"She's a brick----house Mighty might just lettin' it all hang out She's a brick----house The lady's stacked and that's a fact, ain't holding nothing back." The Commodores
I decided to try the 6x17 format about two years ago. Experienced with many types of cameras and formats over the last 10 years, 6x17 was one of the few remaining, untried. I put together a 6x17 kit on the cheap; I bought a DaYi 6x17 Roll film back, shipped right from China, a used Calumet Cadet 4x5 camera and a used Fujinon 135mm F5.6 LF lens; total cost, about $ 1,000. It was actually a nice little kit, but I just couldn't compose anything on the DARK ground glass...even after trying three different darkcloths, buying a brighter GG, and other GG viewing tips, I found composing and focusing on a piece of 6x17 ground glass to be quite difficult.
I decided I needed to get another camera to really give the 6x17 format a workout. After extensive research, I decided on the Fuji G617. Before making that decision, I researched as much as I could about the following other choices:
My decision to go with a used G617 was based on total price for a complete outfit, advice from other users, internet research, and really knowing my own shooting style. The Fuji G617 seemed most suitable for me, so I found an ebay auction that had a low mileage G617 with lenshood, center ND filter and original hard case for a cool, $ 2500. Prices on ebay seem to fluctuate between a $ 1,800 for a high mileage camera with few accessories. Low mileage cameras, with extras like the center spot filter ( the most valuable item in terms of $ ), the lens hood and the carrying case tend to sell bewteen $ 2,200 and $ 2,800. This is the type of camera that should cost less, but doesnt because it was never made in significant quanitites and modern day interest in this format is high. My best advice is to find a complete outfit with a moderate exposure count ( say 300 or less ). This type of set will retain its value more than other options. You can bargain hunt for a G617 with a high exposure count, say 600 or more, and you might just steal one for under $ 1,800.
The G617, was born from mother Fuji in March 1983 and retired in December 1993 by its new brother, the GX617. The following are little bits and pieces of G617 information I have picked up.
Fujinon SW 105mm F8 in Seiko # 0 Shutter.
Note that this lens has Fuji's EBC ( Electron Beam Coating ) moniker, which denotes Fuji's multi-coating technology.
One very interesting note: The G617 manual states that the lens is 6 element in 4 groups, while the Fujinon GX617 version of the 105mm SW is listed as 6 elements in 6 groups, as is the Large Format version of this lens.
If anyone can confirm that the 105mm SW for the G617 is slightly different than the GX617 version, as well as the separate LF 105mm SW lens, I'd be grateful.
A few other notes about this lens. I have found lens performance to be average. Not terrible, but clearly lacking the resolution of my MF gear. My Pentax 67 lenses are all significantly sharper than the Fuji lens. It is unclear if this performance is due to film flatness, the lens, or both.
Lens contrast is better than average and works well with most print films I use ( Kodak 160NC & 400UC ).
The lens aperture is marked on the barrel from F8 to F45. You CAN stop down more, at least to F64, although it is unmarked ( be cautious of serious defraction at this stop ). If you are missing the original Fuji lens cap, an inexpensive replacement is a available at B&H Photo. Look for an 80mm plastic slip on cap...When I got the cap, I found it to be a bit too snug, so I cut 4 small, equal slices in the edge of the lens cap...with the slices, the cap is more flexible and I can put the cap on faster, yet it still provides good glass protection. I think it cost $13 bucks.