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View Full Version : Which Chamonix 4x5 model should I buy?



go_jmo
24-May-2016, 06:05
Hi Guys,

I wondered if I could get some advice (or at least confirm my research) - I am trying to choose a Chamonix 4x5 camera. These I believe are the different choices available to me:

4X5 F1 - Very similar to 045N-2, slightly more expensive, slightly heavier, more flexible rear movements?
045N-2 - The most common model? Lightweight, cheapest (marginal)
4X5 H-1 - Non folding, bigger package to carry than other two but quicker to set up. More flexible in terms of movements than the other two camera, more expensive and heavier

I shoot with a 90mm & a 150mm and am planning on buying a 210mm (and maybe a 135mm) so nothing out of the ordinary. I shoot landscapes and portraits but never hike too far with cameras. I currently have a Nagaoka Seisakusho Ultralight 4x5 which I have learnt the basics on - a lovely camera but I find it a little flimsy. So Iím thinking of selling it and buying myself a brand new treat. Iím looking for a do it all camera that doesnít limit me that I can enjoy for many years.

I would appreciate your thoughts...

Thanks!

cjdewey
24-May-2016, 07:49
I've had the F-1 for about a year, shooting mostly landscapes. It's my first LF camera, so keep that in mind...

I like the idea of keeping a lens mounted on the camera. But I frequently change focal lengths, and when I do several shots with one lens in a short period, I leave the F-1 on the tripod and carry it already set-up. How much of a convenience the non-folding design will be depends on how you use the camera.

I love the scale on the focus rack. Some people will probably love that the H-1 does not have rear focus. At a guess, I'd say it's at least as rigid as the F-1 (about which I have no complaints).

The H-1 specs suggest it has larger possible movements in the front standard, but to take advantage of those, you'd need a very large image circle (big lenses). I like to backpack with mine, so I value the light weight and foldability; and with smallish lenses, I tend run out of image circle before I run out of movement. But mostly, I don't use huge movements with my subjects. I rarely use the asymmetrical rear tilt. (I might not pay a premium for it in my next camera.)

Possibly on the downside, the H-1 seems to have a bit shorter bellows than the F-1. Not that you'd notice if your longest lens is a 210, or if you don't shoot very close-up. I use 240mm and 300mm often enough that I might miss having that extra extension.

Mostly, I love that any company is continuing to design these cameras, and improve them.

go_jmo
24-May-2016, 08:50
Thanks for the response. So I guess I need to ask myself the question, do I want a camera I can pull out of the bag with the lens attached, with minimal set up, or do I want something that folds down small for ease of transport...

Your comment about movements make sense.

Cheers

Greg
24-May-2016, 10:10
My experiences and opinions....

The 045F1 has an asymmetrical rear tilt, a nice feature to have but if you have ever used a Sinar P, this feature is minimal at best. Plus I tend to use front movements a lot more than rear movements.

New H series really seems to be for those who specialize in using WA optics. Seriously its fast set up and take down seems to be more hype... My 045N1 takes me all of 20 seconds to set up or take down.

I normally leave the dark cloth behind and just use Chamonix's reflex finder. The image really falls off when using the 65mm WA lens but I just live with it. Attaching it to the back of the Chamonix is a little less than full proof. Twice it has fallen off. You just have to make sure that it is securely attached to the back of the camera each time you use it.

Generic Linhof style lens boards sometimes will not fit onto the Chamonix. The rear round dimple being the slightest bit too oversized to fit the Chamonix's front standard. WISTA boards work fine and can be easily found used for a lot less than OEM (Chamonix) boards which rarely appear on the used market.

Have the WA bellows but have yet to need to use it. Universal bellows better bet to get. I have the standard bellows and has served me fine for all of the scenes I've shot (of course other's may need the WA bellows for their type of photography).

Two23
24-May-2016, 16:27
I have the 045n and love it. I think it's very versatile, and is quick to set up. It takes longer for me to take a meter reading and transfer the settings to the lens than it does to set up the camera. I can always leave it unfolded with a lens on my back seat between shots if I want. I really like the Chamonix. Mostly using vintage lenses on it (1920s) but have a set of three modern lenses as well.


Kent in SD

StoneNYC
24-May-2016, 17:56
I've had a Chamonix 8x10 for a few years now, and now have a 4x5 version coming to me. The 45N-2 to be specific.

