View Full Version : 5X7 Shen-Hao (HZX57-IIAT)
Some months ago I decided to devote more of my attention to the 5X7 format. I have worked with 5X7 for more than two decades but during recent years my only camera of this size has been a Nagaoka from about 1984. The Nagaoka is a great back-packing camera, weighing in at less than three lbs, but offers limited bellows draw and is not particularly rigid.
So I investigated the features of currently manufactured 5X7 cameras for a replacement and eventually decided that the best value for my needs was the Shen-Hao 5X7 (HZX57-IIAT), manufactured in China by Shen-Hao (http://www.shen-hao.com/).
Since there is no US distributor for this camera I decided to place a order directly with the builder. However, before doing so, about six weeks ago, I sent an email to Shen-Hao, to the attention of Mr. Zhang Fuming (firstname.lastname@example.org), and inquired as to the length of time I should expect to wait for delivery of the camera. Mr. Fuming indicated a delivery date of May 10, 2004 so I wired him the money for the transaction.
My 5X7 Shen-Hao arrived today (May 10, 2004) , in perfect condition, which first says much to me about the reliability of dealing with Shen-Hao. Second, the 5X7 Shen-Hao is just an exceptional piece of equipment. It sets up with extreme rigidity, has a lot of bellow draw (almost 24), lots of movements (including some not often seen on folding cameras of this size, including front shift and rear rise), and is quite beautiful. I especially like the clear titanium metal used on the camera, both for its strength and known stability, and also because it contrast beautifully with the teak.
Having seen and worked with several other quality cameras in the past, including a 5X7 Ebony (borrowed) and 7X17 and 12X20 Canhams (which I own and use) I am convinced after receipt of the 5X7 Shen-Hao that my original determination that it represented by far the best value for the money was indeed correct.
Welcome the comments of other owners of 5X7 Shen-Hao cameras. For now I am just delighted with the quality of my new 5X7.
That's great news Sandy, congratulations on the new camera. Do you mind telling us how much it cost and how the ground glass/fresnel is? And do you really think the build quality and rigidity is up to Ebony levels?
I am leaving for China shortly to adopt a new daughter. I had no intention of shopping, but the adoption agencies and other families have told us that you end up shopping there because that is "what people do" and everybody wants something exotic from China (not that a daughter isn't the ultimate!) Anyway, if I chance upon a good Shen-Hao, my share of the traveller's checks are toast... Any advice for purchasing one in China is appreciated. (Although I am not going to go out of my way for one... only if I pass by a camera dealer by serendipity.)
The cost of the camera was $1188, plus shipping and a case. Total was around $1350. At that price I consider the 5X7 Shen-Hao to be quite a bit more value for the money than the 5X7" Tachihara, available in the US at around $1300, plus shipping. As for comparison to a 5X7 Ebony, the rigidity is equal to or superior, and I would say about the same for movements and bellows draw. Finish is difficult to evaluate becaue of the different materials, but overall I don't see much difference in quality between Ebony and Shen-Hao, while the difference in cost is very considerable.
It seems like the manufacturer is a little slow in responding to queries, as I'm experiencing. Do they ask for a deposit/payment before building the camera for you, or that you wired the fund over just when the camera is ready to delivery? It was nice of you to post the info above. Thanks.
I had never considered China to be particularly proficient in terms of quality of manufactured items, usually cheap, but not of good quality. I got a Shen Hao 4x5 from Badger and have been very pleased with it. As a woodworker I've found both fit and finish to be excellent (teak is very stable and wears well). So far durability has been good and the camera does get a workout with packing around the desert and frequent use. All in all I've been very pleased. A friend here has a Wista 4x5 and was impressed with the movements his camera lacks (rear axis tilt, rear shift, etc.), so for the money it really is a great deal.
Nice to hear you had a good experience. How much does it weigh? Not their advertised weight, but on a scale. Mine was said to weigh 4 pounds, but tips the scales at 6.
