Mamiya Universal

This is an example of the final model run that began in 1960 with the Mamiya Press, the Universal being introduced in 1969. It is a medium format rangefinder targeted squarely at the professional press market, and features interchangeable backs and lenses. This example was inherited from my wife’s Grandfather, who was himself a newspaper man.

When first introduced it featured a bellows back, that allowed some tilt/shift adjustments, but by the Universal model that was dropped. A variety of backs may be fitted, and the museum sample includes a 6×9 film back, several wooden two sided sheet film backs, and a ground glass focusing screen with hood.

Both the 120 roll back and sheet film holders have seen lots of use, with the wooden sheet holders worn smooth and bare. It’s easy to picture Dick Laudick, Manager/Editor/Publisher of the Putnam County Sentinel, where he worked for 44 years, sliding films backs on, over, and off as he shot local newsworthy events.

Each lens features a leaf shutter, and so blackout slides must be remembered before switching lenses. An easy to operate bayonet makes swapping lenses simple, but the need to remove and reattach the cable release slows the process down a little.