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gaelle
21-Jan-2010, 05:19
Hello there!
I'm virtually new to large format. I used to use them at uni during my course but not since. A couple of years down using mainly digital, I now want to come back to the unbeatable quality and feel of film. Basically, I'm starting to shop around for my first LF camera. Because I've got a fairly low budget, I can't realistically hope to get a Linhof and other top of the range equipment. I just want an honest, user-friendly, value-for-money field 5x4 camera. The number of brands, types available etc is quite overwhelming!
At the moment, I'm looking at a NEW Shen hao 4X5 HZX45-ⅡA and a USED Wista Field 45 SP at roughly the same price. Which one would you go for?... I would use it mainly for landscape photography.

Jean HER
21-Jan-2010, 07:13
i've just bought a wista 45 sp and...i've got a shen hao HZX45-ⅡA too !
What can i say...shen hao is a good value with plenty of ample movements but it's not very precise.
Wista sp is quite similar to linhof. A very resistant camera, well built with geared and micrometric movements. The wista have the same movements than shen hao, but more precise and less ample.
The glass is also better than shen hao, with one frenesl lens that procures more light
A minor point for the wista ..it's heaviest than shen hao...

Gem Singer
21-Jan-2010, 07:34
If you can purchase a previously owned Wista SP for the same price as a Shen Hao, by all means grab the Wista.

However, make certain that the Wista is in good operating condition. If it needs adjustment or repairs, expect the final price of the Wista to rise considerably.

Skorzen
21-Jan-2010, 07:39
Personally I always prefer to buy used. The reason being that assuming you shop around and do your homework, if you ever decide to sell a piece of equipment you should be able to sell it for what you paid for it (or maybe even a little more).

gaelle
21-Jan-2010, 07:58
Thanks ever so much, guys!
I do have to say that the Shen Hao looked really beautiful compared to the Wista which has a bit of paint chipping around the back... but that's no good reason to prefer one to the other! I will follow your advice and keep an eye on that Wista....

ki6mf
21-Jan-2010, 08:38
I looked at Wista and Shen Hao and went with the Shen Hao 3 years ago. I have not had have any problems with the camera or its movements. Shen Hao looks like it has larger controls knobs than Wista. If buying new the Shen Hao has a much lower cost. I compared the movements to my Cambo view camera and they cover the same angles! Shen Hao Highly Recommended.

Mike1234
21-Jan-2010, 10:20
I bought a used Chamonix 45N-1 and am having a new Maxwell screen professionally installed to deal with the focus issue. It'll be a darned fine camera once I have it back in my hands.

Lachlan 717
21-Jan-2010, 12:13
Go the cheaper one and put the savings into your lens/lenses.

And, don't forget that you will need a meter, dark cloth, film holders, cable releases, tripod (the list goes on...)

(I went the Shen, but only because they custom made one for me for the same basic price as a standard one).

IanG
21-Jan-2010, 12:35
If the Wista's good condition I'd buy it in preference to the Shen Hao, I bought mine second hand 24 years ago, it's taken a lot of use & abuse and still performs perfectly.

The advantages are I can use 65mm to 300mm lenses with the standard bellows, it's really quick and easy to use, the screen is superb etc.

Ian

Lachlan 717
21-Jan-2010, 12:44
The advantages are I can use 65mm to 300mm lenses with the standard bellows, it's really quick and easy to use, the screen is superb etc.

Ian

My new Shen will do 65mm up to 400mm with standard bellows (if that is a concern)...

Non-folding, so very quick to set up.

As good a screen as my (now-redundant) Horeseman L-Series!

Mike1234
21-Jan-2010, 13:03
The Chammy will focus a 38mm SA XL @ infinity on a flat board with the standard bellows... I've done it. With the 100mm rail extension it will focus a Fuji 450-C to 20+ feet.

Jean HER
21-Jan-2010, 14:13
The Chammy will focus a 38mm SA XL @ infinity on a flat board with the standard bellows... I've done it. With the 100mm rail extension it will focus a Fuji 450-C to 20+ feet.

even with a 90 mm f/6.8 grandagon -N the shen hao is hard to use with the standard bellows...it is too rigid and don't allow easy movements.

