View Full Version : Ebony 45S vs SW45sIIc and bellows confusion

12-Feb-2010, 16:09
For my first 2 years in LF I have been using a Shen Hao TZ45IIB with standard bellows. I have found that 90mm is my most used focal length. I am currently enjoying the Nikkor 90mm f8 which has a huge circle but I have been frustrated by the limited front rise that my normal bellows permit with a short lens.

The cheap and easy solution to my problem is to acquire the Shen Hao wide angle bellows. However, the more exciting (and expensive) option is to change camera. Funds are available and I will turn 30 in a few weeks (the best birthday presents are the ones you get yourselves!) so it is an option I'm seriously mooting - though common sense and thrift might regain the upper hand. We'll see.

I have been looking (albeit online) at Ebony's non-folding 4x5 cameras. On a trip in December I realised how useful a non-folder would be. It's a nuisance constantly having to fold and unfold a camera in the field when light is changing fast.

I have ruled out the 45SU (the one with asymmetric tilts) as too expensive for me and discounted the SW45 because of its limited rear movements. Thus, I have narrowed my choices to either the 45S or the SW45sIIc. (The SW45sIIc adds a little rear swing to the normal, limited SW45 rear movements. There is apparently also a SW45sIIIc which adds rear shift too but I can't see pricing info for that at US resellers). The 45S appears very versatile and is a few hundred dollars cheaper than the SW45sIIc.

Ebony claim that the bellows supplied with the 45S permit full movements with wide lenses. I read a forum thread in which Ed Richards noted that he had trouble getting full movements from the standard bellows on his 45SU and had replaced them with Ebony's wide angle bellows. The information on Ebony's website suggests that their wide-angle bellows are an accessory for the 45SU only (not the 45S) and I wonder whether the difficulty Ed encountered is particular to the 45SU bellows.

So, a few quesions:

1. Does anyone know if the bellows supplied with the 45S are different from the bellows supplied with the 45SU?

2. Are there any 45S, SW45 or SW45sIIc users out there getting full movements (especially front rise) from the standard bellows supplied with their camera, using lenses in the 60 to 120 range?

3. Are there any Ebony users in or near DC who might be able to show me their camera? (None of the DC camera stores carry any LF and I'd like to see an Ebony in real life before deciding whether or not to get one)


Paul O
13-Feb-2010, 01:29
1. Yes - the bellows are different; the bellows on the 45S are fixed in place whereas the 45SU offers interchangeable bellows. The 45S is designed for wide lenses and the bellows compress a great deal more than the universal bellows found on other Ebony models. The 45S bellows are more akin to the wide bellows option for the 45SU - just longer. They are VERY flexible!

2. You will run out of image circle (of the lens) before you max out on the amount of bellows movement available. I used a 110XL on a 45SW and never had any problem.

3. sorry I live in Wales!

13-Feb-2010, 08:01
Thanks Paul. I'm reassured.

I'm from the UK myself but currently living and working in the US. I can get the 45S new for the equivalent of GBP 1700 from a US reseller, whereas the same camera would cost me around GBP 2900 if I bought in the UK.

Enjoyed reading your blog posts about your switch to 5x7. With the demise of Quickloads and the inevitability of having to load darkslides I thought about moving up to 5x7. However, the darkroom I rent in DC has no enlarger that can handle 5x7 so I'll be sticking to 4x5 for a while.