What could be the best camera in the world ?

As a frequent reader of Ken Rockwell's work, I couldn't help but notice how intense he gets about the cameras that he likes. I very much like a lot of what he tries to teach people, about what makes a good camera, the tricks of marketing to make us buy useless features and overal, the idea according to which anything can make a great pictures. Gear just makes it easier or more pleasant to do.

But strangely, as there is no such thing as a perfect camera for all purposes, Ken states the best camera in the world exist in the shape of the Mamiya 7...

Well how about that ! A single camera to rule them all? It like people asking "what's your favorite song ever?", I hate those questions. I hate them because "it depends". It always depends, on the mood and other things. I have a dozen favorite songs of all time ever, same applies to cameras ! just check my previous post, that pretty much summarizes it all...hum...Ken has a point though.

What if I had to go with only one camera, for the rest of my life, what could this one be?

  • First it would be a medium format camera. 35mm...let's be serious there, and large format is too inconvenient. Also it wouldn't be a 645 format. This intermediate format is not the real thing, medium format shows great benefits from 6x6 up to 6X9.
  • It would have built in metering (duh !), because...well off camera metering is way to annoying on the go.
  • It would use interchangeable lenses. Including portrait and landscape focal lengths.
  • It would be somehow portable. That excludes the Mamiya RZ and other tank-like cameras and greatly reduce the scope of possible cameras.
  • It would be astonishing result wise.
  • It would not cost more than 3 000$ with one or two lenses,  because it wouldn't be aiming at wannabe art hipsters willing to remain exclusive, with their Leica on the living room coffee table, although you can't seem to ever see a decent print of their "work".
What does that leave us with?

All Fujicas' are excluded: fix lenses, no metering. Too bulky for the GX680. Brilliant camera's though, but not eligible.
No 645, that limits the scope.
We are left with Hasselblad's, Mamiya 6, 7 and 67's, Rollei's TLR, Pentax 67II...

Hasselblad's  and the Mamiya 67's are bulky, metering requires a big add on on top of it. 

We are left with the Mamiya 6, Mamiya 7 and Pentax 67 II.

Now the Mamiya 6 and 7 are essentially different  by the format, the 6 is square 6x6 format, the 7 is a 6X7 format. I do believe it's nearly impossible to sort those two from one another. They have a couple of major advantages:
- they are super small
- they produce amazing images
- overal they match all the criteria, but...

- they don't really offer good portrait low light lenses.

On the other corner, the Pentax 67 II:
- image quality is as brilliant, it's a draw
- it has a range of lenses allowing portrait & landscape
- it is rock solid but...

- it's very, very heavy and noisy.

The best camera in the world is one of them. As a portrait photographer, I would tend to pick the Pentax 67II for the 90mm f2.8 lens.
For having carried the Mamiya RZ67 on my shoulders while traveling, i'd pick the Mamiya 6 for portability and the 2 extra frames per roll.

Those would be the 2 best cameras in the world for me. And yes I know I had to pick one...

Since I already have a RZ67 I would pick the Mamiya 6. If I didn't have the RZ, I'd start with the Pentax, but in the end, I would buy both. Anyway, my point is: if I had to own only one, it would be a Pentax 67II.

Your choice should be based on your taste for landscape (Mamiya 6) VS portraits (Pentax).


  1. Very interesting! But how would you say the Pentax 67II + 90/105mm would do for hendheld work? I often read it is not so good for that and that it only really shines on a tripod? Personally I dont see a reason why it would not be good for handheld work, but I would like to hear your opinion on this.

    1. Pascal: the Pentax can be held with the big wooden handle. However what doesn't strike on picture is how huge it is. Also, you should hear the shutter noise. It's very very loud. So much for discretion. However I've been street shooting a mamiya RZ (same size), it's "doable" . For handheld work, go mamiya 7, no doubt.

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