has time to react.

Some later lenses, such as the 105mm DS, have a shrouded PC socket that appears less vulnerable to accidental damage or loosening.

At the risk of stating the obvious, these shutters work in fixed steps. Intermediate speeds should not be set. Intermediate apertures can be set.

The most frequent sign of damage with lenses is a dented filter ring. The lens locking wire can scratch the top of the viewing lens barrel.

Weights, where quoted, may include front and rear caps.

2.6 Dating lenses (and bodies and accessories)

Mamiya claim not to have any dating information based on serial numbers.

It has been suggested that lenses can be dated (for black models at least) by the gold two-letter stickers that sometimes survive. These are not the ‘JCxxx’ series stickers that are found on all new Japanese exported equipment. The two-letter stickers do not appear to have been used on chrome series lenses. New information suggests that letter code series apply to individual items. So code ‘AA’ would mean a different year/month on a C330 and a C220, for example. Since this equipment isn’t new, the amount of wear and tear is probably more important than chronological age so far as practical use is concerned. For the curious:

Example two-letter codes carried by black series lenses, cameras, and accessories

Item Codes Body / lens serial prefixes Production (see note)
C330s KH None, or ‘l’, W
C330f BC, GC, GJ, ID, EK, FA D, none

FA=0107xxx BC=D150xxx


C220f BD, BE, CD W
C330 AA, AG, BG, BJ, CC, JK, JB (1982) (sticker inside film chamber), IL, IK D JB=Late? 1974/5 serials=D457xx & D267xx , BJ D635xx, AG=?47xxx, CC=0718xx,70’s
C220 HK, DG, DI, HF, IB B HF=B964xx IB=B222xx
C33 EI, EK, FA, FC, GC, GF, GJ H (some with R suffix) FA seen in body purchased c. May 1966 FC=261xxx
C22 (220 capable) DI, DK S 2036xx, or none Probably 1966 or later
Pentaprism BL, DI, IJ, CL
CdS Magnifying Hood AH, AE
CdS Porrofinder GC
55mm AA (round), AG, AI, AK, FH, DC, DH, DL, IK, JA, CA, CF, CH, CI, CL, CK, ED, EG, HB, GE, HC, EK, FD, JE, JF, JK (round) 501xx, 519xx

FH=Late, CF=1985, AA=439xx, AK=1974/5? serials 501xx & 519xx, CI=non-blue (early 80’s) DH=non-blue 735xx, JA=355xx, CA=non-blue,103xxx CK=66xxx, JK=422xx,425xx

JE=377xx,378xx, no insert, no click stops, CH=634xx,631xx FD=803xx,805xx

65mm AI, BG, BI, CA, CF, CK, EA, EC, JG, HC, HI, ?K, DJ, FF 57892xx BG=57892xx , FF=not blue, has click-stops, AI=5789xxx
80mm AC, AD, AI, BC, BD, BF, BJ, BK, JL, EB, EL, FD, HA, HI, ID, IE, IG, JE, FC, DB, DC, DI, CB, CE, CH, CI, CF, IF, II, GI 7524xx, 6605xx 6613xx AC=943000,late BC=105xx, BD=121xx, BF=Middle, AI=Late, JL Unexamined, AD=1969, EL=Late, CE=7524xx, 80mm 1974/5? serials=6605xx & 6613xx, HI (9200xx), CB=blue insert, CI=blue insert, JE=662xxx,663xxx, DB=778xxx,779xxx, BJ=733xxx, CB=7465xx,7445xx FD=827xxx,806xxx, GI=862xxx IG=639xxx,638xxx
80mm ‘S’ BE, BF, BH, CH, DA, HI, IA (on C220f), IB Unexamined
105mm DA Unexamined
105mm D CD,CG, BF, CI, IK CD=plain insert,Late
105mm DS AE, CJ, EC, JF, JK AE=Late
135mm AL, FC, FF, IJ , CD, CH, CI, BG, IG, JA, JE, DA, ED, EF, EH, HG, JJ, JL (round), BI (or J) round 6253xx FF= Late, IJ=1982, Late?, BG=1972, AL=1974/5? Serials 6253xx, FC=blue insert, ED 6476xx, EF=Blue insert, IG=661xxx, CD=blue insert, CI=6365xx,6364xx,blue insert, HG=6595xx,6599xx,blue, 46xxx
180mm IJ IJ=112xxx
180mm Super AF, AG, AJ, AL, IA, BF, IB, CB, CG, JJ, EA, EF, FC, CI, GD, HB,HH, DE, DK 267xx IA=Late, DK – no blue insert on shutter cocking lever, AG=267xx, CG=no blue insert, AJ=299xx, HH=655xx, AL=305xx296xx, HB=620xx, DE=511xx EA=53xxx
250mm CG, CI, DH, HC, HE, IF, JF CG=Middle, CI=46xxx, DH, JF and HC Unexamined, HE no blue shutter insert, IF=218xx & 213xx

