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Plaubel Makina 67
© 2006-2012 KenRockwell.com

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Sample Images

Mono Lake 1993

Mono Lake, July 1993. Bigger. Shot on Fuji Velvia. Tech details.

 

ste chapelle

La Sainte Chapelle, Paris, France, Juin 1997. bigger. huge 4,096 pixel version (Fuji Velvia).

 

INTRODUCTION

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'm first going to talk about the Plaubel Makina 67 in general, then review it, and then disclose secret tricks to get the very best performance out of this gem.

The Plaubel 67 is a collapsible 6x7cm format mechanical rangefinder camera with a built-in manual meter that takes 120 film.

The camera was designed in Germany and made in Japan around the 1980s.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

It has a multicoated six element, four group Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 lens with a 58mm filter thread and weighs 3 pounds, 2 ounces.

Shutter is mechanical leaf with clicks at 1 - 1/500 and B.

There is an X-sync PC terminal on the side. X Flash sync goes all the way up to 1/500, twice as fast as a Nikon F5 or Canon EOS 1 V.

Diaphragm is five-bladed without click stops from f/2.8 to f/22.

Focus is by the wheel integral with the film advance lever on the top of the camera.

Metering is with three LEDs ( + o - ) in the viewfinder activated by pressing the meter button on the camera back near the viewfinder window. It takes two S76 or A76 or EPX76 button cells to run the meter. They last almost forever.

Mike from Switzerland fdotbone@bluewin.ch sent me scans of the brochure in German. See the long download (310kb, two minute download) here.

 

PERFORMANCE

The shutter is very accurate, typical for a good mechanical one:

1 - 1/60: within 1/6 stop of perfect
1/125, 1/250: slow 1/3 stop
1/500: slow 2/3 stop (This is typical for mechanical leaf shutters)

Lens sharpness on Velvia with a 22x loupe:
2.8 G
4 VG
5.6 VG
8 - 16 up E

The lens is not quite as sharp as the Mamiya 7   80mm lens, if you really prefer photographing test patterns.

Handheld sharpness under a 22x loupe:
1/250, 1/500: always E
1/ 125: E results 9 times out of 10
1/60: usually E to VG results
1/30 & 1/15: half of the exposures are blurry, half are OK
1/8: Blurry to OK to G

Handheld sharpness under a 3x loupe:
1/60 and up: E
1/30, 1/15 usually OK,
1/8 NG-OK
1/4 NG

Rangefinder performance: I get accurate, repeatable results at f/2.8. This means you can use the fast maximum aperture and get sharp images. My rangefinder is calibrated great, unlike the Mamiya 7 whose rangefinder usually requires regular calibration.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

This is the world's most compact modern 6x7 camera. I used it for a three week trip to France and only once missed not having other than just one lens on it. All the photos at my France gallery pages were made with it. It fit in the large pocket of my hiking pants.

 

SERVICE AND REPAIR

As of 2008, Plaubel Frankfurt moved around the corner to:

PLAUBEL GmbH
Carl-Zeiss-Straße. 5
60388 Frankfurt am Main
GERMANY

Tel 06109-31018
Fax 06109-36368

info@plaubel.com

Plaubel.com

Readers tell me that the service is spectacular.

 

In 2004 they were at:

PLAUBEL Feinmechanik und Optik GmbH
Borsigallee 37
60388 Frankfurt am Main
GERMANY
Tel 06109-31018
Fax 06109-36368

 

For repair service in the USA try calling (212) 982-3177. "Photo repairs" also called Nippon Photo Clinic claims to be the only North American repair station. They say repair "is not cheap." They tell me that Plaubel didn't use a flexible circuit board but instead used 2 dozen wires. Because of that they have to take it all apart just to calibrate the rangefinder. It's very common that the film winding is not strong. It costs $300 to fix winding. NPC is at Nippon Photo Clinic SVC, 920 Broadway #705, New York NY. (212) 982-3177.

For replacement bellows also look here.

 

Lens Hoods

I use a cheap folding normal rubber one.

We are lucky here: the huge shutter that surrounds the lens means that the viewfinder is designed not to vignette even with the presence of the shutter. Therefore hoods don't need to be designed with those stupid cut outs like the Leica and Mamiya, and any regular screw-in 58mm hood ought to work great.

 

Tricks

How to Open and Close the Camera

 

To Open:

1.) Press the red button on the front of the camera.
2.) Pull the lens straight out till it clicks.

 

To Close:

1.) Set the focus knob (the ring around the shutter button on the top right of the camera) to infinity. That's indicated by the sideways figure "8" symbol. This make the lens contract just a little bit.
2.) Now press the front button and gently collapse the lens into the camera. It should lock in with a click.

 

Operation

Just make sure only to set full-stop speeds on the shutter.