Shen is a good camera but the focusing knob is not precise.
And to compare to wista 45sp...shen hao had simple knobs only for locking the position (shift/tilt) .
Wista camera had two knobs for each function, one for the lock and another to tuning the tilt...this system make the difference ! and the wista had also a ratoting back.
The only bad point is the amplitude of movements, but honestly, if you use too much tilt shift you'll get some aberation in your perspertive...
wista can be a camera for life...shen hao...i doubt

Mike1234
21-Jan-2010, 14:41
even with a 90 mm f/6.8 grandagon -N the shen hao is hard to use with the standard bellows...it is too rigid and don't allow easy movements.

Shen is a good camera but the focusing knob is not precise.
And to compare to wista 45sp...shen hao had simple knobs only for locking the position (shift/tilt) .
Wista camera had two knobs for each function, one for the lock and another to tuning the tilt...this system make the difference ! and the wista had also a ratoting back.
The only bad point is the amplitude of movements, but honestly, if you use too much tilt shift you'll get some aberation in your perspertive...
wista can be a camera for life...shen hao...i doubt

The Chammy will FOCUS a 38 SA XL to infinity with a flat board and with the standard bellows. For movements you'll need a bag bellows and a recessed board. BUT... a 38 SA XL has no movements to speak of even on 6x12cm anyway. Just think what it will do with a 47 SA XL on a recessed board and bag bellows.

This is , of course, only important to those who love ultra-wide photos. :)

gaelle
21-Jan-2010, 23:26
Thanks guys, you've been very helpful. :)
Both cameras are the same price really, only the Wista is a bit more expensive as I have to add postage for it. I know I will then need film backs, focusing hood etc.
I already have lightmeter, cable release and heavy duty tripod as I have been using medium format cameras for a while.
More importantly, I'm going to need at least one lens to start with... What is the more versatile lens I should go for (focal range) -bearing in mind I'll be doing mainly landscape photography but won't need extreme wide-angle!- and which make/type etc as I haven't got a clue! :confused: Would I need to look at different ones whether I go for a Wista or Shen Hao, or can they be used on both?

Mike1234
21-Jan-2010, 23:44
If I could only have one lens to start with for landscape it would be a 135 because that would allow me to continue putting my favorite combo together as I can afford to buy more lenses... 90, 135, 210 (or 200 or 203), 300 (or 305). These are roughly 1.5x steps which works best for me.

If you don't need much movement (mostly rear swing/tilt) you can get a really nice sharp compact Schneider 135 f/4.7 Xenar pretty cheap.

ki6mf
22-Jan-2010, 03:54
Agree with Mike 123. I mainly shoot landscapes and have a 90 Grandagon, a 150, and a 210. I am thinking about getting a 135 to get slightly better better depth of field which helps when you need focus from 5-50 Feet 3-30 meters. I tend to not use the longer focus lens very much

mikebarger
22-Jan-2010, 09:12
Just curious, how do these two compare in price to a used Zone VI camera?

Thanks

AJ Edmondson
23-Jan-2010, 14:07
I'll throw in my two-cents worth here... and that's all it is (we all know about opinions). I know NOTHING about the Shen Hao but I do have a Wista SP and have been slowly getting rid of everything else...simply because the SP suits my needs and is a pleasure to work with. For years I used a Wisner Tech Field and, while it performed well, it was aggravating in use for reasons cited in many posts on this forum. I will concede - Wista Extended Lens Boards and Rail Extensions notwithstanding - the Wista would not be my choice if I wanted to use lenses longer than 250mm! I use a 120 Nikkor SW and a 180mm APO Symmar for field use and, for portraits a 250mm Imagon. Infrequently, a 90mm but that is very seldom.
I still have a Wisner Tech Field (4x5) and a Wista Cherry-wood 8x10 and I don't use them at all anymore... are they "inferior" - I don't think so, I think the Wista SP just fits my style and needs more efficiently.

Lachlan 717
23-Jan-2010, 14:44
And to compare to wista 45sp...shen hao had simple knobs only for locking the position (shift/tilt) .