The Chrome series lenses do not appear to have carried two letter codes.

The BG C330 and the BF 80mm are believed to be the pairing as originally sold.

The FA in the C33 is known to be no later than May 1966.

The DI C22 is 1966 or later.

Using the barrel focal length marking and aperture click stop as a guide (see section 4) gives the ‘Early’, ‘Middle’ (1970’s), and ‘Late’ (1980’s) production groupings for the black lenses.

The current known ranges are: First letter A – L, Second letter A – L.

For comparison: An early Mamiya 6 rangefinder has a body tag of ‘II’.

Tabulation of example serial numbers

Item Serial
135mm 6253xx
135mm 6364xx
135mm 6365xx
135mm 6476xx
135mm 6595xx
135mm 6599xx
135mm 661xxx
180mm 112xxx
180mm Super 267xx
180mm Super 296xx
180mm Super 299xx

180mm Super

180mm Super



180mm Super 511xx
180mm Super 532xx
180mm Super 535xx
180mm Super 564xx
180mm Super 620xx

180mm Super

105mm D



250mm 213xx
250mm 218xx
55mm 103xx
55mm 355xx
55mm 377xx
55mm 378xx
55mm 422xx
55mm 425xx
55mm 439xx
55mm 501xx
55mm 519xx
55mm 631xx
55mm 634xx
55mm 66xxx
55mm 735xx
55mm 803xx
55mm 805xx
65mm 57892xx
65mm 5789xxx
80mm 105xx


80mm (MX)



80mm 6605xx
80mm 6613xx
80mm 662xxx







80mm 733xxx
80mm 7445xx
80mm 7465xx
80mm 7524xx
80mm 778xxx
80mm 779xxx
80mm 806xxx





80mm 9200xx
80mm 943xxx
80mm 949xxx
80mm 950xxx
Mamiyaflex C 590xx
C22 S2036xx
C33 261xxx



C330 D267xx
C330 D457xx
C330 D47xxx
C330 D635xx
C330 D718xx
C330f D140xxx
C330f D150xxx
C330s W1124xx

Although there are some exceptions, which may be due to inaccurate or sparse data, it appears that serial number sequences were issued by item type. It is reasonable to expect that numbers were issued sequentially within a block, though there is no evidence to support this supposition. There are 5, 6, and 7 digit numbers, as well as letter prefixes for bodies. Since the letter prefix used on the C33 was ‘H’, even those are not in chronological sequence.

Tabulation of known letter codes and equipment (all lenses cited are black series)

Bodies Finders Black series lenses
Code C330s C330f C330
AA *
AG *
Bodies Finders Black series lenses
Code C330s C330f C330
BC *
BG *
BH *
BJ *
Bodies Finders Black series lenses
Code C330s C330f C330
CC *
Bodies Finders Black series lenses
Code C330s C330f C330
Bodies Finders Black series lenses
Code C330s C330f C330
EK *
Bodies Finders Black series lenses
Code C330s C330f C330
FA *
Bodies Finders Black series lenses
Code C330s C330f C330
GC *
GJ *
Bodies Finders Black series lenses
Code C330s C330f C330
HF *
Bodies Finders Black series lenses
Code C330s C330f C330
ID *
IK *
IL *
Bodies Finders Black series lenses
Code C330s C330f C330
JB *
JK *
Bodies Finders Black series lenses
Code C330s C330f C330
KH *
Bodies Finders Black series lenses
Code C330s C330f C330

Utter speculation (!)

