Onward and Upward With Mamiya
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Old 06-12-2006   #1
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Default Onward and Upward With Mamiya

This is a new atricle on Mamiya by Herbert Keppler at photoreporter.com:

http://photoreporter.com/article.asp...&articleID=808

The Way It Is
Onward and Upward With Mamiya
by Herbert Keppler


Small wonder that the already jittery photo industry jumped to the wrong conclusion when news got out that Mamiya was selling its photo business. With Canon and Nikon producing high-level DSLRs, seemingly capable of producing any results a pro could possibly need, the demise of medium-format cameras would seem a logical step into the graveyard of history, no?

No. But to see why not we must return to 1984 when Mamiya found itself in a real pickle not of its own doing. After its major moneymaker, the Mamiya-6 folding 2-BCx2-BC roll-film rangefinder camera market, dried up around 1958, the company busied itself with 16mm subminiature cameras, rather ordinary twin-lens reflexes, lens-shutter and interchangeable lens 35mm SLRs—cameras which Mamiya’s international exporter, J. Osawa, was said to demand.

But Mamiya’s heart and top profits belonged to pro-level press cameras: the famous C3 pro interchangeable twin-lens reflexes, the RB67 SLR and its unique new baby, the Mamiya M645.

And then came 1984 and Osawa’s bankruptcy, unfortun-ately taking Mamiya with it and causing major stoppages in all Mamiya distribution channels.

A Silver Halide Lining
There was a good side to that bankruptcy. Mamiya no longer was forced to fool around with ultraminiature and 35mm cameras. Instead, with government aid, they continued manufacture and sales of their medium-format pro line. In 1988, the Japanese courts declared Mamiya fully reorganized and recovered.

But in no way could Mamiya stand on its own financial feet. The company became attached to a very successful company producing fishing rods and reels, golf club shafts, other sports equipment and pachinko game machine mechanisms, all oddly under the umbrella of Mamiya-OP Co., Ltd. And there it stayed, profiting immensely, thanks particularly to the marketing genius of Paul Klingenstein and Henry Froehlich of Mamiya America Corp.

With digital imaging replacing film, Mamiya engineers saw a great opportunity not just to produce a medium-format digital camera but also integral, compact, interchangeable digital backs that could easily be exchanged with the film backs of the Mamiya 645 AFD I and II, Pro TL and later the Mamiya RB and RZ using past, present and future Mamiya 645 lenses.

The cost of such an undertaking would be enormous and even initially far beyond the reserves available from fishing equipment, pachinko machines and golf club shafts. And although Mamiya had excellent electronic engineers, it needed help from knowledgeable software experts. Mamiya Camera and Optical Division went in search of a new, useful, corporate umbrella and found it.

Into the Cosmos
As described to me, Cosmo Scientific Systems is just what the medium-format doctor ordered—young, enthusiastic, successful software experts with an eye to getting on the Tokyo Stock exchange. Virtually the entire Mamiya camera operation will be shifted there as Cosmo Digital Imaging. But in September the name will officially be Mamiya Digital Imaging, and Mamiya will have taken the giant step into its future.

Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi’s name card now merely reads “Planning Section” of Mamiya-OP Co., Ltd., but he’s to be president of Cosmo Digital Imaging and then Mamiya Digital Imaging. One of Mamiya’s junior executives told me privately that the company hadn’t had such a dynamic head for years and Tsutsumi’s enthusiasm was catching throughout Mamiya.

“We are convinced that the synergy of Mamiya’s experience in camera and lens manufacturing, along with Cosmo IT technology capabilities and extensive experience in software development, will accelerate progress and innovation of Mamiya products,” said Tsutsumi.

“Photographers shouldn’t think of the Mamiya ZD as simply a bigger version of the Nikon and Canon digital cameras based on 35mm capabilities,” Tsutsumi explained to me. “It isn’t, any more than a view camera is.” With that he rolled out a startlingly sharp 3-BDx5-foot print of a startlingly good-looking female. “We made this picture with both our 22 megapixel Mamiya ZD and an 8x10 view camera with film. In print quality you cannot tell them apart.”

Granted that any camera company can come up with great sample prints. But assuming Tsutsumi’s are right and accurate, and he’s able to hold down prices to around $10,000 for the ZD camera or interchangeable back, is there reason for a portable digital SLR capable of 8x10 view camera quality? I like to think there is.

While Tsutsumi claims that Mamiya is already making 200 ZDs a month for worldwide sale, Photokina is to be the official launchpad for the U.S. If you plan on going to Photokina and checking out ZD-comparable quality, better bring along an 8x10 view camera.



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Old 07-11-2006   #2
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Default Re: Onward and Upward With Mamiya

A very interesting read - thanks.
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Old 04-06-2007   #3
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Default Re: Onward and Upward With Mamiya

So what happened? I have not heard anything about it.
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Old 04-06-2007   #4
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Default Re: Onward and Upward With Mamiya

I believe it is still on hold. The original release date was Summer 2005 and we are all still waiting.

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Old 04-07-2007   #5
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Default Re: Onward and Upward With Mamiya

Thank you


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