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Thread: Shen Hao versus Ebony

  1. #31

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    London
    Posts
    105

    Re: Shen Hao versus Ebony

    I can only relate my own experience of owning a single Shen Hao 4x5 for 2+ years. I will not extrapolate my experience of one camera to encompass the entire output of the factory. People can draw their own conclusions on the statistical worth of a single sample.

    Mine has been going strong for the last 2+ years in all the usual UK weathers (though I try not to get it wet as that means the lenses will get wet too!) and so far it has a few scratches on the base where I missed the tripod screw, a small notch on the back where I banged it against a wall and that's about it. It locks down better than my black Gandolfi Variant, it's lighter and has more useful movements and takes my 90mm SA without a fuss.

    Yes, the finish on some of the metalwork is not up to Gandolfi/Ebony standards and the spring on the back is a bit simplistic, but all work well and show no signs of flaking. The woodwork looks to my untrained eye to be the equal of any I have seen elsewhere, and as people with a trained eye have related their positive opinions, I feel entirely comfortable with that. Teak is softer than many other hardwoods so it probably takes less to dent the finish than something like the Ebony with its famously hard, hardwood.

    I can see no conceivable reason for me to hand over another 1500 - 2000 of my hard earned beer tokens on an Ebony (or any other 4x5 of the type). Perhaps another hundred or so to get better quality metalwork, but beyond that, no. It does the job and it does it well.

    Cheers, Bob.

  2. #32

    Re: Shen Hao versus Ebony

    I already have a sinar 5x7 camera, very strong and rigid but difficult to walk a trip in the country. Heavy weight and difficult to fold in a bag.
    I'm looking to a lightweight camera 5x7 format to be abble to contact print without a microscope, easy folded and enough rigid to take sharp pictures without waiting several minutes after loading. I wondered about the Canham metal but it's to expensive for the moment, may be it would be better to wait some month and buy the Canham?

  3. #33

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    2,952

    Re: Shen Hao versus Ebony

    Quote Originally Posted by Pronier Jean Claude
    I already have a sinar 5x7 camera, very strong and rigid but difficult to walk a trip in the country. Heavy weight and difficult to fold in a bag.
    I'm looking to a lightweight camera 5x7 format to be abble to contact print without a microscope, easy folded and enough rigid to take sharp pictures without waiting several minutes after loading. I wondered about the Canham metal but it's to expensive for the moment, may be it would be better to wait some month and buy the Canham?
    Have a look at the Canham woodman. I was very impressed with it when I spent an hour with it at Westcoast Camera.

    Review on this site: http://www.largeformatphotography.in...am/canham.html

  4. #34

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Location
    Baraboo, Wisconsin
    Posts
    7,742

    Re: Shen Hao versus Ebony

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul-Owen
    Hi Brian, I'd be interested to learn, after having owned two Ebony cameras, the reasons why you wouldn't choose an Ebony a third time?
    Hi Paul - I've stated my problems with the Ebony cameras I owned in more detail in various other messages and I'd rather not take the time and space to repeat them in full here, you probably can find my earlier comments by searching this forum. But in brief summary: (1) didn't like the three-wheel focusing system that required you to switch from one wheel to another in order to focus with some lenses; (2) didn't like the Fresnels that came with the cameras, replaced one with a BosScreen and today would replace it with a Maxwell screen; (3) didn't like the fact that the bag bellows didn't fit properly and had to be returned for repair; (4) didn't like the way the lens board would sometimes stick at the top as the camera was being set up and wouldn't drop down into the front standard without a lot of fiddling; (5) the cameras, especially the Ti, weren't as stable and precise as I was expecting based on comments I read here and elsewhere.

    As I've also said, there were unquestionably many very nice features about the cameras I owned. Had I not come to mine from a metal Technika, and had I not been expecting so much based on all the comments here and elsewhere, I might have been perfectly satisfied with them. As it was I thought they were overrated and overpriced but that's strictly a personal opinion. We all make our own choices as to what we think something is worth and if you and others think the Ebony camera is "worth it" then that's fine, you're certainly entitled to your opinion and it's at least as good as mine. And I should also point out that neither of my cameras had the universal bellows or the asymetrical back, two features that many owners like very much and that no doubt adds to their value.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  5. #35

    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    Adelaide, South Australia
    Posts
    725

    Re: Shen Hao versus Ebony

    Another interesting thread. Thanks Jack.

    Wodwork for starters. The Chinese have a history of fine wood crafting going back at least 3000 years. Irrelivant but just a point.

    My Shen is now nearly 5 years old and has been used very extensively from the freezing conditions of the high Sierras to the unbelievable harshness of the Australian desert. It looks and feels like a new camera. It has not been "babied", it has been treated well but used as a daiy tool.

    It is a total pleasure to use, it does have some drawbacks but nothing that once realised and accepted will in any real way cause a dud image.

    I can focus a 360mm barrel lens to 12 feet. This does require a bit of manipulation but I get the images regardles.

    The camera has more movements than I really need but I can certainly find a use for them because I have them.

    After 5 years use the knobs all lock down properly, focussing is still smooth, the bellows are like new, no paint has come off any parts, the ground glass register is perfect.

    I can use a flat board from 90 - 360mm with movements.

    The Shen would be my perfect camera with another 250mm of bellows -- or more

    As it stands an image from any camera is determined by the photographer. And buy whatever you can afford. Or more importantly what meets your real needs.

  6. #36

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    24

    Re: Shen Hao versus Ebony

    I too had a Shen Hao and now have an Ebony SV45ti.
    I was actually quite impressed with the Shen Hao. I thought that it was plenty rigid, but heavy, and was really impressed with the quality of the woodwork and finish. Jack mentioned the ground glass being parallel with the front standard. Mine was not, which bothered me to the point of returning the camera for an exchange. The replacement was better, but still not perfect. I also could not keep the front locked tight when it was extended out with a 300mm lens. I agree that it was a nice to use with the wider lenses. Although it wasn't my ideal camera, I would still recommend it over many other wooden cameras that I have seen at anywhere near that price point.
    I subsequently sold the Shen Hao and after going thru several other cameras I have ended up with the Ebony. I have concluded that all cameras have compromises and some do things better than others and no one camera is perfect, but for me, this is my ideal camera. Your ideals may be different, and I reserve the right to change mine at a later date.

  7. #37

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    24

    Re: Shen Hao versus Ebony

    FWIW, my Shen 4x5 fell out of the Kirk quick release onto the sandstone at Horseshoe Bend recently. Had a Nikon 90mm lens attached. Not a scratch.

    Dave

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