Canham 617 back announced at photokina? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I had heard the Keith was to announce his new 617 back at Photokina this year. Has that happened? I did a search but was unable to find a 2000 Photokina site that had product announcements.

On a similar note, I would appreciate comments on the 617 rangefinder cameras available to the market; the Fuji, the Linhof, and the Art Pan. I have seen little comparison among cameras, and precious little info at all on the Art Pan. I won't consider the V-Pan if the Canham back is available, since I have Canham gear right now.



-- Michael Mutmansky (, September 26, 2000


I don't know if it's announced, but a couple of months ago Canham was talking about it being available around the end of the year/early next year. He also spoke of another project to do a simplified 6x17 sometime after he masters the roll film back.

-- Larry Huppert (, September 26, 2000.

I actually held it in my hands on saturday when I was in Cologne. It still looked a prototype but it was there, some details were still to be made but the general thing was there. About the 6x17. If you or anybody else hasn't read anything yet of a German camera builder called "Gilde", well, by golly! Try to see his camera (I have got a folder somewhere but not here at the moment). The camera is fantastic and although very expensive, if the pockets allows for it buy the most incredible 6x17! It shoots any format between 6x6 and 6x7 (on the same roll!), stereo isn't a problem and it uses from 72mm up until 270mm. How about that! At the kina they were next to Linhof and this last one looked like a toy in comparison. Greetings.

-- andrea milano (, September 26, 2000.

Cool Camera!

Tim A

-- tim atherton (, September 26, 2000.

How do you focus the gilde-kamera? Is it some kind of coupled rangefinder or via a ground glass? Very interesting camera!

-- Larry Huppert (, September 26, 2000.

I think the Gilde probably focus like both the Fuji and the Linhof 617's - dead reckoning as I recall. Though it does have a ground glass option according to the website.

Tim A

-- tim atherton (, September 27, 2000.

I, too, was rather impressed by the camera (inventor/producer Dr. Gilde demonstrated it to me at Fotokina)...
Referring the focal length, he had even a sample of the new Schneider 400mm attached to one of his cameras, and he said that you can use the Nikkor tele lenses up to 720mm if necessary (using 2 tripods). Focus is obtained either per estimation/DOF, or by a groundglass (which is a standard accessory part) - the camera has a light-tight detachable film magazine, so you can check the groundglass at any time.

I think if I were rich enough, I would buy a Gilde system immediately... it really brings together the best things from (medium format) panorama and view cameras (shift & tilt!)... I hope the Fotokina was enough marketing boost for the product to allow lowering the price due to increased sales (just dreaming :). According to Dr. Gilde, the cameras are produced on order currently due to the limited interest, explaining the high price.

-- Stefan Dalibor (, September 27, 2000.

I have never seen this camera in person, but fell in love with the specs. As per the poster above, Dr. Gilde truly took the best of all worlds, Pans, MF with interchangelble format, stereo (the only new stereo MF camera on the market), gg focussing, interchangeable lenses and slight movements. I priced the camera with 3 Pan lenses, a stereo lens pair and gg focussing...and it came out to be about $24,000. As impressive as that camera is, the pricing drove me away.... Maybe a larger company will buy the camera design from him and gear up production and offer it for less $$ someday.... Dream on...

-- Bill Glickman (, September 29, 2000.

Ooops, back to the issue of 6x17 backs.... does anyone know if that back Keith is coming out with is for 5x7 or 4x5? I have been baffled why no maker has produced a 6x17 back for a 4x5 camera....Art Pan does make one, but does not promote it...from what I heard, you have to call Japan and talk them into building you one. It seems that is the large market...5x7 is small compared to 4x5....does anyone know?

-- Bill Glickman (, September 29, 2000.

How would you fit a 6x17cm back on a 4x5in (9x12 cm) camera? 17cm>12cm. It would seem to me that you would need at least a 5x7in camera to fit such a back. (Unless the rear standards on your 4x5 camera are much larger than they ned to be.)

-- John H. Henderson (, September 29, 2000.

The back Keith is working on is for his 5x7 camera. The Art Pan back has a 4x5 to 5x7 style adaptor 'cone' built into the back, so it fits on regular graflok adaptors. This limits the focal lengths to about 90mm on the short end, and 180mm on the long end, I believe. It also makes the back bulky and heavy, unfortunately.

I guess the other question that's begging to be asked is 'how much?'. I know the Art Pan back runs close to $2000, which, incidentially, is almost the price of the Art Pan 170 camera without a lens. Has a price been mentioned for the Canham? It's a simpler product than the Art Pan, since it's on a flat board, and I would think the price would need to be in the 'roll film back' realm, and not the 'panorama camera' realm to be very marketable.

One of the real bueaties of the Art Pan 170 in my mind is that you can use your existing lenses on the camera. I have a 90mm which I fully expect to supplant with the new 80mm SS XL, so the 90mm could go straight to the Art Pan with no problems. Neither the Fuji or Linhof provide that capability, as they are 'system' cameras. (As in, you have to buy into their whole system to get started.)


-- Michael Mutmansky (, September 29, 2000.

I just got some more information on the 617 back from Jeff at Quality Camera in Atlanta. He said the price is expected to come in between $1000 and $1200. The back should be available by the beginning of next year.

