View Full Version : Shen Hao Starter Kit

Armin Seeholzer
6-Feb-2004, 05:03
Hi Guy

A good lens is not an overkill at all. It makes life easier and you are much more happy if you get sharp pictures! Look always also to the prices of Robert White UK:http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/products.htm Happy shopping!

Edward (Halifax,NS)
6-Feb-2004, 05:49
It is a good price on a good starter kit. The lens is not overkill. It is a sharp lens in a good shutter that you will likely never have to replace. There are ways of going cheaper but you may outgrow the equipment - 150mm Calter II-e, Shen Hao GJ45. In these two cases you have a smaller image circle on the lens and limited rear movements on the camera. Both may become annoying over time as your knowledge and ability grow. I think it is better not to be penny wise and pound foolish. If you have the money, get the kit.

Frank Petronio
6-Feb-2004, 05:49
It's a fair price, but you can do better buying used on eBay of course. The lens is something you can keep for a lifetime, and it would not be inappropriate to use it on an expensive Ebony or Linhof if the hobby "sticks." Alternatively, you can find usable monorail or Graphic outfits - with 1960s lenses - for under $300 on eBay that will do 99% of what you need, although not as elegantly.

I think it is wise to start out with one "normal" lens before making things complicated.

Tony Galt
6-Feb-2004, 07:32
I bought the kit but upgraded to a Sironar S at whatever the extra cost was at that time. Jeff, the proprietor of Badger, isn't rigid about the contents of the "kit." If I were doing it all over, I might have either gone for a 210 or something in the 120-130 mm range for a normal, but I do use the Sironar and it is probably my sharpest lens. The Shen Hao has performed marvelously and for the money has a wide range of movements. Other, more expensive wooden field cameras, may be a little prettier and some are lighter, but I think you'll be happy for many years with a Shen Hao. Something like a Graphic, although cheap on e-bay, only gives you an introduction to the film size. For me the main advantage of LF photography involves the use of movements for extended depth of field or correction of converging verticals in architectural and some landscape shots. This is pretty limited with an old press camera, although on the other hand you can use it handheld if you want to.

Gem Singer
6-Feb-2004, 10:21
Hello Guy,

The Shen Hao HZX 45-IIA is a full featured 4X5 wooden folding field camera. Dollar-for-dollar, feature-for feature it is an excellent buy. The build quality is not equal to some of the more expensive wooden field cameras, like the Gandolfi, Ebony, or Wisner, but it has enough features to make it a fine camera for learning LF movements and technique.

The camera can be purchased (new) at Midwest Photo Exchange (www.mpex.com) for $599, including a lensboard and hard carrying case. I would suggest that you also purchase the bag bellows ($99), if you ever intend to use lenses shorter than 90mm. A 135 or 150 is the "normal" lens for the 4X5 format. A good quality modern used one can be purchased for around $400. Add a few used 4X5 film holders, make your own darkcloth, and you will save enough money on the entire outfit to buy film. Don't forget, you will also need an exposure meter, a solid tripod, and a few other accessories.

Call, and talk to Jim (and only Jim), at Midwest. He is always eager to help out a beginning large format user. He is very knowledgeable and helpful. He will be able to offer you a package deal at a reasonable price. He can ship worldwide.

Brian Vuillemenot
6-Feb-2004, 11:11
Hi Guy,

I second Tony's recommendation to buy the kit, and upgrade to the Apo Sironar-S. You will get more coverage with that lens, and the sharpness and quality is amazing! I use that lens about 75% of the time, out of the three lenses I own. You will never have to buy a better lens. The Badger kit is a great deal. E-Bay is somewhat of a risk- although you could find a better deal, you could buy something and get less than you planned. Badger is a great place to deal with- you know you'll be getting perfect equipment. People on E-Bay tend to greatly overgrade the equipment- several times I've bought things that are described as being "practically new" and they have quite a bit of wear- not a headache you want to deal with. Good luck!

Frank Petronio
6-Feb-2004, 11:52
Badger has a good reputation and service, but you can save money by buying from a good used.new dealer like mpex.com. They describe their used gear accurately and would be able to advise on a good Shen-Hao outfit (or ?) with a used but modern 135 or 150mm lens, good holders, meter, tripod, etc.

Dave Moeller
6-Feb-2004, 21:26
Midwest sells the Shen Hao 4x5 for $599 including the hard case and a lensboard. That's where I got mine. Fantastic people to deal with, and they have a great selection of used lenses in excellent condition.

neil poulsen
6-Feb-2004, 23:42
Shen-Hao has received a lot of good praise on this site. Probably no problem there. But, I think it makes more sense to get a new camera than it does to get a new lens. I would save money and opt for a used lens. Try out EBay.

Everyone has their favorite focal length for starting out. Mine was 180mm. For me, that was a nice compromise between a 150mm and a longer lens. As for a 150mm lens, that was one of my last purchases. I'm a little surprised at how much I use it. Ansel Adams frequently used a 305mm lens on his 8x10, which corresponds to a 150mm on a 4x5. It all depends on how one sees.

If you have an LF friend with a good selection of lenses, consider going out with him to determine which lens you like best. Pick some scenes and consider the range of focal lengths to which you gravitate most.

9-Feb-2004, 23:49
I recently purchased a Shen-Hao HZX 45-IIA from Badgergraphic and I recommend dealing with them over Midwest Photo Exchange. I originally ordered my camera from mpex.com and when it came it was damaged. It appeared it was damaged at the manufacturer's because the original box was unopened. It was not severe damage, but I am purchasing new equipment and expect it to be such. They accepted the first camera back but when I received the replacement it had almost the same exact damage in the same areas on the camera. I was surprised and frustrated because I asked the employee to please look at the camera before shipping. They took this camera back but said they had no others in stock and would just refund me my money. Needless to say it was a frustrating process because I really wanted this camera. They did refund my money, including my cost of shipping the two cameras back to them but they did not refund me for a surcharge of shipping/handling. Still waiting to see if they will refund me that.
So I went to the next available supplier of this camera that I know of in the U.S., Badgergraphic. Ordered the camera on line, received it within a week, in the expected new and undamaged shape. No hassles, quick and easy. Maybe my experience with mpex.com was a fluke, but I will certainly think twice about ordering from them again. I went with them first because they were a little cheaper, but it certainly didn't work out for me.

As for a lens, I decided to purchase it seperately and got it through Ebay. I did not need the other supplies that came with the camera. Do some research and I'd recommend buying the best lens you can afford. You can get information at Large Format Photography . Info (http://www.largeformatphotography.info) To me there is no such thing as overkill with a lens. I decided to start with a 150 mm and when money permits will next buy a 90mm. Decide which focal length you use the most and go with that first.