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Author Topic: Fotoman Cameras  (Read 12428 times)
Jason Denning
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« on: December 13, 2011, 11:25:00 AM »
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I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with Fotoman cameras, but I thought I would post a little about them. I don't work for them, I just think they are great and very good value and they recently brought out 2 new cameras for use with digital backs and large format lenses, one of which is 612. I want them to stay in business for my future photography!
They are only based in china but I have ordered from them and had no problems. Below is an email I received today from them and I have attached some images taken from a pdf file of their products, sorry the pdf wouldn't upload on here.

Firstly, we would like to wish you and your family Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
 
Secondly, we would like to inform you that we are still in business as people keep asking this question lately. And we’ve spent most of the last three years developing our latest products Fotoman Dmax, FotomanFD66 & Fotoman45sps.We are proud to say that Dmax is well integrated with high-performance advanced functions & a practical system , very flexible , which supports lenses ranging from 38XL to 300mm along with both digital and film backs.
To better express our sincere gratitude for the support from our dear Fotoman users, all of our latest products come with holiday deals. Please find our latest products on the attachment.
If you have any question or enquiry, please don't hesitate to contact me anytime, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
 
Best Regards,
 
(Ms.) Weiwei YU
Overseas Sales Department
Fotoman China
Tel:+86 755-88834733
Fax:+86 755-29558764  
Http:www.fotoman.cc
PayPal: fotoman_china@yahoo.cn
E-mail: fotomancamera@yahoo.com.cn
地址:深圳市南海大道1077号蛇口北科创业大厦108室
Add:Rm.108,Shekou Beike Chuangye Building,No.1077 Nanhai Avenue,Nanshan District,Shenzhen,CHINA Zip code:518067
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Fotoman 617 with Rodenstock 55mm, 90mm and 180mm lenses
Mamiya 645 Pro TL, and every lens mamiya made.
Sony A7 with 35mm and 55mm Primes
theguywitha645d
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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2011, 01:26:38 PM »
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It is nice to know you folks are still around. (Brian, look what I found!)
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EricWHiss
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« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2011, 04:04:58 PM »
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Interesting... only a few months back, I bought an auxiliary rangefinder from what was remaining stock and it appeared they were done.   Did the original founders sell out to someone?

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Brian Hirschfeld
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« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2011, 07:43:47 PM »
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I believe the USA company went belly up, but the Chinese Company is still out there, they have discontinued some products, and released some new cameras, like the ones shown which take DB's and what not. you can find out more about them from http://www.fotoman.cc/
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Jason Denning
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« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2011, 03:46:12 AM »
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I'm not sure, thy don't seem to list the aux rangefinder as a product now so maybe they just decided to stop making that. Sadly they also don't make the shift adapter for my 617 I was hoping to buy.
My fotoman 617 is a great camera, and their new DMax looks like a great camera for it's price.
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Fotoman 617 with Rodenstock 55mm, 90mm and 180mm lenses
Mamiya 645 Pro TL, and every lens mamiya made.
Sony A7 with 35mm and 55mm Primes
NicholasR
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« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2011, 08:58:18 AM »
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Hmm.  Not quite convinced.

I'm the perfect target market here, and I am not sold.  I own an original 612 by fotoman and think it's a wonderful camera, zero problems whatsoever.  In addition, I am currently in the market for a tech cam.  On top of it being a possibly good deal (I see two different prices on pdf and website), I could even use my existing 58xl lens cone from my 612.   Bargain (ish).

But - The information is lacking.   They just took Paul Drouik's (sp?) site and slapped a minimum of information in there.  How are the backs interchangeable, what cones are available, are the movements friction or geared, will the camera retain any value, what if I have problems, what is the machining like, can I shim a back, etc etc.

The cost of a digital back is so high (although more reasonable these days), that why would one buy this instead of a Cambo?
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Jason Denning
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« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2011, 12:52:37 PM »
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Their website is terrible and hasn't been properly updated, but if you email them they may be able to give you more info, english isn't there first language. I imagine the more expensive price includes a cone and back adapter.

On the pdf they sent me it lists all the compatible lenses and most of the details you need to know which is on the picture above.
It seems from the pictures that the shift is not geared but i could be wrong.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2011, 12:58:38 PM by Jason Denning » Logged

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Fotoman 617 with Rodenstock 55mm, 90mm and 180mm lenses
Mamiya 645 Pro TL, and every lens mamiya made.
Sony A7 with 35mm and 55mm Primes
NicholasR
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« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2011, 01:39:34 PM »
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I actually just did send for more information.  If the quality is as high as it was previously, it's too bad they don't spend a little more money inspiring confidence from their website.  Its gone from what seemed to be high quality Chinese made product with q/a oversight and a usa dealer network to yet another sketchy business.