All the options I need, the F-1 has a unique focus feature but I think ultimately the N-2 is best. You must choose one for yourself, choose wisely ;)

go_jmo
25-May-2016, 03:31
Thanks all, comments appreciated. I have to say I am thinking of the 4X5 H-1...

dave_whatever
25-May-2016, 04:00
I've had an F1 for just over 3 years. It's been excellent, the only problems are ones inherent to that Philips type design, i.e. takes a bit longer to set up, and no mechanical hard zero position for front swing. I don't have a problem with setup although quicker/easier would be better in some situations, for example freezing cold winter mornings or windy spring evenings trying to screw the front standard in place in gloves or with numb hands. Other than than I can't fault it, although I should say I have never used the stock ground glass so can't comment on that. The rear asymmetrical tilt is superb and I use it on the majority of landscape images I make.

The choice between the new H types and the older philips type models will be on of personal preference, weight, and setup. The price and overall quality looks about the same between models, give or take a hundred bucks. The H models should give more foolproof parallelism for super wides, and will give you faster set up. They will require a larger rectangular slot in your camera bag, but that rectangle will now include a lens as well, so on the whole I expect the overall bag footprint space required to be about a break even with the older models. Weight of the H models is above the Philips models, but then again it's still way lighter than say a Linhof TK or even the equivalent Ebony 45SU models. If you need absolute longest extension for say a 450mm lens in a tiny light package then clearly a philips-type model with extension rack is your answer.

What interests me more than the cameras themselves is that the company is not sitting on it's laurels and just knocking out the same old cameras year after year, they're coming up with a new ideas or improved cameras every year or so (I notice they now have a 5x7" with asymmetric tilt on the website, that's a unique camera right there). Lets face it the first cameras they made in each format were easily "good enough" at the pricepoint, they didn't need to keep coming up with new stuff. It's good for all of us, Chamonix customers or not, that we've still got camera makers with an obvious enthusiasm and vision for the future, especially with Ebony sadly exiting the market.

go_jmo
25-May-2016, 06:34
Once again thanks everyone, I just ordered the 4x5 H-1.

Professional
19-Jul-2016, 08:40
Once again thanks everyone, I just ordered the 4x5 H-1.

So, what is your impression about H-1 so far?

This is the camera i am looking for to buy sooner or later, hope to sell my LF current i have first then i am all in.

Bill_1856
19-Jul-2016, 10:25
Keep the Nagaoka! (No camera is without its own faults -- you'll just be trading one set of problems for a different set.)

Jim Noel
19-Jul-2016, 10:33
I have never been able to understand anyone having a preference for a non folding field camera. The very definition of a field camera is one which is easy to carry to and use in the field. I believe a non-folding camera has all of the transportation and storage problems of a monorail, and few of its advantages.
This said, each person must buy what they feel is best for them.

dave_whatever
19-Jul-2016, 12:29
I have never been able to understand anyone having a preference for a non folding field camera. The very definition of a field camera is one which is easy to carry to and use in the field. I believe a non-folding camera has all of the transportation and storage problems of a monorail, and few of its advantages.
This said, each person must buy what they feel is best for them.

What problems? I'd be interested to know why you think a non-folder is not easy to carry or use in the field. I've used both types, non-folders are easier to use, and overall no different to carry.

drew.saunders
19-Jul-2016, 12:33
I have never been able to understand anyone having a preference for a non folding field camera. The very definition of a field camera is one which is easy to carry to and use in the field. I believe a non-folding camera has all of the transportation and storage problems of a monorail, and few of its advantages.
This said, each person must buy what they feel is best for them.

Don't think of them as "non-folding" so much as "pancaking." If you look about 1/3 of the way down this article: https://luminous-landscape.com/era-ends-ebony-view-camera/ you'll see how much you can collapse one of the Ebony non-folding cameras. Scroll down further to see the same camera fully extended. They end up as compact, if not more so, than a folding view camera, making them very easy to transport. You get rigidity from not needing hinged standards, at the expense of total bellows length and the option of both base and axial tilts. For the triple-extension models, you do have to use both front and rear focus and the extra extension section to get it fully extended, which takes a bit more time than just extending a folding camera, but it's not that difficult.

I can get my Ebony 45SU collapsed and packed in the Photobackpacker box very quickly, and can collapse it with a small lens attached (Nikkor 200M, Fuji 125 or Schneider 135 are all small enough) if I want.

Professional
19-Jul-2016, 13:16
In Chamonix 4x5 H-1 page there is a pic of its carrying bag, sounds very reliable and nice and easy to carry, it is almost same dimensions of the aluminium box that my Shen Hao folding are coming with, the difference is like orientation, and i think about non folding cams are easier because i will take time even few seconds to setup/open non folding camera and placing things on it.

go_jmo
22-Jul-2016, 05:29
Too late! I sold the Nagoaka, and I am very very happy with the 045H1. It is only slightly bigger than the folded NS but far more rigid and able to take my 210mm lens without sagging. I've shot this a few times and it is a joy - beautifully made. It goes in my back pack, taking up around the same kid of space, but the lens is attached so the whole process is far speedier - great in failing light situations. I love this camera.