View Full Version : Chamonix 8x10 or Shen Hao FCL810-A?

Craig Tuffin
12-Aug-2009, 05:30
I'm a bit frustrated at the moment trying to find a 4x5 with the bellows extension I want and at a comfortable price. I have an Ebony RW45E (I'm selling here at the moment) and a Shen Hao HZX4x5-IIA but neither have the bellows draw I want. In considering the more expensive Ebony (SV45 TE) that sells at about $3200 USD I've come to the conclusion that perhaps another option is to buy an 8x10 with a 4x5 reducing back. This gives me the unique perspective only an 8x10 has AND the ability to still shoot 4x5. Badger sells the Shen Hao for $1895 at the moment and Hugo sells the Chamonix for $2950. Both have the same bellows 90/95mm - 680mm and basic movements (Chamonix wins with front rise/fall and weight).

I'd love to hear from anyone with experience with these two cameras first hand and whether either of them has a factory 4x5 reducing back.

I've also read reports that the Shen Hao bellows doesn't cut out infra-red light....I do shoot some EFke infra-red sheet film. Does anyone know if the Chamonix bellows is any better?

If anyone has one for sale....well, you know who to PM ;)


12-Aug-2009, 06:12
i had a chamonix 8x10 and loved it. i sold it as i simply could not justify keeping it. if i could i would own one again. andybiggs here on LF was selling one some time back. check with him. he also has an extension rack for it so you gain much more bellows draw.

chamonix does make a reducing back.....i think there were about $300 but check again. not sure about the bellows being IR tight.

what are your exact specifications? there are probably other cheaper options for bellows draw on 4x5. are you trying to save weight? need movements? etc. many older wood 5x7 cameras have up to 25+ inches of bellows but may not give you all the movements. carrying an 8x10 camera to shoot 4x5 will get tiresome......even if it is a 8 pound chamonix.

good luck. let us know what you come up with.

Don Hutton
12-Aug-2009, 06:35
I've owned both cameras -

They are both excellent value for money, but there's no doubt in my mind that the Chamonix is worth the extra $1000. The finish and design is better, and the construction of the Chamonix seems to be a substantial improvement on the Shen. Both have very bad ground glass as standard and I'd suggest getting a new screen on either. The Shen has a top mounted handle which makes moving it about a little easier. The bellows support device on the Chamonix is a very nice feature. Both are very rigid at full extension. In short, you get a lot of camera for the money with either. If funds were tight, I wouldn't hesitate to get the Shen. If you can spare the extra, you'll be delighted with the Chamonix. Don't forget that there is about $150 shipping cost to be factored in for the Chamonix, whereas shipping for the Shen from Badger to the lower 48 will probably only run about $20.

12-Aug-2009, 09:37
The Canham 8x10 Traditional has 36" of bellows draw and easily takes a 4x5 reducing back which would still give you the full 36" of bellows. I find it a wonderful and versatile camera setup and Keith Canham's support is simply outstanding. Made in America, however....

12-Aug-2009, 09:41
how much bellows do you need? The Canham 4x5/5x7 wood field camera offers has all the movements you could ever want / need a long bellows, rear focusing and it is much smaller and lighter than an 8x10 camera. All this at a very nice price.

Ken Lee
12-Aug-2009, 09:56
...trying to find a 4x5 with the bellows extension I want

How much bellows extension do you want ?

...and at a comfortable price

You can find many used 5x7 cameras with a lot of bellows draw and 4x5 reducing backs - and at very affordable prices.

Jan Pedersen
12-Aug-2009, 10:01
The Chamonix 8x10 is a wonderful camera, i use it with both the 8x10 back and a 5x7 back.
The bellows is unfortunately not light tight for IR film. Wrapping a good darkcloth around the bellows before you pull the darkslide improves chances for succes but it is not a given.

Craig Tuffin
12-Aug-2009, 14:57
I am aware that many other smaller cameras will give me the bellows draw and movements (although these aren't extreme) I want, particularly in the 5x7 range. However, I suppose I have to be dead honest and admit that although I love 4x5 and the convenience it offers, the need for a longer bellows and my search for an appropriate Ebony (I do love them) has revealed it may actually be cheaper to 8x10...a format I've been keen to try for a while. With the convenience of a 4x5 reducing back..well...it's getting easier and easier to justify.

I do already own 4x5 cameras for those tiresome treks, but after reading numerous threads from many of you spruiking the beauty of an 8x10 image....

The service Hugo at Chamonix offers is outstanding (and honest) so I have to admit I'm leaning in this direction.

Thanks for all of you opinions. Please keep em coming :)

Lachlan 717
12-Aug-2009, 15:31

You can deal direct with Mr Zhang at Shen Hao if there is something specific that you require.

I recently asked him if he would make an 8x10 for me that accepted Sinar lensboards (so that I could use a Sinar shutter with it) and he will. He also custom made a panoramic camera for me a couple of years ago.

Perhaps send him an email asking him if he can make a 4x5 with extra draw? He also has a cousin here in Oz who is a good contact point, and he maintains an Oz bank account (easier to follow up if anything goes wrong with the payment).

I also believe that he will sell direct, so you could save some $$ as well.


Frank Petronio
12-Aug-2009, 23:00
Just a busy-body's two cents... if you are going to use really long extensions, even a nice camera like a Chamonix won't be as rigid as a metal monorail.

You can build a Sinar out to be twenty feet long if you want to. You can buy a Sinar Norma or F/P series for a fraction of the price of the Shen. It will be stronger and having owned or used several 8x10s before, they really aren't that much larger/heavier.

Please use the $1200 to $1800 I just saved you to buy some prints ;-)

13-Aug-2009, 03:35
I agree with Frank: I you want nearly unlimided bellows extensions no camera beats the Sinar even in the lightest F-version.

However, if you want an excuse to buy a wooden 8x10: just go for it !
For both the Chamonix and the Shen Hao a reduction back can be either bought or made.
The real life diference between them will be estetics at the end: both are dependant of of a good photographer to make good pictures with them.

As for IR: it seems to change with each batch of bellows: slight diferences in the materials used.
Over at Apug there was a heated discussion about it about the causes with no real outcome.
I would have to test the Sinar for it: it i in my planning, but my health first please, so it can take a while.

Good luck !

13-Aug-2009, 07:23
The Canham MQC 57 has more than 600mm of bellows draw. I'm thinking of selling mine with all the goodies including both the 5x7 and 4x5 backs, standard and bag bellows, etc. I wouldn't dream of selling it except that I want to shoot 4x10 and I can't afford to buy another camera unless I sell this one first. PM if interested.

Keth Canham is as honest as they come and extremely helpful. He stands behind every camera he makes which are all made in the USA.