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View Full Version : Chamonix Users, Questions about bubble levels and front standard



bulrich
1-Mar-2009, 17:28
Just picked up and been putting some serious time into a new Chamonix 810. Sturdy as hell and a fun camera. I have noticed 2 issues and am wondering if these are common among others.

The bubble levels on the camera are seemingly inconsistent. If I level the Left/Right on the top of the rear standard it's not consistent with the one above the Ground Glass.
Also the forward and back one is also not consistent with the one of the side of the rear standard. Is this common? Seems an odd thing to have off on this pricey a camera.

The other thing I noticed is the front standard screws that control rise and tilt do not clamp down completely. I can tighten them but still I am able to tilt the front standard rather easily. Is this also common/ It's a not a huge problem but I always afraid a small bump will create tilt when I don't want it.

Daniel_Buck
1-Mar-2009, 18:12
I don't know about the levels (since I rarely look at them) but I too have noticed that the tilt on the front standard never really locks down completely solid. I've never had any problems with it slipping, but have noticed that it can be moved without loosening the knobs.

mccormickstudio
1-Mar-2009, 19:37
Brian - as I mentioned, my levels are inconsistent also - the top dual level being the most off, and the right rear a little off. The bottom and left side are calibrated. I think the rear-standard side levels are handicapped by the fact that they are inserted into the metal bracket, which I assume means they are built into the standard early and not calibrated into the design at the end of the build.

And I see what you mean about the tilt not locking completely. I was wondering if adding a lock washer in the tightening assembly might firm it up, but I wouldn't want the same washer to eat away at the wood or a plastic part.

The other issue I'm having is that the columns for the front standard are pressing into the bellows when folded. My backpack is tight, and this doesn't help. But some kind of parallel stop when folded would prevent the columns from digging into the bellows. I use a piece of foam when folded - pics here (http://www.craigmccormick.com/CM/cham/cham1.jpg) and here (http://www.craigmccormick.com/CM/cham/cham2.jpg).

I wonder if other cameras at this level of workmanship have bubble-level issues. Was your ebony spot-on with the levels?

Aside from these relatively minor issues, I love the camera.

Brian Ellis
1-Mar-2009, 19:58
FWIW, I've had several cameras with bubble levels (including two Ebonys) and never used them. Those little levels built onto cameras never looked like precision instruments to me. I found that I could usually get things square faster and easier just using a gridded ground glass instead of trying to get the bubbles into perfect position.

bulrich
1-Mar-2009, 20:20
The levels on the Ebony were pretty nice and helpful in most situations. At this point it's habit and I often am in pretty dim light so hard to trust the gridded lines.

mandoman7
1-Mar-2009, 21:11
I have a 45n-1 coming this week and I'm looking forward to it. Its like joining a club.

I've shot LF for 25 yrs. however and have had different phases of level usage. Early on, I figured that I would rely on what I saw, and would use a level only when I was needing help. I ended up doing a ton of copy work (paintings) over the years and had to straighten things out constantly.

Now as an older guy, I like to zero things out at the start, most definitely. After years of human error, my strategy in general is to give myself a break and use routines, such as zeroing the standards at the outset.

Its good to know in advance that there might a discrepancy, that'll save me some grief with the new toy.

JY

vinny
1-Mar-2009, 23:13
I have a 45N that has this issue. The levels on the rear standard don't match and I've had to replace two of them for drying out since december. The right level on the rear standard is installed crooked so it's impossible to match it with the left side. Hugo knows about the issues and has forwarded them to the factory.

Lon Overacker
1-Mar-2009, 23:49
Similar issues with the bubbles. In addition, at least with the ones on my 45N-1, the viscosity is so thick that bubble takes a while to move. In the end, like others, I rely mostly on the GG grid lines to level the camera (I shoot nature/landscape.)

