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612tom
2-Oct-2010, 01:14
Hello

I'm finally coming to a decision on my 4x10 set-up, and have narrowed it down to either the Canham or the Chamonix 4x10.

Both do everything I need them to, with the possibility of more rise available on the Chamonix. I'll be using wide angles mainly so the extra reach of the Canham bellows is of no benefit to me.

Having a carbon-fibre base, the Chamonix is about 600g lighter, which appeals to me, but I wonder if the difference would be noticed that much when carrying a whole case full of film holders, lenses and the like.

Both seem to be constructed well although I haven't seen either in the flesh - just in a couple of pictures, and I have a possible sway towards the Chamonix with it's more simplistic approach to movements.

Do I need to think about build quality differences between the China-built Chamonix and the US-built Canham? I have no problem with either but can understand how someone might want to sell me "better workmanship" in a US built camera. Surely both are perfect?

The Canham looks like it's quite complicated to unfold / fold, whereas the Chamonix might be much easier?

I'm coming from a non-folding Ebony 45S which was very simple to use and had beautiful construction and workmanship. Needless to say, the equivalent 4x10 from Ebony is beyond my budget this time!

One can source the Chamonix 4x10 film holders which are made of maple and CF and are much prettier than the generic plastic cut-and-shut ones. However I think the Chamonix holders are built to the correct spec that they can be used in the Canham - does that sound right? So long as they're not Wisner sized...

Both cameras are available and within my budget, the Chamonix new and the Canham lightly used.


I wonder if anyone has any experience with either or both, in 4x10 or 8x10. The extra complications with setting up and using the Canham are deterring me slightly, but I have not seen either of them in the flesh and have no opportunity to try before I buy being in Australia. I've seen a video of someone setting up a Chamonix 8x10 on YouTube and I expect it is the same process for the 4x10.

Could anyone shed some light on owning and using experiences of either?


Thanks in advance

Gem Singer
2-Oct-2010, 03:41
The only thing these two cameras have in common is the 4X10 format.

I owned and used the Canham 4X10. It is a more versatile camera. That is, using the same chassis, it is possible to interchange with a 4X5/5X7 back and bellows component.Three formats on one chassis.

The Canham is actually a metal camera that folds into a wooden box. I never had a bit of trouble folding, unfolding, and setting it up.

The problems were: locating 4X10 film, the difficulty of cutting an 8x10 sheet in half in the dark, and the high price of the 4X10 film holders.

R Mann
2-Oct-2010, 03:48
I have a wood Canham 4x10 and find it fits my needs perfectly - here are a couple of comments:

Folding a Canham will become easy after you have used the camera a while - everything just needs to be unlocked first. The location of knobs and locks will also become easy after using the camera. They are in different locations than some of the other brands, but work fine.

A Canham 4x10 can be converted to a 5x7 or 4x7 by adding a back/bellows assembly - that is what I have. It takes me about a minute to make the switch.

You have compared the movements and bellows extension between these cameras - in some areas they are quite different. The rear shift on a Canham is something I do use often. On a Canham the back assembly can be moved forward when using a wide angle lens.

I have owned a Chamonix 4x5 (which I sold because I did not like it) - the build quality of both brands are fine. I had issues with the design of the Chamonix and my method of working, others seem to like the Chamonix a lot.

The Canham ground glass is better than the one that came with the Chamonix I owned.

Customer service is something you may want to consider - I have contacted Canham a few times about accessories and had no problems - they have a real dealer network here in the US.

I use the standard holders and can't comment about the size of the ones made in China. I also cut 8x10 film which is the main reason I settled on using the 4x10 format.

Making a choice is never easy when you can't see items first hand.

Steve Barber
2-Oct-2010, 05:37
Excuse my ignorance, I must be missing something. I have never understood the purpose of a 4x10 camera. What does it do that I cannot do with a cut down dark slide on an 8x10 camera?

By the way, it is really easy to cut a piece of 8x10 film in half--after it has been developed.

Drew Bedo
2-Oct-2010, 06:00
If you mask for 4x10 and make two exposures on one sheet of 8x10; why cut the neg after sdeveloping? Why not just ascan the double neg and out-put the half you choose? Same if you are using an 8x10 enlarger. Why cut it at all?

