View Full Version : Shen-hao vs. Toyo- a slight departure

John C Murphy
25-May-2005, 11:31
This is a slight departure from the usual Shen-hao versus Ebony question. I am thinking about buying a field camera, but not for the usual reason-weight. I actually don't mind carrying my Toyo monorail into the field, but I have trouble with the recessed lensboard for my wide-angle lens, namely, that I have difficulty getting my fingers in there to work the controls. I figure a field camera will allow for a 'less recessed' recessed lensboard. Now I've followed this website long enough to know that the Shen-hao is the logical choice versus the Ebony, but what about the Toyo? I mean, they are about the same price (around $600). Is there any advantage for an existing Toyo owner to stick with them? or should I just go with the prettier Shen-hao? I appreciate your opinions.

paul owen
25-May-2005, 11:48
Hi John. If you're talking about the Toyo CF then get the Shen Hao! There I said it!! Seriously, the Toyo CF is attrocious (MY OPINION ONLY!!!!! - PLEASE - I'M NOT GOING THROUGH THE SAME THING WITH TOYO USERS!!). Unless you need "supreme" weight reduction don't give it a second look. I've "some" experience of using the Shen Hao HZX45 and found that a 90mm lens was about as short as I could go with standard bellows - but I didn't have bag bellows to try so they may make using shorter lenses much easier? What focal length lenses are you thinking of using with a field camera?

Edward (Halifax,NS)
25-May-2005, 11:51
Whatever happened to Shen Hao vs Tachihara? I thought that was THE comparison. As for Shen Hao vs Toyo; will you miss the lack of back movements? You can fake back tilt with the drop bed but for swing you are out of luck. I would go for the Shen Hao. It is better to have movements you don't use then to not have one you need to use.

Donald Hutton
25-May-2005, 11:56
Another solution for your issue may be to use a recessed adaptor board - this way you can mount your ultra wide lens on a Technika type board and place it into a Toyo recessed adaptor board - if you're having any trouble adjusting the lens - you can just take out the entire Technika board, do what you need to and place it back into the adaptor board again. I picked one up on Ebay for about $130. Looking at a Toyo field camera for a "less recessed" option is probably going backwards - the Toyo field cameras take much smaller boards - a recessed field board, no matter how deeply recessed, is very cramped to get your fingers onto the lens controls (the full size Toyo boards make using recessed boards much easier). A bit of research on this forum and others about the Toyo CF will likely steer you clear of it.

25-May-2005, 12:00
the toyo field view cameras are built very well. they are built like a tank, and allow for limited movement in the rear standard. they can take a very wide lens ( 47mm) and to very long ( 500mm ).

Donald Hutton
25-May-2005, 12:06
Sorry, the $600 Toyo CF (which I'm guessing is the model John has in mind) does not appear to be well made or thought out. I played with one in a store for a half hour and I was left with the impression that it was by far the worst product I had seen with the name Toyo on it. It was flimsy, did not lock down with much rigidity and generally was not cleanly finished. I was very unimpressed (Toyo do make some superbly engineered and executed products too - I own a Toyo which I am extremely happy with).

John C Murphy
25-May-2005, 12:16
I usually use a 80mm lens, though I've considered buying a 58mm lens as well. I use a bag bellows on my monorail, which I can also use with my 150mm lens without having to change to the standard bellows. My usual movements are either back tilt only (if not using a center filter) or a combination of front tilt of the lensboard and back rise (to prevent vignetting).

paul owen
25-May-2005, 13:09
John if you plan on using a lens like the 58XL on a field camera then you will probably be limited to just a few cameras. I have experience with the Ebony SW45 and 45SU with the 47XL. The SW managed the lens easily (on a flat panel too) and the SU needed a recessed panel to focus on infinity. When you get to such short focal lengths the non-folding design of the Ebony cameras I mention come into their own. However, I am sure that others with experience of different cameras may also offer their opinions too. Good luck. Paul

Dean Tomasula
25-May-2005, 13:31
Paul is correct, the Toyo CF is not up to the standards of the rest of the line.

You can use a standard board and bellows on a Shen-Hao with a 90mm lens. Paul also is correct that anything shorter will require a bag bellows. The bag bellows is pretty easy to use, it attaches in about 5 seconds. You can use it with the 90mm if you wish, but it's not absolutely necessary. But once you go shorter than 90mm, a bag bellows is a necessity on the Shen.

John C Murphy
25-May-2005, 14:58
I'd be willing to pay more for a sturdier model of the Toyo if there were some advantage in sticking with Toyo. For instance, maybe I can avoid mounting and unmounting the lens from the lensboard when switching between monorail and field if the Toyo has an adapter for the smaller lensboard?

Emmanuel BIGLER
25-May-2005, 15:01
I figure a field camera will allow for a 'less recessed' recessed lensboard.
In 4x5" : Arca Swiss Misura or Arca Swiss F-line 'field' monorail.
Focal length 55 mm on a flat lensboard and standard leather bellows ; usable front shifts to the limit of the optics. Usable with same bellows up to 270mm of extension and 400 mm telephoto.
Slighty more expensive than a Shen-Hao, though.

John C Murphy
25-May-2005, 15:09
The Arca Swiss models are a lot more expensive than the Shen-Hao...
For that kind of money, I could buy the top of the line Toyo field camera.

Emmanuel BIGLER
25-May-2005, 15:33
John. Sorry I meant of course "slightly" with three smileys like this : " slightly ;-);-);-) more expensive". But you had already corrected the sentence (bad boy, E.B. : you'll repeat 100 times : I'll never make jokes again on the Internet in another language than my mother language ;-);-)

Herb Cunningham
25-May-2005, 17:24
I have had so many cameras it is too long to list. The only economical ones that I have/had that would work without a bag bellows are the Ebony RW45, and of course any monorail. At that, I have to do the ol leaning the lens back to get the Ebony to take a 72mm, and then dern little movements.

How anybody can live with a recessed lens board is a mystery to me. They are infinitely difficult to mess with.

Ralph Barker
25-May-2005, 19:34
John - I use a Toyo 45AX, which I'm generally quite happy with. It will take a 65mm lens on a recessed board, but the bellows are quite compressed, making movements difficult. Of course, there's not a lot of excess coverage with the 65mm lens, anyway.

The 45AX does not have a bag bellows option, and uses 110mm lens boards, unlike the 158mm boards for the Toyo monorails. Thus, the recessed board is even tighter, space-wise. (I attached an angle adapter for the shutter release prior to mounting the lens in the recessed board.)

Ole Tjugen
26-May-2005, 02:07
I seem to be repeating myself a lot - have a look at Gandolfi. Both the "Traditional" and the "Variant" handle short lenses, and at least the "Traditional" is an incredibly sturdy camera. I replaced a Technika III 5x7" with a 50 years old, heavily used Traditional 5x7" - and I'm still impressed with the build quality and the precision of the Gandolfi.