View Full Version : Fresnel for Shen Hao 4x5

22-Aug-2010, 07:11
Good morning all -

SO, I am FINALLY making the move to LF and my new(ish) Shen Hao in on the way, complete with Fujinon 125/5.6, some holders and a lightmeter. How's that for a 'one stop shop'? (I'm totally psych'd, can't wait 'till it gets here!!) Anyway, this is my first foray into LF photogaphy and I have a couple (a bunch) of questions about fresnels for this camera.

I get the basic gist of what a fresnel is for and in fact I think I'm sticking it next on my list of stuff to get, along with a darkcloth and focusing loupe - haven't come up with the order of priority yet, maybe some comment here? But back the fresnel question(s)...

I have seen on several occasions on the 'Bay' and elsewhere, "Shen Hao Fresnel" for this brand of camera. The camera I'm getting is I think an HZX45-II and I've read in a spec somewhere that there's a 'recess' for the Shen Hao fresnel. Is this a special fresnel? I was kinda under the impression that all was more or less created equal in the 4x5 groundglass and "film holder back" department, but can someone clarify this? Do I have to get the Shen Hao fresnel, or can any brand/type typically work here? Are there different types of Fresnels, or just the one basic design? Is there something other than a fresnel, like a better GG, or something else I might rather have? My eyesight isn't what it was when I was 20 and I'm a little worried about being able to focus this thing. I've never actually seen a fresnel before, so I'm making some assumptions here, which brings me to my next question...

Where does the fresnel GO on the Shen Hao? I've read about mounting it in front of, and behind the GG on different cameras, but I'm confused. Isn't the fresnel a piece of glass that has a kind of concave surface on one side (with the circular..things) and flat on the other? Is it obvious how it mounts on the back, or do I need an expert to mount it for me? How would I focus with a loupe on the concave side that isn't flat, or is it flat on both sides? Can somebody enlighten me on this? Do I even NEED a fresnel to make pictures?

As I mentioned, I don't have a darkcloth yet, I plan to use a shirt or something and I want to be able to try the camera out as soon as it shows up. That, and if I have to go out and buy anything much else for it right away, the wife will NOT be understanding! :mad:

I sure'd like to here from some of you seasoned LF shooters about your thoughts on fresnels and focusing...

Regards, Phil

Brian Ellis
22-Aug-2010, 07:32
I can't answer all your questions, I've only owned a Shen Hao for a brief time. However, not everyone likes and uses Fresnels, they have advantages (mainly a brighter screen especially closer to the center) and disadvantage (harder to focus because of the Fresnel lines). I'd suggest trying whatever viewing screen comes on your new camera before buying a Fresnel, you may find you don't need one, especially with a 125mm lens.

Fresnels aren't all created equal and one size doesn't fit all. I've used probably five or six different ones, IMHO the Maxwell screen was the best Fresnel but it's also the most expensive. If you end up ordering a Maxwell screen Bill (?) Maxwell will tell you all you need to know about installing it.

There's tons of information here about different viewing screens, Fresnels, installation, etc. If you haven't already done so I'd suggest that you do a search here and you'll likely find more information than you ever wanted to know.

22-Aug-2010, 08:01
In terms of 'priority' items, I advise that you obtain a good darkcloth and focusing loupe as soon as you can. These two items will make life much easier.

A 3.5x or 4x loupe will do nicely, and a darkcloth with a white side and a black side will be best.

Once you have these two items, you'll be able to make a better judgement as to whether or not a Fresnel screen will be useful in your work.

Welcome to the wonderful world of LF! Good luck with your new camera!


Bob Salomon
22-Aug-2010, 08:13
Every smaller then 45 reflex camera you have ever used has a frenel screen. That is what makes the image evenly illuminated over the full image area in the viewfinder. With view cameras most makers sell the fresnel as an accessory. If you want to have a gg image that is much brighter in the center and much darker at the edges then don't add the fresnel. If you want to have to angle your loupe when focusing at the edges and the corners to eliminate the image blacking out don't buy a fresnel. If you want the image to be evenly illuminated from corner to corner and edge to edge then buy a fresnel.
If you are bothered by the rings on a modern fresnel then use a good quality loupe that has eyepiece focusing and focus it on the ground side of your gg and you will eliminate or greatly reduce those fine rings.

Gem Singer
22-Aug-2010, 08:28

There is a group of guys here in the DFW area who are experienced LF shooters and have helped many newbies get started. We'll be happy to answer your questions and offer our assistance.

We photograph nearby interesting subjects on Saturday and Sunday mornings, weather permitting. You are welcome to join us.

PM me if you are interested.

22-Aug-2010, 08:49
It goes under the ground glass, with the groove side facing the lens, and will need some shimming to re-adjust the focal panel due to the refractive index of the fresnel material and its thickness (shims should push the GG/fresnel away from lens for roughly 1/3 thickness of the fresnel). Badgergraphics sell shen-hao 4x5 fresnels for around $60. They are well made and worth the money, and fit under Chamonix 4x5 cameras too.

Good morning all -

SO, I am FINALLY making the move to LF and my new(ish) Shen Hao in on the way, complete with Fujinon 125/5.6, some holders and a lightmeter. How's that for a 'one stop shop'? (I'm totally psych'd, can't wait 'till it gets here!!) Anyway, this is my first foray into LF photogaphy and I have a couple (a bunch) of questions about fresnels for this camera.


Regards, Phil

22-Aug-2010, 13:13
You can always just fit any old 4x5" fresnel on the outside of the GG by just unscrewing the retaining bars a bit and slipping it under them, then no shimming is needed.

John NYC
22-Aug-2010, 15:21
FWIW, when I had my Shen-Hao, I opted to just get a better ground glass (from Canham, which fits perfectly). I didn't like the GG that can with the Shen. You can get the Canham GGs for $42. I got mine at The View Camera Store. This is just a better ground glass, not a fresnel. As others have said there are advantages and disadvantages to using fresnels.

22-Aug-2010, 16:10
John, Preston and all - Thanks for your replies on the Shen Hao GG questions. Preston, with the advice to "try it and see" and Preston with the suggestion of an alternative other than a fresnel that might be more suitable. I appreciate everyone's comments!

Lachlan 717
22-Aug-2010, 23:08

I have recently fitted two fresnels onto Shen Hao cameras, one being the 4x5 XPO.

Both were purchased from eBay, from the seller "apalert". See item number 120595394337.

These are fantastic fresnels, and there is no way I would go back to not having one.

On the XPO, there is a double recess - one for the GG and one for the fresnel. Very easy to mount.

And here's the disclosure: I have absolutely nothing to do with this seller. Just a good product at a fraction of the cost (and hassle) of getting something like a Maxwell.

Marek Warunkiewicz
23-Aug-2010, 03:52
Agree with Lachlan. Bought one for my Shen Hao from the same dealer. It is great!


23-Aug-2010, 04:21
That's an excellent price for the fresnel's Lachlan, a source I'll have to investigate. Thanks.

My own experience is that adding a fresnel makes a huge difference, although never quite reaching the same brightness of the all in one screen/fresnel like the Beattie screens, or some of the manufacturers product, thinking Wista here, but then the cost is very significantly lower.

But a new source of reasonably priced Fresnels is useful, especially as these fit up to a 10x8 camera.