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Thread: Just got a Shen Hao 4x5

  1. #1

    Just got a Shen Hao 4x5

    I just received a Shen Hao 4x5 a few hours ago. My co-worker is from Shanghai a nd brought one back for me on her last trip. I'm not extremely experienced with LF, so take my report with a grain of salt.

    I got the top of the line HZX 45-2A camera with a wide angle bellows. She broug ht all this back in one of their flight case style cases.

    The case is nice, but I wouldn't consider checking it like I might a real flight case. It is fairly tight fitting with no room for anything but the camera.

    The wide angle bellows is made of a simulated leather/vinyl and looks like it wi ll work well.

    Switching bellows is quite easy. The front is released with a slide similar to the one that releases the lensboard. The rear is released by turning two knobs on the back to unscrew the screws holding the bellows in place.

    The workmanship of the camera is quite good. The finish is kind of a light waln ut matte finish. I don't know what type of finish it is or how it is applied. I don't intend to take the camera out in St. Louis thunderstorms, but I hope it will stand up to use.

    The movements are all very logical. The front standard can be slid forward and locked in place with two levers. Likewise, two levers loosen the standard for s wings. Rise/fall and tilt are similar to other cameras.

    The rear standard is interesting. There is a non-geared vertical rise, a center tilt, and a base tilt. All work fine. You loosen 2 knobs for vertical rise. One of these knobs does double duty controling the center tilt.

    I am having some problems with rear shift and swing. There is a post screwed in to a round nut that you loosen to swing and shift the rear. When the round nut is tightened all the way, the post is perpendicular to the plane of the film. I can't loosen it more than 80 degrees because there is a screw in the way. This isn't quite enough for easy swings and shifts. I tried turning the round nut o ver and playing with it, but it didn't work. I am probably going to have to rig something here or go to a machine shop and pay them to tap the round nut in ano ther place so it will work better. The control is a good concept, but it wasn't carried out well on my sample. I've emailed Perry Wang in China and Andrea Mil ano in Europe for help.

    The back can be turned vertically or horizontally just like the Tachihara (the o ther camera I've used). I wish Shen Hao had put some sort of brass reinforcemen t on the corners of the back so it wouldn't take so much of a beating switching it from vertical to horizontal. The back can also slide out and a roll film hol der locked into place.

    I'm still assembling the rest of my kit, so I haven't actually used the camera. Once I've put it though its paces, I'll post again.

    I can't say whether I'm pleased with the purchase because of the problem with th e rear swing and shift. If I can't make it workable in some way, I'll be aggrav ated. I don't like the idea of forcing a camera to shift and swing. I really w ish the corners of the back were reinforced with brass. I've been very careful , but I can see that they are going to wear a lot as the back is rotated.

    Although it's not perfect, it's a reasonable camera for the price you pay in Chi na. If I were given the choice of a new Shen Hao for $1000 or a new Tachihara f or $600, I buy a used Tachihara for $400-500. At least based on my first impres sion.

    Dave Willis

  2. #2
    Shadow Catcher
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    So. California
    Posts
    192

    Just got a Shen Hao 4x5

    I can/would buy a used Zone VI for a lot less than $1000 and get a lot better camera from what you are saying. Pat

  3. #3

    Just got a Shen Hao 4x5

    Maybe it is not supposed to have more read shift and swing than what you can get. I don't think many field cameras have much if at all. My Toyo 45A has no shift and only swings a few degrees.

  4. #4

    Just got a Shen Hao 4x5

    Pat,

    If your choices are used Zone VI for $1000 or a new Shen Hao for $1000, I agree that the Zone VI is probably the better deal, although I have never used a Zone VI. If you (or a friend) are in Shanghai and can pick it up for $500 new, then it might be worth it, at least for a beginner. I'm a grad student and was looking for a way to get an inexpensive field camera. I got the camera, lensboard, wide angle bellows, and case for $550.

    John, To get the rear swing, you have to loosen a nut. The nut has a rod sticking out of it to help you loosen it (in effect it's kind of like loosening a lever). On my camera, I can't move the rod far enough to make the nut loose enough to swing and shift easily. There is a round head screw in the way. The camera has a pretty good amount of swing (20 degrees each way) and shift (29mm each way). I'll probably just visit a machine shop and have the nut drilled and tapped in another location. Then the camera should work pretty well.

