View Full Version : New ULF Owner Checking In

8-Jan-2017, 21:11
Well, I wound up coming in to ownership of a F&S 7x17 in pretty decent shape. Somehow I came up with a winning bid for this camera on a certain auction site. Not sure how THAT happened, but it's good. Other than getting ready to order some lens boards from Richard Ritter, things are pretty complete, film holders and all. I'm looking forward to working with this format. The camera itself is a good deal lighter than I would have expected.

I'm in the process of shopping around for lenses, and may have a line on a 270mm Computar. I would like to have a longer lens as a companion to this. With 450mm of bellows draw from published specs, my take is that the longest lens I could practically use for general photography would be 80% of the available bellows draw, or 420mm. Following up on this, I would think that something like a 16 1/4 in Red Dot Artar would likely work, and offer good coverage, if I've figured this correctly. If I've overlooked anything on figuring the largest usable lens on this camera, feedback is welcome.

I've tried placing the camera on a larger Bogen tripod that I've had for a while, but the hexagonal quick release plate doesn't seem to anchor the camera. Part of this would seem to be due to the minimal contact area between the bed and the adapter. I'd be interested to find out how others have dealt with this.



karl french
8-Jan-2017, 21:29
Congratulations. It's a great camera. I love mine. Especially how light it is.
You can just get away with using a Nikon Nikkor M 450mm f9 lens with the camera. Though you only have a few teeth left on the focusing track. Having the spacer in front of the lens board helps in this regard. I worked with a seller on ebay to make the correct 5x5 inch lens boards. They are very nice and have the correct shallow rabbet so that you can still use the front rise. Though I seem to recall this camera might have been modified to take different boards. I find the the big Gitzo 1570 pan tilt head works just fine with the camera. You're always going to get a bit of sag with the focusing track unless you work out some kind of 'bread board' to support the whole width of the front track.

My lens outfit is as follows:

Cooke Series VIIB 203/6.5 (just covers)
Graphic Kowa 240/9
Goerz Dagor 12" f6.8
Schneider G-Claron 355/9
Nikon Nikkor M 450/9 (definitely the most frequently used lens of the kit.)

8-Jan-2017, 21:44
I do not think that the Bogen hex-quick release will work well with cameras of this size/weight. You might even try it head-less if your shots are set up pretty much straight ahead. The 6" sq platform of my Ries head is nice support to have.

If you have a wood-working friend, it might be nice to have a "top hat" made -- a lensboard that sticks out a couple inches to give you more total bellows draw. A couple extra inches might let you use a 19" RD Artar at infinity or a touch closer. (How far is something just a touch closer than an infinite distance?) or it would give you more versitility with a 450mm. I found the 19" RD Artar to be nicely paired up with the 7x17. But it will depend on how much sag the camera has and how the front stands holds up, since one would be taking it to its limit.

9-Jan-2017, 06:57
Thanks for the comments, gentlemen! Karl, I will look in to the Gitzo pan and tilt head as a possibility. Some form of larger plate or platform will be necessary. By the way, you are correct that this particular camera does have a modified front standard, so it now takes 5 1/2 sq boards. I think that this might be compatible with the Zone VI 8x10 boards, but will send the dimensions to Richard Ritter for confirmation. I am toying with the idea of having an adapter board made, since I'm considering an 8x10 as a companion camera, and would like to have some form of compatibility.

On the lens choices, I found this formula:

how close can we get ?

1/F = 1/D + 1/B
where F = focal length, D = distance, B = Bellows Draw

Based on this, a 420mm lens on the F&S with its 450mm of draw would let me get as close as 6.3 meters away, if I've done the math right. For what this camera is supposed to be used for, that is plenty good enough, IMHO.

At any rate, thanks to both of you for chiming in so quickly. Time to buy some lenses, now.


John Jarosz
9-Jan-2017, 07:21
I use a 420 mm Nikkor as a 'normal' lens on my 8x20. If you go out west you will probably want something longer.

