View Full Version : Zeroing Rear Swing on Chamonix Camera

Paul Droluk
10-Aug-2009, 07:32
I recently acquired my very 1st wooden field camera, a Chamonix 5x8. I have always used metal field or monorail cameras (Toyo), but wanted to experience the wooden camera gestalt for myself. While overall the camera appears of acceptable quality, there are no zero detents for Tilt or Swing on either standard, making initial set-up unduly tedious.

I count myself among those who subscribe to a slower, more contemplative approach to photography. That said, having to visually square both standards with a loupe, in two axis, each and every time I set up, seems a bit over the top. Far more often than not, my landscape work employs a minimum of movements... tilt, almost always... rise or fall, occasionally... swing, almost never.

Having to square tilt each time... I guess I can live with that. And I have already scribed lines across the width of the bed to indicate swing squareness of the front standard, though it really surprises me that the manufacturer didn't do this. What I'm having difficulty with is concocting a fix to square the rear standard for swing, as each side of the rear standard locates independently... anybody have any ideas?

Jim Rice
10-Aug-2009, 08:08
Why not a small spirit level?

10-Aug-2009, 08:21
I have the 4x5 and it has zero detents for the tilt in front & back, but when the camera arrived I had to figure out how to slide them in place.
Its quite easy to set up the camera with zero swing visually, also. An eighth of an inch either way is not going to be a huge factor in your images. Most cameras with zero swing detents will be that much off anyway, after a few years of use.
Detents are for ease of setup anyway, with the image on the ground glass being the real place where quality is assured.
Have you been taking photos with it?

Eric James
10-Aug-2009, 10:26
Have a look at BarryS's contribution here:


Jay Wolfe
10-Aug-2009, 19:35
Why not a small spirit level?

As I read the original post, he is asking about swings. I don't see how a spirit level would help.

As to the original post, I should be pretty easy to align the rear standard visually by setting the sliding in register with the rear of the camera base. Alternatively, you could bet a small plastic square at an office supply store and keep it with the camera. Sounds like you need to get outside the monrail 'box' and learn how the field cameras work. :p

10-Aug-2009, 19:44
The way I would do it: level the bed first with a buble and than level the rear standard with the same buble.

The second option would be a piece of white tape at the mounting point of the side bars for the rear standard indicating their "zero" position.
Difficult to write down, but easy to do I guess.


Jiri Vasina
11-Aug-2009, 00:28
Hello Paul,

I have also the Chamonix 5x8 camera, and this is how I setup my camera: to zero the rear swings, I almost always setup the base of rear standard to be exactly at the end of the camera base - only if I use a lens too short, or too long, do I move the standard in a second step - and then I use the lateral sides of the camera base to be aligned with the "rails" for the rear standard. No problem. I don't mind small errors that inevitably arise from working this way.

For the front standard, there are no zero detents, but my camera came with white dots painted on important places to augment zeroing the front standard. Again, errors of mere tenths of degree (or even one or 2 degrees) do not affect my photographs in any negative way.

Hope this helps


11-Aug-2009, 01:30
Hello Jiri,

I applied two blobs of red paint to the back of the front standard, mimicking the white ones on the front of the front standard (I was out of white paint, I guess).

This helps me to see the amount of front shift, swing and zero position from behind the camera... :)

Cheers, Maurits


Jiri Vasina
11-Aug-2009, 05:47
Maurits, a good idea, will do it too...

Thanks, Jiri