So far I have yet to hear of a letter pair with the second letter greater / later than ‘L’. So this could be a month indicator. That would suggest that the first letter is a year indicator. Given the known chronology (C33 to C330 to C330f, for example) it is obvious that the first letter cannot be a year code, unless it represents the year from start of manufacture of that item. But that implies, just from the codes cited, there is a two year overlap between the C33 and the C330, and a three year overlap between the C330 and the C330f. I find this hard to believe. Then we have the KH for a C330s body and LD for an 80mm ‘S’ lens. This makes some sense, as they are late items. But there are a couple of 80 ‘S’ lenses in the Bx group, implying that these were manufactured for 12 years.

Then we have the letter prefix on the body serial number. This cannot be a year designation, since I know of a C33 with an ‘H’ prefix, several C220s with ‘B’ prefixes, and a C330 with a ‘D’ prefix, and C220fs with ‘W’ prefix. It may indicate production groups (not years, since the C33 was not produced concurrently with the C330 to my knowledge).

This leads me to further speculate that production wasn’t annual, but batched. In which case we lose any direct correlation with age. We also have the problem that any lenses that were re-shuttered during repair could have the late click-stop type installed, thus invalidating that as a guide to the age of the code.

At the moment we have insufficient data to draw any firm conclusions. More letter codes would be useful, especially if the original purchase year is known.


Some new information has come to light from a service manual for the C33. It appears that the letters are year/month pairs, but for the bodies at least these start counting from the year of development or sale. Prior to public sale there may have been more than one development iteration in a year. So an ‘Ax’ tag on a C33 would be unusual, though not impossible. Since these cameras are rarely in the hands of original owners it is very difficult to get accurate purchase date information. And the date of purchase could be significantly later than the date of manufacture.

Mapping of letter codes to production years. This is very preliminary data, and is subject to revision

First-letter year codes from C33 repair manual data. Italicized values are inferred pre-production codes; bold values are known examples. It is very likely that the less popular items were not in continuous production. ‘?’ indicates known examples but uncertain dates.

Camera Initial Year A B C D E F G H I J K L
C33 Pre-production period Pre-production period Pre-production period Pre-production period 1965 1966 1967 End of production?
C22 1965 1966 1967 1968
C330 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 End of production? 1975 1976 1977
C220 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
C330f 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982
C220f 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993
C330s 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
55mm 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978
65mm 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976
80mm 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977
80mm S
105mm D ?
105mm DS ? ? ? ?
135mm 1970? ? ?
180mm Super ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
250mm 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978

2.7 Focal length comparison

Table of 35mm format equivalent focal lengths for the lenses in the TLR range (after Scott, with permission)

6x6 cm Largest Square Largest 5x4 (10x8) Largest 11x14 Largest 2x3 (35mm)
55 24 30 30 36
65 28 35 36 42
80 35 43 44 52
105 45 57 58 68
135 58 73 74 88
180 78 97 99 117
250 108 135 138 163

The focal lengths in the body of the table are the 35mm lenses required to produce an identical image in a given final format with minimum cropping. In other words, to get a square print covering the same area as the 55mm Mamiya lens you would need a 24mm on 35mm format, while cropping a 2x3 area from the Mamiya negative would give the same rendition as a 36mm lens on 35mm format. This table is derived from original work by Ed Scott for ‘’ ( Please see this link for a more general table and an explanation of the method used to derive these values.

2.8 Filters

2.8.1 Plain

Standard screw fit filters may be used, but the 49mm threaded lenses are very close together, which may make it impossible to fit filters on both lenses. Mamiya made special slim-mount filters for this purpose, but they do not seem to be readily available short of special order. The local Mamiya distributor may be able to help. Standard filters may also cause problems with the Mamiya clamp-fit lens hoods.

It is possible to file a flat on a UV or haze filter to improve clearance if it is going to be a permanent fitting on the viewing lens. Obviously the filter mount should be marked and then de-mounted from the lens before filing it!

An alternative for the viewing lens is to use one of the chrome protective rings to retain a bare UV or skylight filter directly on the lens. This requires dismantling a standard filter unless you can obtain an unmounted glass.

Some users have found that filters can be mounted inside the larger square Mamiya lens hoods. This is done by cementing an old filter mount to the inside (usually after the original mounting thread has been filed flat and the old glass removed) and using it as a threaded mount. Since old or scratched filters can be utilised for the mount this is an economic approach. In use the filter of choice is screwed to the new mount inside the hood. Obviously the maximum filter size that can be used in this manner depends on the hood size and the slimness of one’s fingers!

