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Chroma Camera Six:17 camera (Pic: Chroma Camera)
The new camera was unveiled at Photographica in London in May (Pic: Chroma Camera)

UK camera maker Chroma Camera has unveiled the latest in its range of medium format cameras: a 6×17 panoramic camera called the Six:17.

The camera shoots 6x17cm frames on 120 film, allowing for panoramic images on 120 film, which is difficult to achieve except with specialised and increasingly expensive cameras.

Chroma Cameras’ Steve Lloyd, who announced the camera on Tuesday (6 June), showed Kosmo Foto a prototype of the camera ahead of its soft launch at the Photographica camera fair in London in May.

Lloyd says the camera can be used “as both a zone-focus handheld system and a tripod-mounted flexible set-up with interchangeable ground glass”.

Chroma Camera Six:17 camera (Pic: Chroma Camera)

Like most of the Chroma range, the camera is made from 3D-printed PLA and laser-cut acrylic and uses magnetic interchangeable lens cones. The camera also has an integrated darkslide, which means that lenses can be swapped mid-roll.

Lloyd spoke exclusively to Kosmo Foto about the new camera, which can be ordered via Chroma Camera for £425.

Where did the idea come from?

“I first had the idea of designing a 6×17 camera around two-and-a-half years ago, just before I attended the UK Photography Show in Birmingham as part of the original ‘Analogue Spotlight’ stand, and shared them there. A few people I know in the community were really taken by the idea, and have continued to ask me when it would appear since then! It’s a camera that’s been on my design ‘table’ (in my head, and digitally on screen) for a while, but I didn’t want to launch it until I was happy that it truly offers something unique.

Chroma Camera Six:17 camera (Pic: Chroma Camera)

“Film is expensive, and getting four shots from a roll means every image counts even more! The original intention was to build a SnapShot style camera, along with my own 6×17 rollfilm back. However, I’ve since designed and launched the Six: family of cameras, so I knew that I wanted to build the Six:17 around the same basic body style but with the added flexibility of the interchangeable ground glass.”

Had you used this format before?
“I haven’t personally used 6×17 before, but I’m a big fan of both panoramic work and the 6×12 format, so 6×17 was always a natural progression.”

Which lenses can you use for this camera?
“There are a wide range of lens that are compatible with the Six:17, and the 6×17 format in general. Primarily, the image circle needs to be 178mm or larger, which is generally 5×7 format compatible lenses, as it’s around 50mm larger than a 4×5 camera requires. On my website there’s a dropdown list of known compatible lenses to choose from, but I’m also happy to help anyone who isn’t sure, or if their lens isn’t on that list, to confirm compatibility.”

Chroma Camera Six:17 camera ground glass (Pic: Chroma Camera)
A ground glass attachment for the camera can also be bought through the Chroma Camera store (Pic: Chroma Camera)

Where did you test it?
“I’ve built a beta camera for a good friend of mine, who is my unofficial “Chroma Utah Rep”, after he sent me his Schneider 90mm F8 lens to build the camera around. Since building it, I’ve been testing the camera in my workshop and my local area.

Is this model aimed specifically at landscape photographers?
“Not specifically, no. It’s really light for such a wide format (412g without lens), making it practical for many situations, whether that’s landscape, environmental portrait or studio. I’ve seen some fantastic 6×17 work from photographers all round the world, so if my camera can help some of them deliver more work like that I’ll be really happy.”

Lloyd added: “As part of the design process, I always build iterations as I go along. Whilst I design all of my cameras in 3D CAD software, it’s impossible to know how a camera really feels until I have one in my hand. As a result, I’ve probably built around 10 full cameras, with various tweaks and design changes in between. Since I first showed the camera at Photographica in May, I’ve received several orders so I’ve built four full retail set-ups so far.”

Chroma Camera is currently taking orders for this extreme but interesting medium format camera. “I’ve built up a varied range of cameras in the Chroma Family, covering multiple formats including 135, 120, Instax and 4×5 and they all have their fans,” Lloyd said. “Whilst 6×17 is likely a smaller niche than my other formats, I always try to offer my cameras at a price that doesn’t make them unattainable for the majority of photographers. I’m hoping this approach can encourage more people to try out film photography going forwards.”

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Stephen Dowling
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