In response to previous comments, yes, Mr. Zhang Fuming can be a bit slow in responding to inquiries but he eventually got back to me regading all of my questions and kept me informed about progress and delivery time. As for payment, I wired him the entire amount as soon as assumed me of a specific delivery date.
As for weight, the Shen-Hao 5X7 weights a bit more than eight pounds, which is I think a bit more than a Deardorff of this format. Not small or light by any means, certainly not when compared to my little 5X7 Nagaoka.
I, too, have received one from Shen Hao yesterday. Although I have not had much time to play or taken a shot with it but over all it is a very beautiful camera, the best value for the money as Sandy has said. I am very happy with my purchase decision. And I strongly recommend the camera if you have limited budget or do not want to spend more than $1500 for a 5x7 camera with 4x5 back and carrying case.
In comparing it with an Ebony. I think it is a copy of Ebony 5x7 with all the comparable movements, but it is no Ebony! I also have an Ebony 45 SU and IMHO while the rigidity is the same, movement smoothness (tilt, shift, swing, raise of both front and back) is not.
This is MY opinion about MY copy of the Shen Hao 5x7, other copies might be different as I understand they are hand made. And the reason I post my opinion is not for current owners but for future buyers.
By the way, Mr. Zang Fuming is a very nice man but if you buy, expect to wait a while. I sent payment March 13 and receive the camera May 10.
I agree with John in that the movements of the Shen-Hao, at least at this point, are not quite as smooth as those of the Ebony that I previously used. However, I belive that with use and a little Huile de Jojob the movements will be much smoother, especially in the areas where metal is moving again metal.
Bear in mind that the comparison is between the Shen-Hao at $1200 and a similar model Ebony at $4800 (as per Badger Graphic).
I also have the opportunity to compare my own Ebony SV45TE and Shen-Hao HZX-810 IIAT cameras. Both are beautifully crafted and even if the Shen has obviously pirated the design they choose the very best available. Considering the difference in price it's a steal. The 8x10 also has all movements except rear shift and is "overbuilt" just like the Ebony.
I have owned a 4X5 Shen Hao and now own a 4X5 Ebony. There is no doubt in my mind that feature-for-feature, dollar-for-dollar, the Shen Hao is the better buy. However, when it comes to build quality, reliability, and ease of operation, that's where the comparison begins to change. The Ebony then becomes the better buy.
Comparing an Ebony to a Shen Hao is like comparing a Lexus to a Hyundai in the automotive world. Both are good looking cars, in the eye of the beholder. Both will get you to the local supermarket. The question is which one would you rather drive if price were no object?
Enjoy your new camera Sandy. Keep us apprised on how it holds up under every day usage.
Sandy, did you purchase the 4x5 reducing back with your 5x7? Zhang quoted me a price of $100 for it, but didn't send a picture, and I'm wondering how good it can be for that price.
To the question about the 4X5 reducing back, no, I did not buy one. I thought about doing so but after more thought I realized that when purchased by 5X7 Nagaoka some twenty years ago I also bought a 4X5 reducing back, and have never actually used it except for film testing. I guess my thinking is simply why shoot 4X5 when you have a 5X7?
Does anyone get some kind of a warranty for the Shen-Hao cameras?
As far as I know there is no warantee. And of course any exchange would be complicated and expensive because of shipping costs.
For reasons such as this it is probably safer in the purchase of speciality large format equipment to go through a dealer such as Badger, Midwest or Quality Camera Company because the dealer can provide valuable support to the customer in disputes with the manufacturer regarding delivery time and defects, and will most likely refund your money if there is a major problem.
However, since the 5X7 Shen-Hao is not carried in the US by any dealer, at least to my knowledge, this was not an option. However, given the good reports of several others who placed orders directly with Shen-Hao I felt reasonably safe in ordering directly, but I can understand that others might feel differently.
Thanks again, Sandy. Appreciate it.
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