View Full Version : Long lenses (>300 mm) on Shen-Hao

Mike Lopez
9-Aug-2004, 07:12
Has anyone used a lens longer than 300mm (probably 360mm) on a Shen-Hao 4x5? If so, which lens? Was the camera stiff enough at that much bellows draw? Has anyone used a Copal 3 lens at 300mm or greater focal length? Thanks for any input.

Gem Singer
9-Aug-2004, 08:24
Hi Mike,

Previously, when I owned a 4X5 Shen Hao, the longest lens I was able to use was the Fujinon 400T (telephoto). It was a large, heavy weight lens, mounted in a Copal 1 shutter. It put a lot of strain on the Shen Hao's front standard, but it was useable at longer distances. Closer distances required longer bellows extension, and the 4X5 Shen Hao would then become un-stable with the Fuji 400T.

The Fujinon 300T, mounted in a Copal 0 shutter, seemed to be the longest lens that the Shen Hao could handle comfortably. A 360, mounted in a Copal 3 shutter, would be large and heavy. It would require the use of, both, base tilts and axis tilts, just to focus it at infinity. That would be asking a lot from the 4X5 Shen Hao.

Mike Lopez
9-Aug-2004, 08:36
Thanks, Eugene. Why would you have to use tilts to focus at infinity? I've never used anything that long, so I'm having trouble visualizing what you are describing. Thanks again.

Gem Singer
9-Aug-2004, 09:23
Sorry I confused you, Mike. Using only the focusing knobs on the Shen Hao, the focusing bed will extend to about 300mm., before running out of useable extension length. By sliding the front (lensboard) out of it's groove, then using a combination of base tilts and axis tilts, on both the front and back, the bellows on the Shen Hao can be extended to about 360mm., using the focusing knobs. However, a larger heavier lens puts quite a bit of strain on those smaller size tightening knobs. Once you try that configuration, yourself, my explaination will become much clearer.

Before using a lens longer than 300mm., mounted in a Copal 3 shutter, on your 4X5 Shen Hao, I suggest that you consider a telephoto designed lens that requires less bellows extension in order to focus at infinity.

Mike Lopez
9-Aug-2004, 09:40
What kind of lens longer than 300mm would require less bellows extension to focus? I don't think I understand. If you have two 360mm lenses (of different makes/models), wouldn't they both require the same extension to focus, based on physics? I must be missing something. Can you give me an example of a lens (let's say 360mm) which would be more compatible with the Shen-Hao than a big Copal 3? What you said about extending the focusing bed to 300mm and then sliding the front standard out further is very clear, however. Thank you.

Tony Galt
9-Aug-2004, 10:15
There are two types of long lenses for LF: regular long focus lenses which focus at infinity at their focal lengths, and telephoto lenses which focus at infinity at a bellows extension shorter than their focal lengths. So for instance the Fujinon 300mm T (for telephoto) will focus from about 5' to infinity on the Shen Hao (I have both), giving a usable range, good for portraits or landscape. The only problem with telephoto lenses is that their optical centers are forward of the normal position, which is parallel with the lensboard. This makes front standard movements a little more complex. One can deal with the added complexity through trial and error, or use the back to make movements (which of course also introduces some extra variables). Also I believe that telephotos have a bit less coverage than long focus lenses. I'm not sure how telephotos longer than 300mm will do on the Shen Hao. They do tend to be heavy lenses and the trick of extending the front standard referred to above is iffy with a heavy lens on this camera. You can also get some extension on the back by tilting toward the rear and then leveling the groundglass.

Gem Singer
9-Aug-2004, 10:23
Mike, a 360mm. lens that would be more compatible with the Shen Hao would be the Nikkor 360 Telephoto. This lens is mounted in a Copal 1 shutter and requires less than 300mm. of extension to focus it at infinity. The Fujinon 400T is mounted in a Copal 1 shutter, and it also requires less than 300mm. of extension to focus at infinity. Those are only two examples of lenses in the 360mm. range that are designed to be used with shorter bellows extensions.

