Best of luck in your search. Regardless of what brand you buy, 7x17 is a great format. As David mentioned above, it's small enough to be portable, but still gives a nice size contact print. There are also options for lenses capable of covering 7x17 that won't break the bank when buying them, or break your back when carrying them (my standard lens kit for 7x17 consists of 240mm, 305mm, 450mm and 600mm lenses with a total weight of less than 5 lbs. for all four lenses). 7x17 was my format of choice when I decided to finally jump up to ULF last year. Thanks to Ilford, Kodak and J&C, film choices for 7x17 are more plentiful than ever. Now is a great time to be a ULF photographer. I hope you decide to give it a try.
A few more thoughts on this. It was indeed at least a year ago that Mr. Phillips said that he would no longer make any ULF cameras. As to Kerry Thalmann, almost two years ago I bought a 240mm lens from him. It did not quite focus right. I believe that the rear spacers were off by a touch. Because I was rebuilding my darkroom I did not realize this until some months later. Kerry replaced it with a new lens before I even returned the old lens to him. This was done well beyond any reasonable time limit. I would trust Kerry with any sale on any equipment at any time. He stands behind what he sells.
That Michael Mutmansky is going to test the Chamonix is interesting because it was Mr. Mutmansky who vehemently opposed the Shen-Hao as a Phillips copy about a year ago. Michael is lucky in that he has one of the last Phillips 7x17's.
Shen-Hao did not drive Mr. Phillips out of business or even steal any. Mr. Phillips can sell all the 7x17's he is willing to build, which is none. Shen-Hao did not drive Mr. Wisner out of business. Ron shot himself by very crappy business practices. He may be able to hang on but he has to overcome his own reputation not Shen-Hao, Chamonix, Richard Ritter or anyone else.
BTW, Ryan if and when your Phillips ever needs repair it is likely that Mr. Ritter will be the best man to work on it. You should be nice to him.
Stefano, as an owner of a Richard Ritter 7x17 camera, I would strongly suggest you consider this camera prior to making your decision. The link is listed above, but this camera has 34" of bellows, easily converts from horizontal to vertical (this is a HUGE advantage over other designs), has a bail back and is extremely light weight.....all this for $3,400. One other advantage to Richard's camera is that if you ever decide you want to try 11x14, 8x20, 12x20, 14x17, 16x20 or 20x24 all you need to do is purchase another back and bellows from Richard and you are good to go. You see, the rail system is the same for all these formats, so changing formats is a matter of loosening a few screws and you are good to go. While I'm not sure I will ever change from 7x17, the fact that going to 12x20 would not be another major expense, at least not for the camera, was a major consideration in choosing Richard's camera.
I've had my camera since September and have put about 50 sheets of film through it. I wouldn't trade it for any other ULF camera on the market.
While Ryan doesn't like the look of the camera, I love the look and find the carbon fiber rail system a stroke of genius. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
One final consideration is that you have the ability to call Richard and discuss any special customizations you might want for your camera. I'm left handed and Richard offered to build me a "left handed" camera (I think that means the film holders would load from the left side of the camera vs the right side), but since all my other cameras are "right handed" I had Richard not make this modification for me, but I did have Richard custom make me a lens board adapter so that I could use my Zone VI lens boards.
No matter what camera you choose, welcome to the ULF world. I know you will enjoy it, and as Kerry stated the more folks we can add to our numbers the better it is for all of us. I believe it was Michael Mutmansky who stated that Kodak was "blown away" by the volume of 7x17 TMax film that JandC sold during the special order last year.
Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad the second lens worked out for you better than the first. Regardless of the time frame involved, replacing it with a new lens was the right thing to do.
Originally, I had signed up to review both Richard Ritter's camera and the Chamonix camera and holders. All that changed once Chamonix asked me to become their distributor. So, after kicking the idea around with Richard, Steve Simmons and Ted Harris, Michael was selected to review the cameras. As you note, Michael has experience with a 7x17 Phillips. He is a very experienced ULF photographer and has had several other articles and equipment reviews published. There is no doubt in my mind he is the right person to write the reviews and I'm sure he'll do a great job.
Originally Posted by photobum
Like most (all) Phillips owners, Michael is very loyal to Dick Phillips. I don't consider that a fault. Dick is just the kind of guy who earns the respect, affection and loyatly of everyone he meets. Heck, I don't even own one of his cameras and I still have immense respect, admiration and fondness for the man. I actually had a chance to buy THE last 7x17 Phillps last spring, but was just about done building my 7x17 Franken-ARCA. So, I passed on the opportunity and it ended up in the hands of a lucky friend and fellow APUGer. I got to see and fondle the camera in person, and it is indeed everything Phillips cameras and known for. Anyone who owns one is indeed very fortunate.
