It is almost embarrassing, that when i used my old trusted studio camera from 1987 - how fumbly i acted, after not having used it since 2018 ! Which is after all a matter of 6 years ago... and already the fine details, tricks and features already fading in the mind. But one thinks one knows everything... uhm, not quite right.


Fumble, fumble...

So, I fumbled around with the camera and the new, handmade Zinstax back from Haan Chen in Germany, who developed and refined it over the years. Well, it really works - and does it well. Albeit my first exposures with Square Instax film where overexposed. First i used a spot meter (5°) on the Minolta light meter, set at ISO 800 and measured the light on the trees.

I had to stop down another 1 stop, and then an additional stop further, in order to get the exposure right.

I switched to the white round "cupola" thingy, to measure the in-falling light (not the reflected light). The thing you use when using flash light, too. Well, that gave me more accurate exposure of the ISO 800 Instax film. After all, Instax is a bit tricky when it comes to correct exposure, due to its low latitude (which means you can easily over or under expose).


Aperture ƒ27

Since it is super sunny here in Stockholm, which lead to that i had to use the highest shutter speed on the Mamiya RZ67 available, e.g. 1/400 sec at ƒ27 in order to get the correct exposure.

Well, with Instax film you can stop down that much without that the image degrades (as that will not be visible) due to the extreme apertures (which on a digital sensor on the other hand - would have lead to severe softening details). Also on analog film the softening of details would have been visible at aperture ƒ27.

I can't remember ever having stopped down a normal lens that much...


Getting the basics straight

Well, this attempt was just to get familiar with the basics, both camera together with the new Zinstax filmback. Now I know, and can make some other photos...

Indoors i would recommend using a tripod, because even at ISO 800 - the exposure / shutter speeds drops too much, where you, with a huge Mamiya RZ67 camera and its huge slapping mirror inside, get blurry photos.

The alternative is to use the camera handheld, but instead using the mirror-up feature (before exposure) and then the central shutter in the lens (with help of a cable attached to the lens). With analog film i always use a tripod - because there is almost always a slight blur from shaking when you use it handheld. Even with the mirror-up feature - everything below 1/400 does quite often show blur or shake in the finer details.

The whole meaning with using a Mamiya RZ67 camera with it's big 6x7 cm negatives, is to use it with tripod, in order to get that really excellent sharpness and quality across your negatives. It does make a difference when comparing negatives that i took handheld, with or without mirror bounce - the tripod based images, where technically always better. On top, it also helps you to slow down - and make finer compositions.


Mamiya RZ67 - an amazing reliable camera

The Mamiya RZ67 is one fine photographic working tool - perhaps one of the very best ever made. My camera - or one of them - is from 1987 - still working excellently after 37 years. Despite the many times I have used it in the past... Quite amazing, when you think of how many cameras still work after such a long time. I never had to give it into repair. None of them. I do have to add, that if the Mamiya RZ67 would have been used in fashion or in any other heavy duty area, it might have needed repair now an then.

I remember back in 1987, having been worried about the electronics in the camera... I wondered how long these electronics inside would last. Given that the camera is fully electronic, always needing a battery in order to function. There is an 1/400 sec manual emergency shutter feature in case the battery fails. That's only useful (if at all) if you are on studio strobes and the battery fails.


First generation 120 rollfilm backs where not so reliable
(after 15-20 years)

The only problem I had with the Mamiya RZ67 system, were the first generation 120 rollfilm backs which didn't work anymore in 2007. The stopped transporting the film for whatever reasons. The newer type II versions on the other hand, have worked flawless.



My light meter with Instax film results really suck !

So, i set my Minolta 5 light meter to ISO 800 - but boy, everything just gets overexposed - which i find surprising. For still unknown reasons, my results with the Instax film are always overexposed, by at least 2 stops. Maybe i acquire better overall luck, if i set my ISO to 3200 instead ?!

Using the spot meter again

I have now reverted back to the spot meter (5°) with the Minolta light meter, and use instead of the nominal ISO 800 but rather ISO 1600-2000 on it - with the hope to get better exposures...

My thinking here is, that if i constantly get overexposed images when using ISO 800 on my light meter - than i can "permanently" set it to a higher ISO instead (if it gives me overall better exposed photos).

Well, that seem to work. I just hope that my light meter works correct... *bummer* I have to try it with another light meter, and compare, if they are aligned or differ.

No, the light meter is correct - after i just tested it with the Canon EOS R6 as a light meter. They show the same values / shutter speeds / aperture at the same ISO.

Mamiya RZ67 + Sekor Z 360 mm ƒ 6.0 on Instax Film (1/400 sec ƒ 22) - the tree outside in front of our balcony, measured at ISO 2000.


Very Mixed feelings

I have the funny feeling, that this whole Mamiya RZ67 + Instax film back is... not more than an expensive, luxurious but in reality not really so rewarding thing. I maybe wrong, because of a premature, and dull opinion. It is likely a matter of perspective and creative senses... which I at this stage, seem to lack.

