The new family member: Mamiya ZM

I mentioned in my last post that I was using a new camera which I got for Christmas so I’m giving it a bit of an introduction here. The camera is a Mamiya ZM 35mm SLR which was released in 1982.




The family

The third image above might give a clue why, out of all the cameras listed on all the auction sites in the world, I chose the Mamiya ZM … it was for purely sentimental reasons, to fit with my small family of Mamiya cameras. I have enough parts to make up two Mamiya RZ67’s;  you can see above one on the left with a 50mm wide angle lens and waist level finder, and on the right an RZ67 with a shift-tilt adapter, 75mm short barrel lens, and a prism finder.

Needless to say, the ZM 35mm, at 480 grams, is a lot lighter to carry around than an RZ67.

It works well, although I did experience two difficulties on the first serious outing with the camera. First, I dropped the camera body on to some rock, whilst changing lenses. The immediate effect was that the meter readings, which had seemed pretty accurate in my tests, were now way off. The camera was giving readings which indicated that it thought the aperture was always open at f2.

Fortunately I had my Sekonic Twinmate meter with me for backup so I used that for the rest of the day. I usually do carry an exposure meter with me, because most of my cameras don’t have inbuilt metering, so the lack of metering is an inconvenience rather than a disaster.

The second problem came to light a little later when the shutter would refuse to fire. It was rather intermittent and sometimes a little fiddling with the wind on lever would sort things out. When it finally died, I came to the conclusion that the batteries may be low. The seller had said it had fresh batteries, but my testing, combined with forgetting to switch the camera off, could have reduced the battery strength. Furthermore I had been puzzled by why the camera beeped every time I took a meter reading …. not realising this was actually the low battery warning.

So when I got home I put some new batteries in (unfortunately this is one of those cameras which needs batteries to function at all, not just for metering). That made no difference to the metering, so there’s probably been some damage to the pins that read the aperture. With regard to the shutter winding, I discovered that if I wound on twice, the shutter woild fire OK. The second wind-on would move film transport by just another millimetre, but was somehow enough to tell the camera it was ready for another shot.

The wind-on lever does have a rather unusual design, which means that only half of the lever actually moves when you wind on. Whether this has anything to do with the problem, I don’t know.

The most important lesson is, don’t drop your camera, especially without a lens or body cap fitted! But I am quite accident-prone, and lost a lens cap later in the day by dropping it into a raging torrent of the River Tees.

The camera came with a 50mm f2 lens which seems to produce good images, although the movement seems a little loose when focussing. I also have two Tamron Adaptall lenses with a Mamiya ZM adaptor; a 28mm f2.5 and a 135mm f2.8. So for a total of about £90, I got a very nice three-lens setup, albeit with some minor niggles.  I can also use the Tamron lenses with either my Praktica MTL3 or my Canon FTb. The 135mm lenses also came with an Olympus OM adapter, so if I ever get one of those Olympus SLRs….

I’ve now run a second roll of Agfa Precisa CT100 slide film through the camera and I’ll post the results as soon as the scanning is finished.








  1. Hey, Kevin. ! Greetings from San Antonio, Tx. I’m searching for a battery insert cartridge for my Mamiya ZM 35mm camera. I would also be interested in a larger format Mamiya later . I hope you can help me.
    Thanx,and Merry Christmas.!
    Roland Rodriguez


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