Originally Posted by photobum
While I fundamentally dislike people or companies that unashamedly knock off products or ideas, that doesn't mean that the product they produce is junk. It means they have put little effort into developing their own materials, and are riding the coattails of another.
My point in the original thread is that I am willing to spend the money with the original camera maker (Phillips) for multiple reasons, but one of those reasons is to support those who actually are producing an innovative product. That is somewhat irrelevant now that it is apparent that Dick is going to cut back on making cameras substantially. If the Phillips 7x17 option is not available, then it will not be possible to support the original designer. That discussion was about 8x10 cameras, which at the time Dick was still producing, if I recall correctly.
People vote with their dollars, and if you don't think about that every time you pull out a card to fill up the tank or go into WalMart, that's your business. I generally do, and so rather than save a little on a knockoff, I prefer to purchase the original.
It's funny that you think I'm 'lucky' to have a Phillips 7x17. I think I was the reason that Dick produced the batch, as I had been nudging him to make them for more than five years. I'm not lucky, I'm persistant, and I had to sell some gear to pay the bill.
The truely lucky person will be the one who asks me where one of the last Phillips 7x17's may be available for sale, as I know someone who may decide to part with one.
Last edited by Michael Mutmansky; 01-02-2007 at 05:36 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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I second John's recommendation that anyone thinking about purchasing a 7x17 camera give Richard Ritter's camera serious consideration.
Originally Posted by jgjbowen
Technically, Richard and I are about to become competitors. However, I consider Richard a friend and wish him great success in his camera building venture. He deserves any and all success that comes his way, and I believe the market is big enough for multiple strong players.
I also believe the best customer is an educated one. Every camera design is unique. As a camera reviewer, I've been singing the same mantra for years: there is no one perfect camera for all users or all uses. It is up to the buyer to study all the options and select the camera best suited to their specific needs. Richard's camera is indeed a unique design with attributes and features not available in other products. I believe Richard's camera and the Chamonix are different enough that each will appeal to different users for different reasons.
So, do your homework, study all of your options and pick the best camera for your needs.
Michael, Whether you were the driving force behind that batch of 7x17's or not I still consider you to be a "lucky" Phillips owner. I say this because I became interested in a Phillips after seeing yours. I then putzed around getting the money together and was to late to get in on the last batch. A few had still been available after he started making them. I don't deny that Shen-Hao is taking some design that goes back to the Phillips. It is just like the Ural motorcycle (Russian) is a direct rip off of the BMW. My point is that while some people may buy a Ural, not one sale is being lost by BMW. There is no comparison to build quality. From a hundred feet away they make look the same, by 90 feet you can see the paint peeling off the Ural. Look at the Seagull vs. Rolleiflex. Rip off? Sure. Stealing buyers? I think not.
I have spent my money on a Deardorff 5x7 and 8x10. Why? Because it's a Deardorff. I may build my own 7x17 from an old Ansco. With Chamonix coming onto the scene and being carried by Kerry I have some thinking to do.
If in the end Chamonix takes some of Wisner's business it will not be because Chamonix is cheaper or stole some design, it will be because Kerry can be trusted. So can Mr. Ritter and Mr. Canham. All different designs and choices. How can this amount of choices be bad for the world of L/F?
You are well know for your 7x17 Pd. prints. Some work more with 4x5 enlargements or 5x7 or 8x10 contacts. The commitment to a high end ULF may be to much for only occasional work. Lots of reasons, lots of choices.
By definition I am a lucky guy. I asked Michael that question early last spring and in May I purchased the 7x17 Phillips camera he located. As I understand it, both buyer and seller consider Michael a friend. We first met when I asked him for help getting a Durst cold light enlarger for my 8x10 Phillips. Now if I just had enough money left over to get lucky on that big Schneider lens he reviewed...... Thank you Michael.
Originally Posted by Michael Mutmansky
I was not trying to tell you what or what not to do. I was just making a post to anyone, giving my feelings about cameras. Personally, I know lots of people, not just with cameras, but with things like guitars, cars or similar mechical equiptment that when something goes wrong, they do not know what to do and need someone to fix it for them. I just feel it's important that people know how to repair their equiptment and know how it works. One cannot always rely on a customer service rep to have on hand 24/7.
Sorry if my typing tone was read differently than intended. That seems to be a common problem with typing online. No attitude was intended in my post.
I'm sure you will be pleased with whatever camera you plan to purchase. Like someone said before, they are all different tools for creating the final image. Observe how you photograph, what type of subject you photograph and what your planning on doing with the camera. Do you need long bellows for close ups and long lenses, do you need extreme light weight for back packing, ect ect ect. You only have a few different camera to pick from, but the choice can be just as difficult as buying a car!
Originally Posted by Ryan McIntosh
I have had several emails with Zhang Fuming and have found his English far superior to my Chinese...EC
Originally Posted by Amund