Note: to view the panorama photo below, your monitor should be set to a width of at least 1200 pixels.


Note also: 6X17 is the standard format size; this is slightly bigger.

This camera features huge six by eighteen centimeter negatives on 120 film--you get 4 exposures to the roll. With a Schneider Kruzneach 90mm Super-Angulon lens it gives a very wide, 90 degree coverage without the distortion usually associated with wide-angle photographs. Stopped down to f64 everything is in focus from less than 7 feet to infinity. You can build the basic camera (wireframe viewfinder version) for less than $500 ... and that includes the lens! The deluxe version (pictured above) with an optical viewfinder and a center ND filter will add about $200 to your cost.*

Negatives from this camera can be scanned at 3200DPI to give you ...

This means that you will be able to make very large, high quality prints.
* These figures presume that you are a smart and prudent shopper who waits for the right item at the right price, not someone who grabbs at the first thing that comes up.

This is a 40 page (8 1/2" X 11") illustrated manual which tells you how to build a camera body, enlarge a 6X9 Mamiya Press film back to get a 57 X 180mm size negatives, mount a lens, add viewfinders, etc., all using basic hand and power tools (hacksaw, drill, file, sander, etc.) Machine shop work is not required, but you need to know how to safely operate tools. (If you are a klutz, please don't buy this manual!)

Here is a sample page ...

Step Four - remove the Mamiya name plate

Unscrew the plate that says "Mamiya 6X9" (6X7, if you use that back,) then put the screws back so that the holes don't become light leaks. [See "step three" photo.]

Step Five - cut the film holder in half

You don't want to cut the holder exactly in half because you want to preserve the threaded holes that originally held the frame piece in place. Inside the film holder you will see the machined rails on which the film slides (closest to opening) and a similar rail that is interrupted by the six screw holes (close to holder's top and bottom.) You will want to make your cut to the right of the center set of holes, just on the edge of the interrupted rail.

Use a square to mark this cut line. Use masking tape to indicate this cut line. I suggest that you also place rings of sticky-side-out tape inside the holder on either side of (but slightly away from) the cut line. These rings will catch some of the metal chips from the cutting process. Double check to make sure that your cut leaves the center set of holes intact. If everything is OK, saw the film holder in "half!"

Remove the tape. Use an air compressor to blast all the metal chips out of the film holder pieces.

Always use eye protection when working with anything that involves metal chips!

Contents of the manual are ...
Components and parts
----- (5 pages of views from all sides)
----- What you need (parts, tools)
Part 1 - Stretching the Mamiya Press film holder
----- Step 1 - remove the frame
----- Step 2 - remove pressure plate
----- Step 3 - remove frame-counter window
----- Step 4 - remove name plate
----- Step 5 - cut holder in half
----- Step 6 - make the back plate
----- Step 7 - make the film box
----- Step 8 - filling in the "stretch" body
----- Step 9 - make the bridge plate
----- Step 10 - reattach frame-counter window
----- Step 11 - make cover lips
----- Step 12 - make new pressure plate
----- Step 13 - make spring spacer
----- Step 14 - window foam seal
----- Step 15 - attach new pressure plate
----- Step 16 - make new film rails
Part 2 - The camera body
----- Step 17 - make lens box
----- Step 18 - preliminary adjustment for the lens
Part 3 - Accessories, more
----- Step 19 - handle and base
----- Step 20 - cold shoe
----- Step 21 - leveling vials
----- Step 22 - door latch security
----- Step 23 - wire viewfinder
----- Step 24 - optical viewfinder
----- Step 25 - testing the camera
----- Step 26 - digitize the images
Appendix 1 - commercial 6X17 cameras
Appendix 2 - cutting metal
Appendix 3 - light seals
Appendix 4 - free updates & Internet sites of interest

What can this camera do?

Here is a sample photo, a view of the Pauling Ranch at Big Sur:

The Internet is a great way to distribute information and images across the globe, but it is limited by the hardware of the end-user. Standard screen sizes are generally between 640X480 and 1600X1200. Designing an Internet page to be viewed at 800X600 is a good compromise to make the page useable by the most viewers possible. That is what I use. However, panorama photos would be tiny at that resolution, so I expand the above photo a bit to a width of 1200 pixels. If you are using a 800X600 screen, then you will have to scroll to the right to see that part of the picture. Even a 1200 pixel wide image is just a small version of the actual photo.

This is a small section from the above 1200-pixel-wide photo.

This is what you see on the Internet.

The negative was originally scanned at 1200 DPI, so the width of that scan was more than 8000 pixels.

Here is the same image, viewed at the higher resolution:

This is a medium resolution scan.

Note that you can now see individual rocks on the top of Salmon Cone. To view the entire photo at this resolution you would need an eight-foot-wide monitor!

Even this does not come close to what the 6X18 panorama camera can capture. A 3200 DPI scan of this same negative resulted in a 23,238-pixel-wide image.

Here is a section of that file:

This is what you see at 3200 DPI.

To view the whole thing would require a huge monitor. Even the CIA doesn't have twenty-foot wide computer monitors!

Compare the photo immediately above to the first sample photo and you will see that this camera can easily do "large format" quality work.

On paper vs. on screen
Images presented on photographic paper are very different from images presented on the computer screen, even if they are both derived from the same negative. On the monitor, the pixel is a fixed size. To get more resolution, you need to have more pixels. With paper, the "pixel count" is fixed by the negative. (In black and white film this would be grains of silver; color films use dyes.) If you make an 8X10 print, it will have the same "information" as an 16X20 print, but it will look sharper (at the same viewing distance) because the "pixels" are smaller. That is why the 3200DPI sample above looks so "grainy." It is as if you had your nose pressed right up to a twenty-foot wide print. An actual print might be only four feet wide, so it would appear five times as sharp.

In addition to the manual, you will get access to our update Internet pages where new information will be posted.

List Price

Note that here we are offering the eBook version of this manual. In the past we have offered the on-paper version, but that has sold out.

eBook Price

For shipping to the USA, you can pay by:
Money Order

To send a payment by mail, post your check/money order to:
John Galuszka
PO Box 140
San Simeon, CA 93452 USA

For shipping to any other country, please use PayPal. (That will make things go a lot faster and easier.)

To make a Paypal payment, use this address:

If you don't have PayPal, e-mail before ordering.

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We also have manual for converting a Mamiya 6X9 to 6X12 format.

Will the eBook run on your computer?

If you are using a Linux, Apple, or anything other than a "plain vanilla" Windows operating system, you can test the eBook compatibility of your hardware by downloading and running a free sample eBook. If the free book runs on your computer, then the camera manual will also run on your computer.


Serendipity Systems has been publishing electronic books since 1986. Recently, we brought back the "dime novel," in the form of a copy of Owen Wister's classic western novel The Virginian. You can download a free copy of the complete novel here:
The password to open this book is: trampas

You do NOT have to be a camera manual buyer to get this free book. It is available to everyone who visits this location. Download it now!

Hint: If you are a smart bidder, you can get it for less than the list price at our eBay location; see below.

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