View Full Version : Newbie question - Chamonix 5x4

16-Dec-2011, 02:42
I am a complete newbie, preparing to buy a Chamonix 5x4 camera. My query relates to lenses. What do I need to look for? In other words, do I need to buy a lens AND a lens board, or do the LF lenses come already with a lens board? Does the chamonix camera come with a lens board, and if so, are these universal fit etc etc. I see people referring to 'linhof' boards and 'sinar' boards but this means nothing to me....!

I will probably be looking at wide lenses like 90mm and possibly slightly wider.
Thanks for any help.

Michael E
16-Dec-2011, 03:20
LF lenses have a great advantage: They don't have a proprietary mount, they can basically be mounted on any camera. You just need a board with a hole in it. If you buy a (used) lens on a board, or lens and board separately, is up to you. Boards are not standardized, but some sizes are used by several manufacturers. Chamonix uses Linhof Technika style boards for small cameras and (bigger) Sinar style boards for big cameras. You need the Linhof boards. You can buy generic boards, Chamonix boards, Linhof boards - or simply make them yourself. If you are using very short lenses, you might need recessed lens boards. Short lenses have to be very close to the film/ground glass, and sometimes the bellows or camera can't be compressed enough. Recessed lens boards place the lens a few mm inside the camera. A 90mm lens should be fine on a normal board.


Matus Kalisky
16-Dec-2011, 04:45
Rossomck, first of all - welcome to the LFF! :)

I suppose you are new to large format, but probably not new to photography.

Before you jump on SOME 4x5 camera (and give the type of questions you ask), I would strongly suggest you to read as much around as possible (you can start HERE (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/) - many good articles) AND get some nice book about LF that will introduce you to all you need to know to get started - I would recommend the Using the View Camera (http://www.amazon.com/Using-View-Camera-creative-photography/dp/0817463534) be Steve Simmons. It is the book I started with and it is really good.

Then next step - think about what (main) type of photography you want to do - is it studio & macro, landscape, architecture, etc... - that will influence the selection of camera and lenses. If you are not sure - a cheaper older monorail (other will surely recommend some models) or something like Crown graphic will cost you much less than the Chamonix 4x5 (which is indeed a fine field camera).

Now to your actual questions:

- Yes, you need a lens board for every lens.
- The type of lens board (size and shape) depends on the camera you are using. The "linhof" lens boards are commonly used by many cameras as these are rather compact (98 x 96 mm)
- The lens board needs to have correct mounting opening (the 'hole') to mount give shutter (Copal #0, #1, #3 are the most common) - the lens elements (divided into front and rear group) itself are screwed into the shutter (from front and back). The shutter has an additional flange to mount onto the lens board

Just a small tip - If I were you I would not start with a wide angle lens, but something in 135 - 210 range (like 40 to 65 in small format) as it will be easier to use on moist cameras, easier to view and much cheaper to get (good) one.

It may be reasonable to start with some idea about the budget you have available and then see whether you are able to get all the necessary bits and pieces you will need (there is more than just camera, lens and lens board invoved ;) ) - also stuff like film, printing and/or scanning etc ...

Last advice - do not hurry, it is really worth it to learn a bit through reading first.

And have fun - that is what LF is all about :)

16-Dec-2011, 09:10
Thank you for the detailed and helpful responses. Yes, I already purchased that book by Steve Simmons (got a good copy from Amazon!) and am reading up on all the options.
I would certainly consider a Crown Graphic or an MPP Micro Technical as a reasonably cheap way to start off....

Brian Ellis
16-Dec-2011, 09:32
Large format lenses when bought new don't typically come with a lens board. If bought used the seller sometimes will include a lens board but it depends on the particular seller. Assume there is no lens board even with a used lens unless the seller specifically says one is included.

Strictly speaking you don't "need" a separate board for each lens. If two or more lenses take the same size shutter and will be used on the same camera (or two different cameras, as long as each takes the same size board) you could mount different lenses on one board. But as a practical matter it would be extremely inconvenient to have to take one lens off the board and put a different lens on the board every time you switched from one lens to another. So everyone I know keeps each lens on its own board.

A "Linhof" size board has become something of a standard with many camera manufacturers but not all. It refers to the size lens board that will fit the Linhof 4x5 cameras (Technika, Technikardan, etc.). Some cameras take a different size - Toyo and Sinar for example - but you don't need to worry about that. Your Chamonix accepts Linhof-size boards.

When I bought a new Chamonix it didn't come with a lens board. You probably could order one or more at the same time you order your camera but I don't know that for sure.

As an aside, it actually isn't the lens as such that dictates the size of the hole in the board, it's the size of the shutter.

16-Dec-2011, 15:23
You already got most of the responses from posters above. However, some of us tend to complicate issues. Here is my advice (BTW- I have a Chamonix too and enjoy it tremendously):

1. Order your Chamonix do not bother buying a Crown Graphic - does not have movement and it is likely going be mechanically in trouble - i.e bellow with full of pin holes etc

2. A book without a camera does not make sense. Buy the camera and get the book at the same time, learn by doing and find answers refering to the book. As you are aware, some of the instructions in books are written as if the equipment you are trying to learn is a jet engine i.e too complicated for no good reason

3. Chamonix does not come with a manual, reading a book first may not prepare you when you handle the camera. Again get both at the same time.

