View Full Version : Camera help! 617 5x7?

2-Aug-2008, 13:24
Hi everybody

I've been trying to read the mountain of information contained on this site, but it's a bit difficult to sift through :)

I'm very new to LF, and am looking for a camera that will accept a 617 back (like Canham's 5x7's). I've seen some threads indicating some people have 4x5s that will accept a 617, although the math doesn't seem to work out for me (as 17cm is almost 50% bigger than the 5 inch back).

That said, I also seem to be drawn toward 5x7 for the increased size, as I like to print very big.

So, what would you recommend? Just pick up a Canham 5x7 with a Canham 617 back? They're sparsely sold on ebay; in the last 2 months or so, there's only been 2 sold, one around $1600 and the other unknown, but under $1800. Are there cheaper/not too inferior solutions?

Thanks for any help


Jeff Keller
3-Aug-2008, 09:32
The Chinese made 6x17 roll film adapters which can be mounted to a 4x5 camera are limited to use with short focal length lenses (think of a cone of light coming back to the film from the lens). I didn't find any good alternatives to the Canham 6x17 back so I chose the MQC57 + 6x17 back. The other advantage of the 5x7 is a longer bellows.

Popping off the GG to put the roll film back on the camera isn't a instantaneous operation but isn't a deal breaker either.

Good luck with your choice.

3-Aug-2008, 09:36
Hey AJ,

Welcome (I see your posts quite often on FM :) ). I'm fairly new to the LF world as well, but before purchasing a 4x5 camera, I considered what would be the best camera for me as well. From the research I did, I gathered a few tid bits that might help you.

1) Some people say you can and others say that you cannot shoot 6x17 on a 4x5 camera. After some research, you CAN shoot 6x17 on a 4x5 camera with a third-party roll film back. I'm guessing that as long as you have a lens with a large enough image circle, you shouldn't have any problems in terms of coverage.

2) 5x7 film is a bit more expensive than 4x5! This may not deter you, but since I'm always on a budget, I decided to go with the 4x5 camera. Again, I am new to the LF world, but it seems like 5x7 is not AS readily available as 4x5 sheet film. A good compromise would be to get a 5x8 camera with a 5x7 reducing back and maybe even a 4x5 reducing back. The plus side to getting a 5x8 camera is that you can always cut down 8x10 film in half.

You can purchase a new 4x5 camera for under $800. Some brands that come to mind are Shen Hao, Tachihara, and Chamonix (the Chamonix is actually a bit more expensive due to shipping costs). Shen Hao makes a 6x17 back that will work with 4x5 cameras.

Hope this helps!


Paul O
3-Aug-2008, 11:59
I've been happily using an Art Panorama 6x17cm roll film back with an Ebony 5x4 camera for a few years now. The film back and viewer are "agricultural" in their design/build but the most important fact is that the roll film back does what it sets out to do!

There are limitations in the design - you are restricted to lenses of focal lengths between 90mm and 180/210mm if you want full frame 6x17 - the actual frame size is 56mmx171mm. I have used this set up with a 300mm and got a transparency 56x150mm. The viewing screen is dark - but a cheap fresnel lens puts that right - actually a page magnifier made of cheap, flexible plastic- but does the job of creating even illumination across the screen.

You are restricted to 120 roll film as the back uses the "red window" to count frames.

The combo of roll film back and viewer does take up a bit of space and adds a bit of weight too - but I carry the back and viewer in a small Lowepro bag and take it with me when needed.

On the plus side it does hold the film very flat and all frames are evenly spaced. It is one of the few 6x17cms that give you the full 17cm width - I believe Fuji and Linhof 617s give an image about 56x160mm (ish). I have yet to have an unsharp frame.

The Art Panorama back seems to have been replaced by the DayI and Shen hao 6x17 backs and there were quality issues that needed addressing regarding light leaks in my sample. My first test film showed occasional light leaks around the entry slot of the darkslide. But the construction of the film back means that it can literally be stripped to its component pieces with a Phillips screwdriver and small allen key.

I have "customised" my back to make it a bit more user friendly and light tight. This has involved sticking light-proof foam seals around all screw holes - after a screw dropped out above film chamber in middle of a trip to Iceland! and sticking strips of 2mm thick closed cell foam on strategic places on the film back to aid grip. The material used in the film back is very smooth and the addition of a few strips of foam makes for a better grip when attaching/detaching the back and also when locking the film cover in place.

