John,Originally Posted by jp80874
A large part of Richard's business is camera repair and custom fabrication. Richard has always been a great resource for helping large format photographers with their specialized needs. Hopefully, this won't change once Richard's own cameras hit the market. He's a unique resource and without his skills the LF community wouldn't be the same.
Just to be clear, Richard is not making a conversion kit for me. He is simply supplying the 7x17 back - which will use the same components as the one he is making for his own camera. I am making/assembling the rest of the parts.
As to why I wanted a conversion rather than one of Richard's new cameras (or any other current 7x17 camera), it was a personal choice. I have previously made a similar 4x10 conversion for my ARCA-SWISS camera and have been extremely pleased with the way it turned out. When I started considering the 7x17 format, my first instinct was to make a super-sized version of my 4x10. Given that I already own a whole slew of ARCA-SWISS components, it seemed like a natural progression to me. I already had 1/2 the camera - and lens boards and other ARCA-SWISS accessories. So, it was also the most cost effective solution for me. Since I am used to using ARCA-SWISS cameras in 4x5 and 4x10, there will be a lot less of a learning curve with my new 7x17. All the controls are in the same old familiar locations. So, I won't have to spend time getting comfortable with a new camera.
Compared to Richard's camera, mine will be a couple pounds heavier and have a shorter maximum bellows extension. However, mine will have features like self-arresting geared front rise and geared front axis tilt not present on Richard's camera. I was able to fine tune the design of my camera to meet my specific needs. I selected the features I wanted and matched the min/max extension to the lenses I plan to use with the camera. It's a one-of-a-kind solution that best matches my own personal needs - just like my 4x10 Lotus/ARCA-SWISS hybrid.
If I was buying new, and didn't already have a very complete ARCA-SWISS system, I would definitely consider Richard's new camera. It will be one of the ligthest (perhaps THE lightest) 7x17 on the market. It will also be the least expensive new 7x17 available. For comparison, it will cost hundreds less than the Shen-Hao 7x17, weigh over three pounds less, and have a 50% longer maximum extension.I am looking for a light weight 7x17 for landscape work that I can carry in my baby jogger when I am not shooting my 8 pound Phillips 8x10 Advantage. Unfortunately we were fighting an insurance claim while Dick Phillips still had 7x17s. Now Dick Phillips' 7x17 cameras are sold and I need to look elsewhere. All ideas welcome.