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Author Topic: Fotoman Cameras  (Read 13699 times)
Anders_HK
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« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2012, 03:38:57 PM »
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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?

In frankness I am bothered of part of your reply. It appear to question my person and integrity. My post is one of integrity, truthfulness and honesty. Having been a member on LuLa for many years, those are what I believe most here should know of my person, along with that I am someone who am direct and am not afraid to speak or write on such basis. What I obvious decline to comment on are the further details of my Fotoman experience since already what I have written should be classified by any standards. As such I do hope I have made a favor to any potential Fotoman buyer.

Photography is my hobby. My profession and background is as a structural engineer and architect (I am educated, licensed and chartered in both fields). Accordingly I do understand about coming up with concepts and ideas, about tolerances and not mere the tolerance each pieces is fabricated to but also the assembly and importantly the design.

Sour grapes? As stated I believe in integrity. Likewise I do appreciate integrity and certain statue, including in making business and in setting up a business. I also appreciate when a product is well made from all aspects, which for digital include the important digital tolerances which are required to be stricter than film. If it is not, we will not get good pictures on technical side, and will get frustration. On a camera with plane or planes of movement the precise tolerances required for digital is more difficult to make. More so when you have many adapters and when not designed for digital in mind... This is why I believe in Alpa products. All others use sliding rails per what I know. Alpa use slider bearings which are more precise, but also put more requirements on fabrication, design and quality control. Sure, Cambo and Arca may be suffice precise, because they are designed and fabricated for high resolution backs, and with adequate quality control. I do know Charley was on vacation at time for fabrication of Dmax... a very critical time for quality control of a contracted factory... As I stated in above he developed it using a 6MP digital back...

I had a Fotoman 617 which per my understanding was from old stock from when Fotoman China had their foreign partners. It worked. It was a brick which if proper designed could have weighted alot less. Nevertheless it worked. Viewfinder (the better Fotoman) was crap. It did require rolling the film manually and stretching it for each shot with the spools. Nevertheless I would recommend a used newer Linhof. I have not used one. I looked at a Linhof 612 viewfinder and the clear vision was impressive, as was preciseness in its quality.

Dont get me wrong, I do enjoy Chinese products. After all I am married to Chinese and have no reason to bash. I also like China and working with Chinese. The other year I had five camera systems; Mamiya 645 for Leaf digital back, Mamiya 7, Leica M8, Fotoman 617 and Shen-Hao 4x5. All are sold or upgraded, except my Shen-Hao TFC45 II-B. The reason? Having now given up film I simply like the camera. It may not be as precise as an Ebony, but alot cheaper, more pleasing color of wood, and adequate precise for 4x5 -- and a sheer joy to use. Simply a keeper that I will not sell. It is itching adapting a 6x9 Shen Hao for my new Leaf back... simply Shen-Hao is such joy to use. Well... there we go... tolerances would be a problem.

At current I much enjoy Rolleiflex Hy6 and Leaf AFi-II 12. Why? Design, preciseness and accurate tolerances, coupled with top notch image quality and lenses (I am content with two lenses, and actually have learnt that less is more for my photography  Wink).

Above just to inform more of who I am.

As for your question of others having experience with Fotoman China, there are old users of Fotoman. You may also look at Fotoman China or old international website and review "their international dealers". There are (were) per memory one or two well known ones (if they still carry Fotoman). Perhaps ask them if they carry Dmax, also look at other dealers international and not in your area to see what dealers they are... Do also question what is your main aim with buying a tech camera. I am saving for an Alpa for a reason: quality and tolerances, because I am want to get sharp and in focus images, including when shifting and using fall and rise. Simple.

And yes, I am mere trying to be helpful, and with integrity, directness and truth.  Smiley

Best regards,
Anders
« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 03:47:46 PM by Anders_HK » Logged
Jason Denning
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« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2012, 04:31:49 PM »
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Hi Andy

I have dealt with Fotoman in china and they seem good, I didn't buy a camera but some accessories and a spare ground glass and it all came quickly.
I have had my 617 for over a year and very happy with it, it's solid, I can easily change the lens mid roll by rolling the film back on it's spool, and so simple it seems as though it will last forever. The other great thing is since it's so cheap you take more risks for shots with it because it isn't the $5k or more for the bigger named 617 cameras.

Regarding the DMax and Anders comments on tolerances, I'm not actually sure it matters, this is because with the Fotoman cameras it is quite easy to adjust the focus mount for the lens the get it perfect, which is much harder with film, but if you did this with a digital back tethered you can get infinity perfect then shoot using the dof scale on the lens. This has never failed me once I set up the lenses correctly. So the way I see it a micro mm of in the body and adapter is not a problem.