Regardless, I actually think the fd66 is a compelling camera.  As this type of plate camera is very simple, i'd have less worries than with something more complex like the Dmax.  If it is precise enough (and knowing their helicals, those would be fine), I can't see how anything could go wrong with it.  An aptus 22 kit with 24xl and 58xl lenses, while no Alpa tc, would be very affordable for a compact medium format travel cam.
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2011, 06:47:20 PM »
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I believe I am known here on Lu-La for saying honest and with integrity...

Have you guys payed a visit to Fotoman in Shenzhen, China??? I have, including attempting to develop new product with Charley who owns and runs it. I also attended his mediocre tea session "invitation for press" for the launch of his Dmax. My recommendation is to forget them for anything relating to digital --- PERIOD. I will explain why.

Some background; Fotoman was originally run out of Hong Kong by an American and Canadian in team with Charley on China side (Charley sold the products in China, the others internationally). Apparent, Charley had come up with a 617 camera that the American and Canadian "developed further" and with "CNC" machining. Sure, those where more well built than other China brands, weighed a ton. However the "CNC" machining part was somewhat overrated in my opinion. I bought my 617 from old stock directly from Charley in Shenzhen late 2009 but have since sold it. The above explains why Fotomancamera.com has "ceased" fabrication and Charley try to continue his business in China, but... of course also in China people nowadays use digital, and more and more professionals and high end amateurs use digital backs. All that is left for Charley is thus a shrinking market in China of old film users... unless he would make a very high quality digital product for digital back, which seems he does not understand how to make. Apparent Fotoman China also have left over bills to a main supplier who prior had supported them... which I read makes some problems for Charley...

At time I first visited Charley, he showed me a prototype for Dmax and saying it was for digital as well as film. He showed me the digital back he developed it with, an old 6MP back!!!! Go figure about tolerances... and what tolerances you need for a 6MP back compared to film, and tolerances necessary for latest 80MP backs or even around 20~30MP backs compared to a 6MP back... There is a major difference. Add to that all the sliding planes on Dmax and his backplate interface, and you have a camera that absolute not is reliable for any digital tolerances. Now he shows on website he sells the smaller "Dwide" with a P20+ back. My guess is that is the prototype since he had agreed to me to not use the Dwide name!!! The idea for such a camera for digital was mine, however Charley would not listen to design for digital and digital tolerances, nor for a quality small camera that were well suited for the digital back market. Thus he went with his own design, which places very high doubts on tolerances and if it will be reliable for digital. Perhaps it can be shimmed after you receive it, but it also depends on the accuracy or lack of such for his back plate interface, and the accuracy or lack of for his COPY of dedicated Mamiya 645 mount.

In short: I have no confidence in that his cameras are acceptable for tolerances required for digital, which are to at least 0.02mm as compared to film 0.2mm. While Charley may now understand that CNC machining to 0.01mm tolerances are required, I can witness that he has absolute no comprehension how tolerances of each such part should be assembled and designed in order to MINIMIZE the tolerances to within 0.02mm for digital, nor of the adjustments or design that is required for a digital back. His business is very small and he does not have his own factory but outsource from even people that have never made any cameras. Helical focuses? Last I heard he had major problems with a new supplier... Old stock was different. His cameras for film? I would suggest to buy a used Linhof.

Above in frank and honest, and I will decline to provide further info. At current I use latest 80MP Leaf AFi-II 12 on Hy6 but am saving $$ for Alpa STC. Alpa knows tolerance and their STC is the smartest design out there.

Best regards,
Anders
« Last Edit: December 14, 2011, 07:05:15 PM by Anders_HK » Logged
NicholasR
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« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2011, 08:03:37 PM »
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I appreciate the information and the time you took to write it up Anders.

Cheers,
Nick
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Joelio
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2011, 08:28:43 PM »
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The information regarding Fotoman USA versus China is extremely helpful - I've attempted to follow the saga on some of the boards and by comparison of the websites, though I haven't been able to really get an assessment of the current state of affairs until now.

I've been considering purchasing the 45ps, though this thread - and the lack of any concrete reviews of the same - have certainly scared me away.  I suppose I will continue looking for a Cambo Wide.  It's a shame, as the cameras look great.  Unfortunately there is quite a bit more to a great camera than looks alone.
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NicholasR
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2011, 09:33:22 PM »
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The information regarding Fotoman USA versus China is extremely helpful - I've attempted to follow the saga on some of the boards and by comparison of the websites, though I haven't been able to really get an assessment of the current state of affairs until now.

