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View Full Version : New to LF - Chamonix or used Wista SP outfit?



Fotocache
14-Mar-2017, 07:23
Dilemma!! But a nice one to have.
Ive been photographing for 40plus years and have been digital for the last 15 or so. But I miss the smell of fixer and want to slow down some aspects of my image making. So I want to try LF - 4x5 specifically. I aim to shoot some still life, environmental portraits, may a few landscapes.
So I am about to splurge and get a camera but caught in the usual dilemma of what to get. Budget is $2000 for camera and 1-2 lenses. Looking around, I am between the following two choices:

1. Getting a new Chamonix 45F1 (probably in Teak) and get two used lenses 150 and 210 or a 90, and 5-10 film holders (used)
2.Ive seen on eBay from a US based dealer a used Wista45sp with 150 and 210 Fujinon lenses and 5 film holders. (Offers 30 day return). Camera seems clean although bellows look well used (would check for leaks anyway).

I already have a Toyo loupe, dark cloth, cable release and heavy duty tripod, filters etc and just bought the SP445 dev tank for the darkroom.
Anyone any thoughts they would like to share?
Best
Simon

David Karp
14-Mar-2017, 08:30
You have selected two excellent cameras. Each operates differently. The Chamonix is a folder. It folds on itself and the front standard must be screwed into place on the focusing block each time you use it. The Wista SP collapses into itself and then shuts closed. I think the Chamonix has more bellows extension, but both have available extenders, although the Wista requires either extension lensboards or a focusing extension and a longer bellows.

Both cameras are designed for photographing in the field. For still life you might prefer a monorail camera. The monorail will give you the full range of movements and is designed for studio use. A monorail will save you a lot of money because they are plentiful on the used market. Used Sinar, Toyo, and Cambo cameras are available at reasonable prices and the accessories are also readily available.

Fujinon lenses are excellent and often available at very reasonable prices when compared to the equally fine offerings from Rodenstock, Nikon, and Schneider. Check out prices on the cameras and lenses individually. I don't know anything about the package you found on eBay, but prices for nice 150mm and 210mm Fujinon NW (multicoated, with lettering on the outside of the lens barrel, marked as "Fujinon W") are very reasonable. You might be able to purchase the items separately for less. I have purchased four Fujinon lenses from three different Japanese sellers and they have all been in excellent condition.

Huub
14-Mar-2017, 08:55
Did you already look into this older discussion? http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?56116-leave-Wista-45SP-for-Chamonix-45N-1

neil poulsen
14-Mar-2017, 09:04
I purchased a Wista SP later last year. It'll be excellent to backpack. I would pick one with a good bellows, versus a bellows that's obviously showing its age. It seems to me that the bellows material is a little thin. Although, there are replacement bellows available on EBay, sans frames.

Being able to change bellows is also a plus; although, the bag bellows new is expensive. (B&H.) None the less, I will probably save and purchase one later. With the standard bellows, I can get about 3/4" rise with my Nikon 90mm SW f8. My longest lens is a 385mm Wollensak Tele-Rapter with a flange focal length that's under 300mm. It's a heavy lens; yet, the SP has no problem supporting it.

I tried a 300mm extension with the 600mm bellows and decided that I didn't need it. The extension has a tripod mount on the front end for additional support. For example, when in use, one could support the extended front using a light-weight monopod. Without using that additional monopod support, the extension with a lens mounted (Nikon 450mm f9 M) was prone to vibrations. While I didn't try it, I think that the extensions would work fine if using the extra support. I have a rail camera that can meet all my long lens needs, so I decided to return the extension and long bellows that I purchased.

The swing micro-adjustment is quite effective. Note that one adjusts only one side at a time; not both.

One can get a dedicated lens shade on EBay for under $200. I plan to use the Lee system. It's also possible to purchase a binocular reflex viewer.

Read the information about the SP on the Wista website. For example, they claim that one can use a 75mm lens without using the SP's drop bed. I also picked up from KEH an attachment that will enable me to use a 47mm lens in combination with the bag bellows. I doubt that I'll ever use it, though.

All in all, I sure like the camera and look forward to using it this coming season.