2.8.2 Polarising

Most of the same restrictions about fitting plain filters applies to polarising filters. Perhaps more so, since these tend to have physically larger mounts. The common method is to preview the effect by eye, or on the viewing lens, and note the position of the mount (You need a mount marked in increments to do this - you can add your own). The filter is then installed on the taking lens and set to the same orientation.

In theory, you could mount two identical polarisers in common alignment and wrap an elastic band around the rotating rims. Rotating one would move the other in synchonisation. But the physical proximity of the lenses means you’d have to use 46mm polarisers. And a circular lens hood!

Linear polarisers are perfectly adequate for these cameras. The circular versions are intended for cameras with through the lens metering which use an optical system that is itself polarising.

2.8.3 Graduated

It is difficult to preview the effect on the viewing lens and then transfer it to the taking lens, but possible. Unless you are using a 105mm D/DS lens you cannot preview the effect of stopping down. There was a sliding mount designed for the Cokin ‘P’ series, but this does not appear to be still available. See section 9.2 for the reference.

2.9 Self-timers

None of the Mamiya TLR cameras have self-timers on the body. Only the 105mm DS lens has a ‘V’ setting for delayed release. The only other options are to use an air release, or to try and track down a cable release mount accessory timer (usually clockwork).

2.10 Infra-red focusing

These cameras do not include infra-red focusing scales. Just how crucial this is will depend on your application. Infra-red film varies in it’s degree of sensitivity. Certainly Konica 750 and Ilford SFX have a closer sensitivity to visible light than Kodak’s (35mm) offering. False colour infra-red film has to include some visible light, otherwise you do not get a full range of colours.

The focus scales are comparatively crude, so a precise adjustment is not practical, or at least hardly repeatable. Unless working at close distances or at wide apertures the correction can probably be ignored. Should highly infra-red sensitive emulsions become available (see below), then experimentation with each lens would be advisable.

The cameras are probably infra-red safe with current emulsions. The biggest risk would come from an extended bellows, so it might be wise to retract the bellows (or close the internal baffle) when not actively photographing.

The new MACO 820c infra-red emulsion falls between the Kodak HIE and Konica 750 offerings. This is a true infra-red film (development should be in a metal or foil-shielded tank, for example), and should be treated with caution. The recommended focus adjustment is an increased extension of 1/100th of the focal length of the lens, or about 0.5mm for the 55mm, and 2.5mm for the 250mm lenses. This sort of correction is actually easier to implement on the rack and pinion bellows focusing of the Mamiyas than on helical mount lenses.

Compiler’s Note: If any reader has practical experience of infra-red with these cameras, I’d be pleased to include it here.

2.11 Focusing discrepancies

There are reports of lenses that do not provide sharp images on the film, even though carefully focused. This may mean that the lens pair is out of adjustment, but there are several alternative explanations. These are, in approximate order of increasing severity:

2.11.1 Wrong film

Using 220 film in a camera configured for 120 will cause focus errors, as the pressure plate is set for a thicker film and backing paper combination. You will probably have a strange starting position for the first frame, as the leader length on the two types is different.

2.11.2 Back incorrectly latched

The backs on these cameras are quite flexible, and must be closed using even pressure on both top corners. Otherwise the back may not latch correctly on both sides. This prevents the pressure plate from applying even pressure across the whole frame.

2.11.3 Incorrectly mounted focusing screen / wrong magnifier correction

Some screens can be disassembled when removed. If they are reassembled with the ‘glass’ upside down, the focus is wrong. De-mountable screens should be correctly fitted, though this is a gross error that should be easily spotted. Fixed screens are sometimes shimmed to adjust their height. Remove them only if necessary and with extreme care. The C330, f, and s are designed with replaceable screens.

The flip-up magnifiers and eyepiece correction lenses should be a reasonable match for your eye (with or without correction as applicable).

2.11.4 Incorrectly mounted lens

It is just possible to mount the lens unevenly on the lens panel, but it is unlikely that the auto-cocking feature on later models would work.

2.11.5 Distorted lens panel

If the lens panel isn’t parallel to the film plane and at right angles to the focus screen, then an error will occur. These are tough cameras, so you’d probably need to drop it to cause this fault. (Not advised.)

2.11.6 Lens pair maladjusted

It does happen, often because the retaining rings are loosened and spacing shims drop out. This is a pain to adjust, so touch the lens as a last resort.

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