I've been considering purchasing the 45ps, though this thread - and the lack of any concrete reviews of the same - have certainly scared me away.  I suppose I will continue looking for a Cambo Wide.  It's a shame, as the cameras look great.  Unfortunately there is quite a bit more to a great camera than looks alone.

Their older product was great, the only reason I even dropped into this conversation was my good experience with the previous Fotoman USA and their product.  FWIW, fotoman.cc got back to me quickly with a quote.  I'm not going to be the guniea pig though.

Fotoman FD66 is available and you can order from us now.
The prices are as follow:
Fotoman FD66: US$800
Optical Viewfinder: US $190
Ground Glass Viewfinder: US $160
66-58 mask: US $20
Cone Assembly for Schneider Apo-digital 24/f5.6XL lens: US $200
Cone Assembly for Schneider Super Augulon 58/f5.6XL lens: US $390
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amsp
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« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2011, 03:56:22 AM »
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Maybe Michael could ask for a review copy? It would certainly be an interesting read.
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Joelio
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« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2011, 06:18:13 AM »
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Maybe Michael could ask for a review copy? It would certainly be an interesting read.

Or we could elect an ambassador from the board to head off to China and do an investigation into the state of affairs!  Your idea is much more feasible, though if anyone wants to elect me I only travel first class. Grin
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TH_Alpa
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« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2011, 06:25:43 AM »
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Candidate too, and am even ready to travel in Eco.

 Wink

Thierry

... though if anyone wants to elect me I only travel first class. Grin
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« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2011, 08:22:11 PM »
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I have a Fotoman 45PS that I bought from Paul, the US/Hong Kong based developer of the original Fotoman.  It is a very well made, beautifully machined camera.  I also have the adapter to allow it to be used with a BetterLight digital back.

Paul was looking for 10 people to subscribe to the DMax in order to have it built, just before it closed.

He may be willing to comment on how well the newer Chinese version corresponds to his design, and what he thinks of the execution and tolerances.  

He has answered questions at his fotomancamera.com site as recently as 12/14/11, 2 days ago.  

Alternately, we could all chip in $20 and buy a camera as a group, to be evaluated by one of the members, to see what we've got?

The first time I saw a Fotoman I knew I had to buy one, they were so elegant and well designed.  Perhaps with the uptick in the economy, Paul would be able to bring back the previous US version?  Ah well, wishful thinking I suppose ...

Best,
Michael
« Last Edit: December 16, 2011, 08:33:29 PM by mmurph » Logged
elliot_n
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« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2011, 10:07:58 PM »
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I have a Fotoman 45PS too. Superb camera. I bought it about 5 years ago and got excellent support from Paul. I only ever used it with film (Polaroid, and Kodak Portra Readyloads), with a 90mm Schneider lens. I've since moved to Nikon digital - and stitching with PTGui for large-format-film-type-projects. But I wish Fotoman every success.
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andyptak
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« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2012, 09:13:15 AM »
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I am somewhat disturbed by Anders comments. On one hand, if he's completely correct, he has done a good deed for any potential Fotoman buyer. On the other hand, the comments also read like someone who thought they had a business deal and then found out that they didn't (for whatever reason) and now has sour grapes.

The fact that his comments are one sided and unsubstantiated, and that he refuses further coment lead me to question the circumstances. The fact that the website looks like a piece of crap is nothing new for a Chinese site and shouldn't be taken out of context. I don't know why people have even bothered to comment about that because it's meaningless.

As a potential DMax buyer I would like to hear from someone who has a more impartial experience in dealing with the (new) Chinese Fotoman operation. Anyone out there?
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EricWHiss
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« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2012, 10:35:50 AM »
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I thought Anders feedback was really quite useful. 
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« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2012, 10:59:36 AM »
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Almost two years ago I bought a Fotoman 612. I thought the workmanship was first class and I got some decent images with it. But there was some sort of problem as it began ripping film apart, even using both winders together. I traded it for a Fotoman 69 and a Horseman back. Even after a trip back to the importer for lens adjustment, which they stated was spot on, it was impossible to focus accurately. I probably should have bought the special ground glass for it, but gave up and sold it. On the website they kept saying they would have a digital back adapter soon. Then they started looking for some development money. Then they folded. IMO, another business with wonderful potential and lousy support (which may not have been the importer's fault).
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