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.