View Full Version : New Shen-hao owner with questions

3-Jan-2007, 14:47
After about 30 years shooting 35mm film and digital, I just bought a Shen-hao 4X5. I知 starting out with an old Rodenstock 127mm f4.7 lens I pulled off a Polaroid 110B. It was sitting on the shelf and was cheap. I understand I won稚 have a lot of extra coverage with this lens but at least it will get me started. I知 not sure what lenses I want yet. I plan on shooting landscapes, some close-up, and studio portraits. I知 thinking my first lens to buy should be either a Nikkor M 300mm f9 or a Fujinon C 300mm f8.5 since I already have a 127mm. The thing I like about the Nikkor M and Fujinon C are their area of coverage and their size and weight. My question is how close can I focus with either of these lenses on my Shen-hao? Are they any good for close-up work? Does anyone have a suggestion for another lens? Should I be looking at a 210-270mm instead?

I also bought a Polaroid 545i so I can rapidly see my progress learning about camera movements. Can I also shoot Fuji Quickload or Kodak Readyload film in the 545i?

Dan Baumbach
3-Jan-2007, 15:00
Both the Nikkor and Fujinon being 300mm lense require 300mm of bellows extension to focus to infinity. They'll need more extension to focus any closer. I used to have a Shen Hao and I could focus my 300mm Nikkor to about 20 feet. Not enough for closeup work but fine for intimate landscapes.

There are also "telephoto" lenses made my Nikon and Fuji that don't require to be at their focal length to focus at infinity. They tend to be quite large and expensive, however.

There should be information about the Polaroid 545i on the informational pages of largeformatphotogrpahy.info.

- Dan

3-Jan-2007, 15:01
With a 127mm lens you should be able to get at least 1:2 macro, probably a bit more. With a 300mm lens, probably something like 10 feet though I'm not sure as I don't have a 300mm lens. You're pretty close to the maximum bellows extension at infinity focus with a 300 though, so you won't be able to focus very close.

I'd get something in the ~210 range. I can close focus to about 2 feet with my 210mm lens and shenhao, without going through the front standard monkey business that gains you a bit of extra bellows (base tilt forward, axis tilt backward - you have to slide the front standard all the way down (maximum fall) to release it so it can tilt on the axis). There are telephoto design lenses around in the 300mm range which would probably be a better choice on the shen hao if you want a 300mm.

If you go for a 300, 210, 150 or 90, look for caltar if you want good deals. I got my caltar-II N 210mm f/5.6 for $210 on ebay (an exceptionally low price even for this lens). Caltar-II N lenses are rebadged Rodenstock apo-sironar-N lenses, or Rodenstock grandagon-N lenses. They're functionally identical and of the same high quality, but just have a different engraving on the lens barrel. Great way to save a lot and get fantastic lenses with ample coverage.

Brian Ellis
3-Jan-2007, 16:18
The Shen Hao has a 12 inch bellows. So you'll be able to focus a 300mm lens at infinity but presumably not closer unless Shen Hao is extra-conservative in its specs. However, you can gain another couple inches of bellows extension (to about 14 inches), and so quite a bit more close-focusing distance, by using a combintation of front base tilt and front axis tilt to get the lens out in front of the camera bed. Not something that's ideal but if you're set on using a 300mm lens it's a way of doing so. And with a small lens such as the Nikkor M you shouldn't have any major stability problems with the lens extended that way. But if I owned a Shen Hao I think I'd either get a telephoto lens in the 300-400 range or a somewhat shorter normal lens, maybe a 240 G Claron.

Erich Hoeber
3-Jan-2007, 18:38
I think a 210 would be a better bet. It's about a one and a half times the length of your current lens, which is significantly longer. And it's a FL much loved by many 4x5 shooters. Plus you can get them for nothing on ebay these days. Not that a 300 wouldn't be nice too, despite the close focus limitations. I use an old 360 tele-xenar on my shen. I don't find it to be *quite* as sharp as my plasmats, but used carefully and stopped down, it's a great cheap telephoto.

4-Jan-2007, 06:34
Thanks guys for the advice. I think I'll switch to something around the 210 to 240 range. I'll also look at the Caltar lens.

Jan Pedersen
4-Jan-2007, 13:45
As already pointed out, 300mm is about the max on a Shen-Hao, i don't have a Nikon but have a 300mm Apo-Ronar and i can only focus to about 20feet without using front tilt as Brian mention. With front tilt i can focus to about 12 feet.
210 and 240 Clarons are great and light in a backpack but there's a lot of 210's to chose from, the Fuji 210W is a great lens and very inexpensive.
Good luck with your Shen-Hao


Scott Davis
4-Jan-2007, 14:16
The Fujinon 300T is a great lens for the Shen Hao. I have one and it uses only marginally more bellows draw at infinity than my 210 does, and it takes great photos (I have some lovely transparencies of the Eastern Sierra to prove it). It isn't cheap cheap, but you can pick up a nice condition used one for about $400-500. I got mine at KEH and it was in like-new condition. It will cover 5x7 with no movements.

25-Feb-2007, 10:48
Sorry to hi-jack this thread but I have a related question. I just ordered the Shen Hao 4x5 2 days ago.

Anyway, does the Polaroid 545i film holder fit this? I read the review article on the info page and it states that it does NOT. However, reading through the threads on here, it seems like it does? Can someone confirm or deny this?

Thank you.

25-Feb-2007, 11:22
I have the 545i and it fits fine in my Shen hao.

