Chamonix 45N-1 Universal bellows and Folding Viewer Review
Since I first started using the Chamonix 45N-1 in late 2007, I’ve thought it was a beautifully designed camera that needed very little in the way of improvements. However, when the camera was first released, there were no accessories available, which somewhat limited the camera compared to older systems with more options. The summer of 2008 has seen the release of multiple accessories to complement the 45N-1. As of this summer, most of the following accessories are available. Note that the prices listed are estimates based on exchange rate earlier this summer and may vary due to currency fluctuations.
- Lens shade: $35
- Reflex Viewer: $250
- Folding Viewer: $30
- Carbon fiber lens board: $65
- Leather Jacket: $25
- Universal bellows: $90
- Wide Bellows: $80
- Dark cloth: $25
- 45 film holder: $69
After using my Chamonix for a few months, I ran into a couple of issues. My widest lens is currently the Nikkor 90mm SW f/8—which I bought for its light weight and generous image circle. The standard bellows is of excellent quality, but like many other bellows—movements are limited with short lenses. The standard bellows allows approximately 20-25mm of front standard rise out of the front standard limit of 45mm.
Standard bellows may limit movement of short lenses
The universal bellows is similar in construction to the standard bellows, but there are no stiffeners in a small section at the front of the bellows. The stiffeners act to give the bellows form, promote folding, and prevent sag. Removing the stiffeners in a small section at the front of the bellows has no effect on the proper folding and dimensional stability of the bellows, but it does allow a wider range of movements when the bellows is compressed for use with short lenses. I found that the front frame could be raised to the full 45mm the front standard allows when using the universal bellows. There is a similarly wider range of shift available.
Universal bellows allows full front standard movements with a 90mm lens
The universal bellows also extends to the full length of the completely extended 45N-1, so there is no loss of function when used with a long lens.
Universal bellows fully extended
Normal bellows fully extended
Overall, the universal bellows is made to the same high standards as the standard bellows, and the Chamonix is thoughtfully designed for simple and easy bellows replacement. It adds functionality for a modest price without any loss of extension, so I highly recommend it for all general use. The universal bellows can be purchased separately or for a modest additional cost—as the primary bellows with the purchase of a 45N-1.
Pros: Easy to install, high quality, reasonable price.