As far as the screws on the front standard. I actually like that even though it's snug and tight, I can still move it for minor tilting adjustments. Rise/fall I have to loosen. I don't worry about the tilt moving - it would take a pretty good jolt to move it.

Lon

Clement Apffel
2-Mar-2009, 02:18
Same issues with spirit levels here on my 45N-1.

inconsistent and even worst : the top one on the rear standard is unsteady and is about to tear off the camera. I noticed that last week and didn't have the time to look if I can fix it or not.

I shoot mostly architecture and I use spirit levels a lot. so I always carry another one with me that I use on the GG.
Also, I agree with Lon on the viscosity beeing too thick.

Other than that, I had no issues with this camera. neither the bellows compressed by the front standard nor the clamp problem.

sweet field camera. I love it.

bulrich
2-Mar-2009, 15:05
Helpful to hear all your comments. I think it a bit irresponsible on their part to take such care in the camera and then be so careless about a detail like levels. Also have the super viscous issue as well.

Like you all say, otherwise a great camera.

Michael Alpert
3-Mar-2009, 12:51
FWIW, I've had several cameras with bubble levels (including two Ebonys) and never used them. Those little levels built onto cameras never looked like precision instruments to me. . . . .

I also use several Ebony cameras. Quite often my subject is architecture, and I do use the Ebony levels, which in my cameras are very accurate. The pitch levels are especially important when you are tilting the whole camera and then leveling the standards (front and back) to add more rise.

If you are a Chamonix camera user, I would think it would be worth having your camera modified by a competent woodworker. As far as I am concerned, accurate levels are important.

julie nightingale
3-Mar-2009, 13:03
Bulrich,
Go to the hardware store and buy the stainless steel encased Stanley levels. They are about two inches long and cost a few bucks. I keep a number of these around and use them to level out all of my cameras. I even use them on the flat screen back of the digital cameras to make sure they are zero to what I am shooting on the ground. One tip here. If you are having trouble getting something to zero out with your view camera, take the level and make sure what you are shooting is square! Allot of times they are not and you have to adjust your swings and tilts accordingly.
JN

Keith Pitman
6-Mar-2009, 17:58
Bulrich,
Go to the hardware store and buy the stainless steel encased Stanley levels. They are about two inches long and cost a few bucks. I keep a number of these around and use them to level out all of my cameras. I even use them on the flat screen back of the digital cameras to make sure they are zero to what I am shooting on the ground. One tip here. If you are having trouble getting something to zero out with your view camera, take the level and make sure what you are shooting is square! Allot of times they are not and you have to adjust your swings and tilts accordingly.
JN


I got really inexpensive plastic Stanley torpedo levels from the hardware store, cut off the 45 degree level and an equal amount on the other end. Now I have a really small and light weight level that I can place anywhere on the camera to double check all is aligned.

Paul O
7-Mar-2009, 01:21
Is this the first sign of discontent among Chamonix owners?

Daniel_Buck
7-Mar-2009, 01:37
Is this the first sign of discontent among Chamonix owners?

if it is, I don't know if that matters. I don't own a single piece of hardware/appliance (of any purpose) that I am truly 100% satisfied with :) But that doesn't stop me from using all that with content :)

Clement Apffel
7-Mar-2009, 08:42
if it is, I don't know if that matters. I don't own a single piece of hardware/appliance (of any purpose) that I am truly 100% satisfied with :) But that doesn't stop me from using all that with content :)
I couldn't agree more.
On my 45N-1 right and left horizontal levels are inconsistent. But the left one is correctly set. So who cares? And I glued back this morning the falling one. Itís usable.

Furthermore whatever camera I use, I check the adjustment of the ground glass / front standard with a little Horseman spirit level.

So far this camera has been the perfect lightweight field camera to me. Itís so light that I use it on a cheap SLR tripod. My backpack weights around 3.5kg with the tripod attached.

