View Full Version : Need help from fellow Shen-Hao users

Ellen Stoune Duralia
15-May-2005, 20:53
Hi everyone! I'm experiencing technical difficulties and I'm wondering if you can help me out. As I announced recently, I got a new 4x5 Shen-Hao. I really like the camera but I have a couple of issues that are making me wonder if I got a lemon.

The first issue that is really upsetting has to do with a 6x12 roll film holder that I got from MidWest. Jim told me it was the Shen-Hao RFH but it says 'DaYi' - now I don't know if that's important or if it's a different RFH altogether. I assumed they were one in the same and I don't particularly care what the label says as long as it works. The problem is that it doesn't fit in the frame of my Shen-Hao. It's too tight and even if I did manage to get it mounted, I wouldn't be able to use the clips to hold it in place. The Fuji Quickload FH, the Polaroid FH and most of my sheet film holders fit fine. However, some of my sheet film holders are pretty snug. Just for curiosity, I tried the DaYi RFH and my snug sheet film holders in my Horseman and they fit beautifully. So that tells me that something is out of whack with my Shen-Hao.
On the front end of things, 3 of the lens board holders that Jim sent me do not fit well at all. One of them I filed down, one won't fit at all, and the other kinda fits but I can't slip the holding clips all the way into place. The the thing is that Jim told me he tested the last one on one of the Shens he has in stock and it fit fine.

The second issue is with the finish of the wood as well as the metal on the camera. It was a bit marred when I got it - nothing major and certainly not anything worth sending it back for. But I've noticed that just about anything will mess it up. For example, I held a folding focusing hood against the back to check for the best orientation for installing it (this was previous to my other thread where I'd pretty much given up on the hood). The thing is I was extremely gentle, had the camera on the floor while doing this and I didn't move it around but it STILL scratched the frame. It's almost like dealing with a wax candle that the slightest errant touch will marr.

Now I realize that for the price, this camera is not going to be as well made as an Ebony, for example. But surely with the great reviews the Shen-Haos get from other folks, what I'm dealing with can't be normal.

So, what should I do? Have any of you experienced anything like what I've described? I'm just at a loss :(

Any help will be greatly appreciated - thanks in advance!

Mark Erickson
15-May-2005, 20:58
Regarding the lensboards, I had a similar experience with my Ikeda Anba field camera. I have purchased "no-name" lensboards from Midwest Photo and from Badger Graphic. The Midwest boards are slightly larger in every dimension than the Badger boards. The Midwest boards don't quite fit my camera, while the Badger boards do. I could be wrong, but I believe that the Linhof may have changed their specifications just a little bit over time and the Midwest boards are sized to the larger spec, while my Ikeda Anba is sized to the smaller spec. Maybe your Shen Hao is similar in that respect.

Hope this helps,

Dean Tomasula
15-May-2005, 21:32
Ellen -

The DaYi and Shen-Hao 6x12 backs are not the same. The Shen-Hao is essentially an Art Panorama back. However, both should fit the camera easily.

As for the lens boards, some seem to be slightly larger than the stated specs. The "no-name" boards that Badger sells for $30 fit beautifully.

I suspect your camera is out of alignment. It could have happened in shipping. I'd talk to Midwest about it, particularly if the finish is easily marred as you say. The Shen-Hao normally can take some abuse and not look the worse for wear.

Dave Moeller
15-May-2005, 21:55

It sounds like you got a dog. It happens with every manufacturer at one time or another. Assuming that you bought it from Jim at Midwest, I'd give him a call and explain all of the issues you're having with it. Jim's a good guy and I suspect he'll make it right.

I bought my Shen-Hao from Jim, and it arrived in fine condition. No scratches, no alignment problems, etc. It seems that you have a couple of issues right out of the box: the back seems to be out of spec, and the metal finish definately shouldn't be marred when the camera's new.

Have you measured the opening in the back of your camera? I can't remember the ANSI spec for the opening for a 4x5 camera, but I suspect if you measure it carefully you'll find that the back is not within spec. I have about 30 film holders, from different manufacturers and differnt decades, and they all fit just fine. (I dont' have any experience with the 6x12 back.)

As for scratches: The finish on my camera is pretty tough, and it takes a pretty good hit to make any kind of mark in it. It almost sounds like the finish on your camera hasn't set correctly...as if it's still soft. This definately shouldn't be, as the camera had plenty of time to age when it was shipped from the factory to Midwest.

Again, I think the best thing to do is to call Jim and see if he'll just swap out the camera for you. I've had a few lensboards that didn't fit exactly the same as the original lens board, but I have boards from four different manufacurers and all will work with my camera.

Best of luck to you.

Scott Davis
15-May-2005, 22:19
Ditto what Dean said. While I haven't put an RFH in my Shen Hao, everything else I've used with it works wonderfully, and the finish has held up beautifully. Sounds like maybe you got a lemon. I've had no problem with the generic lensboards (got them from The View Camera Store in Arizona, and off of ebay). I've got six altogether (the one that came on the camera, and five more). Everything has gone very smoothly with mine, from changing bellows to using Polaroid backs to changing lenses. I'd talk to whomever you bought yours from about maybe doing a swap out since it seems so out-of-character for the breed.

Ellen Stoune Duralia
16-May-2005, 06:16
Ok, sounds like I need to call Jim. Thanks everyone for your input!

Brian Ellis
16-May-2005, 07:36
One of the reasons people pay $125 for a Linhof lens board for their Linhof camera, when they could buy a Linhof knock-off for $30, is they know the Linhof board is going to fit perfectly. After-market ones may or may not and that's just endemic to the concept. It's not easy to make say a 4x4 board that will be a perfect fit on every camera that nominally accepts a 4x4 board, especially a wood board on a wood camera.

As for the rest of your problems, sorry to hear about them but you were wise to buy from MidWest, if anyone can make everything right they will.

Sam Crater
16-May-2005, 08:54
I have to disagree on Brian's post. Nikon Technica style boards are quite well made and consistent - I have used half a dozen of them on several cameras - and cost about $35. Not knocking Linhof, but nobody needs to spend $130 to get a good lens board.

Donald Hutton
16-May-2005, 10:24

Even the Nikon boards are not perfect - the indent for the alignment pin at the center of the bottom is a little shorter than the Linhof boards - I have had issues with adaptor board fitting as a result. I've used all sorts of Technika design boards and there is no doubt that the Kinhof boards are the best made with the best fit. However, that is not to say that other boards cannot be used - I currently have an assortment of orginal Linhof boards, Ebony boards and a few of the Nikon boards - they all work.

Ellen Stoune Duralia
16-May-2005, 13:37
You guys who have dealt with Jim at MidWest know this already but for those of you who haven't shopped at MidWest before, you should call them for your future needs. The customer service is beyond excellent! A phone call this afternoon resulted in all being right with my LF world once again. Jim is going to swap out my Shen for one he's tested personally. I'm so relieved!!

Anyway, just thought I'd share and thanks again everyone for your help :)

Dave Moeller
16-May-2005, 23:07
I'm glad to hear it Ellen...although I was sure this was how things would work out. Jim's always been more than great to deal with. A true gem.