Rodfjell
14-Mar-2017, 09:58
I got into 4x5 last year and started with a Wista SP metal field camera. I sold it a few months ago and bought a Chamonix 045N-2. That model weighs the same as the F1 you're looking at. It is much lighter than the Wista and setting up the Chamonix and breaking it down really isn't a hassle at all.

Given that you're a serious photographer I'd recommend buying a brand new F1 over a used SP. Fujinon lenses are reallly sharp and can be bought much cheaper than comparable lenses from Japanese sellers.

Don't buy from the reseller on eBay. Buy directly from Chamonix by contacting their US distributor Hugo Zhang (http://www.chamonixviewcamera.com). Hugo will offer to send the camera as a gift thru PayPal to save you money but if something goes wrong you don't have PayPal's buyer protection. I ordered mine on a Friday and had it in my hands the following Thursday in Louisiana.


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Bob Salomon
14-Mar-2017, 10:00
I got into 4x5 last year and started with a Wista SP metal field camera. I sold it a few months ago and bought a Chamonix 045N-2. That model weighs the same as the F1 you're looking at. It is much lighter than the Wista and setting up the Chamonix and breaking it down really isn't a hassle at all.

Given that you're a serious photographer I'd recommend buying a brand new F1 over a used SP. Fujinon lenses are reallly sharp and can be bought much cheaper than comparable lenses from Japanese sellers.

Don't buy from the reseller on eBay. Buy directly from Chamonix by contacting their US distributor Hugo Zhang (http://www.chamonixviewcamera.com). Hugo will offer to send the camera as a gift thru PayPal to save you money but if something goes wrong you don't have PayPal's buyer protection. I ordered mine on a Friday and had it in my hands the following Thursday in Louisiana.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

You do realize that by encouraging it to be sent as a "gift" you are abetting a crime, don't you?

Fotocache
14-Mar-2017, 10:32
Hi all, and thanks for the instructive responses.
I think I'll go for the Wista 'kit' to start with. It gets me up and running quickly (that's a word I don't think you hear often in LF photography), and the cost of entry is slightly lower. Then I can see where the medium takes me and then upgrade or tune the kit as I need it. Of particular importance to me is to be able to set-up/take-down reasonably quickly. I'm working on a visual essay on how Veterans are using music to overcome PTSD and other mental health issues and the portraits usually have to be done quite fast.

Rodfjell
14-Mar-2017, 10:51
You do realize that by encouraging it to be sent as a "gift" you are abetting a crime, don't you?

Duh, Bob lol. I was encouraging him not to do so.


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Rodfjell
14-Mar-2017, 12:10
I did a quick look for you and a new Chamonix F1, a lot of film holders from ebay, a Fujinon 150mm & 210mm from ebay comes out to $1527. How much will the Wista SP setup cost you?

Fotocache
28-Mar-2017, 12:26
Just to close this out ( I hate threads that have no conclusion).
Firstly, many thanks to everyone for their input and advice.
I went with the Wista SP 'kit', and then ordered up new chemistry and an s-445 tank and of course film. Having a blast with my old pal TriX and FP4. Right now Im scanning the images with an Epson 4990 that I already had, but the Saunders LPL in the basement is beckoning...!!
Thanks again everyone

angusparker
28-Mar-2017, 16:31
Would suggest that you get new holders - the Toyo ones. No point in loosing out on good film plane sharpness because of some cheap warped holders.

Alan Gales
29-Mar-2017, 08:24
I once bought a Tachihara 4x5 brand new. It was so pretty that I worried every time I used it that I might scratch it. I now have a Wehman 8x10 which I bough used. Wehmans aren't exactly pretty cameras plus mine was used. I enjoy using the camera and don't worry about scratching it.

A new Chamonix is a pretty wooden camera. A used Wista SP is an all black metal camera that probably has a few "paint offs" here and there.

I'm not trying to tell you which to buy. They are both very fine cameras. You really can't go wrong with either one. I'm just trying to give you something more to think about.

jim10219
29-Mar-2017, 11:13
I looked at these two when I decided to get into LF photography. I was scared off by the Chamonix due to reports of the bellows not being IR safe, and I like to shoot IR film sometimes. Then again, I've read other reports where they say they're fine, so I don't know where they land. It may be worth checking out if you think you might do IR photography and are leaning towards the Chamonix.