  5. #5

    Just got a Shen Hao 4x5

    Dave,

    Here's a few suggestions: 1. Go to www.shen-hao.com to review your HZX45-2A camera's spec. 2. The round nut and the post (I'd call it a lever) are used to control the back swing and shift. You loose it a bit (push the lever to your left if you face the ground glass), then adjust your swing and shift, and then tighten it again. I do not think you need to turn the lever more than 80 degree to do your swing and shift. It might be tight at the beginning, give it a few miles to break-in. 3. "brass reinforcement" you mentioned is not necessary. There are four wooden reinforcement structures inside the rear assembly. 4. The walnut matte finish is the base coat. I don't see why you can not use your Shen-Hao in St. Louis thunderstorms if you happen to have a water-proof lens or two. The camera bellows is synthetic, wood is teak, and hardwares brass. I just received my Shen-Hao HZX810-2A (an 8x10) and came back from a short trip. The camera was really dirty and full of sand from beaches. So I took off the bellows, and used a water gun (the kind you use to wash tires at car wash) to claen my camera with car wash detergent and water, while my car was being washed. The camera now looks new again. For the bellows, try vacuum cleaning. Remember that all Shen-Hao wood materials were treated in all-weather conditions (including rain, snow, ice, sunlight, and Shanghai thunderstorms) for at least one year before they were selected to make your camera.

    Please feel free to email me if you have further concerns. Cheers,

  6. #6

    Just got a Shen Hao 4x5

    Geoffrey, I'm familiar with how the lever/post-nut works. At maximum tightness it is at a 45 degree angle to the plane of the film with the end pointing to the left. The maximum I can move it from this position is about 30-40 degrees because a screw prevents me from loosening it further. I've tried removing and replacing the nut and flipping it over, but nothing has worked. I can get it to swing and shift with some effort, but if I could get another 30 degrees from the nut, it would be much easier.

    I figure the wood had been seasoned appropriately, but I was a little concerned because although the finish was applied beautifully, I wasn't sure how moisture would affect it if there weren't some sort of sealant on top of the finish. And there may be a sealant. It just isn't readily apparent.

    Dave

  7. #7

    Just got a Shen Hao 4x5

    Dave,

    I'm a little confused by your two statements: 1. "I am having some problems with rear shift and swing. There is a post screwed into a round nut that you loosen to swing and shift the rear. When the round nut is tightened all the way, the post is perpendicular to the plane of the film. I can't loosen it more than 80 degrees because there is a screw in the way. This isn't quite enough for easy swings and shifts. I tried turning the round nut over and playing with it, but it didn't work." 2. "At maximum tightness it is at a 45 degree angle to the plane of the film with the end pointing to the left. The maximum I can move it from this position is about 30-40 degrees because a screw prevents me from loosening it further. I've tried removing and replacing the nut and flipping it over, but nothing has worked. I can get it to swing and shift with some effort, but if I could get another 30 degrees from the nut, it would be much easier." Where did you see the first "the post is perpendicular to the plane of the film" and the "80 degrees"? I have three those "round nut and post" things on my 8x10. I only need to turn a post about 30 degrees, and I can swing and shift. They were tight at first, but after a few exercises, they are fine now (especially after the "car wash").

    I wouldn't worry about "how moisture would affect it". First of all, you know the wood is teak (#1 choice for outdoor furniture and boats). Secondly, there are four more coats (clear) atop of the base coat. Thirdly, teak secrets its own oil. I'm confident that water will not damage the camera, otherwise I wouldn't "car wash" my camera. Did people make tropical cameras with teak? Cheers,

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Posts
    185

    Just got a Shen Hao 4x5

    "....used a water gun (the kind you use to wash tires at car wash) to claen my camera with car wash detergent and water, while my car was being washed. "

    "...all Shen-Hao wood materials were treated in all-weather conditions (including rain, snow, ice, sunlight, and Shanghai thunderstorms) for at least one year before they were selected to make your camera. "

    Geoffrey,

    Puhleezz!!! Enough of the used car sales pitches! Do you really expect anyone who uses large format gear to believe you washed your camera at the car wash with a high pressure washer!??

    Seasoned (what? - left out in the weather at the lumber yard?) for a year?

    How about if we keep this to discussions about LF photography, and not become a format for sales reps? Everyone who frequents this board knows that you and Mr. Milano have a vested interest in these cameras and the promotion of same. Why not keep the promotional material to email.

  9. #9

    Just got a Shen Hao 4x5

    Matt,

    Let me say this again: I'm not a salesman for Shen-Hao or Seagull, and I have NOT taken a penny from either. Just try to help.

    It's my camera, and I can do whatever I want. Yeah, I also blast- cleaned my Ries tripod with that very same car wash water gun. Just call me nuts!

  10. #10

    Just got a Shen Hao 4x5

    Did you have the lens mounted or not?

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