View Full Version : Shen hao TFC IIb 4x5 non folding

22-Jan-2008, 11:51
I have not been able to find out to much about this new replacement camera from Shen Hao for the old II to the IIb but it is now directly available from the manufacture . Does anyone here have experience with this model? I like to shoot 4x5 and 6x12 mostly if not all wide angle this camera would appear to be easier to make adjustments to when the standards are very close as when using a 47mm SA is this correct? The 47 and 75 are my most used lenses so the minimal bellows draw is OK for me and it seems like ti is about the same size as a folding camera so easy to transport? Thanks for any and all help, George

Dave Aharonian
22-Jan-2008, 15:43
Hi George, I just picked up one of these little guys on eBay for a decent price. I used to be an Ebony 45SU owner so I've been spoiled by its quality. I didn't expect the same here, but it is an interesting camera. I just received it yesterday and haven't had a chance to use it yet but I've noticed a few problems. The over quality is pretty good, but its not as sturdy as I'd like. The rear standard moves at its full extension and tightening the screws on the rail only helps a bit. The front standard also has some play in it but its due to the way the standard itself is attached to the base. I have to admit it seems to be a poor quality job on the front standard, but I'm going to see if I can put a small piece on it to reinforce it. The amount of movement is quite small, but I'm picky.

For wide angle lenses it should work out great. With a 75mm on it I can raise it to its fullest height without problem. I should mention I have the bag bellows, not the standard bellows. You won't even need the standard bellows either as the bag bellows reach the full extension of the camera and the regular bellows will be useless with really wide lenses. I'm sure that a 47mm lens can be used on it with ease. Even a 35mm will work on a recessed board.

I bought this primarily to shoot architecture and my most used lenses are 90 and 75. For this it should be perfect. I can focus a 110 without even moving the rear standard out so I'm not too worried about the slight movement there. With some handywork I'm sure I can eliminate the play on the front standard too.

It is very compact. No larger than a Toyo 45A folded up.

The biggest problem I see is that in order to use Rise on the front standard, you need to loosen both the rise knobs as well as the tilt knobs. The tilt function has no zero detents, so when you rise you need to be extremely careful not to induce any unwanted tilt. With really wide lenses where the bellows are pretty tight, this will be difficult.

Its no Ebony for sure, but at 1/4 the cost I'm looking forward to using it and seeing how it works out.


23-Jan-2008, 01:13
Thanks for the information, I received word from Shen Hao in China and they sell the camera I think with the bag bellows for $563 + shipping. If you can get an Ebony its $1995 I believe so really it only costs one quarter of the price. I am disappointed to learn that the rear extension is flimsy. Is the problem with the extension or the way the back is fixed to the extension? I have used my 47mm for 6x12 on several different cameras and it really looks like it would be easier on this non folding camera. So the front standard which has four knobs all must be loosened to effect tilt or rise? This seems silly I can not really envision how it works? I have played with the SW23 before and I thought it was a fine camera but could not justify the cost. Maybe the search will continue , I have tried the Cambo wide and it does not have enough of anything to be useful. I do not want to get a mono rail camera because of the weight and bulk but is looking more reasonable all the time as far as taking the picture it seems not to have many disadvantages. I can probably pick up a Sinar F for about the same as the Shen Hao. Let me know if you figure out good fixes, I just hate the idea of buying a new camera to fix it! I also want to use this camera for architecture and landscapes( panoramas ) Many Thanks George

23-Jan-2008, 09:15
Here is an eBay listing with quite a few enlargable pics. It certainly looks like the mount on the back extensions is not very beefy. If you imagine the leverage of that fairly large back on that short extension, I think you would be babying the camera a bit on the rear side.


Paul O
23-Jan-2008, 10:03
Simply a cheap copy of the Ebony 45SW - as with most things in life ... you get what you pay for.

23-Jan-2008, 10:48
Thanks for the link with the pictures, it does look like there is room for improvement. As far as it being a cheaper alternative to the Ebony 45SW, I said as much myself. I had a chance to use, play with the SW23 and it was a nice camera but in my opinion not worth the price maybe the SW45 is better but as it is the same design only larger I have reservations. I have also played around with the Shen Hao Folding field camera and I thought is was great so I was very hopeful here. As far as getting what you pay for know doubt that is true with most everything but I am a hobbiest and if I can get 80% of the functionality for a quarter the price I can develop many sheets, rolls of film.:) Many Thanks George

23-Jan-2008, 20:25
It certainly looks like that foot on the back could be longer on the wood piece that slides front to back, then in addition the keeper that the wood runner slides under should be thicker. The assembly needs more base area to sit on and a sturdier keeper. Done nicely by a good machinist I'd suggest raising the foot up and putting a longer metal foot in place and a thicker keeper. The vertical rise should compensate for a slight rise in the back assembly.

23-Jan-2008, 23:31
I agree when I looked at the foot on the back and on the front standard could be made longer and more secure with out to much trouble. I think having looked a the pictures for a while the side which hold the rails on the base look filmy probably should have some made from stainless steel while your at it. Now depending how well you know your machinist $1-300 still under a thousand overall, but would it end there? I will keep an eye out on ebay maybe I can pick up a used one and really make it worthwhile. I really like the idea of this camera but as an ideal not what currently exists. I wish I could handle one to make sure before I had to commit to purchase, but in the world we live in that is becoming ever more rare. Regards ,George

Dave Aharonian
24-Jan-2008, 09:00
As an addendum to my earlier post, I realized that the front standard is more sturdy than I thought. There are a number of screws holding the front standard to the base and they were loose. I tightened them up and there is a great improvement. The problem with the knobs on the front standard is that all 4 knobs will lock the standard in place, therefore you must loosen all of them even if you only want to use just rise/fall, or just tilt. It would have been easier to use just one set of knobs for both, but ideally there would be 2 separate sets of knobs that work independently of each other.

At the end of the day, its a "cheap" alternative to an Ebony. Time will tell if it works as I hope it will - I'm looking forward to using it.

Daniel Stone
10-Apr-2010, 10:51
a little "resurrection from the grave" bump here:

Dave(or anyone),
any update? I know its 2 years prior to now, but I'm in somewhat of the same boat as you, I'm interested in the TFC45-IIb, or looking to build my own with a similar design.

anyone purchased the IIb? comments(besides it being a "cheap chinese copy of the ebony", none of that nonsense please, thanks ;D)


10-Apr-2010, 12:52
I've been using one for the last year. Very good camera in my opinion, especially given it costs about one fifth of the equivalent ebony model (SW45). I've used it with 65, 90 and 150mm lenses and not had any problems even with the non-bag bellows. The front tilt mechanism is simple to modify to make the tilt and rise controls independant of each other. For what these things cost, you really can't complain.