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Thread: Chamonix 8x10 - Teak: First Impressions

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2007
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    193

    Chamonix 8x10 - Teak: First Impressions

    I have received my Chamonix 8x10 and thought I would make some quick comments for the benefit of anyone contemplating such a purchase.

    Firstly dealing with Hugo Chang was a pleasure. Efficient and helpful, the process was made easy and dispatch from China was exceedingly rapid. The camera was packed very well and arrived in perfect shape.

    Now for the camera:

    It is beautiful. I was unsure about the teak before ordering, but it is a very attractive camera and I will post some photos in due course. It is nice to see that the makers have selected pieces of wood with the best grain for the most visible areas of the camera. You need have no fears here – it’s a great combination of function and form.

    Fit ‘n finish is superb. Not just good, but really fantastic. It is a very different camera to an Ebony (of which I have owned two and still have one) and does not have the same luscious oiled depth to the wood and glowing titanium, but that is a different topic. Everything on the Chamonix is finished and fitted as well as with an Ebony. Some might balk at this, but it is my distinct impression after inspecting the camera extensively. The materials are very different to an Ebony, but very much lighter as a result and under the hand nothing feels insubstantial about the Chamonix. Lighweight it may be, but it also feels solid and very well put together with remarkable accuracy to the machining of the components.

    Function. Oddly I won’t comment too much about that as it has been commented on plenty. I will, however, say that the larger 8x10 feels easier to handle than smaller Chamonix models. Everything is beefier than on the 5x7 or 5x4 and somehow this feels more ‘right.’ The bail is very smooth, the Velcro tabs for sorting out bellows sag are great and the focus action silky smooth. In short, it works intuitively and smoothly and everything locks down with the right amount of pressure.

    I also bought a Sinar to Linhof reduction board and initially thought the price a bit steep, until I picket it up. Yes, it is very expensive at $170 but it is feather light and beautifully made. Its easy to forget how much a reduction panel like this can weight when made from the usual metals, which combined with lots of lenses on Sinar panels can add up very quickly. I would strongly recommend anyone considering this camera to get this reduction panel.

    Now for rigidity: this is exceptional. I once owned a 8x10 Zone VI Ultralight and I honestly think it put me off 8x10. Rigidity was poor, build felt ‘cynical’ and the Chamonix is everything the Zone VI was not. This new 8x10 is rock solid. I do not mean solid enough, but without question every bit as rigid as the most rigid non-metal field camera I have ever used : The Walker XL. Racked out past 500mm I was expecting it to lose some of its rigidity, but it was rock solid. Amazing, really. It is more rigid than my MPP 5x4 metal technical camera, which I sold when I moved to lighter cameras years back.

    The bellows are nice enough but could be better. I suspect I will end up buying a bag bellows for use with lenses under 210, where much movement is required as the regular ones are a little thick and once compressed cannot be ‘moved around’ like those on an Ebony with universal bellows. They are nicely made and look very durable, but for really short lenses they are likely to be a bit restrictive. The bag bellows are a good price though (unlike some brands) so a not too painful investment.

    Overall, this is a spectacular field camera and, within the limitations of the design, I struggle to see how things could be done much better (aside from improvements to the bellows). It weighs the same as the Zone VI Ultralight, but is in a completely different league in every respect. While moving the standard from hole to hole might seem an unpleasant design solution (I was sceptical before I had used a Chamonix) in use it is both quicker and easier than expected. The rigidity dividend (in combination with great tolerances and the rigid carbon fibre bed) is huge however and well worth the minor inconvenience.

    Pics will follow in a day or two.

  2. #2

    Re: Chamonix 8x10 - Teak: First Impressions

    I look forward to seeing some pics. I'm down to either getting the Chamonix or Shen-Hao 8x10.I'm use to my calumet C-1 for rigidity, and am a little nervous about getting a wood field 8x10, especially with my 360mm Nikkor-W hanging on front.What tripod will you be using with this?

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2007
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    193

    Re: Chamonix 8x10 - Teak: First Impressions

    I'll be using a Berlebach initially, which is exceedingly solid, but quite heavy and a Gitzo head 1570 (I think thats the name) head I have. The head has a very large platform so the support is v good.

    I have no doubt that the Chamonix would support your 360mm with no problem as the camera is not even really extended with such a FL; however, if you are using the camera for field use, have you thought about getting a lighter lens? The camera being able to handle such a heavy lens is one thing and your willingness to make it work another! I think the structural strength would be a non-issue, but doing rise and tilts with the front standard might feel odd with such a huge mass bearing down on everything.

    Which Shen Hao are you looking at - the traditional Ebony copy HZX810 (or something like that) of the FCL810? I have not used either so cannot comment, but looking at the designs, I would be surprised if either are as rigid as the Chamonix with very heavy lenses up front (they both have folding front standards and the HZX has a triple extension). The FCL has a much shorter bed, which is not going to help matters. That of the chamonix is very much longer and made of extremely rigid carbon fibre. The downside if that the Chamonix is $1000 more expensive than the FCL.