There are a couple of interesting aspects of the camera that some people may find interesting. It will use the Graflok style attachments that Keith designed into the MQC 5x7 camera. The camera will use a motorized advance mechanism, apparently because a manual advance is more expensive and more prone to problems. The motor uses a 9 volt battery, which will apparently work for a very long time. They tested the motor and battery, and it ran continuously for 40+ hours without the battery dying. There is some kind of electronic circuitry so the back will know what frame the film is at, and an electronic backup so the battery can be changed without losing count. The camera will accept 120 film only.

I didn't ask about a darkslide, but I presume it has one, since it is designed as a back. This would permit recomposition and lens changes on the same roll of film.

There is talk of Horeseman making a 4x5 to 5x7 Graflok adaptor so the camera can be used on the Horseman cameras. This would also permit the use of the camera on any Graflok compatable 4x5 camera on the market. Wisner is looking into a Graflok style back for their cameras (5x7 or 8x10 I assume). Ultimately, the method to attach the camera to the back is fairly simple, and anyone with a camera big enough could have an adapter made.

I think it might be the ideal starting point for a home-built camera built around the back, one with both rangefinder capabilities and movements when desired.


-- Michael Mutmansky (, September 29, 2000.

Michael, thank you for clearing up the Art Pan 6x17 back for 4x5, I should have explained in more detail. You raise a very good point about the Art Pan camera being able to use your own lenses. I assume then you would have to have helicoil focussing lenses, right? And if so, how would you switch from using your LF lenses on 4x5 then to the Art Pan 6x17? It would have to have the same adapter board. I would have considered this camera, but have not found any decent ways to overcome these objections. Installing helicoil focussing rings inside a lens is very expensive. This sure makes the Dr. Gilde look good...assuming you are not shooting 4x5, since you would have the same problems with lens board compatibility... I am interested in your comments...

-- Bill Glickman (, September 30, 2000.


Actually, this is where Art Pan has departed from the group in the 6x17 market. To my understanding, there is a shallow bellows that is used to permit focusing with the camera, so a helical cone is not required. I have not handled the camera personally, but I have seen photos, and have corresponded with people who own them, so please take my information in that context.

So, you do not mount in a helical. The camera is set for zone focus for a 90mm, if you use a different focal length, you will have to add new marks on the focus mechanism. I have been told that the camera can handle up to a 120 or 125mm lens, but I have not heard of a lens shorter than 90 being used. It is set up for a Copal 0 shutter, so the 110 XL is out, unless a Copal 1 board is available as an option (I have no knowledge of this, however).

If you go to you will see some specs on the camera. There is mention on that page of using a wider lens, but no specific information. I'll email them to see what they can offer.

However, there is no tilt or shift capability, and that is one thing these cameras should have, in my opinion. The Canham back may be the ideal back for an enterprising person to use to make a highly capable 6x17 camera that is in the reasonable price range, unlike the Guilde. The first reasonablly priced, well designed camera front on the market will claim the spot, as there's probably only room for one.

-- Michael Mutmansky (, September 30, 2000.

I have been using the V-Pan 617 mk. III camera for a number of years. and frankly when the Canham 617cm back makes it's appearence I'll be in line for one of those too, that and an MQC camera. But in the meantime there is the V-Pan. I t is a monorail view camera (you focus via a groundglass+ britescreen combination that uses 120 film in an interchangable cassetteLenses mount on Linhof Technika boards, interchangable bellows let you use any lens that fills the format (from the 72mm XL Super Angulon out to the 1200mm T Nikkor); and shift, tilt and swing on the front standard only. There is gear focing and fine (slide and tighten) focusing on the rear standard I regularly use mine with lenses from 90mm to 300mm.

There is a company up in Oregon that makes an adapter that modifies the rear part of the Vpan (the frame that holds the cassette and the groundglass) to fit a Canham MQC. I believe the company is Pans Pacific Northwest. I'd publish the URL but I no longer have it. I believe the company is located in Portland Oregon. My guess is if you found a V-pan kit today, depending on how it is set up, the cost would be in the US$ 3500 - 5000 dollar range, before you added lenses.

-- Ellis Vener (, September 30, 2000.

I just talked to Keith Canham; more information: The back will weigh 2.2 lbs, depth is 1.5", cost $1000-1200, and it will have a flash synch socket with a 2 second delay that can be connected to the shutter. As long as the shutter speed is less than 2 seconds you can have autowind. Make your own 6x17 point and shoot! There are also rumblings of a Canham wide angle camera. I wonder what will happen to the market for mega-buck 6x17 cameras when all the cheap Burke and James-type 5x7s, and also the Hobo, can be adapted to use this back. Regards, Vishal

-- Vishal Mathur (, October 03, 2000.

Mike, you wrote..... The Canham back may be the ideal back for an enterprising person to use to make a highly capable 6x17 camera that is in the reasonable price range, unlike the Guilde. The first reasonablly priced, well designed camera front on the market will claim the spot, as there's probably only room for one.

I totally agree with this! I will definetly be an early customer. And yes to the previous poster, if Keith, or anyone else makes this into a 6x17 camera, that uses keith's lens boards, i.e. small Toyos, then this would be a sure winner! It is about time!

-- Bill Glickman (, October 04, 2000.

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