Steve Barber
2-Oct-2010, 06:29
If you mask for 4x10 and make two exposures on one sheet of 8x10; why cut the neg after sdeveloping? Why not just ascan the double neg and out-put the half you choose? Same if you are using an 8x10 enlarger. Why cut it at all?


I donít.

RichardRitter
2-Oct-2010, 06:50
Have you given any thought to doing vertical with these cameras.

The reason I ask is that the first 3 prints I made from working with a pan camera of this ratio, were vertical prints.

Attached photo is a 4 x 10 camera weighs 5 pounds in the vertical position, camera can also be mounted in the horizontal position over the tripod.

There is always the option of a 4 x 10 back on a 8 x 10 camera.

Kevin Crisp
2-Oct-2010, 07:47
The Canham is very well made, and if you haven't used the traditional style of Canham, opening and closing it can be perplexing at first. You get used to it pretty quickly. If I haven't used it for awhile and have been using other cameras like a Deardorff, I have to remind myself that the Canham focuses from the rear and then it makes sense. Not a big deal. If you follow the old Fred Picker advise of opening and closing up your camera a hundred times it will be second nature.

I have never handled the Chinese camera so can't compare. The Canham is an extremely solid camera when you lock it down. And you better lock it down because the springs on the back are really strong. I have made a 5X7 and 4X5 back for it, which is easy to do. To answer Steve's question, you can put the camera in a shoulder bag and carry it around like a 5X7. You don't have to keep track of whether you are on the top of the sheet or the bottom. When I ditched 8X10 for the last time and used the funds to get the 4X10, and it arrived, my first thought was along the lines of "What have I done?" And then I took it in the field and found so many subjects that were just great for the format. I have no regrets.

It is not practical for shooting verticals. I have never wanted to shoot a vertical with 4X10, but with the 5X7 back on it I miss that. If it could go vertical I'd get rid of some other equipment and use it for nearly everything with the three backs.

Maybe someone on the forum near you (wherever that is) would have some equipment you could see in person to help you make up your mind.

Oren Grad
2-Oct-2010, 09:34
I've owned both Canham and Chamonix cameras - I had a Canham 5x12 for a while, and currently have a whole-plate Chamonix as well as Phillips cameras in different formats that share key design features.

I sold the Canham, because I couldn't get used to the complicated way it folds and unfolds, and I found it fussy and irritating in the field. I also didn't like the slight "give" in the standards even after everything is tightened down. It didn't affect my pictures - the standards always settle back in the same place - but I found it disconcerting. The Phillips design, more or less replicated in the Chamonix, is much more to my taste - the folding method is simpler and the cameras are more rigid.

Both are well made. Neither is "perfect". At least from the samples I've owned, I'd rate the Canham as marginally better finished.

Keith Canham provides excellent service and support. For buyers in the US, Hugo Zhang seems to be making a strong effort to match that standard for Chamonix.

Richard Ritter's camera design is different from both the Canham and the Chamonix. You might also check out his website and see what he has to offer.

Oren Grad
2-Oct-2010, 09:46
Excuse my ignorance, I must be missing something. I have never understood the purpose of a 4x10 camera. What does it do that I cannot do with a cut down dark slide on an 8x10 camera?

1. Using a split darkslide on an 8x10 camera grossly skews the available range of rise/fall movement, because the position of the area to be exposed is far off center when the camera is set up in the neutral position.

2. An 8x10 outfit with camera and holders is much bulkier and heavier than a 4x10 outfit with camera of comparable design and the same number of holders.

3. A matter of personal taste. I've tried it both ways - using cameras and holders built to odd formats, vs using larger, standard format cameras with either masking slides or just masking off the GG and masking later in printing. I found through experience that I enjoy the former, not the latter.

Kirk Fry
3-Oct-2010, 22:43
Another downside to 4X10 is getting commercial labs to develop color film. If they will do it at all they will charge as much as 8X10.

Steve Barber
4-Oct-2010, 15:35
1. Using a split darkslide on an 8x10 camera grossly skews the available range of rise/fall movement, because the position of the area to be exposed is far off center when the camera is set up in the neutral position.