4. When odering Chamonix all you need is to order two lens boards - one to fit copal #1 and the other #0. It is most likey your lenses will come in the two sizes

5. Chamonix has both Linhoff and Sinar type boards - they are all the same size, but different style. Style is meaningless. For example, I use Chamonix and Shen Hao lens boards (they are cheaper $35 compared to $80 for Chamonix's). Either of the two could have the hole size mentioned above

6. Do not be bogged by instruction books - they could frustrate you and hate the hobby/profession. Learn by doing, but keep the book as a reference and to refine your eskills

Welcome to the club!!!!

Michael E
16-Dec-2011, 15:48
5. Chamonix has both Linhoff and Sinar type boards - they are all the same size, but different style.

Tautatis, your remarks are generally very wise, but your measurement is off. Sinar boards are much bigger than Linhof Technika boards (139x139mm compared to 96x98mm). That's why they are used for the bigger cameras. Many 8x10" lenses will not fit into the tiny Linhof board.


John Koehrer
16-Dec-2011, 16:31
I'ts more convenient to each lens mounted on it's own board. You just slide a locking lever to the side and the board is released from the camera. If you're using one board for two lenses, 1)the shutters must be the same size and changing lenses by removing the rear group(on two lenses), removing the flange(s) and reassembling everything without juggling or dropping something or learning a new vocabulary is less convenient.
Because shutters are different sizes it doesn't seem logical(to me) to buy different lens boards(@$30.+ each) before you have lenses.

16-Dec-2011, 17:18
It should probably be noted that many chamonix users had issues using short focal lengths (90mm is short for 4x5) with the first version of the Chamonix 4x5. The second version incorporated changes that were intended to correct the problems...whether or not the second version works better with short lenses - I do not know. The basic design of the camera is unchanged...and unlike most other field cameras.

It is generally not a good idea to start out in large format with a short focal length lens - even if you think that is where you eventually want to be. There are many very good reasons to start with a 'normal' lens - on 4x5 normal would be in the range from 135mm to about 210mm.

You really, really should mount each of your lenses on its own lens board. To have one copal #0 lens board nd one copal #1 and try to swap lenses back and forth in the field or even in studio...would just be insane. If you cannot afford an extra $30 for a lensboard per lens then do not even bother with large format - you cannot afford it. - period. If you cannot afford one lens board per lens...just make yourself a pin hole camera from a shoe box or something.

Contrary to the naysayer. A crown graphis is a very good way to start in large format. Many, many folks started with the Speed or Crown Graphic. Some never found a need for anything more sophisticated. People bitch that they don't have all the movements...whatever. You really do not need much in the way of mevements when starting out.

Mike Anderson
16-Dec-2011, 21:17
If you get a Chamonix there are videos online that are good introduction to it. Search for "Chamonix camera video".


16-Dec-2011, 21:49

Chamonix sells two types of boards, a Linfhoff and Sinar "style" for 4X5 cameras. I have both styles. The Chamonix boards are just a "style" and not boards made to fit Sinar cameras. I hope this clarifies. P/see http://www.chamonixviewcamera.com/lensboard.html


16-Dec-2011, 22:02
What do you want to do with the camera? Do you intend to hike much? Are you going to photo architecture? Portraits? Match the gear to the use.

Kent in SD

Michael E
17-Dec-2011, 10:49
The Chamonix boards are just a "style" and not boards made to fit Sinar cameras.

I don't have a Chamonix, but their website lists different boards for different cameras. Linhof style for 4x5 and Sinar style for 8x10, for example. They even offer adapters for the different lens boards:


This photo from their website shows clearly the difference in size:


Could somebody clear this up, please?



17-Dec-2011, 12:19
I don't have a Chamonix, but their website lists different boards for different cameras. Linhof style for 4x5 and Sinar style for 8x10, for example. They even offer adapters for the different lens boards:

Could somebody clear this up, please?



What are you confused about...as you clearly said above there are two distinctly different sized boards. One size fits the 4x5 cameras and another size fits the larger cameras...Chamonix happens to make a lens board of their own that is compatible with the smaller sized boards but many companies make lens boards that are compatible. All of these compatible boards are referred to as 'Linhof Tech style'. Any of the linhof tech style boards offered by any manufacturer will fit the 4x5 Chamonix.

The larger sized boards are Are called Sinar boards. By comparison, relatively few companies make sinar size boards.

17-Dec-2011, 12:24
If you are planning on getting the Chamonix 4x5, and you don't already have lenses on some other type of lensboard, I would suggest just using the Linhof Technika-style lensboards, which fit the Camonix, and not bothering with any adapters. Later on, if you get another camera which takes larger lensboards, you might want to get an adapter to adapt your Linhof-style boards to it so you can easily use lenses on both cameras.

Hope this helps.