suggestions for 7x17 lenses : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm considering moving up to 7 x 17 and I wondered if anyone can suggest some lens choices? Something slightly wide would be my preference, but I'm open to any ideas. I can't spend more than 1000.00 however. Any other advice reguarding this format would also be greatly appreciated.

-- Erik Gould (, March 02, 2001


I just completed a similar "move up" to 8x20, so I have thought alot about some of the complications. First, you'll need a good steady tripod. Everyone recommends Reis--big suprise! The problem, of course, is cost. I modified a CST (Chicago Steel Tape) survey tripod to fit my camera. The tripod weighs about 17lbs., is made of wood, and seems rock solid. Being yellow and orange it certainly stands out (if I can get it out of the garage!). The conversion, by the way, requires an adapter to convert the 5/8-11 survey stud to 1/4-20.

Used film holders are hard to find, unless they come with your camera. New holders are expensive--I think I paid about $340 from Great Basin. Holders are also available from Wisner and AWB. Remember, they probably won't be a stock item and you may have to wait 5-6 weeks to have one made. Also be aware that not all holders fit all cameras.

I suppose you either have a camera or are looking in the new/used market. Used cameras seem to run in the $1200-1800 range and a new banquet camera will cost two or three times as much as you have allocated for your lens. With the cost so high, I built my own! I would not suggest this, however, unless you are an experienced woodworker or willing to take a couple years to learn. (One alternative, though, might be to buy a film holder, some film, and make a 7x17 pinhole camera. This would put you in the format with only a minimal outlay.) When I built my 8x20 it took about three months to construct. I outsourced the bellows which saved time but increased cost (I paid about $290 for and 8x20 bellows from Turner Bellows).

Be aware that film also gets complicated. Your best bet seems to be Bergger who makes all kinds of funky sizes. There film (BFP?) is rated at 200ASA. I hear that Ilford is also going back to making a bunch of different sizes as the demand seems to be increasing. With film you will also need a good contact print frame (see Great Basin) as well as larger trays, processing equipment, etc. As you can see, the move up to this format affects everything!

On lenses, I allready had a 19" Goerz Red Dot Artar, purchased from Ken Mar several years ago. The lens covers 8x20 according to everything I've read. This was a barrel lens and cost me about $400. There are other lense out there but you will find a limited set of focal lengths. Bellows draw will probably keep you under a "24 lens and wide angles for the format seem hard to come by. Calcualte your diagonal for 7x17 and search! Remember you'll be contact printing so old lenses are a good way to save.

I'm running out of steam, but feel free to ask other questions, including: Where can I hire a mule to carry all t

-- Dave Willison (, March 02, 2001.


You have a bunch of choices in lenses to fit 7x17. I can tell you about only a few, because I have only a few for mine.

In the Modern lens category, there aren't too many, but the Schneider 305 G Claron and the 355 G Claron are both used by various people. There has been discussion as to whether the 270 G Claron will cover. The Fujinon 450 C and 600 C both cover, and there may be a few other modern 450-600 mm lenses that will cover, but they will be large and very expensive. In that focal length, the Fujinon C series is the best way to go.

In older lenses, there is a whole slew of offerings that will cover the format without too much difficulty. Many of these lenses are old 'copy' lenses from the days gone by, but they will generally be good performers when stopped down to 32 or smaller. Normally, you need to stop down that far to get good corner sharpness in your images.

There is a website that has an archive of lens coverage for many older lenses at:

There is also an archive of discussions about alternative processes (which most people using a 7x17 are doing) at:

The site above does not have a real good search engine. However, if you are interested in alternative processes (platinum, carbon, etc) there is info on how to sign up for the news list. It's a very knowledgeable group of people. For a good searchable list you can go to:

This site has a good search engine for the archive. All you need to type in is a few keywords like 'lens' and '7x17', and you will find a whole slew of posts about appropriate lenses.

My lenses range from a 210 Computar f9 (just covers at f32) to a 750mm Doctor Optic (at about 12 pounds for the lens!). I have managed to put together a good collection of lenses that are all single coated with modern coating, or are multicoated. All the lenses are in modern shutters, and for the most part, all the lenses are relatively small, with the exception of the 750, which is a monster.

I would suggest a lens in the 300-360 range as a decent wide angle lens that won't cost you too much money. The two G Clarons can be had new for much less than $1000, and they are fairly plentiful used. There are cheaper lenses out there, however, as I said, I only have first hand experience on a few lenses.

Email me off-list if you want a bit more information...


-- Michael Mutmansky (, March 02, 2001.

I did not see this thread until recently since I was away shooting.

The 7x17 needs a 444mm image circle. The lenses I use on mine is a 600mm RD Artar, a 450mm Nikkor M and 355 G-Claron. The 355 and 450 are probably what you are thinking of when you state moderatly wide. I have a 270mm f9 Computar which covers with movement. Michael mentions the 210 F9 Computar works for him, mine appears to be soft in the corners and needs to be stopped all the way down. I tried a 270 G-Claron and it vignetted, though I have heard from others that it will cover, as will a 300 G-Claron. It is clear that there is variability in the actual IC of different lenses of the same model/make.

The good news is that with some shrewd shopping you can get the G- Claron and Nikkor M for under 1000. Also don't discount Dagors as another option.

Good Luck!


-- Steve Nieslony (, March 13, 2001.

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