A telephoto designed lens allows the use of a longer focal length with less bellows extension. There is quite a bit of information about large format telephoto lenses on this website, both in the archives and in articles on the main page.

Danny Burk
9-Aug-2004, 10:26

My friend Ken Cravillion has a Shen-Hao and is able to focus a Nikkor 500mm tele at infinity. He can also use my Fuji 300mm "C" (non-tele) at closer distances with no problem. Both of these use a Copal 1 shutter, and the Fuji 300mm is very light and compact; Nikkor makes a comparable design.

A "tele", in large format terms, is a lens that is designed so that it can be focused with less bellows extension than its focal length; this allows it to be used on cameras with shorter bellows, unlike a "non-tele" design. On a telephoto-design lens, the bellows required is usually about 2/3 of the focal length. For example, this Nikkor 500mm tele needs 350mm of bellows extension to focus at infinity; the 300mm, not being a telephoto design, would need approximately 300mm bellows extension to focus at infinity. The downside of tele lenses is that they're generally larger, more expensive, and have a smaller image circle than non-tele designs. They also require that tilts be applied with care, since their nodal point lies in front of the lens rather than approximately in its center, which can do odd things to your tilt expectations.

Regards, Danny www.dannyburk.com

Mike Lopez
9-Aug-2004, 10:59
Thank you all for your input. Danny, I just sent you an email.


Brian Ellis
10-Aug-2004, 15:14
Perhaps somebody should point out that a new Fuji or Nikon telephoto lens is going to cost roughly double the cost of your camera (I paid $1,200 for a Fuji 400T about six years ago and I think the Nikon 360 and up telephoto is more than that, not to mention the fact that while the Fuji is comparatively small, the Nikon is a big, heavy lens that isn't easy to back pack). If you think you're going to be using a longer lens than about 240mm with some regularity then to me buying a Shen Hao camera and planning to use one of these telephoto lenses doesn't make a whole lot of economic sense. Instead, I'd buy a camera that can use normal lenses of these focal lengths without having to resort to forward tilt/base tilt front and rear or telephoto lenses and then buy a normal 300/360/400 or whatever length lens. Just my opinion (and of course the economics would make more sense if the telephoto lens was used).

Gem Singer
10-Aug-2004, 16:43
Hi Brian,

Our mutual friend Jim, at Midwest Photo Exchange, presently has three previously owned Fuji 400T's. They are all in excellent condition and can be purchased from $600-$700 (approx. price of a new Shen Hao camera body).

I certainly agree that tele lenses are large and heavy. The Fuji 400T, mounted in a Copal 1 shutter, weighs 600gms.The Nikkor 360 tele is slightly heavier. A non-tele lens in the 360mm. focal length, mounted in a Copal 3 shutter, and would weigh even more. It would also require larger, more expensive screw-in filters. From my experience with the Shen Hao, it does not handle these large, heavy lenses very easily.

That is why I attempted to explain to Mike, judging from my experience with the camera, that the longest non-tele lens the Shen Hao is capable of handling comfortably is a compact 300, like the Nikkor 300M, or the Fuji 300C. The longest tele lens lens it can handle with ease is the Fuji 300T (tele), since 190mm. of bellows extension is all that is needed to focus it at infinity. The 300T is a smaller size tele, mounted in a lighter weight Copal 0 shutter. It tips the scale at 415gms. Jim has a few Fuji 300 Tele's on hand, and a previously owned one can be purchased from $550-$600.

10-Aug-2004, 18:19
My Shen Hao will happily focus my 360 Tele Xenar in Compound down to around 6 feet without mucking about with the front standard (max extension, GG to lens panel, is 305mm).

The lens is held securely and at infinity the front standard extends less than 2 inches past the baseboard so there is no flexing. At max extension there is approx 2 mm of droop [I know how it feels ;-( ].


Ken Cravillion
11-Aug-2004, 17:14
I was going to say that I've used a Nikkor-T* 500mm on my Shen Hao but Danny already beat me to the punch.

In order for it to work I had to tilt the front standard forward and tilt the back to the rear to gain the additional FFD to use the 500mm.

This shot was taken with the 500mm and I was only 12-18 feet way from this rapid: