View Full Version : Shen hao groundglass - insight into replacements?

26-Oct-2006, 11:39
I'm probably ordering a shenhao in the next couple of days, and I'm wondering if you could give me some insight into whether or not I should order a replacement glass or fresnel lens with it? Badger graphic has a satin snow replacement available, and also a fresnel kit. Normally I don't like to order accessories like this until I know I want them, but in this case it would be easier to just get it right away and save the extra shipping costs later. The satin snow is only $9, so I'm tempted to just order it, but the fresnel kit on the other hand is about $80.

The only lens I have right now is a 90 f/6.8, and I plan to supplement it with a 180 or 210 at some point in the future. I've never used LF before, so I'm not sure really what difference a fresnel or satin snow glass might make. I'm sure I could get by with the stock screen, but I have heard it's harder with a wide angle lens like a 90. If any of you more experienced users could let me know what you think about either a fresnel or a satin snow, and how they would compare, I'd love to hear it. It would make my decision a bit easier, as I'm going into this pretty much blind having barely even touched a view camera before (looked over a used monorail in a store once). I've read parts of Steve Simmons' and Jim Stone's books, but didn't come across this particular issue.


Jim Jirka
26-Oct-2006, 11:46
I had a Shen-Hao and ordered a Satin Snow groundglass for it. It was bright enough for me but then again I didn't use it with wideangles.

Josh Z.
26-Oct-2006, 12:11
I have a Shen Hao with a SA 90/8 and a Nikkor 210/5.6 with a Satin Snow. The new ground glass did make a noticeable difference, and well worth the $10. But you will probably have to draw your own lines if you want them (easy with a #2 pencil). However, for the 90mm I still think you need some sort of Fresnel. I made mine from a reading page from Walgreens (ruler and scissors are all that are needed to cut to size). This makes a huge difference when composing. For me it is down right necessary for the 90mm, and very beneficial even for the 210mm.

The only thing I don't like about my solution is the difficulty in focusing introduced by looking through a cheap Fresnel. I've switched to just holding the Fresnel up to the back when composing (a little sticky tack helps), and then taking it away to focus. So far it's worked just fine.

I can't comment on the Fresnel they sell at Badger, but I can't believe it is much better then my solution. It's much more expensive, but you might consider a Maxwell screen which has a built in Fresnel before the GG. My Horseman monorail has such a screen (not a Maxwell I don't think) and it is excellent. Search for threads on the Maxwell, there is plenty of info here.

Dan Baumbach
26-Oct-2006, 14:12
I used to own a Shen Hao and unless they've changed the ground glass in the last three years, you will definately need something to help you work with wide angle lenses. I bought a Beattie Intenscreen from Badger. I don't know if they're available anymore but I was then able to use the camera with 90 and 75mm lenses.

I think you'll be needing more than a new ground glass. A new ground glass and fresnel lense is what you should have.

- Dan.

Slade Zumhofe
26-Oct-2006, 14:36
I have and use a Shen Hao with a 90mm 6.8. Purchased the Satin Snow GG--used it for 1 year and it finally became my GG replacement I carry. It was too gritty and didn't offer enough in terms of increased brightness in my opinion. On the other hand--what an inexpensive replacement incase your good one breaks in the field--at $10...why not?

I don't have any trouble with the GG that came with the camera and using the 90mm but as always---could be brighter. I would suggest get the camera--throw in an extra $10 for the Satin Snow and give it a try. If it doesn't work--you are only out $10 then order a Fresnel.

Good luck

Scott Davis
27-Oct-2006, 10:20
I got a replacement GG/Fresnel set for my Shen Hao from The View Camera Store in Arizona. They sold me a Canham GG/Fresnel set for about $100 - I forget how much exactly it was, since it was several years ago. I will tell you it makes a WORLD of difference from the factory GG. I have SatinSnow GGs in my Calumet C-1 8x10 and 4x5 reducing back, and they are very well made, a very nice and smooth image, but they're not going to be acres brighter on their own. The GG/Fresnel combo is at least 1-1 1/2 stops brighter, if not 2 stops. For night/low light/small f-stop focusing, you can't do without it. The Canham set was a direct fit and was 100% accurate in focusing on my Shen Hao.

27-Oct-2006, 10:22
So the fresnel sits on your side of the ground glass (so as not to interfere with focusing) right? I guess I might as well just get the satin snow for now ($10 is nothing on a major camera purchase), then think about a fresnel if it becomes necessary.

Thanks for your insight. I also did find a chapter dealing with this in Jim Stone's user guide to the view camera, so I have a better idea of what the fresnel actually would do for me - evens out the illumination esp. near the corners by redirecting light that would otherwise be scattering in strange directions (not towards your eye). So if I understand correctly, it doesn't necessarily increase overall brightness but it makes you have to move your head around a bit less and gives you a better view of the whole frame from one position, is that right?