Thoughts on Engineering, Photography, and Design.

Hey, I'm Ryan Heath. I design & develop things for a living and play with cameras for fun. This is where I share my thoughts on all of that — and probably more — along the way.

Shooting Film: Mamiya C330

I knew when I finally started shooting film that 35mm would just be the gateway drug into something else. But I didn’t expect to find what I found, and I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do.

The Mamiya C330 is a medium format film camera that shoots 120 (6x6) film. It’s a twin-lens reflex design, where the top lens is used for focusing, and the bottom lens takes the photo. It focuses via bellows extension and can get almost macro-level close. You turn the knobs on the sides to move the bellows in and out.


Golden hour at a Go-Mart / storage unit parking lot

The top of the camera flips open and you look down at a viewfinder to focus the scene. There’s also a magnifying glass built-in that’s optional, but when you enable that, you can really dial in your focus. This all sounds kind of nuts, I get it, but it actually works really well. The Rolleiflex is one of the more well-known TLR cameras, but it’s expensive. Additionally, it doesn’t allow swapping lenses, which you can do on the C330. I only have one lens (a 105mm), and don’t plan to buy another, but I could.

For a camera that’s 55 years old (at the time of this writing), the photos I’m able to get out of it just blow me away. I bought this camera on eBay for about $300 (including the lens).

It’s heavy, awkward, and extremely slow to use (fully mechanical, no light meter), but it has given me a new perspective on photography. When I flip through photobooks that were made using large format cameras, for example, I now have a greater appreciation for the work that went into each frame. And while it’s so different from digital, and in many ways, “not worth it”, there’s no greater feeling than composing a scene, pressing the release cable, and finding out that you made a perfect exposure. It’s a very rewarding experience, end-to-end.