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Thread: Canham MQC 57 User experiences and comparisons ?

  1. #1

    Canham MQC 57 User experiences and comparisons ?

    I am considering the purchase of a new Canham MQC 5x7 metal folder to basically replace my rather heavier Rittreck 5x7 and a recently rebuilt Tachi (or maybe it's a Tachi clone.) The Canham is about 4 pounds lighter than the admittedly solid Rittreck and has more bellows extension but the Rittreck and wooden Tachi are paid for.

    My questions about the Canham are mostly

    - how well does it lock down,

    - how smoothly and easily does it set up

    - how solid is it when locked down to shoot,

    - how smoothly and how small does it fold for backpacking

    - any other comments by people who have actually used the Canham and can compare to usage of the Rittreck, etc.

    I would appreciate any actual user input.

    Thank you!

    Last edited by Joseph Kashi; 2-Jul-2021 at 01:59.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Forest Grove, Ore.

    Re: Canham MQC 57 User experiences and comparisons ?

    See the following link on the LF Home Page . . .


  3. #3

    Re: Canham MQC 57 User experiences and comparisons ?

    One of the nice things about the Canham is that it makes a great platform for 6x17 with the available RFB. Otherwise, if you happen to see "wide" exclusively, the Walker Titan might be a nice option--a bit bellows-challenged at ~320mm, but the ABS construction might be a plus if I'm remembering your AO correctly.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Oct 2013

    Re: Canham MQC 57 User experiences and comparisons ?

    For some perspective, I have owned the Canham 5x7 Wood Field, the Canham 4x5 DLC and the Canham 5x7 MQC. The 5x7 MQC is the only one I have now as it hit my sweet spot. I also have the 4x5 reducing back for the MQC and the Canham 617 Rollfilm back (which is tremendous).

    To answer your questions:
    - The MQC locks down tightly, but the locking levers need to be readjusted every once in awhile, depending on use.
    - Set up is smooth and no big deal after you get used to it, as with any field camera.
    - I find it plenty solid when it is setup and everything is locked down, even with the somewhat heavy 617 rollfilm back on the back.
    - It folds up smoothly and quite compactly for a 5x7 camera.
    - The only drawback is a general lack of zero detents in the adjustments. But the included bubble levels, in addition to use of an external level makes that moot. Since it is rare to actually shoot with everything in its "zero position" it is more important to check the various levels and with an external level against the groundglass before making the shot.
    - I have the Canham Technika lens board adapter and most of my lenses are on Technika boards, but a couple of larger lenses are on the regular Canham boards and I can switch back and forth with a small hex key.
    - I have shot with it using 75mm to 420mm lenses and the normal bellows.

    Here is a look at the back with the Canham 617 automatic rollfilm back in place.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5

    Re: Canham MQC 57 User experiences and comparisons ?

    Thank you. I had looked at the older 2000 article on the main site but assumed that improvements had been made in the 21 years since then, especially given Canham's reputation for constantly upgrading designs and construction. Your thoughts are very welcome. Although I definitely like detents, I can live without them if necessary, so long as I know that the swings are neutral when starting out.

  6. #6
    Eric Woodbury
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Re: Canham MQC 57 User experiences and comparisons ?

    Rent or borrow one and give it a try before you buy.

  7. #7

    Re: Canham MQC 57 User experiences and comparisons ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Woodbury View Post
    Rent or borrow one and give it a try before you buy.
    An excellent idea - does anyone have any ideas where I could rent one to try?

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Madisonville, LA

    Re: Canham MQC 57 User experiences and comparisons ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Kashi View Post
    An excellent idea - does anyone have any ideas where I could rent one to try?
    Why not contact Keith C and ask him? If there are any available, I bet he would know. L

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Re: Canham MQC 57 User experiences and comparisons ?

    I will second what djdister wrote about the camera. It's a fantastic machine. I made four photos yesterday morning with my MQC57 and smiled the entire time.

    Every part of the camera is so well considered, measured, and functional. What hasn't been mentioned yet is the level of customer service you get with the camera. You can call Keith–the man who designed and manufactures this incredible camera–and talk to him directly about any questions or concerns with the camera, best practice for use, etc.

    I regularly use 120mm and 250mm lenses, and occasionally use a 90mmXL; I use the bag bellows for the 90mm, which provides all the movements the XL lens will allow. The compendium lens shade perfectly mounts around a Lee holder and 100mm filters. It all just works.

    My backpack holds the camera, two lenses, light meter, lens shade, bag bellows, dark cloth, filters, and four film holders.

