View Full Version : Wista/Shen Hao: weight

Jean-Marie Solichon
22-Apr-2002, 04:55
Hi all; I have in mind to buy a "light" 4x5 wood field camera and almost narrowe d my choice down to Wista 45 DXIII (with international back) or Shen Hao HZ45-II . I am in search of actual informations about the weight of these cameras. This spec seem to vary considerably from one source to the other. Many thanks in adva nce.

Tony Galt
22-Apr-2002, 08:42
I haven't compared the Shen Hao (which I own) with a Wista, but I can tell you t hat compared to a Tachihara it is heavier. This is probably due to its teak cons truction and the presence of more metal parts for the greater movement versatili ty it boasts.

22-Apr-2002, 10:01
Not to muddy the waters but have you considered a camera from RH Phillips?? I have his 4x5 which weighs in around 4 lbs and IMHO is quite stable. There are now several versions, one with a hybrid wide angle bellows, or another with a Horseman back if you'd like a fresnel.

Bob Salomon
22-Apr-2002, 10:44
Unless you have an overriding need for an International back you should be aware the most Wista owners don't need one as the standard back opens so wide that most roll holder just slip right in. Wista also makes roll holders with a protective plate so it won't scratch the GG.

About weight on a Cherry DX III is 77.8oz.

You can save some weight by not getting a model with the International back.

22-Apr-2002, 12:14
Jean-Marie, you may want to consider the Tachihara field camera. It is light weight and a lot less expensive than the Wista. Use the money you save to invest in good lens. Check with Midwest Photo Exchange at Mpex.com or Badger Graphic at Badgergraphic.com I think Robert White in the UK also handles them.

John Lehman
22-Apr-2002, 14:25
The SHen Hao sold by Badger Graphics weighs about 5.5 pounds, somewhat more than indicated on the She Hao website.

Jean-Marie Solichon
23-Apr-2002, 06:19
Thanks all for your input. If my conversion is'nt wrong (1 pound = 453.6g and 1ounce = 77.8 g) both cameras are significantly heavier than their specifications : 2494g in stead of 2200g for the Shen Hao and 2205g in stead of 1800 to 2000g for the Wista. And they are not much lighter than my Toyo (2800g measured with AS plate/2722g specified).

Bjorn Nilsson
23-Apr-2002, 06:41
Jean-Marie: About the weight conversion: 1 ounce should be 27.8 grammes, not 77.8. I don't know whether it was a typo or if you really used 77.8 in your calculations. If using the 77.8 value, it could explain the much higher weight values you got. I hope that light weight isn't the only parameter in "weeding out" cameras that you don't want. Every camera have their pros and cons, and weight is only one of those parameters.

Jean-Marie Solichon
23-Apr-2002, 08:49
Hi Bjorn You're right this was a typo: should have wrighten 1 ounce = 28,35g; that's the value I used. Of course weight is not the only parameter, but what I'm looking for is a lighter (750 to 1000g less) replacement for the Toyo 45AII I have been using for 4 years. I also wish an international back for my 6x12 Horseman back. If such a camera does not exist I'll certainly keep shooting the Toyo.

Bjorn Nilsson
23-Apr-2002, 09:12
I remember having a look at the newest Toyo foldable camera a month ago, the Toyo 45 CF. It weighs 1550 grammes and even though it is built to be light, it did feel rigid enough. It may lack some of the features that you need, but it is certainly worth a look. Some readers might be "put off" by the fact that the body is constructed out of ABS plastic, but it is reinforced with stainless steel parts where necessary. The sales person told me about a skier who had the camera in an ordinary backpack. On a trip that skier took a couple of falls where he tumbled and landed on his back. There was no damage whatsoever to the camera. Now, would I buy it? I'm not sure, as very light weight isn't my top priority, but at least I didn't dislike the camera and I think that I could make good use of it if that was the camera I used.

Bjorn Nilsson
23-Apr-2002, 09:14
Sorry, the building material of the Toyo 45 CF isn't ABS. It's carbon fiber reinforced polycarbonate plastic. As used in racing cars etc.

Dominique Labrosse
23-Apr-2002, 14:47

If weight is your main concern, have a look at the Toho cameras (though these are not wooden field cameras, they are in fact monorails!). Kerry Thalmann, a regular contributor to this forum is a big fan of the Toho Shimo FC-45X which he claims weighs-in at 1385g as shipped from the manufacturer. After some modifications he was able to get the weight down to around 1261g. His review is posted at: http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/toho.htm

Bonne chance!

