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Thread: Fotoman 612

  1. #1
    ChrisC's Avatar
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    Fotoman 612

    I love landscape photography, and it's my preferred subject. I've lusted over panoramic cameras for a long time, but always been completly googly-eyed at the prices. I've thought about a MF SLR, but the size and bulk puts me off. During my (what seems to be) never ending quest for a new camera that has everything I want, I reciently stumbled across the Fotoman 6x12 panoramic camera on the Badger Graphics site. If anyone here owns one, or has used one, would you be able to help me out with a couple of questions regarding it?

    One of the things that's stopped me buying something like a Mamiya 7II is the near impossibility of using grad-ND's with it. With the Fotoman, I'd imagine it would be quite difficult, but I see they offer a ground glass back for it. How would this work with rollfilm already inside without exposing the film to light?

    How well does it handle? Portability is a big thing for me, and judging by the looks of it it would be pretty fuss-free to pack away for a days walk through the bush.

    With a 6x12, what would be considered a 'normal' focal length for it? I like slightly wider compositions (around 28mm in 35mm film) so getting the 'normal' focal length as an indicator, or getting the direct equalivant to 28mm would help me along the way.


    Any light anyone can shed on any of these questions would be greatly appreciated. Also any other tid-bits of info about it would go down very well too.

    All the best,
    Chris

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    Chris, have you ever thought about a 4x5 field camera with a 6x12 back?

    Just a thought!
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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    ChrisC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Moore
    Chris, have you ever thought about a 4x5 field camera with a 6x12 back?

    Just a thought!
    I have thought of going 4x5, but at the moment portability, simplicity and relative speed of use is really what I'm after in a camera, while still wanting a reasonably big negative (I ask too much huh? ). I think at the moment I'll find a 4x5 with all it's movements a little too cumbersome.

    What I really love about the Fotoman though is the use of lenses that will fit on a 4x5 sometime down the road. I'm only 20, so I figure I'll eventually want to move up in formats later on, but I've still got years of shooting in front of me to decide.

  4. #4
    rbarker's Avatar
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    There are a couple of ways to consider "normal" focal length. The typical method is to use the diagonal of the film, which for 6x10 would be about 135mm. An alternate approach for panoramic formats would be to use the width - 120mm for 6x12. As you lean toward wider views, that might reduce to 110mm or even 90mm.

    If you don't like the idea of having to change lens cones with the Fotoman, you might conisder an inexpensive 4x5 Crown Graphic with a Graflok back that would allow you to use something like a Horseman 6x12 rollfilm back.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

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    ChrisC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarker
    There are a couple of ways to consider "normal" focal length. The typical method is to use the diagonal of the film, which for 6x10 would be about 135mm. An alternate approach for panoramic formats would be to use the width - 120mm for 6x12. As you lean toward wider views, that might reduce to 110mm or even 90mm.

    If you don't like the idea of having to change lens cones with the Fotoman, you might conisder an inexpensive 4x5 Crown Graphic with a Graflok back that would allow you to use something like a Horseman 6x12 rollfilm back.
    Thanks for the info on the focal length. It's given me something to work with in terms of what I think would be ideal for me. All this is pretty new to me after switching over from those nasty d____ cameras. I do like to be as low-key as possible, and I think a Crown Graphic could be a bit too big and bulky for some of the walks I go on, and just lugging around cities.

    I hadn't thought about changing cones for it, but I don't think it will be a terribly big problem. I'll only go with one focal length to begin with and have a really good play around with the camera (should I pull the trigger) for a few months before I consider branching out to one, maybe two more focal lengths at the most.

    How do you think I'll get along using grad ND's with a camera like this? I had thought that if composing with the groundglass inplace and using them in a cokin style holder that I could make some crude estimations, then load the film and work from that. Will I ever nail it properly, or will it always be a bit hit and miss?

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    rbarker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisC
    . . . How do you think I'll get along using grad ND's with a camera like this? I had thought that if composing with the groundglass inplace and using them in a cokin style holder that I could make some crude estimations, then load the film and work from that. Will I ever nail it properly, or will it always be a bit hit and miss?
    Without being able to see the image on a ground glass, my guess would be that the use of an ND grad would be completely random. But, it might still help in some situations.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

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    I've never understood the Fotoman cameras. The cost is higher then a brand new Shen hao 4x5 and the 6x12 roll film back. Worse I think you'll end up spending more money on lenses because of the cones. I can't see using a 6x12 handheld so that means a tripod. Once you've setup a tripod you won't be invisible. If you want ground glass it's even more money?

    You don't need to use movements if you don't want. So no reason to worry about movements. Considering how expensive the Fotoman is you could get a lightweight 4x5 and the Shen Hao 6x12 back for similar money.

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    ChrisC's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input everyone. In many ways I'm glad I don't have a never ending source of money to spend on camera equipment when I want to 'try' something new, otherwise I'd have a room full of the stuff, most of which I'd regret buying!

    I think I now have a pretty reasonable grasp on what I want out of a camera set-up, and the result that will work best will being having two different set ups, sometime down the road. I'll admit I'm still a little bit afraid of making the step into 4x5. Having done alot of research on it, and reading all sorts of things about it, I really want to make the move, but I'm not completly set up to handle 4x5, and the cost of film is a little bit frightening too.

    I think in the mean time I'll jump back into 35mm by getting myself a Nikon FM3A, and build up a three to four lens set for it (I can't see myself ever leting anything other than myself focus a camera again). It should do everything I need it to do for years to come, and I'll be able to become aquainted with all aspects of photography at a much higher level before jumping into large format a few years down the road.

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    Get yourself something like a B&J press camera. With a lens you shouldn't have to spend more then $100. It'll fold up into an easy to carry package. Looks like a flat lunch box. If you already have an okay tripod for 35mm it'll be good enough. You'll learn to deal with sheet film. Focussing on the ground glass. Front movements. If later you decide you hate LF then you can sell it and you won't lose much money. OTOH if you enjoy it and decide to move up the film holders and the lens will fit your future camera. Downsides with the B&J are the spring back which makes roll film use harder.

    Pleny of other budget LF choices out there. If you shoot B&W film costs aren't too bad. Plus you're less likely to shoot the same number of frames with LF.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisC
    Thanks for all the input everyone. In many ways I'm glad I don't have a never ending source of money to spend on camera equipment when I want to 'try' something new, otherwise I'd have a room full of the stuff, most of which I'd regret buying!

    I think I now have a pretty reasonable grasp on what I want out of a camera set-up, and the result that will work best will being having two different set ups, sometime down the road. I'll admit I'm still a little bit afraid of making the step into 4x5. Having done alot of research on it, and reading all sorts of things about it, I really want to make the move, but I'm not completly set up to handle 4x5, and the cost of film is a little bit frightening too.

    I think in the mean time I'll jump back into 35mm by getting myself a Nikon FM3A, and build up a three to four lens set for it (I can't see myself ever leting anything other than myself focus a camera again). It should do everything I need it to do for years to come, and I'll be able to become aquainted with all aspects of photography at a much higher level before jumping into large format a few years down the road.
    Chris, for landscapes you can't beat the view camera. I undertsand that it may feel like too much and that it costs a lot of money.
    I got sick of not getting decent results with 35mm. and thought I needed to upgrade to medium format. While researching I came across large format cameras and after a little more research I said to hell with 35mm and medium format, and went staight to large format.
    That's when everything started to change for me. I felt I was learning photography for the first time. It is just the most amazing tool to learn and the process is highly rewarding.
    Believe me if wish I started at 20 with them big cameras.

    Trust your impulses. Distrust fear. Have fun.

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