  4. #4
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    Re: Chamonix 8x10 - Teak: First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by turtle View Post
    I also bought a Sinar to Linhof reduction board and initially thought the price a bit steep, until I picket it up. Yes, it is very expensive at $170 but it is feather light and beautifully made. Its easy to forget how much a reduction panel like this can weight when made from the usual metals, which combined with lots of lenses on Sinar panels can add up very quickly. I would strongly recommend anyone considering this camera to get this reduction panel.
    How large is the hole in the reducing board? Many Linhof-to-Sinar adapters have holes that aren't quite big enough for the rear cells of some lenses one might want to swap across formats.

  5. #5

    Re: Chamonix 8x10 - Teak: First Impressions

    Hi again,

    Yes I've thought about lighter lenses.I have a 240 mm G-Claron, also a 450mm Nikkor-M which isn't terribly large. I also have a 300mm Rodenstock Apo-Siranon-N which is my favorite and most used lens of the lot, very sharp lens but big like the 360mm Nikkor. What would be a good high quality lightweight 300mm for a wood field?

    I've been looking at the FCL-810a Shen-Hao that badger sells.I like that it has both front base and axial tilt, and scale markings for zeroing things out.Also the folding desing of the front standard looks cool to me, but I can see where all the extra movements could cause rigidity issues. I like the bail arm of the Chamonix, the built is spirit levels, and the wide carbon fiber base. I wish there was a video somewhere showing the operation of the Chamonix, I'm still not clear on how you move the front standard back and fourth.

    Your possible issues with the Shen are ones I've pondered too. And with your experience with wood fields it's good to hear your take on it. Again looking forward to some pics.

    Thanks!,

    Chris

    Quote Originally Posted by turtle View Post
    I'll be using a Berlebach initially, which is exceedingly solid, but quite heavy and a Gitzo head 1570 (I think thats the name) head I have. The head has a very large platform so the support is v good.

    I have no doubt that the Chamonix would support your 360mm with no problem as the camera is not even really extended with such a FL; however, if you are using the camera for field use, have you thought about getting a lighter lens? The camera being able to handle such a heavy lens is one thing and your willingness to make it work another! I think the structural strength would be a non-issue, but doing rise and tilts with the front standard might feel odd with such a huge mass bearing down on everything.

    Which Shen Hao are you looking at - the traditional Ebony copy HZX810 (or something like that) of the FCL810? I have not used either so cannot comment, but looking at the designs, I would be surprised if either are as rigid as the Chamonix with very heavy lenses up front (they both have folding front standards and the HZX has a triple extension). The FCL has a much shorter bed, which is not going to help matters. That of the chamonix is very much longer and made of extremely rigid carbon fibre. The downside if that the Chamonix is $1000 more expensive than the FCL.

  6. #6

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    Re: Chamonix 8x10 - Teak: First Impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Strobel View Post
    I wish there was a video somewhere showing the operation of the Chamonix, I'm still not clear on how you move the front standard back and fourth.
    Chris
    Chamonix 8x10

  7. #7

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    Re: Chamonix 8x10 - Teak: First Impressions

    Chris, here is a video for the old style 8x10 but the principle is the same: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOjJTnuZUdY

    Regarding lighter 300mm lenses, the 305 G claron has a massive image circle and weighs about 450g in a copal 1. The 300mm Fujinon-C is well respected and tiny, but they seem to be overly pricey at the moment on the used market ($700 or so). The 300mm f9 Geronar covers with a little room for movement and weighs about 280g in a copal 1 - similar to the Fujinon-C. The Geronar is not a good performer at wider apertures but great at F22 and smaller. There are not many around but they are very cheap, usually. I got mine for just over $200. The 305 G claron can be had in mint condition for about $400-450 and with a 380mm image circle (as per Schneider) and a consensus that stopped down it is a whole lot bigger, you are unlikely to ever run out of movement.

    The Sinar to Linhof reducing board has a hole that mates with the circular rim on the inside of the Linhof board. So, no, it wont be good for those Nikkor 150 SWs and 155 Grandagons, but then again I would expect lenses of that FL to likely find their way onto a receessed Sinar board to allow better movement. So yes it has its limitations for lenses with monster rear elements.

  8. #8

    Re: Chamonix 8x10 - Teak: First Impressions

    Wow thanks for the video link guys.Doesn't get any clearer than that! Is it me or is that front axial tilt not centered on axis, and is there a notch or mark to zero out the front rise?

  9. #9

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    Re: Chamonix 8x10 - Teak: First Impressions

    I have an 11x14 Chamonix and my whole kit with an aluminum pack frame, 2 lenses, camera, 2 holders and dark cloth is about 26 pounds...lighter than my 4x5 kit. I made around 75 sheets with it last year and am ready to go right now.

  10. #10
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Chamonix 8x10 - Teak: First Impressions

    and am a little nervous about getting a wood field 8x10, especially with my 360mm Nikkor-W hanging on front
    Certainly the Chaminox is lighter than the Shen-Hao, and is probably worth the extra 1K for someone looking for the lightest solution. However, everything is a compromise. Like the way Chamonix made the base of the front standard so thin. If you want a sturdy, but heavier front standard for a 360, then the Shen-Hao is the way to go.


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