I also use a Bogen quick release hex plate to mount the camera to the tripod head. BUT,

The hex plate is mounted to the camera by 3 screws into the wood base.

There are two sizes of hex plate. One (which is much older) is slightly smaller than the current vintage. Those plates will never fit rigidly into the holder on newer heads. When that plate was current there was no cam operated lock to secure the plate into the holder. Instead they used a thumbscrew mechanism that pushed the hex plate into the sides of the holder. Since you can tighten it down with the thumbscrew it's a very rigid connection. I found one long ago and I've been using it ever since. So I agree the brand new versions are dicey for something that large, but if you can find an old version as I described I can definitely recommend that. I can post a picture of the older head configuration if that's a help. Welcome to ULF insanity.

9-Jan-2017, 08:22
when I had a 7x17.. I used a 10 3/4 dagor in an alphax shutter and a quick set hercules tripod

Michael Kadillak
9-Jan-2017, 09:35
Got frustrated with my 8x20 shifting the careful composed framing of a shot so I built a wooden box that fits over the top of my 6x6" Ries head (also makes up very quickly which is another plus) and put a cushioned support on the back frame of the camera below the focusing and it is rock solid. Tape the two flaps on your holder bottoms and always put a black cloth over your camera when you photograph. You will get a quick lesson on the tenacity of light to exploit the weakness of your set up and it is what it is. Enjoy!

William Whitaker
9-Jan-2017, 10:41
when I had a 7x17.. I used a 10 3/4 dagor in an alphax shutter and a quick set hercules tripod

Ditto the lens. That is exactly what I used when I was shooting 7x17. I found the perspective very pleasing for that format. The Computar should be an excellent choice.

9-Jan-2017, 10:59
Sounds like a nice camera. For my 7x17 work I used a 250mm wide field ektar, a 305mm g-claron, a 14" commercial ektar, and a 19" red dot artar (with a homemade top hat extension board). Given the design of the sliding front standard and the protruding rear elements of these lenses I was never able to get much rise and fall with the FS, never really needed it though for landscapes. Enjoy the camera!

9-Jan-2017, 15:22
Hi to Jason! I think you already know that I'm discussing the camera that I bought from you! (I need to get a gift for my letter carrier, since he had to tote the box up from street level a flight or two!) Agree with your comments regarding landscapes and the minimal movements needed, but I was planning on making use of this for photos in some of the smaller towns here in the midwest, and having a little bit of rise would help a bit there.

Michael's box sounds interesting, but I'm having a hard time visualizing that. Do you have a photo you could post? I expect that there is more than one member who might benefit from your design.

John called it correctly regarding the small size of the hex plate. I have the older model, and the contact area is small. There is a cammed locking lever, so it locks down securely, but insufficient contact area between the underside of the camera and the plate to ensure that friction holds things in place. Got to be a better way, so I am also checking the Gitzo heads mentioned earlier.

Thanks to all! This is extremely helpful!


Michael Kadillak
9-Jan-2017, 17:14
I am traveling right now relative to posting an image of the box design.

Visualize a wooden plate that screws on to the bottom of the camera with a back edge that pushes against the base of the back of the camera bed. on the bottom of the wooden plate there are four pieces of square wood assembled in a box that fits over the 6x6" Ries tripod head with a receiving screw in the bed in the center of the 6x6" box to receive the tripod head screw to tighten down. The bed stays on the camera and goes over the head and the net effect is it prevents inadvertent twist when inserting film holders. I will post a pic when I return from my travels.

9-Jan-2017, 17:32
Burke & James offered a wooden "Portable Studio Stand". It was a very rugged and very good wooden tripod with a large tilt-top head. Had one and used it with my B&J 11x14 for years. Honestly 95% as good as a Ries at a fraction of the price. George Tice used same tripod and loved it. Best thing is that it can be now had at bargain prices.