Jason
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andyptak
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« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2012, 06:45:46 PM »
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Thanks Jason.

This is the kind of impartial user experience that I was enquiring about.
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EricWHiss
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« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2012, 07:12:16 PM »
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Andy,
Anders has been a respected member of LuLa for many years.   I still recall when he posted a comparison of film vs digital that was very useful a long ways back.  Jason may be too, but I'll have to be honest and state that his 1st post looked very much like a plug for the reincarnation of the company.  I'm surprised that you think his post is more 'impartial' than Anders.   
Eric
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Jason Denning
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« Reply #24 on: January 23, 2012, 03:30:55 AM »
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Hi Eric
My post was a plug for the company, but what's wrong with that?
A good analogy is this - you one day discover a great little restaurant on a back street that you wouldn't normally find, you have a meal and it's great, good value and quiet. You go back from time to time keeping it your own little secret as you don't want it to get too popular, but then one day the restaurant goes out of business and isn't there anymore.
I like this company and their products and want it to stay around so thought I would tell people about it see if their products interest them. From my experience they are good and what I bought is solid but sadly their website is terrible. I don't want them to go out of business, is that selfish? I have nothing to gain other than the one day I may want a replacement 617 from theft or whatever reason they may not be around to sell me one.
 
Anders did attempt to develop a product with Fotoman as he states and seems annoyed they used a name for a product, so that may be why he thinks I am more impartial. I would have thought he would know that the Fotoman focus mounts (even though he also bashes those too) are adjustable meaning tolerances are accounted for, why make a product more accurate that would cost lots more when there is already a mechanism to compensate? Unless he knows the sliding planes are not accurate and not level so focus would shift as you moved the digital back. Anders?
Can someone correct me if i'm wrong regarding the tolerances of their products as I can't see it being a problem so it's a shame to say a bad word about that if it isn't an issue.
Looking at the DWide pictures it seems like it may have the same adjustable focus mounts as the DMax but we would have to contact Fotoman China for that info, so again tolerances shouldn't be an issue here either, especially since there aren't any sliding planes in this, once adjusted focussing with the dof scale will be a breeze.
I never check focus on the ground glass with my camera when out shooting.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2012, 03:32:39 AM by Jason Denning » Logged

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Fotoman 617 with Rodenstock 55mm, 90mm and 180mm lenses
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Jason Denning
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« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2012, 03:47:36 AM »
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Hi Anders,

Can you tell us why tolerances are an issue with the FD66 and an adjustable helical focus mount? If it can be adjusted then tolerances can be individually adjusted for, just like some digital backs can be via shims. This system would actually be easier than using shims.

Also do you know for sure, what I mean is have you tested the Dmax and found focus shifts when shifting the camera or sliding the digital back? A flat plane that is off by 0.01mm but is still flat is not an issue with adjustable helical focus mounts.

Thanks

Jason
« Last Edit: January 23, 2012, 03:52:32 AM 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
EricWHiss
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« Reply #26 on: January 23, 2012, 11:17:00 AM »
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Jason,
Nothing wrong with your posting about Fotoman and I meant no offense, however using your analogy - you are recommending a restaurant that changed owners and chef and maybe even the food suppliers and menu too - all since you last ate there.  I mean buying a few small items is not the same as buying a new camera.  Do you know first hand that all the camera parts are made to the same tolerances as with the prior owners?
Regards,
Eric
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Jason Denning
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« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2012, 11:48:26 AM »
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No offence taken Eric, as I understood it it's still the same people running Fotoman at the chinese end as before, it's just the American side that no longer exists. So maybe the same food but with an uglier menu with pictures on it.  Cheesy

Jason
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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
mmurph
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« Reply #28 on: January 23, 2012, 11:56:08 AM »
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Personally, I appreciate **all** of the input on this thread.

I love the Fotoman 45PS equipment that I purchased from Paul when he was the US/International face of Fotoman. My experience has been very positive.

But we are all trying to figure out the current status of a somewhat "unknown" entity, the now Chinese-only proprietors/resellers, with a new product.

I am familiar with Anders long history here, and I appreciate his perspective.

For now we have somewhat conflicting information. I don't think any of us have enough information - yet -to resolve the question of the quality of the newer Dmax, or it's suitability for high MP digital use.

I think we have all been surprised in this learning process from film to digital about how much slop or imprecision or error was tolerated in older LF film equipment that made that equipment unsuitable to digital. Just the fact that color film was a 3D product with depth and 3 different "accurate" focal planes allowed a lot of crappy equipment to pass as adequate, because it fell with the 1/2 inch or 1 centimeter tolerance detectable with film systems.

