View Full Version : Canham MQC57 for 6x17 and 4x5

Don Miller
2-Jul-2004, 08:58
I am considering purchasing this camera for 6x17 and 4x5 only. My use is field, including day backpacking. Iím looking for ~600mm of draw. Whatís you opinion of this camera? What are other camera choices?


Don Miller

Michael Kadillak
2-Jul-2004, 13:25
I have the MQC57 camera and have used it extensively over the last five years. I will tell you that it is not the most rigid field camera that was ever produced, but it does abide to its design criteria quite effectively. It is a ligh weight field camera (6#) with full movements and 24" of bellows with a marvelous fresnel and a lightweight synthetic bellows. There is no problem with using this camera to take razor sharp images as long as you work around its limitations. The back standard only has a lower axis tightening screw so you need to use opposing finger pressure when you insert and remove a film holder. This is not a Linhof Technika in that regard, but it also does not weigh 13# in the 5x7 version. The lockdown screws do the job of holding the camera in the correct position for making photographs so don't try to muscle them into a place where they were not designed to go.

While I do not believe that there is such thing as a perfect camera, my MQC has continued to be one of my main cameras for the field and I love it.

Now, as to your second question as to shooting 617 and 4x5, I find it hard to swallow the $1,095 for the 617 back and then $440 for the 4x5 back. But if these were my objectives here is how I would attack it.

Odds are fabulous that the lenses you will use will cover 5x7 to get your 617 proportions so I would pass on spending an additional $1,535 + shipping and shoot only 5x7 and cut it down the results to whatever proportions you want to go with. You are going to get the 5x7 back with the camera so why not just go with it in the short term. 5x7 chrome film from Kodak is only $1 a sheet more than the same film in 4x5 and you will have less volume and weight to pack and it will be logistically all one dimensional. Use some of that thin black tape to put the proportions on the ground glass and give it a go. You would have to go through a hell of a lot of film to make up the cost differential mentioned above.

Just my $0.02.


Michael Yuen
2-Jul-2004, 14:30
One of the reasons to use the 617 back is film availability. 5x7 is an odd format, it's getting harder to get film for it. However, having said that, you may want to search this forum and others to see what other people's experience with the Canham back before buying.

Michael Kadillak
2-Jul-2004, 14:45
Michael. I cannot disagree with your statement that "5x7 is an odd format and its getting harder to get film for it" more.It is simply not a valid statement.

There are more 5x7 cameras currently being produced and more film available in the 5x7 format (B&W, color transparency) than at any time in the last seven years. Even Kodak is offering Portra and EPS in 5x7. View camera magazine did a review of cameras and film available in 5x7 and clearly, the outlook is robust to say the very least. Just take a look for yourself!


2-Jul-2004, 19:38
5x7 is a great format, and there I times I had wish I stuck with it, but the color film processing cost got to me (I didn't try B&W). I found fewer labs would even process 5x7, and those that did were gradually raising their prices towards that of 8x10 E-6 and C41. Not the same, but sometimes only a dollar or two less than 8x10 per sheet. Then, trying to get enlargements done, no labs I could find would do analog prints from 5x7 w/o charging custom because they had only enlargers for 4x5 and 8x10. Yes, buying 5x7 color film is a relative bargain in some ways, but the processing was a pain for me. Maybe others have better luck. Maybe I didn't try hard enough to find a cost effective lab for 5x7. I prefer the aspect ratio of 5x7 but the practicalities got to me.

I also found that for the film I used mostly, Provia F, fit kind of loosely in the Fidelity holders, and if I didn't tap the holder before inserting into the camera, I sometimes got a crooked shot. Perhaps most everyone who uses sheet film considers that a no-brainer-of-course-you-need-to-do-it, but I never had to do that with Toyo 4x5 and 8x10 holders.

If 6x17 is highly desired, then the convenience of roll-film (greater film choices, easier and cheaper processing, not needing to load and unload sheet film holders in the dark) may make up for the admittedly high payback period of buying the 617 holder over using sheet film. If I were to do it, I'd go with the the 6x17 holder, but it may be just one of those personal preference things.

Michael Kadillak
3-Jul-2004, 07:56
Several labs I go to here in Denver whine a bit when I bring them 5x7, but they do it at a reasonable cost. Any dip and dunk process just needs to be willing to be a bit creative and it can be done. My backup plan is to do my C41 and E6 in my JOBO CPP2, as that is what the unit was originally designed for. My B&W processing is an added benefit with the JOBO.

One of the things I have anways wondered about when people complain about the need to enlarge 5x7 and talk about working with 617, although I have not tried it, I would not think that a 4x5 enlarger would handle a 617 negative, so is not a 5x7 enlarger or larger a must for this task?

Don Miller
3-Jul-2004, 08:24
Michael and Dan, thank you for your responses.

More than half my shots are with Velvia. I don't believe that's available in 5x7. Also, I shoot quickloads so that I can easily hold back dups from initial processing. I don't think I'm organized enough to file regular exposed sheet film in the darkroom.

All my lenses do cover 5x7 as shooting panoramic was one of my goals when I got into LF several years ago.

For Michael and anyone else with this camera: How rigid is this camera at long extensions? The review on this site indicate that at the early model drooped when extended. Is this still the case? Is it possible to extend a support arm off a tripod and attach it to the rail system? Thanks.


Michael Kadillak
3-Jul-2004, 09:07
The camera is rigid enough at long extensions, but I would strongly recommend that you put the camera through its paces before you acquire one. Those individuals that have pre-conceived ideas about this camera may be disappointed because it is a revolutionary design. I am sure that there must be someone in your area with the camera that you could contact to see on in person if there is not a stocking dealer nearby. Keith should be able to assist in this regard. I have not shot it at full extension, but it has had a 450C Fuji on it many times. As a seasoned shooter, you will know in less than five minutes with it wheither the camera will meet your personal working criteria.

I have three boxes of 5x7 Velvia in my freezer and shot some last weekend. It is more expensive, but it is readily available. I tried some of the 5x7 Kodak EPS because it is cheaper and found it to be really a nice film. In most instances, I had to look at the notches to distinguish it from Velvia.

4-Jul-2004, 14:09
After reading Michael's latest posting and doing more research, I realize I need to correct my earlier posting - I should have done more thinking before posting earlier. Michael is right on about the enlarger for 617 vs 5x7 (I was thinking of my current 4x5 vs 5x7, but that was not the issue in question). Also, after searching the net I found at least one lab that has seems good prices on processing 5x7 color (and BW) film - http://www.4photolab.com/Pages/price_film.html and there are probably others

As for buying 5x7 sheet film, a current web search shows, for example, Kodak 160NC and and Provia 100F and some EPR & EPY at Badger Graphic Sales, The View Camera Store, and there is Velvia 50 Robert White in the UK.

Now I'm thinking that going along with Michael's original suggestion is the best idea. Maybe start with cropping from 5x7 sheets, and see if you really want to stay with 617. If you do long term, then you could always switch to the Canham holder if either something happened to the availability of 5x7 film in future years, orif you thought the economies, or possible conveniences, of roll film make it worthwile for you to invest in the holder, realizing that you'd have to put up with having to deal with another piece of equipment and it's procedures.