When in the past I’ve shot 6×7 cameras I’ve found them clunky and unwieldy. Think back to the Mamiya Universal and RB67. Even the Bronica GS-1 which is better than most. None of these cameras had the style and handling of the Pentax 67II. Now the 67II fixes what I would see as problems with the 6×7 and 67. This camera is a traditional 35mm SLR on steroids and worthy of the description. There are some cameras that I have an instant enjoyment of, and this camera certainly ranks among those. Thanks to James Lee for loaning out this beauty.
- Make: Pentax
- Model: 67II
- Type: Single Lens Reflex
- Format: Medium (120/220), 6×7
- Lens: Interchangeable, Pentax K67 Mount
- Year of Manufacture: 1998
If you’re used to operating a traditional 35mm SLR of the more modern ilk, think Nikon F4, then stepping up to the Pentax 67II is easy. Everything is where you think it will be. Shutter speed control, EV adjustment, shutter release, even the film advance. As for handling the weight of the camera is no big deal for me, it’s well balanced even with the heavier lens on the front. The beefy side grip with the shutter release is perfect. Everything on this camera is manual, no menus to hunt through, everything is connected to a knob or dial. And then there’s the meter, I would pit the thing against the meter in my F5 with spot metering, centre-weighted, and matrix metering I don’t think there’s anything that could trick the cameras exposure system. And the optics available for the system are brilliant, and even if you get a 67II, all the original glass will work perfectly as the 67II remains a manual focus camera. So you have access to Super-Takumar, Super-Multi-Coated Takumar and SMC Takumar glass all work and are tack sharp. Now let’s talk negative size, while I’m a fan of 6×6 there are certain applications that the 6×7 negative applies itself to better. It’s the same image ratio as 4×5 (Large Format) making it ideal for print in magazines and even in the darkroom and inkjet printing. It’s big and beautiful.
While the 67II is near perfect, there are still a couple of little things that can be annoying. Despite the ease of use, loading the film can be a bit tricky, having to unlock and pull down the two locking lugs for the film spools. It does slow it down, and when you only get ten shots per roll, you need a good 2-3 minutes for a proper reload. And with the lack of newly manufactured 220 film, which would yield 20 shots per roll you have to time yourself when at a job working with the camera. The second thing, which is a minor annoyance is the continuation of allowing people to mount the large wooden grip on the camera. This throwback to the original 6×7 and 67 isn’t a requirement on the 67II since it’s on the opposite side and the camera has a decent grip already. It also throws off the strap mount which when you hang the camera around your neck the lugs are on the one side only so when you pull the camera up to shoot; you twist it sort of. Just makes it a little bit awkward.
I’m glad I only shot one roll through the 67II not because I hated the camera but because I took to it right off the bat. And if I had shot more there would be a strong chance I’d be hunting one down. Now, these cameras are rare on the used market, and while I’d jump on a 67, again the system is not a cheap one. But worth the money. And if I hadn’t invested in Hasselblad I’d go for one of these in a heartbeat. But these systems aren’t for the faint-hearted. They’re heavy, bulky, and designed for professional work. But they’re designed for being out in the field. But if none of these things scare you, the 67II will not let you down.
All Photos Taken in Elora, Ontario
Pentax 67II – Super-Multi-Coated Takumar/6×7 1:3.5/55 – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-400
Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C