Jean-Marie Solichon
24-Apr-2002, 03:18
Dominique, I'm well aware of the light weight of the Toho. But as far as I can read it does not have an international back which is an important feature for me. Bjorn, where did you find your info about this Toyo CF, can't see anything on this model.

Kerry L. Thalmann
24-Apr-2002, 04:25

No, the Toho does not have a Graflok back. However, the back opens VERY wide an d will accept many film holders under the glass without removing the back. For 6x7 and 6x9, the Toyo roll film holders work very well. I have also used the 6x 12 Shen Hao back with my Toho with no problems.

The Horseman backs will fit under the ground glass of the Toho, but they (the Ho rseman backs) have an extra ridge that prevents them from seating properly. Acc ording to Roger Hicks' review in Shutterbug, he had a modification done (not cle ar from the article if the modification was to the Horseman back or the Toho cam era) to allow use of the Horseman 6x12 back with his Toho. In either case, the mod would be simple for any competent machinist (either shave off the extra ridg e on the Horseman back, or cut a mating groove on the Toho camera). It is unfor tunate that Horseman chose to add this non-standard ridge to their backs, but it can be "fixed" if you so desire.

The Shen-Hao is a GREAT value (I currently have one in my possession) and is an incredibly capable camera for the money. I'm sure the Wista is also a very nice camera, but quite a bit more expesnive (especially with the Graflok compatible back). The beauty of the Toho is the fact that it has a longer bellows (by over 3") than either of these other models, is considerably lighter (1/2 the weight of the Shen Hao - over 2 lbs. lighter than the Wista), has full movements on bot h front and rear standards, and is surprisingly rigid and very durable. It's no t the camera for everybody, but if the ONLY reason you are not considering it is the lack of a Graflok back, you may wish to reconsider. It can be used, withou t modifcation with many brands of roll film backs, or also with the Horseman bac ks after minor modification.


Bjorn Nilsson
24-Apr-2002, 06:02
About the Toyo 45 CF that I mentioned. It seems like it isn't released in the US. I found some info on this swedish website: http://www.dito.se/toyo.html<b r> which of course is in swedish, but I recon that the info comes through with some imagination anyhow. Else, feel free to consult the "swedish chef" :-)

Bjorn Nilsson
24-Apr-2002, 06:03
</b> turning off bold... I intended a breakline tag.

Jean-Marie Solichon
24-Apr-2002, 10:29
Well!!!inserting the Horseman RFH under the ground glass of the Toho: could'nt imagine that this was possible. This may well change the story. Thank you very much Kerry for the info! Anything to do to prevent the groundglass from being scratched?

Kerry L. Thalmann
24-Apr-2002, 12:45

I have not personally USED the Horseman back with my Toho. I was passing along info from Roger Hicks' Toho review in the December 2001 issue of Shutterbug. I have tried to insert the Horseman 6x12 back in my Toho and can verify that it do es fit (the Toho back opens REALLY wide), and as Roger Hicks mentioned, there is an extra ridge on the Horseman that prevents it from seating properly. I don't know if Roger Hicks has a current email address, but he used to be active on Co mpuserve. You might try to get in touch with him for more details on using the Horseman back with the Toho.

I have used the Shen Hao 6x12 back with my Toho and it fits quite nicely. Due t o the design of the Shen Hao back, it doesn't contact the ground glass when it i s properly in place. So, no worries about scratching the ground glass (as long as you aren't completely careless when inserting or removing it). As far as scr atching the ground glass with the Horseman back, one of the plastic ground glass protectors fron Calumet or Canham might work. These are designed to slip in th e back of the camera to protect the ground glass during transport. Both of thes e models cover both sides of the ground glass. So, unless they interfere with t he operation of the Horseman back, they should do a good job of protecting the g round glass. Other than that, a little foam core and some double stick tape wou ld probably do the job.


24-Apr-2002, 16:28
Jean-Marie, I own both the Toyo AII and the Shen Hao. When I was searching for a light weight complement to my Toyo, I also limited myself to a camera with a universal back. The Tachihara did not have that feature. The Shen Hao had it, but was not much lighter in weight than the Toyo. Even so, I chose the Shen Hao. Dollar-for-dollar, and feature-for-feature the Shen Hao really shines. I also obtained an adapter lens board for the Toyo, so that I have the capability of using the Linhof-type lensboards( of the Shen-Hao ) on the Toyo. The camera that comes to mind as a lighter weight option is the new Wisner Flight. It can be ordered with a Universal back, and weighs under four pounds. (don't ask me to convert that to grams).