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Photography/Hot shoe on a Mamiyaflex C2 Hot but not flashing


QUESTION: Hi Kent, First of all thank you in advance for volunteering and sharing your knowledge with others. I respect people who do this & I try to do this myself every chance I get.

My question, or my problem. I have a C2 Mamiyaflex twin lens that I bought for a few bucks on Ebay and somewhat restored. I really only took off the rust and resurfaced the leather using a kit I found online. I'm lucky the lens, light seals, focus glass, waste level view box and magnifier lend were still intact & was still part of the inventory. The lenses were clean and in great shape as well.

I went to test the flash, plugged in the pc cable, set the dial to "X" and tried to shoot, with film in the camera, and test the flash, nothing happened, I noticed their was a screw missing from the hot shoe but  as I touched the connection of the flash to the shoe, putting it back on the flash went off. So I didn't think it was the missing screw but I out a replacement in anyway.

So that's my problem, my hot shoe is hot but it won't trigger the flash I use several electronic flash different sizes and strength from Vivitar, Sun-pac, Braun, and many others, no luck.
The only thin I haven't tried was a flash bulb flash

Is it that it can't shoot and electronic flash, I 'm guessing no as it did accidentally every time I tried. Do you have any suggestions or ideas? I chose you because in your profile it said you had knowledge of Vintage cameras and your experience with medium format photography.

Hope you can help:-)


ANSWER: The "X" is the proper sync for electronic flash.  For bulbs it would be "M".  Really, your flash would fire from either X or M.  The sync is really just a switch that closes as the shutter closes.  For "X" it closes as the shutter is open.  For "M" it opens just as the shutter begins to open--a slight difference in timing and that's all.

Here's what I think you have going on.  It's possible your sync cable/connector has a short in it, or the contacts are corroded.  Try a different one.  OR, attach the sync cable to the flash and then try to get it to fire by using a small screwdriver (with plastic handle!) or something to short it. (That's basically what the camera is doing.)  If the flash fires doing this, it's not the cable.  If that's the case then the internal contact for the shutter is either corroded or not making contact.

I think the reason your flash fires when you connect the cord is that as you are trying to connect it, you are simply shorting the contacts between cable and flash.  Flash will often to that so I'm not sure it proves anything other than your flash works.  Try using that sync cord & flash on another camera--that will tell you if the sync cord is OK.  

Good luck!
Kent in SD

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Sorry for the misunderstanding but the flash goes off when I touch it to the hot shoe, not when I connect the PC cable. I'll have to try using a different PC cable. I'm not even sure I used a PC cable every time. It's been a long time since I've tried it, that's how long I've been meaning to ask my question. I should have tried the whole process again before asking my question. Unless the change in my explanation (the flash going off when it touches the hot shoe)changes anything in your answer I think I will review what I did and if I still find a need to ask a question or if anything is different I will get back in touch. Thank you very much for your help.


Here's what I think is happening.  When you slide the flash on the hotshoe, the contacts are shorting and making it fire.  This is not unusual.  IF your camera has a PC socket, try connecting the flash to the PC socket.  If the flash still won't fire, the odds are there is something wrong with the flash sync connection in the camera (which is basically a switch.)  If the flash fires from the PC socket but not the hotshoe, either the connection is corroded (clean it off,) the contacts on the flash are touching the contacts on the camera, or there is a wire etc. disconnected inside the camera to the hotshoe.

Good luck!
Kent in SD


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Kent Staubus


I am an experienced outdoor photographer My knowledge base includes digital Nikons, use of flash, vintage & historical cameras, and shooting both medium format and large format film. My specialty is night photography, both with or without flash set ups. I am primarily an outdoor photographer and shoot railroads, country churches, abandoned buildings, and candid people photos. I shoot a lot of travel photos in places like Canada, Scotland, Hawaii, Iceland, and of course the Northern Plains.


Have been taking photos daily for the past 15 years, with total experience of 26 years. I have had a number of photos in magazines, including a few cover shots. I am proficient with camera gear made from the 1850s to present.

TRAINS magazine, Railroads Illustrated Magazine

Bachelor Degree from University of Kansas

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