But yeah, for the time being, i find it to be an unnecessary option. Like back in the 80s, i too felt underwhelmed when i bought the Mamiya Polaroid back, and bought some Polaroid film... it was fun - but boy, was it really worth the money ?! no it wasn't. Not for me.

And I get a little bit a dejavu with this Zinstax, too.

However, the Zinstax back, is a delight in itself, how the developer made all this by hand. I mean the progression from a home project into a product that he could sell to other people - and all the effort and refinements he has done over the years... That requires SKILLS and TALENT.

For that, it was worth it - because it rewards the developer for all the work he has been putting into the Zinstax.

Kudos for that !


Now, i have to figure out if this is something for me.

Well, i have around 160 Instax images left... I'll figure it out. As of now, I am still in the process of getting the hang of the INSTAX film itself (exposure wise) - so there is still absolutely no creativity involved from my side *LOL*

If i had to compare between

• Zinstax Instant Square images with Mamiya RZ67 studio camera
• Fujifilm Instax Wide printer
• Canon Selphy

I would say, the Canon Selphy printer is by far the best combination between quality, cost of both printer as well the material you print on - and flexibility. Images last 100 years, are of very high quality (with some correction by adding a bit yellow and magenta to your images you wish to print), and the cost per images is 15 Euro cent, compared to 1 euro for an Instax photo.

The Instax printer is good, too - because it doesn't matter which camera you use - you can always transfer them via the Instax Wide printer. Even those need correction, in order to to become too flat, i have noticed (especially with indoor photos).

The Zinstax Instant back, is the least flexible - using square film - and requires a Mamiya RZ67. But it is also a unique tool - because there are no other options.


Polaroid / Instax type of images

I think these instant images need large components as a motive. Something that strikes the eye and take up a larger surface within the instant photo. Not many small fine details - because those turn out pretty uninteresting - and the image in itself isn't really that fine detailed; but that's the typical nature of Instax and Polaroid film.

Portraits on the other hand, are favorites most often worth with instant film. (Nobody is at home, as i am writing this, so I can't test portraits with Sal or Paola. They are at work).



I have to get the hang of how to take images with Instax film in a creative way. That makes the images look interesting. It is a creative challenge, requiring to understand the nature of the film, as well the square format as such. And of course the technical aspects such as correct exposure. At the end of the day - it is a matter how to fill the images with the kind of content, that makes the results worth to look at.

That is the key goal, i think

I mean if this Zinstax Image project of mine is going anywhere...



Well, suddenly the ISO 1600-2000 setting on my Minolta meter, results into underexposed results indoors.

Now, here I use ISO 800 instead. Man, what a bummer - to get so variating results... Not really my cup of tea. On the other hand, i guess I waste Instax images, simply to get a better hang of the variations i may encounter.

And i get funny blobs on one side of the Instax images. Man, this really sucks... I guess i am not so experimental in terms of film material. I like things to work in the basics.

If i want unexpected weirdness - i can use far outdated film instead.

But that's not to my liking. I mean to use 4 images to get the correct exposure, seems a bit too extensive for me. And expensive.

But.. i will learn.


Duller colors compared to Instax Printer

Yeah, using Instax film directly with a camera, result into duller colors. When using an Instax printer - you get relatively more brilliant colors (The printer also offers more flexibility).

Well, well.


Mamiya RZ67 + Sekor Z 250 mm f 4.5 indoors.

Third attempt, much more blue than in reality - due to that the in-falling light in my room is coming from the outside blue sky.
The whole impression of this image movtive leans towards a Jason horror movie (which doesn't look like that in reality)


Remember to compensate for bellow extension
(when using Mamiya RZ67)

And yes, i DID compensate for the bellow extension factor, when using Mamiya Sekor Z lenses on the RZ67 in the closer range. The lenses have no internal focus. You focus with the camera body. The closer you get, the longer the compendium expands outwards - which swallows some light.

THAT you need to compensate - otherwise you get underexposed images.

Usually up to almost 1 stop when you get to the minimum focus distance. However this varies dependent on which lens / focal length you use. The settings of how much to compensate are indicated on the side of the Mamiya RZ67 camera with help of a scale you read off.

At infinity you do not need any compensation.


(warm light)

Here, the images according ISO 800 (on mt light meter) turn out slightly under exposed - which I assume has to do with the spectral sensitivity (or the lack of high contrast), which makes them look a bit darker. A slight overexposure lifts the image making it look lighter / better (second photo). You get the same effect when using Black & White (analog) film indoors in warm light, that you get somewhat underexposed images.

Notice; The Instax images have lower contrast compared to these reproduced images. Usually the shadows are not really this black, but more grown Grayish.

Light metering according ISO 800

Paola and Sal in the kitchen - according to ISO 500 (+2/3 stops) above ISO 800

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