I also added the fresnel lens to the viewer to improve uniformity of illumination.

Total cost of customisation ... about 7 GBP!

I have never used the Canham 57 and 6x17 film back. However, I recall reading reports of battery drainage (it only allows auto film advance) and there don't seem to be that many people on this forum using them? If you are going to 5x7 then you might as well shoot full frame sheet film and crop to 6x17?

3-Aug-2008, 13:17
Although I've just recently bought the DaYi 6x17, it seems to work fine. I had some scares of light leaks, but it seems that was just user error. I'll be getting some Velvia 50 back tomorrow, so I will have a more definite idea. When I did a scan of one of my negs, I think that I actually got closer to 6.9 inches rather than 6.5. I used Bill L.'s 400mm Fuji and I'm pretty sure it covered most of the frame. I could be wrong, but I recall it doing so. Maybe it's the crack I smoked earlier. On size, it does take up more room, though. I also find it's kind of finicky with loading film. I've had issues with the film side being too tight and the reel not being able to pull the film. Maybe it's just user error again, but I know how to load a roll of film. I've never used a 5x7, but I'm really happy with this setup. I'm probably going to sell my Nikon 70-200 here soon to buy a Gaoersi GF 6x17. I like the one with the removable back because I can use the GG like I do on my 4x5 instead of the viewfinder.

Once again, I haven't used a 5x7 before, so I can't attest to that, but I'm happy with 4x5. It's a lot cheaper to find camera, I've found. Also the film seems to be cheaper and, when it comes to chrome film, I find it's cheaper to have processed when I do shot sheet film and not roll film. I'm onea those guys on a reasonable budget and this fit for me.


Phil Hudson
3-Aug-2008, 13:20
I can vouch for the design and build quality of the Canham 6x17cm motorized back. Battery drainage has not been a problem for me so far (1+ years).

The Shen-hao, Walker and the metal Canham 5x7's all accept the back directly I believe. I have seen at least a couple of people using it on a modified Linhof Technika 5x7 too.

I use mine on the Walker Titan 5x7 camera. It's nice to use with the Canham back. However this camera does not have rear movements so if it is your first/only view camera it might seem a bit limiting at first, although you soon find ways round this. I think of it as a very versatile 6x17cm camera with front tilt, swing and shift......


3-Aug-2008, 14:38
Have you given thought to your enlarger? 6X17 will require a 5X7 enlarger, which are taller, more expensive and scarcer (read: even more expensive) than 4X5 enlargers, which can be found used anywhere and everywhere.

What about a 6X12 back on a 4X5? Or cropping a 4X5 negative? It takes a lot of wasted 1/2 sheets of 4X5 film to equal the cost of a 6X12 or 6X17 back.

3-Aug-2008, 21:45
What about a 6X12 back on a 4X5? Or cropping a 4X5 negative? It takes a lot of wasted 1/2 sheets of 4X5 film to equal the cost of a 6X12 or 6X17 back.[/QUOTE]

I did the 4x5 crop for a while, but the aspect ratio is 2.5:1, 2:1 with 6x12. 6x17 is a little over 2.8:1. I don't know about most people, but I like the wider aspect. I'm sure you could cut down 4x5 even more to make a wider aspect ratio, but you might as well shoot with an xpan at that point. Although, I do agree with the 5x7 enlarger comment. I guess that's why I scan.... That and I don't have the room in my house for a darkroom.


Carsten Wolff
5-Aug-2008, 17:35
I have never used the Canham 57 and 6x17 film back. However, I recall reading reports of battery drainage (it only allows auto film advance) and there don't seem to be that many people on this forum using them? If you are going to 5x7 then you might as well shoot full frame sheet film and crop to 6x17?

I also use the Canham back on my old 5x7 (adapted) Arca B. It's a very well made solid back. Just last week I changed the battery, which seems to last fine (I don't use it that much (really only for colour)); I only have to replace it about annually, after may be 25 to 30 rolls or so. Also, I changed the 9v block battery mid-roll without any problems. Roll film (at least here in Oz) is also more economical than colour 5x7 sheet film and easier to get developed (I can actually think of only one professional lab in Australia that might still do 5x7 E-6). If I was only doing b/w, I probably wouldn't need/want a rollfilm back, I agree.
However the initial cost of the back is significant and you need to weigh up your particular needs. Nothing wrong with even cropping 4x5 either!
Aussies: Please let me know if you know any local 5x7 E6 labs....Prismcolour in Melbourne, and...?