2. An 8x10 outfit with camera and holders is much bulkier and heavier than a 4x10 outfit with camera of comparable design and the same number of holders.

3. A matter of personal taste. I've tried it both ways - using cameras and holders built to odd formats, vs using larger, standard format cameras with either masking slides or just masking off the GG and masking later in printing. I found through experience that I enjoy the former, not the latter.

As to your first point; I have not found that to be much of a problem. If it is, just rotating the back to re-position the frame takes care of it.

As to the second; I have an 8x10 and I am not giving it up for a 4x10, even if the 4x10 weighs less. I take far more 8x10ís than I do 4x10ís. But, if I want my 8x10 to be a 4x10; it isnít a problem and the only extra weight and bulk I carry is half of another dark slide. Can your 4x10 be an 8x10?

Regarding the last; I agree, it is a matter of personal taste.

jeroldharter
4-Oct-2010, 18:04
As an aside, you might consider a Wehman 8x10 camera. If you supply any other back format, he will adapt it to 8x10 at a reasonable cost. So you could still use a 4x10 back, horizontally or vertically, with a full range of movements. The camera itself weighs only about 8 pounds anyway. If you want options, you could also have an 8x10, 5x7 and 4x5 back. I find it to be an excellent 4x5 camera from 135mm lenses up to 600mm lenses but wide is best done with the larger formats because of bellows compression. From a cost and function standpoint, it would be a good alternative.

Don Ciccone
28-Dec-2010, 13:57
Oren,

As an owner of both cameras could you clarify whether the 4x10 Chamonix back accepts 4x10 Canham holders? If you've used both types of holder, do you have a preference for one over the other (weight, durability, etc)? Thanks

Don

Scott Davis
28-Dec-2010, 14:46
As a multiple-Canham owner (I have 5x7 and 5x12 kits for one chassis, and a 14x17), I'm a huge fan of his cameras. I'll give you one anecdote to explain why I'm a devotee of Canham:

I bought a second-hand Canham 5x7 in anticipation of taking it with me to Argentina. I had about two weeks left before my trip, and I was out field-testing the camera. My 5x7 was an early production version, and there was a weakness in the design. The wood flange that slots into the rear standard cracked off. I called up Midwest Photo (where I bought the camera) and told Jim about it. He placed a phonecall to Keith, who shipped me a new back via FedEx at his expense, and said to return the old back when I got home from my trip. All that for a used camera.

As to shooting the dedicated camera, well, I agree with Oren. I'd much rather shoot the dedicated camera or at least a dedicated adapter back than do the split-darkslide thing.

Keith Pitman
28-Dec-2010, 14:59
Oren,

As an owner of both cameras could you clarify whether the 4x10 Chamonix back accepts 4x10 Canham holders? If you've used both types of holder, do you have a preference for one over the other (weight, durability, etc)? Thanks

Don

I can tell you that the Chamonix 4x10 uses the Canham-type holders. I've had both a Wisner (modified for Canham holders) and a Canham, and I can tell you that the Chamonix is my favorite. Compact, lightweight (5lbs, 5oz), and easy and intuitive to use.

Sanjay Sen
2-Jan-2011, 09:48
As an aside, you might consider a Wehman 8x10 camera. If you supply any other back format, he will adapt it to 8x10 at a reasonable cost. So you could still use a 4x10 back, horizontally or vertically, with a full range of movements. The camera itself weighs only about 8 pounds anyway. If you want options, you could also have an 8x10, 5x7 and 4x5 back. I find it to be an excellent 4x5 camera from 135mm lenses up to 600mm lenses but wide is best done with the larger formats because of bellows compression. From a cost and function standpoint, it would be a good alternative.

This is a good idea and is the option I chose. I bought a 5x7 back on eBay and Bruce adapted it to the 8x10. I also bought 4x10 Canham holders and Richard Ritter made a 4x10 back for the Wehman. So I can shoot three different formats with one camera. Since the Wehman doesn't weigh much to begin with, this setup works well for me. YMMV. One of the main reasons I decided to have a 4x10 back built for the 8x10 is the ability to shoot vertically. I have only recently started shooting with this setup, and am looking forward to the results.

Good luck with whichever option you decide to go with!


Regards,
Sanjay