You might want to check this. Mine has the dual locking knobs that allow 2 different locks (you can tighten/release the inner and outer sections independently). See attached image.


Wista camera had two knobs for each function, one for the lock and another to tuning the tilt...this system make the difference !

I can use one knob to accurately do two functions. I don't need to find one, work out which it is, decide if it's the one that I want, then find the other if it is not. This seems to me to be an inferior ergonomic design from under the dark cloth...


and the wista had also a ratoting back.

So does my Shen (well, rotating anyway)


wista can be a camera for life...shen hao...i doubt

Based on what? Can you please direct me to a thread in which someone explains where the Shen is deficient (not just drop some unsubstantiated opinion as you have or uses some hackneyed "the build quality is not the same" phrase), perhaps your post will have some merit.

How about keeping to facts wherever possible? When this is not possible, how about keeping your opinions to the camera that you have, not the one that you seem not to know much about? In that way, the OP will have usable information, not speculation.

gaelle
24-Jan-2010, 01:19
Again, thanks a lot for all your advice and information... I can see that the choice is not that straight forward to make between these 2 cameras... How about the "wood" factor : is a wooden camera more fragile than a metal one (i imagine so)? Is the wood likely to suffer in damp weather or hot days? Is it more likely not to "last" as long and not be a "lifetime camera" for this reason?

dave_whatever
24-Jan-2010, 01:43
Conversely, does the weight of wood mean that for its finite lifetime it'll actually get used, rather then spending a lifetime in a cupboard?

Mick Fagan
24-Jan-2010, 03:45
Gaelle, I have, amongst a few 4x5 cameras, the Shen Hao you are thinking about.

Last year I was able to look at my Shen alongside a Wista, both cameras are very good, either will do the job. Both have good points and both have not so good points, but you won’t know about any of these good or bad points until you have your camera (which ever one you purchase) alongside the other camera.

Thinking about the Shen Hao and what you wish to use it for, landscapes, then it will do an admirable job with a standard bellows and a (eventually) three-lens kit.

With a standard bellows it will use a small 90mm lens, I have a 60’s manufactured f6.8 90 Schneider Angulon, which is a very small lens. Also these are relatively cheap.

I have a Fujinon W f6.3 150 lens, also very small, quite cheap and this lens can stay on the camera (if placed back to front), when the camera is folded for travelling. This makes it the perfect all round lens for small travel. I would consider the 135mm version of this lens as a good alternative for the same reasons.

I currently have a couple of 210/215mm lens as my longest that I normally carry around with the Shen Hao, they are fine, but I have been looking for some time for a small 240mm lens for that slightly longer reach. The 240 is also quite a nice length on this camera for length portraiture, just that bit better than the 210/215mm length. I know this as I borrowed a 240 and found it to be very nice with plenty of bellows length to allow reasonably close focusing.

For landscape with this camera and my way of shooting, I think with just the standard bellows, a group of lenses that will round out the capability of the camera, whilst keeping the kit small and relatively cheap, is:- a 90mm for that wideish look or close to the subject position, followed by a small cheap 150mm, then a hunt for a 240mm or live with a cheap 210 of which there are squillions around every corner.

If you wish to do architectural stuff with the 90mm lens, then realistically you will need the bag bellows. Cost is around $100.00 and changing over in the field takes about 2 minutes. Once you have a bag bellows you can go wider, but you will be better off with a 90mm for starters.

As for heat and wood, well on New Years day I was shooting in a blazing sun with the temperature hovering around the 42C mark and a couple of days earlier it was hotter, it still works perfectly.

With regards to water, well water and cameras basically don’t mix too well, so I tend to keep out of the rain, but I have been known to use a umbrella to finish a shot and in the process the camera has gotten fairly wet a couple of times. I’ve only had this camera for about 2 years, so I don’t really know the long term effect, but I have a bit of knowledge regarding timber and as the wood is sealed, (more or less), from the atmosphere, I don’t think there will be too much of a problem from either heat or moderate water exposure.

Mick.

Brian Ellis
24-Jan-2010, 11:42
Again, thanks a lot for all your advice and information... I can see that the choice is not that straight forward to make between these 2 cameras... How about the "wood" factor : is a wooden camera more fragile than a metal one (i imagine so)? Is the wood likely to suffer in damp weather or hot days? Is it more likely not to "last" as long and not be a "lifetime camera" for this reason?

