Chester Street Photography with the Mamiya C33 and Ilford FP4+ . . .

“That guy must really like his camera, he hasn’t stopped looking at it for the past 10 minutes?”

At least that’s how I imagine the average ‘Joe’ might regard someone shooting Street Photography with a TLR camera, such as the Mamiya C33.

In all honesty I’ve never felt more comfortable photographing strangers and candid situations, than when using the Mamiya C33 TLR Medium Format camera.

Young Girl in Chester Finds Something Amusing Medium Format

Admittedly the ‘outfit’, with it’s 135mm Sekor lens (90mm in 35mm terms) does weigh as much as a Carling 8-Pack (whatever one of those is). Fortunately this minor (?) handicap is utterly negated by the unorthodox (by modern standards) shooting style.

Stood at the pavement’s edge, or in the middle of a shopping thoroughfare and often for 20 minutes at a time, I probably do give the impression of someone with a less than healthy love for his ‘equipment’.

On the other hand, I would be surprised if such behaviour was considered unusual nowadays, what with the propensity for many to spend considerable time studying their smartphones, rather than their surroundings (or current direction of travel)?

Japanese Tourist in Chester UK Street Photography Ilford FP4+

Hence the ‘TLR advantage’ and the reason for my preferring such a hefty and ancient piece of 1960’s photographic equipment, over a modern (and admittedly more competent) digital camera.

With the Mamiya, I can be (to other people) whatever I want to be. Over-indulgent retro geek? No problem. Fixing a stubborn and bewildering problem with my camera? Easy as pie. Leant against a phone box taking a nap? Ok, maybe not. 🙂

Hot Pasty in the Sun in Chester UK Street Photography Blog Film

Most crucially however is that at no point do I give the slightest hint that I’ve taken someone’s photograph.

With my gaze (and face) transfixed downward on the gorgeous 6x6cm viewfinder, there is never the requirement to look in the direction of the subject, or to lift the camera to my eye, or raise it to shoulder height.

Tourism in Chester Mamiya C33 TLR Film Street Photography

One Woman and Her Dog +1 FP4+ Rodinal Mamiya C33 135mm

With a slow and steady twist of the focus wheel from my left hand and a barely perceptible twitch on the shutter with the right thumb, the shot is taken and the subject is none-the-wiser.

With practice, picture taking can even become quick. Once the camera is set for the average light conditions (on this occasion, two settings, sunny and shade), focussing can be clearly observed on the sizeable ground glass viewfinder. Click !!!

Lone man with Flowers and Mysterious Holdall Medium Format 6x6 Street Photography

Beautiful Music Is Ignored Chester UK Kevin Shelley Photography

Now, with the shot in the bag, it’s a simple matter to continue ‘appreciating’ your impressive (and somewhat unusual) piece of photographic nostalgia.

“Can you still get film for that?”

Street Bench Photography Chester UK Mamiya C33

Out Walking the Dog Along Chester Canal

The Mamiya C33, or any TLR for that matter, is still as relevant today (if not more so) as it was fifty years ago. Film continues to defy the naysayers, becoming more popular and clearly less of the fad it’s resurgence was claimed to be some ten years ago.

I’m also not ashamed to admit that I’ve indeed found myself admiring ‘my kit’, for up to 10 minutes on occasion.

Click this link to buy Ilford FP4+ film here on eBay.

If you are looking to buy a Mamiya TLR camera, eBay UK always has a fine selection of used cameras here.


Author: Kevin Shelley

Street Photography. Narrow Boat Documentaries. eBooks. Blog. Reviews cameras. Develops film.

7 thoughts on “Chester Street Photography with the Mamiya C33 and Ilford FP4+ . . .”

  1. I too would admire my kit in same case, the camera looks amazing. I agree that film is getting more and more popular (thanks, hipsters!) and it will always be something special. Great photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great photography. Honestly I have never been comfortable taking photographs of strangers as I find it a daunting proposition. But looking at your pictures, I feel like giving it a try. Any tips?

    Liked by 1 person

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