Which to choose?? [Ritter or Chamonix, 7x17 or 12x20]
Been shooting 8x10 for a couple of years now, and have been very happy with my contact prints and budding alt processes I have been trying, but yearning for something bigger. Currently I am looking at either a 7x17 or 12x20. . Both have a certain appeal, but I am still trying to decide which is the better format. Currently hanging a piece of paper of each size on the wall, trying to decide which is best, but I digress.
I have narrowed down the choice to either a new Ritter or Chamonix. Though in different ULF formats, I have been lucky to play with both, and they are both nice. Everyone has been raving about thier new Chamonix cameras and they certainly seem very nice. The only thing that has stopped me from getting the Chamonix is that it seems very difficult if not impossible to do verticals, whereas the Ritter can do it with ease. As well as the Ritter can easily accommodate different formats. I really don’t care about aesthetics, functionality is more important to me that looks.
If anybody has any advice or opinions I would love to hear them!
Thanks very much.
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I'm fairly sure you can order a Chamonix with a reversible back. The ultra lights are fixed which I guess lets them use smaller bellows and rear standard. All saving some weight.
The Chamonix don't have a reversible back in their banquet size cameras like a 12x20 or 7x17. You have to hang them on their side. Unless they have changed their design and I'm not aware of it.
Last edited by RobertP; 02-17-2008 at 10:04 AM. Click to view previous post history.
if you check this thread on the LF forum you'll see a posting by Sandy on Chamonix adding a 20x24 with reversible backs. I bet for enough money they'll do it for any format. I sort of remember asking for that in my discusions with them.
PS Even better Hugo's comments to my posting.
I will throw out more questions than answers but here goes.
I shoot four formats above 8 x 10--
10 x 12 which I find to be a perfect marriage between size and portability. Especially in my Wet Plate Collodion work I find this size to have more of a presence than 8 x 10 yet still be very manageable. Film is available if you order when Ilford or on the odd occurrence that Kodak offers a yearly run of film. All of my 8 x 10 lenses worked on the format as well so that was an added bonus.
To the panoramic formats you mentioned choosing from I chose 7 x 17 over both 8 x 20 and 12 x20 for the same portability issue. I travel quite a bit for work and both the 10 x 12 and 7 x 17 can fit in a home configured garment bag that will slide easily into the overhead bin of planes. I didn't feel 8 x 20 or 12 x 20 would do that as easily as often as I travel. Of course anything can be accomplished but for me the 7 x 17 was the best in regard to the ease of constant travel, as I have never been asked to check it etc due to its size. I love having it on the road with me as my down time then becomes a joy instead of more CNN or other mindless road fare. I also love the ability to still be able to view the prints 'in hand' which becomes more difficult as you go up in size. They tend to be wall prints above that to my eye anyway. Having seen prints from both those formats though you could hardly make a bad decision as it basically comes down to your lifestyle etc in regards to how you shoot and process. I'll state the obvious disclaimer here--7 x 17 is easy on the sink, trays, need for new lenses (anything that will cover 11 x 14 will usually work for 7 x 17 as a general statement) etc front as there are many options listed here in the archives. 12 x 20 starts to be a 'lay siege on the mountain' assault full of new trays, more chemicals, maybe even a new sink although there are usually ways around that, lenses to cover the format, darkcloth etc etc. I also ended up getting a 20 x 24 with a 16 x 20 reducing back so I know those waters and all their undertows!! I set my photographic life up for both the travel and when I am home (I shoot the smaller formats when I travel the bigger when home) If I had chosen just one format thought to work with instead of the sickness i seem to have I would go with the bigger format and never look back. When I'm not traveling I love to see one of the big negs coming out of the tray.
Wish I could help with the actual manufacture question but alas I haven't seen those cameras in person. Just wanted to add some of the thoughts I didn't think about as I was thinking of all the joys of bigger formats. I can't say I regret any of it just would have been nice to have thought about all the things involved as I was making some choices.
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Nick, Chamonix will make a reversible in the more square formats like 16x20 or 20x24. But their banquet size cameras don't have that option. Now I'm sure they would make a 12x20 reducing back for a 16x20 or a 20x24 which would give you that option but it would require buying a larger format. The Ritter on the other hand will allow you to take the back off of a banquet size and turn it to the verticle or horizontal position and reconfigure it without having to use a larger format and a reducing back.
Chamonix makes a beautiful camera. If money is no option buy the 20x24 and you can have reducing backs made to shoot every ULF format out there. But as Stripes points out a 7x17 is nice for traveling and Sandy King says the Chamonix 7x17 is so light that it easily can be turned on its side for a verticle. Also Lotus makes a bracket that allows you to turn the banquet size cameras on their side and still keep it centered on the tripod. Personally I have my sites set on a 16x20. That is as large as I can go and still have lenses that will cover.
Hopefully Hugo sees this and comments but that's not the feeling I got.
Originally Posted by RobertP
I'm till waiting for the upcoming 11x14 but at times I'm considering the 12x20 with reducing backs. The impression I got was either could be built with reversible backs. It would mean different bellows then the stock models.
Even the 12x20 seems lighter then my first 8x10 so the added weight isn't an issue for me.
Have struggled with the same thoughts over the last year or so, and have been lucky to go out with someone that has used both 7x17 and 12x20 (scootermm). So here are my impressions from watching him work (and he makes it look easy). The 7x17 is a pano format, it feels wide, yet Matt managed to shoot both horizontal and vertical. With the 12x20 (very close to the golden mean BTW) the format does not feel as wide. Both 'look' good when printed.
You mentioned that you are also using some of the alt process, does this include plt/pld, if so consider the amount of metal required to coat a sheet of paper, size of contact printer - I would not recommend a split back contact frame for 12x20, a vacuum frame for sure. Trays for the 'big' prints, negative sleeves, etc all need to scale up.
Not trying to discourage you at all, more of what to expect with the step up - you may need a new darkcloth, bag to carry it in as well as new lens and tripod. A Fuji 450C or Nikkor 450 and a 355 (g-claron maybe) would work great for 12x20 or 7x17. In the end, I opted for 7x11 - because I like a slightly smaller format - it works for me, but I do like the perspective of the 7x11. Monty's thoughts about 10x12 are very good...it would actually give you a 5x12, 7x11, 8x12 and 10x12 or just about anything else smaller just by cutting the film down or having a back made for the camera.
The Ritter or Chamonix would be an excellent purchase. Noted that you are in Japan, so the issue of what to do if you want something modified, or if something breaks is not the same as it would be here in the US. Richard sales a DVD instructional video that details how to take one of his cameras from horizontal to vertical, it's pretty cool how he designed the cameras. Changing formats is pretty simple too, like a Canham you just change out the back and bellows. If it were me and I could afford the camera, film, filmholders and had the room, and the back to haul it all...I would go with the 12x20 - then you would have a large number of formats to work with. With 7x17 you have 7x17 and 7x11 and say 3-5x7's per sheet.
Good luck, and have fun..
Well, I can only speak to the 7x17, but it would seem to me that much more managable, both in the field and darkroom. The 7x17 for me anyway is certainly 'doable' in the field (albeit not a 'backpacking' camera, although some probably do). I have a very small darkrroom and with seed trays its very managable. You can check out my website www.scottpetersphotography.com, link below for an idea on the panoramic format in that size. The 7x17 is nice on the wall for sure, and also, a size that I think is nice for holding in your hands for personal viewing.