Mamiya  –  Vintage Camera Brand

Mamiya Brand Overview

Mamiya logo

Founded: 1940 — Tokyo, Empire of Japan
  (modern day Japan)
   
Currently: Mamiya Digital Imaging Co., Ltd.

Mamiya Brand History

Mamiya is a Japanese brand founded in 1940 by Seiichi Mamiya and Tsunejiro Sugawara in Tokyo. While Mamiya produced a great number of consumer cameras for many different film formats over the decades, it is perhaps best known for its professional-grade medium format cameras and lenses.

Originally founded as マミヤ光機製作所 (Mamiya Koki Seisakusho or Mamiya Optical Works) during the first years of World War II, the company quickly launched its first camera: the Mamiya Six which, unusually, was focused by shifting the film plane and not the lens. The Six turned from a single camera to a family of over a dozen models that would continue through the late 1950s and each and every one of them featured the unusual focusing mechanism. By 1947, Mamiya purchased an local optical company and established a factory in Setagaya, Tokyo to build lenses and shutters.

Now well established, Mamiya soon diversified its offerings by manufacturing a wide variety of cameras including medium format twin lens reflex cameras, 35mm fixed lens rangefinders and 16mm subminiature “spy cameras.” Some of those consumer-oriented models were also sold under different brands. In 1957, the company debuted the Mamiya C series of professional TLRs, the very first of its kind to use interchangeable lenses. In the following decades, Mamiya released three cameras that would solidify its position as a top choice for professional photographers: 1970’s RB67, 1976’s M645, and the RZ67 of 1982.

Things were going well for the company until J. Osawa & Company—its sole overseas distributor and 10% stakeholder of Mamiya—collapsed in 1984, becoming Japan’s third largest corporate bankruptcy since the end of World War II. About a week later, Mamiya itself declared bankruptcy which had a crushing effect on the many companies that were affiliated with it. As it restructured, Mamiya ceased production of 35mm cameras and focused solely on the professional market.

In 2006, Mamiya announced that it was selling its Optical Equipment Division to Cosmo Scientific Systems Inc. who sold a 45% stake three years later to Phase One, the Danish company famous for its medium format digital backs. Mamiya now produces a lineup of digital medium format cameras as well as digital camera backs under the Mamiya Leaf name. Phase One completed its buyout of Mamiya in December 2015.

Interested in starting or growing your own collection of Mamiya cameras?
Check eBay to see what’s available.

References:

McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg, USA: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), 445-450.

“History,” Mamiya Digital Imaging Co., Ltd., http://www.mamiya.co.jp/home/camera/eng/history

“JAPAN ACTS TO CONTAIN OSAWA FAILURE’S EFFECTS,” The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/1984/03/06/business/japan-acts-to-contain-osawa-failure-s-effects.html

“Mamiya to sell camera division,” Digital Photography Review, http://www.dpreview.com/articles/4994812162/mamiyaselloff

“Phase One takes driver’s seat in Mamiya camera partnership,” CNET, http://www.cnet.com/news/phase-one-takes-drivers-seat-in-mamiya-camera-partnership

“Leaf Imaging — A New Phase One Company,” Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=ahW68waszdME

“Phase One buys Mamiya, gains ownership of camera and lens production,” Digital Photography Review, http://www.dpreview.com/articles/1970037207/phase-one-buys-mamiya-gains-ownership-of-camera-and-lens-production

“Mamiya,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamiya

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