I can't understand people that are inconvenienced by Chamonix cameras.
Itís probably because they are not as cheap as their price suppose they are.
People get annoyed by cheap things being good. Canít figure out whyÖ

Paul O
7-Mar-2009, 11:29
Just surprised that bits are falling off or failing on what is a relatively new camera? As for being "annoyed at cheap things" ... more a case of you pay your money and you take your chance!
Yet to have anything go wrong or fail on my Ebony ... nearly 5 years old too!

Daniel_Buck
7-Mar-2009, 13:14
Just surprised that bits are falling off or failing on what is a relatively new camera? As for being "annoyed at cheap things" ... more a case of you pay your money and you take your chance!
Yet to have anything go wrong or fail on my Ebony ... nearly 5 years old too!

good for you! However not everyone can comfortably afford an Ebony at several times the price! :) I've got several hobbies, all of them begging for my spare money :D

cjbroadbent
7-Mar-2009, 14:03
Between film and rear standard there's a lot of leeway. Since it is the film that need to be square it may be better to use a level held against the ground glass, whack the film-holder to settle the film then make really sure it is seated straight. I use a triangular plastic level and it rarely agrees with the built-in level.

Clement Apffel
7-Mar-2009, 15:16
Just surprised that bits are falling off or failing on what is a relatively new camera? As for being "annoyed at cheap things" ... more a case of you pay your money and you take your chance!
Yet to have anything go wrong or fail on my Ebony ... nearly 5 years old too!

I could have bet you were one of those Ebony killjoy.

roaming on forum to justify your spending by reading issues thread concerning cameras you don't own...

Well that sounds quite wierd to me.

No offence though.
of course if i had 5000+ Ä to spend on my LF gear I wouldn't have bought a Chamonix.
(or maybe for the lightweight ? :D )

I would have an Ebony just like you. and no vintage optics. and a drum scan...............
well you got the idea...

Have fun with your Ebony.
And let us discuss about our lovely cheap camera unless you have something constructive to add.

regards,
CA.

Paul O
7-Mar-2009, 16:06
Hardly an Ebony killjoy? Just that I'd be annoyed if a new camera I owned had these sorts of issues? Maybe it is true ... you get what you pay for?

mandoman7
7-Mar-2009, 17:04
Hardly an Ebony killjoy? Just that I'd be annoyed if a new camera I owned had these sorts of issues? Maybe it is true ... you get what you pay for?

I'd be annoyed if I paid top dollar and found some compromises that seemed inconsistent with that expectation. Many times though, we have to do what we can with our resources, and if you know where the faults lie, you can make photos that are just as good as the guy with the fancy stuff.

The issue with the levels does raise an eyebrow, but I'd be more concerned if there was looseness with the standards or gearing, and from what I've heard, in those categories its a solid performer. To get a solid yet lightweight 4x5 for that price seems good to me even without the levels or some of the other features.

JY

frank hoerauf
7-Mar-2009, 19:37
I have a 45n-1 paid for and in the works to be shipped new to me. So far this is the only negative feedback I have read on this camera. Otherwise its been all rave reviews. As far as price goes, I am sure it will continue to go up with its popularity. My friend has a chamonix and warned me the first time I saw it that "If you touch a Chamonix you will buy a Chamonix" he was right.

Daniel_Buck
7-Mar-2009, 23:55
As far as price goes, I am sure it will continue to go up with its popularity.
or rather, the economy/dollar going down? not sure which :o

Ulrich Drolshagen
8-Mar-2009, 03:07
The levels on the Chamonix are a nice gimmick nothing more. They can not be precise as they would have to be bent a little. If not, the bubble will position randomly when the camera is strictly level. I would suggest Chamonix to leave them out in further production runs. They are just too small to be useful.

Ulrich

Maretzo
8-Mar-2009, 08:41
I no longer have an issue with the using of the bubble levels of my Chamonix, since all the liquid evaporated!:confused: I am nevertheless very satisfied with the camera.:)