It's highly unlikely that if you stick with LF for a few years the first camera you buy will be a "lifetime" camera. I spent hours and hours researching my first LF camera and sold it within a year. You'll have a much better idea of what's important to you and what isn't once you've actually used your first LF camera for a while. So I'd suggest forgetting about the "lifetime" concept.

But as for the life of a wood LF camera, within the last decade I've owned an Agfa Ansco and two Deardorffs, both wood and both from the 1940s. They worked fine. I've owned a Linhof metal camera from the 1960s and another from the 1980s and both worked fine. When it comes to durability and aging I think it's more a matter of how you take care of the camera than of the material of which it's made.

I've owned 8 wood cameras and used 7 of them all the time in Florida when I lived there. In Florida temperatures in the 90s and humidity in the 90s are common. I never had a problem with any of the wood cameras from heat or humidity.

I think either of the two camera you've mentioned would suit your purposes. I've owned a Shen Hao and liked it a lot in the brief time I owned it - I returned it only because it was misrepresented by the seller. I've never owned the Wista SP but I've seen them and admired them, they looked like very nice cameras.

Ben Calwell
24-Jan-2010, 13:47
I agree with Brian that it's more how you care for your camera than the material it's made from.
I bought a Wista DX rosewood camera in 1988, and I'm still using it. It gets light, amateur use and looks and operates as well as it did the day it arrived via UPS more than 20 years ago.
In the interest of full disclosure, though, a small piece of wood did fall off of it one summer day. I heard a gentle "plunk," came out from under the dark cloth and saw that one of the small, inside corner trim pieces had come off. I think it's there for looks only. A small dab of Elmer's glue, and it's been back in place ever since.

Jean HER
25-Jan-2010, 02:56
i think the way you talk is quite rude...perhaps a bad day...or intestinal transit :rolleyes:


You might want to check this. Mine has the dual locking knobs that allow 2 different locks (you can tighten/release the inner and outer sections independently). See attached image.

hum i'm talking about shen hao HZX 4X5-IIA model...and i've got one...so i think i know what i'm talking about.
The system you described seems to be present only on FCL57-A, TFC810A or HZX410-IIA...not on the shen hao HZX 4X5-IIA .
The front standard on wista has smooth geared rising front, friction swing, shift and tilt. The back has friction swing and tilt, the latter with substantial locking knobs.
so it's not just rails but friction ! this make the difference !



So does my Shen (well, rotating anyway)

ok but on the shen hao you have to unmount the back...turn it an then mount it again..
The rOtating :D back on wista are like mamiya rz back :you push the button an turn the back..that's all !



Based on what? Can you please direct me to a thread in which someone explains where the Shen is deficient (not just drop some unsubstantiated opinion as you have or uses some hackneyed "the build quality is not the same" phrase), perhaps your post will have some merit.

i hope a big difference in prices, and a close look on each model, could be open your eyes...
more 2000 $ for the wista (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/63360-REG/Wista_214502_Technical_45SP_4x5_Metal.html)
less than 1000 $ for the shen hao (https://www.badgergraphic.com/store/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=120)

it just can't be the same quality...

but you right for one point : we can't compare wood to metal camera...it's not fair :)


how about keeping your opinions to the camera that you have, not the one that you seem not to know much about?

well...i know both models....and you ? :confused: cause the fact that you don't want to see the huge difference between these models especially concerning the tilt tuning etc...is the proof that you don't know well the wista 45sp


last word...: the best camera is that one you enjoy to use ...

munz6869
31-Jan-2010, 03:44
last word...: the best camera is that one you enjoy to use ...

Which is why I ended up selling my motley collection of LF cameras and replacing them with a Wista 45DXIII - after playing with an older one, a Shen-Hao, a Tachihara & a Wisner, I just enjoyed it more and liked the aesthetics! All these cameras would be fine to use - the Wista is definitely lighter than the Shen-Hao I played with, but the Shen-Hao had more movements...

The research is part of the fun too!!

Marc