Maybe we agree that it is an open question now, with not enough data points to answer the question: "Are the design and manufacturing tolerances ( and in which specific planes?) of the Dmax adeqate to modern, high MP digital backs?

TBD - pending real world data.  Grin
« Last Edit: January 23, 2012, 11:58:24 AM by mmurph » Logged
andyptak
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« Reply #29 on: January 23, 2012, 02:53:08 PM »
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Even though we all agree that there is no resolution here, it's been a valuable learning experience.

And to set matters straight - talking to you Anders - I meant no offence either, but we all have our own opionions and even honestly held opinions are not always correct. I think the problem with "Made in China" equipment is that it is frequently shoddy, but when you're not paying for a Linhof you shouldn't be expecting one. Sometimes a bit shoddy is still good enough and sometimes it's just garbage and you have to write it off.

Still don't whether to get a Dmax or not. Sigh
« Last Edit: January 23, 2012, 03:05:53 PM by andyptak » Logged
Anders_HK
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« Reply #30 on: January 23, 2012, 11:54:27 PM »
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... I think we have all been surprised in this learning process from film to digital about how much slop or imprecision or error was tolerated in older LF film equipment that made that equipment unsuitable to digital. ...

Cameras designed for adequacy required for film are insufficient accurate for todays digital backs, albeit some exceed the tolerances required for film. Digital is less forgiving than film, but one can additionally consider that latest digital backs have a resolution of 4x5 or higher on a small (tiny) 645 area of sensor, which thus need increased preciseness...

Nevertheless, can a lens be shimmed at a home workshop to match within 0.01mm precision of the sensor plane in our digital back? Possibly, and pending on how might be durable. On other hand if we buy a camera, do we want to mess with this as a means to customize it? Or should we demand that the camera is within the required tolerance and has been designed through fabrication and quality control for the precise tolerances required? If it has not, if we shim a lens cone and change it, are the matching surfaces suffice perfect (warping, bending and fit?) for the lens to remain within the tight tolerance when we put it back again? Now, imagine adding a sliding plane for shift or fall/rise and all sudden an entire plane needs to be within the precise tolerance required for a high resolving digital back (back to plane AND plane to lens). Is the plane perfect plane? Warping or bending etc? Add two sliding planes as in Dmax, and what is complication? Please note I mention shimming of lens, and that to shim an individual back to an Alpa system is different because it is shimming the back to a system that has been designed, fabricated and quality controlled to within the tight tolerances required for high resolving digital backs.

Regarding Dmax, my Leaf  agent had agreed for me to test it on a 80MP Leaf (this was prior to that I had one myself), but Chaley did not take me up on it.

My best advise is to ask a question: Why do we photograph? Is it for the image or for the testing of gear? Personally I prefer the image and accordingly I demand gear that I can count on. Another thought is for safety of a $$$ digital, why skimp on camera? I once saw my prior back bounce multiple times on hardwood floor. It was nervous…

Best regards
Anders
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Jason Denning
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« Reply #31 on: January 24, 2012, 03:19:48 AM »
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Hi Anders, with helical focus mounts you can easily adjust the focus position, you do not need to shim the lens.

Jason
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« Reply #32 on: January 24, 2012, 10:22:10 AM »
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The helical can make up for axial misalignment maybe, but what about angular?
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #33 on: January 24, 2012, 08:47:09 PM »
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Hi Anders, with helical focus mounts you can easily adjust the focus position, you do not need to shim the lens.

Jason

Think 0.02mm and optimum sharp digital images and you will think Schneider, Rodenstock and Alpa, arguably also Arca, Cambo and Sinar.  Wink
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 08:50:41 PM by Anders_HK » Logged
Jason Denning
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« Reply #34 on: January 25, 2012, 12:04:11 PM »
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Oh that's a shame, I was looking for 0.01mm accuracy.
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« Reply #35 on: January 25, 2012, 01:17:21 PM »
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"High res digital backs need tolerances measured in microns (1 micron = 0.001mm)."
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thegman
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« Reply #36 on: May 08, 2013, 03:48:23 PM »
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I used to have a Fotoman 69, only used it with film, not digital. I don't really have a bad word to say about it, sure the focus helical was a little stiff, and the optical finder is rubbish, but we're talking about prices about 25% of an Alpa kit. The finder is easily replaced with something better, and the focus, well, you get used to it.

If I got back into superwides, then I wouldn't hesitate to buy again. I'm not bothered about digital, but if you can get a live view, with those wide lenses, I can't imagine it being too tricky to focus accurately.
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Lacunapratum
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« Reply #37 on: May 08, 2013, 10:00:20 PM »
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Why not give them a chance.  They are new and there is no reason they can't improve. 

I have some product from the previous Fotoman company and they are terrific (albeit not for digital). 
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