Never change shutter speeds too rapidly because all sorts of gizmos inside are moving around as you change the speeds. Avoid really stupid things like only charging the shutter halfway and then adjusting it, but otherwise, it's like all modern shutters that may be adjusted charged or uncharged.

The aperture is also just like a mechanical view camera shutter: the diaphragm adjusts anytime you twiddle the ring. You also may set any intermediate (half, third, quarter, sixth, etc.) stop you like, unlike with the shutter.

 

Depth of Field

If you are concerned about ultimate sharpness when you need depth of field, use f/22 when the camera's depth of field scale says use f/8. This will give you the diffraction limited results as described here. For shallower subjects that don't extent to the camera's f/8 marks follow the recommendations described at the page just mentioned, or just get over it and be happy using f/22.

 

Metering

I've found some neat tricks that allow a lot of metering ease with the Plaubel 67. All you need to do is add some new scales on little pieces of paper to your camera.

I'm presuming that you have fluency in exposure and zone system techniques; I won't attempt to explain basic or even intermediate photography here.

If you just add a few paper scales to your camera you will be able to meter exposures using the zone system with direct readout to 30 second time exposures. You will be able to use the Plaubel meter as a spot meter reading in Pentax LV values, or use the Pentax numbers directly with your Plaubel. You will even be able to read to light levels much less than you could before for nighttime photography and compensate for reciprocity failure. With experience you will be able to eyeball exposures without the meter or battery, with any film speed, light condition and shutter and f/stop.

 

Potential Meter Inaccuracies

First a note to the artist: the Plaubel meter reads through the rangefinder window. It is a spot meter reading only the area of the RF spot. This is good in the hands of an artist, bad for a casual snapshooter. It also is overly sensitive to blue light, since it is reading the blue light not reflected to the viewfinder. That's why the RF spot appears yellow. Therefore if your light is predominantly blue the meter will read high and underexpose your work by a stop or two. I have only found this as a problem after dusk when the world becomes very blue for a half hour or so.

I said this was for advanced artists. For you rookies make sure to remember to compensate for filters the old fashioned way: by resetting the ASA dial. For a graduated ND filter of 0.6 density, set to one stop slower ASA.

For real rookies, remember to take off the lens cap while you're at it. This sounds obvious, but is an easy one to forget since the front of the lens is much bigger than the filter attachment. You won't see the cap when you look through the finder. I suggest painting your cap a bright color so people tell you to take it off if you try to take their picture! I leave the cap on pretty often.

 

Time Exposure Scale

Figure 2.) Note lower scale attached to shutter speed ring indicating long exposure times.

This will allow you to calculate long exposure times at small apertures. You will have to time these yourself in bulb, but at least you will be able to use the meter in very dim light.

Add a scale to the shutter speed ring that goes to the right of the B end of the scale. I use Avery removable labels. You hackers can also use 3M 3.5" diskette label paper cut with scissors.

Set the camera to B and to f/5.6. On your paper scale make a mark of "4" below the f/8 position, "8" below f/11, "16" below f/16 and "32" below f/22. Now when you meter you can read the time exposures (in seconds) needed directly below the corresponding f/stops.

As an example suppose your metered exposure is f/4 at 1 second (as shown) and that you want to use f/22 for depth of field. What exposure time do you need? Simply read your new scale below f/22 and it reads "32." Set the camera to f/22, set the shutter to B and make a 32 second exposure. Easy, eh?

The "B" now signifies a 2 second exposure.

If your exposure is "B" (2 seconds) at f/4 you need to use 1 minute at f/22, not marked on the scale because it doesn't fit.

If your exposure is "B" (2 seconds) at f/2.8 you need to use 2 minutes at f/22, not marked on the scale because it doesn't fit.

I will be doing the same thing to my Mamiya 6 and 7; you just make the scale for each lens below or above the aperture ring. You may want to mark it 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x, etc. to signify that one needs to use that much longer exposure with the smaller apertures.

 

Zone System Scales

I made mine by hand. Reader Derek Au made his on his Brother laminated tape labeling machine, so if you're nice and email him maybe he'll send you a set.

Zone System? Easy. I won't teach you the zone system (read about it here), but presuming you know it, all you have to do is put a zone scale on the top front of the lens barrel in front of the aperture scale.

Figure 3.) Zone metering scale.

Just mark the appropriate zones one stop apart on this scale. You'll have to move the aperture setting in the middle of this. Tough.

To place something on a zone: make a meter reading and not the aperture indicated. Then slide the aperture ring until that same f/stop appears below the desired zone.

To see the brightness range of a subject and to see where things fall choose a shutter speed that allows all the parts of the image to be metered at that speed. Note the indicated f/stop for each part of the image. Now as you rotate the ring you can see where all the points fall according to the scale. You need not use this as your final exposure; just use an equivalent exposure and the zonal relationships remain the same.

