View Full Version : Shen Hao 4x5 falling apart

Nghi Hoang
4-Jun-2005, 12:33
I bought my Shen Hao 4x5 at the 2nd Annual Large Format Photography Conference in Monterey, CA last year. It's my first large format camera (I've been using Nikon and Mamiya RZ67 before that purchase). After a few days of playing with the camera and shooting without real film for practice, I put the camera aside in my hallway closet, protected in a lunch bag I found at Target that fits the camera perfectly. Now, the reason I chose the hallway closet as opposed to my bedroom closet is because the bedroom closet gets warm during the daytime while the hallway one remains cool.

Fast forward a year to this month when I have more free time and decide to pull the camera out to actually use it. I want to shoot polaroid to learn how to properly use this "new" piece of equipment, so I went on Ebay and bought a used Polaroid 545i film holder, which doesn't seem to fit properly (chronicle here (http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/502250.html)). After much tinkering with the polaroid film holder and my Lisco film holders (8 of them, bought used too), I discover that one piece of wood that makes up one side of the film holder gate is peeling away from the camera back at the glue interface! I live in San Francisco. The weather here is neither too hot nor too cold. It's just about perfect (to me anyway) most of the time. The camera hasn't seen one piece of film through it. This is quite disconcerting!

I just contacted Jim at Midwest Photo Exchange and am waiting for his reply. I like my Shen Hao. It's a nice little thing of a camera, has all the movements that I probably will ever need (I shoot mainly landscape), and doesn't cost me an arm and a leg (still a student here). I am actually planing on using the wood glue I bought from Home Depot on this piece of wood that is being rebellious. Taming it might possibly be fun! After all, these kind of things are parts of the fun!?

ronald moravec
4-Jun-2005, 12:49
Send in in for repair. You may be able to repair it, but you really should use the original glue type. You will also need proper clamps that will hold it together tightly, but not to tightly so the squeese the glue out. You will need padded clamps so as not ot dent the wood being clamped.

Without woodworking skills and equipment, I would leave this alone.

evan clarke
4-Jun-2005, 14:10
Wood has it's weak points and there is no good way to guarantee it's structural integrity. The worst thing is not to look at it and use it frequently. Fine wood products fall apart like this when neglected..EC

Dave Moeller
4-Jun-2005, 15:11

You might want to email Shen-Hao directly and explain the problem you're having. The address that I used to contact them last year was zhangfm@online.sh.cn - I got a reply from Zhang Fuming in less than a day. He (she?) was extremely helpful.

Although it may take a day or two until you hear back from the company, they'll probably offer you help in one form or another. I don't know where you're located, but if you're in the US then remember to take the time zone difference into account when you're waiting for email from them.

If they ask you to send them the entire camera for repair, you might want to ask if you can just send them the back...it would be much less expensive to ship.

I had to contact them for a new set of springs for the back on my camera. It took about a week from the time I wrote my original email for the springs to arrive at my door in Pittsburgh. (There was no charge for the new springs.) I was extremely happy with the service I received: I was never asked for proof of purchase as if they were worried about warranty issues, they sent out the new springs the day that I sent the original email explaining my problem, and they were excellent at keeping in touch with me about what they were doing for me. Given how inexpensive the camera is, I believe the level of service I received was outstanding.

Be well.

Henry Friedman
5-Jun-2005, 07:11
Send it back to the seller for repair! "Taming" equipment that is falling apart is NOT part of the fun. Making photographs that express your visualization should be the goal; you need equipment that will serve that end with a minimum of expense and maintenance.

Neal Shields
5-Jun-2005, 08:51
"Fine wood products fall apart like this when neglected..EC"


I am not meaning to start a fight here and I agree that good tools should be cared for properly and not neglected.

However, I have a Kodak 2-d 8x10 that I purchased army surplus. The government tried unsuccessfully to ruin it for over 50 years, I have had it for another 25.

It works as well as the day it was made and the bellows (leather) are still light tight. (Hear that Linhof?)

I am not sure (with the exception of a little wax and Lexol after I got it) that it has ever had anything that could be called care.


Nghi Hoang
5-Jun-2005, 11:28
Thank you everyone for your input!

While Iíve no desire to start a fight, I disagree that storing the camera in a cool, dry place protected in a bag for a year is neglect. I canít help but think that if I had used the camera regularly, this problem might have surfaced sooner than later.

Iím a pretty handy guy, who likes to fix things with his hands. However, this is a job I am not going to tackle after reading what Ronald posted and because I received a reply from Jim from Midwest Photo Exchange already. The guy is quick! I am going to send the camera to Jim for repair. Now, I wonder if MPE has an in-house repair person or are they going to send the camera back to China for repair?

Dean Tomasula
5-Jun-2005, 11:50
Nghi -

If the camera was in a vinyl bag all that time, the problem could have been caused by humidity build up. That will kill any wooden camera.

Did you buy the camera used? It sounds like a problem that's easily fixed and I bet any competent LF repair tech can fix it for you. Jim at Midwest will make sure it gets done for you.

Nghi Hoang
5-Jun-2005, 12:59
Although the bag is vinyl, it has two side vents that allow air to circulate in and out of the bag. However, that might have been inadequate. I bought the camera new from Jim. I am not worried about Jim and Midwest Photo Exchange as I have read many accounts of their excellent customer service.

Dennis Mairet
6-Jun-2005, 13:09
I think your camera is made of Teak. Gluing Teak is sometimes problematic due to the oils in the wood. That is probably why the glue joint failed. Some glues are better than others for Teak. Gorilla brand glue is often recommended for Teak. Another recommendation is to wipe the area to be glued with a solvent such as acetone to remove the oils from the surfaces to be glued.