    I purchased my MQC57 after working with a Linhof Super Technika IV for years. I think the Canham is made with the same level of quality. Some have been vocal about the setup process of the camera, but I have found it no more challenging than setting up the Technika. Practice with it at home until you intuitively know the flow. After a few times under a dark cloth your hands will just reach for the correct knobs. Oh, the knobs! In cold weather they're great- large enough to feel with gloves, yet it all folds up in a backpack for easy transport around town. Everything locks down snug. If you need to adjust the tension of rail locks it's all done with standard allen wrenches (I've adjusted this once in two years/150 sheets of film). I have no doubts this camera will last my lifetime, and I plan to have several decades more shooting ahead of me.

    Please reply to this thread when you've had a chance to use this camera! I'd love to hear what you think!

  10. #10

    Re: Canham MQC 57 User experiences and comparisons ?

    Quote Originally Posted by citychicago View Post

    Please reply to this thread when you've had a chance to use this camera! I'd love to hear what you think!
    Sorry to take a bit of time responding, but a week ago I had long and very useful conversations about the Canham MQC 57 with Fred Newman of the View Camera Store and with Keith Canham, both very nice and very knowledgeable. After those discussions, I moved forward with purchase of a new MQC 57 through the View Camera Store. The camera arrived on Friday but it took me a few days to run some film through it and then develop and examine those sheets.

    The camera was customized to accept Technika-style lens boards and included a viewing screen with incorporated Fresnel plus an acrylic GG protector. Total weight including the GG protector was about 5.8 pounds. This is a very solid and precise camera.

    I used 4 different lenses for tests: A Fujinon NSW 105/f8 superwide angle, a late-model Plasmat G-Claron 305/9 in Copal 1, a 14" RD Artar in Copal 3, and a 450mm Nikkor in Copal 3.

    The camera opened and set up easily to zeroed out neutral movements with everything parallel, in fact easier than any of my other 5x7 cameras.

    Overall comparisons are with a Toyo GII 5x7, a 5x7 Agfa Ansco, a home-made 5x7 unit fit to a Toho 4x5 track/movement base, a 5x7 Rittreck metal folding field camera (at nearly 10 pounds, the Rittreck must have been built out of armor plate left over from WWII) and a reconditioned Tachihara/Tachi clone. All of the used cameras have been reconditioned and tightened to the maximum extent feasible.

    Overall impressions:

    1. The MQC was easier and faster to set up than any of the other 5x7 mentioned above, including the metal Rittreck field camera and metal Toyo GII monorail.

    2. Even though the MQC has single point base tilts/tilt locks, it still locked down at least as rigidly as any of the other cameras mentiioned above. Rigidity was quite adequate so long as one was not constantly pressing on the top of the back or the front standard, which one should not do in any event.

    3. Camera worked well with the 105 wide angle. There was, of course, a central hot spot, was one would expect with any super-wide lens. I did not encounter any difficulties or fiddliness.

    4. The MQC worked equally well with long bellows draw lenses like the 305mm G-Claron, or 14" RDA and the 450mm Nikkor, the latter two both in heavy Copal 3 shutters. I did not notice any bounciness or lack of stability with the heavy longer lenses. Negatives made with these long lenses were sharp and showed zero signs of camera movement or instability when imaging very faint, finely detailed objects like the needles on a fairly distant Eastern White Pine tree target.

    5. Focusing screen was fairly easy to use with a Wista high-magnification loupe. I was able to critically focus quickly and precisely, indeed faster than the other cameras above.

    6. I did not use any movements at all on the somewhat distant (60 feet away) soft pine needled target. I was testing parallelism of camera when quickly set up to detents, defaults, and bubble centering. Parallelism was very good using a quick neutral setup without needing to use an external bubble level.

    7. Because of the easy parallelism setup, the Canham MQC 57 setup faster than the other cameras.

    8. I used a fairly light carbon fiber tripod and that was adequate on a calm day with all of the lenses, even a long one. As mentioned, there was no evidence of camera shake or movement on the negatives,

    9 Camera folds neatly into its accompanying carrying bag. As with all folders, there's a bit of a trick to folding and unfolding. Watch Fred Newman's video first about folding and unfolding before messing with the camera.

    10. Focusing is very precise and there are scales on each of the two focusing tracks, allowing use of scale focusing. Again, Fred Newman's short video demonstrated this.

    11. Overall, this camera was less fiddly, faster, and easier to use, not to mention lighter than any but the Tachihara/Tachi clone and the home-made Toho attachment. As a result, it was more fun and less hassle to use than any of the others. It's become my default portable 5x7 unit.

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