View Full Version : Fotoman 6X17 MkII-L Question

15-Dec-2007, 16:36
I am considering purchasing the Fotoman 6X17 MkII-L, and I would opinions regarding the build quality and reliability of the camera. I realize it isn't a Linhof or a Horseman, but neither is the price! Also, how important is it to have shift capability if the camera will be used only for landscape work? It seems that I would be able to reposition myself or my tripod height to obtain the required composition. Thanks!

randy larson
15-Dec-2007, 19:33
I have been using the Fotoman 617 for about a year. I use the Nikkor 90mm f4.5 lens and a Rodenstock 180mm. I have been very happy with this camera, and have used it extensively under many different conditions. I previously used a Fuji G617. My results with the Fotoman have been better. I like the ease of using the ground glass for critical composition, and for me the lack of shift has not been an issue. I recommend this camera, and possibly the only criticism I have is that lens changes are clumsy.

Darcy Cote
15-Dec-2007, 21:12

Jim Bradley
16-Dec-2007, 13:00
I have one I bought used from a member of this forum. It came with a 180 mm lens and I purchased the cone etc. for my 75 mm from Fotoman. I am really enjoying this format as it seems to "fit" my eye better than 4x5. It is the classic "light tight box" with little to go wrong. As Randy stated lens changing is not eloquent but only involves 4 screws. Lenses can not be changed with film in camera as there is no dark slide. I believe Fotoman has recently announced a front shift mechanism for this model, check their website. I like to use it hand held as well as on a tripod so front shift is not a big need for me.

16-Dec-2007, 15:44
One thing puts me off on the Fotoman cameras... Perhaps one of you with experience can tell me if my fears are unfounded.

With every old folding roll film camera I've had, I've had problems with light leaks from the red film window.
Now, I live in Arizona and we've got God's own flashlight roasting us out here most of the time, so maybe that's part of my problem.

Jim Bradley
16-Dec-2007, 22:00
I've had problems with light leaks from the red film window.

The window is quite dark red and has a sliding " shutter " which closes it off completely. I have had light leak problems but I think it was from the rather casual way I was handling the rolls after exposure as I was also having leaks from my (very old) 'blad. Since I've been placing exposed rolls in a light tight bag I haven't had any problems.


Marco Annaratone
22-Dec-2007, 13:12
I just purchased a Fotoman 617 II from Robert White (I received it yesterday). I bought only the camera with the plan to put on it my SA 72mm XL. Of course I cannot comment on its reliability. It does seem to be well built and quite sturdy; setting up the correct focus with the optional ground glass was easy.

Just one word of caution: in spite of reading on-line all I could find on the camera before buying it, nowhere did I find the warning that LF lens wrenches may not work inside the cone. My two lens wrenches, a Toyo and a Rodenstock, are too big to get inside the cone. Bottom line: the retaining ring is far from being tightened (I just used my fingers...), I think I will have to place an order directly to Fotoman for their wrench - they indeed sell a skinny one - so that I can mount the lens safely. I find it curious that all the reviews of the 617 I read neglected to report this minor but still irritating problem. Or maybe I am just the lucky one who had the only two wrenches that won't work...

I also noticed some changes in the camera that was delivered to me compared to the same model (second series) being reviewed on-line. There was a complaint for instance that the back door was opening only 90 degrees; mine opens at least 120 degrees, greatly simplifying film loading. My impression is that Fotoman does monitor customers' comments and reacts quite quickly to criticism, and that it is great.

I had the pleasure of using a Horseman 612 for three years and that camera was indeed outstanding, both for its removable back and for its finish and built. Mine was the one without the shift and I never felt the need for it, but I was using the camera (as I plan to use the Fotoman) as a Kodak Instamatic on steroids :-) i.e., 90% hand-held. Having the shift means to use and carry a tripod, I'd say: ask yourself if you want to go around with it or not.