25-Feb-2007, 11:44
shoot closeup on field camera is a lot of pain with only front focus.

25-Feb-2007, 18:51
Sorry to hi-jack this thread but I have a related question. I just ordered the Shen Hao 4x5 2 days ago.

Anyway, does the Polaroid 545i film holder fit this? I read the review article on the info page and it states that it does NOT. However, reading through the threads on here, it seems like it does? Can someone confirm or deny this?

Thank you.That review is over five years old now and is not entirely accurate WRT the current Shen Hao cameras. My 545, 545i and Readyload holders work fine on my camera bought from Badger about 2.5 years ago.

Cheers, Bob.

25-Feb-2007, 19:56
You're officially in the "bellows challenged club". Being in a similar situation i opted for a computar symmetrigon 210mm lens. These pop up occasioanly on ebay and can be had very cheap. I picked mine up in mint condition and the sharpness rivals my newly accuired fuji A 240mm lens.

26-Feb-2007, 00:52
The nikkor 300M will focus to about 5 feet on the standard shen hao. That said, i don't think i have any sharp negs with that combo. Front focusing isn't fun at that distance either. The 300M is a great lens though and one of my favorites on 4x5. More coverage than you need and very lightweight. I've got one for sale in near mint condition in a very new compur shutter if you're interested.

Ernest Purdum
26-Feb-2007, 09:39
I think you are right in modifiying your selection towards the 203 to 250mm range. Whether telephoto or not, there could be some frustration in using a 300 on your camera. The problem with telephotos is that attempting to use front tilts and swings can drive you whacky. The optical magic which creates the telephoto puts the nodal point (sort of an optical pivot) way out in front of the lens, far from the hinge point of your front standard, whether base or axis.

Colin Robertson
26-Feb-2007, 10:03
Ernest, this is an interesting point which I have come across before. I use a 360mm Tele Arton on my Shen Hao. At full stretch it gives a tight head and shoulders shot. Routinely, though, I work at far smaller extension for landscape work, and find making movements pretty straightforward. Maybe the lens just has a bigger image circle than my style of photography demands. Last weekend while photographing big standing stones I was experimenting with slanted planes of focus (unusual for me). The Tele Arton allowed a huge amount of swing and tilt, and seemed easily controllable.

26-Feb-2007, 11:52
Sorry to hi-jack this thread but I have a related question. I just ordered the Shen Hao 4x5 2 days ago.

Anyway, does the Polaroid 545i film holder fit this? I read the review article on the info page and it states that it does NOT. However, reading through the threads on here, it seems like it does? Can someone confirm or deny this?

Thank you.

I have an older metal 545 and it fits perfectly, just like any other film holder. I can't see how the 545i would be any different. I think I remember reading something like that somewhere, and it turned out the guy was confused and was trying to mount it by removing the ground glass and putting it into the graflok mechanism, which is not how the 545i mounts.

Scott Davis
26-Feb-2007, 13:58
I have an early Shen Hao HZX AT II, and have had no problems using any Polaroid holder with it. If you want something in a 300mm for it, look at the Fuji 300T F8 lens. It takes still-reasonable 67mm filters, is not too heavy, and has a good-sized image circle for use on 4x5. It runs out of steam real fast on 5x7, but for 4x5 it's terrific. I got mine from KEH for a very fair price in like-new condition. I could be convinced to part with it since I'm mostly shooting 5x7 now and don't need something in that length for 4x5. The 300T at infinity has bellows draw comparable to if not slightly less than a 210 at infinity, so you can use it for macro-type work.

Ernest Purdum
26-Feb-2007, 17:28
Colin Robertson, if you don't have problems, that's great. I think, though, that it is worthwhile mentioning potential problems to people new to camera movements.

Colin Robertson
27-Feb-2007, 01:56
Ernest, of course. Point taken.

12-Jun-2007, 04:03
sorry to hi-jack this thread.
where can i find a fresnel for my shen hao 4x5?

Gordon Moat
12-Jun-2007, 11:42
You can try Badger Graphic Sales (http://www.badgergraphic.com/) in Wisconsin. According to someone on this forum who sold a Shen-Hao recently, the Ebony fresnel fits and works perfectly in the Shen-Hao. That gives you the choice of that one, or the Shen-Hao version. The alternative would be a Satin Snow, also available through Badger Graphic Sales.

I have taken the ultra cheap route for now. At Barnes & Nobles I found a page magnifier that is about 4x5 size. With a little trimming with scissors, it fits over the stock ground glass. Makes a big difference in illumination.


Gordon Moat
A G Studio (http://www.allgstudio.com)

Turner Reich
13-Jun-2007, 00:56
You should have a 150mm, 210mm, and a 90mm.

Turner Reich
13-Jun-2007, 01:02
When you get it, look at it and consider making an extension for the back, it's really a simple square with a depth of how many inches you need. The Deardorffs made them as an accessory. You could add 4 inches really easily. Imagine have several inches of extension at your disposal. Some were as much as 12 inches.

Scott Davis
13-Jun-2007, 11:46
Another viable option for a factory-made ground-glass/fresnel outfit is the Canham set (most likely cheaper than the Ebony set). I think they run about $50 or so for the 4x5 size, and they're available through most of the usual suspects - View Camera Store, Badger Graphic, Midwest Photo, etc.

16-Jun-2007, 06:35
You might want to keep an eye on the auction site for a Maxwell screen -- I lucked into one for a decent price and it has been very helpful for my aging eyes.

But I would definitely try Gordon's clever approach first -- it may be just enough for you.