 

Pentax Spotmeter and LV Scales

For compatibility with Pentax and LV numbers just add a third long scale to the bottom of the aperture ring opposite the ASA index red dot.

Figure 4.) LV scale.

I saved this for last as it is the skinniest and hardest to stick on.

Set the camera to ASA100, f/22 at 1/500.

Now draw a tiny "18" on the paper you just stuck to the aperture ring next to the red dot. Draw a "17" above ASA 200, a "16" above ASA 400, a "15" above ASA 800 and a "14" above ASA 1600.

To continue the scale set the camera to f/4 at a 1/125. Draw a "13" above ASA 25, a "12" above ASA 50, an "11" above 100, a "10" above 200, a "9" above 400, an "8" above 800 and a "7" above 1600.

Set the camera to 1 second at f/4. Now draw a "6" above ASA 25, a "5" above 50, a "4" above 100, a "3" above 200, a "2" above 400, a "1" above 800, and a "0" above 1600.

You can use the same procedure if you need higher or lower LV numbers.

Now for whatever light condition you encounter the Pentax Light Value (LV) number is the number next to the dot.

Of course you must set the film speed on the Plaubel if you want to photograph with the Plaubel.

If all you want to do is get a number to transfer to or compare with your Pentax then you can skip setting film speed on your Plaubel.

If you make a meter reading with the Plaubel, the number next to the red dot is what the Pentax meter would read, regardless of film speed setting.

If you prefer to use your Pentax meter then just set the number next to the read dot on the Plaubel and you can SKIP the calculator dial of the Pentax meter. You do in this case need to remember to set the film speed on the Plaubel. Way cool, eh?

The Light Values (LVs) on the Pentax meter and your new Plaubel are constant with the light value of the scene and do not vary with film speed. These are different from Exposure Values (EV) that vary with film speed. At ASA 100 EV = LV, for each stop of film speed difference EV goes up or down one number while LV stays the same. For instance, normal ugly full sunlight is LV15. At ASA100 you'd use EV 15, but with ASA 50 you'd use EV14 and with ASA 400 you'd use EV17.

You can forget about this, since both the Pentax and your new Plaubel scales figure this for you. Just remember that Hasselblad EVs are different than Pentax/Plaubel LVs.

If making an exposure on the Plaubel from these LV numbers you do need to set the film speed on the camera.

See also my EV and LV page.

Since LVs only change with the light and nothing else, you will, with experience, learn what all the various light conditions read on these meters.

Therefore if you loose your battery you can guess, and often even outguess, the meter.

For instance, a normal side-lit daytime value is LV14. Ugly direct noontime sun is LV15. Cloudy is LV12. Indoors it might be LV7. Night street scenes are usually LV3. With experience you'll just recognize scenes for what they are automatically.

You can just set your film speed, set that number to the red dot on the Plaubel and off you go! You can even use this to calculate the exposure for your Nikon when it's batteries die.

If you are less formal you could just draw little suns and clouds and moons at the right spots instead of LVs. Set the sun at 14-1/2, the cloud at 12-1/2, an indoor window symbol at 7, and a moon for night street scenes at 2. Of course vacant landscapes with the full moon only are about -3, that's not on your scale.

 

Low Light Meter Reading Tricks

To read light levels below the range of the meter, just set the meter to a higher ASA and add the appropriate compensation. You'll have to do that in your head.

This is helpful for night shooters with slow film and applies to most cameras, not just the Plaubel.

Just set the camera to a film speed several stops faster than your film, and make sure to give that same number of stops more exposure than the meter reads.

 

Reciprocity Failure Calculations

For reciprocity failure I just add a chart to each camera. I find no need to compensate on Velvia up to a minute or so, and longer than that I add a stop or two depending on how rushed I am.

For T-Max 100 and TXP I just attach a scale the reads Metered (Use) 1s (1s), 2s (2.5s), 4s (5s), 8s (12s), 15s (25s), 30s (1m), 1m (2.5m), 2m (5.6m), 4m (12m).

In other words, if your metering after all these tricks says use a 15 second exposure on TX, use a 25 second exposure instead. Per my tests this gives the same zone V density. Of course other zones may vary, but heck, the people who worry about that are the ones who never really get out and make pictures.

I use no development changes; remember this is rollfilm. I don't worry about any contrast increases per frame, they are yours to worry about. If I worried about this I'd experiment with the Tiffen Ultra Contrast series of filters. They provide the same results as pre exposure with only one exposure.

 

Film Box Reminder Holder

Figure 5.) Box top holder. I never use the Kodak film,
I just happened to have a box handy for this photo.

There is a slot in the front lens standard to hold a film box top. It even collapses into the camera when closed, preventing it from blowing away. I don't use Kodak color film, I just didn't have any Velvia box tops handy for this illustration.

 

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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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