View Full Version : Keep my Horseman or sell and get a Chamonix?

11-Jul-2012, 08:02
I have a Horseman L45, I've been toying with the idea of selling it and getting a Chamonix 4x5. My reasons are pretty simple, I don't own a studio so 90% of my shooting is done outdoors. I'd love a smaller camera that I can pack in my bag or go on a hike with, currently I can't do that with my Horseman, for obvious reasons. When I hike I take my Mamiya 645 and 2 lenses.

I'm not a fan of Chinese made products by any means and go out of my way not to buy them. But, I've heard nothing but good things about the Chamonix 4x5's that I'm seriously thinking of picking one up, besides they look sexy. Can a camera be sexy?

Most of my work is landscapes, nudes, portraits and fashion. I don't do that much architecture, but I do when I see something I like. Does the Chamonix 4x5 have enough tilt and shift for architecture photography? I don't do closeups or extreme macho shots so I don't need any insane bellows extension either. And I've never used the Horseman to its full advantage.

Thats being said can anyone think of a reason I should keep my Horseman AND get the Chamonix, or based on my photography styles do you think I will be ok with just the Chamonix?


David R Munson
11-Jul-2012, 08:10
For architectural work, you might find available front rise limiting at times. I know I've run out of rise a number of times (just enough to make me consider going back to a monorail). Beyond that, though, I've not felt at all limited by the Chamonix. It's a great camera through and through, beautifully made, etc.

There's a hell of a lot of good stuff made in China, too, and this is a perfect example. No need to let cultural conditioning lead us to dismiss an entire (very large) segment of manufactured goods. Plenty of crap out there, of course, but plenty of good as well.

Drew Wiley
11-Jul-2012, 08:20
I've seen the Chamonix and it's a fine-looking little camera. And I don't have a Horseman,
but a comparable monorail (now a Sinar Norma) as well as a little Ebony 4x5 folder. The
two types of cameras excel in different departments. The monorail is superior not only for
architecture, but especially with very long lenses, which I use quite often landscape work,
and will be faster to use (you can collapse it with any lens plus a shade still installed).
But when minimum bulk and weight is the priority, like airline travel or long backpack trips,
the folder is preferable. I'd keep both.

11-Jul-2012, 08:30
Good points on the architecture. Currently I only have a 210 and 150, getting a 90 and maybe a 65 next month, but a 90 for sure. Maybe I'll just pick up the Chamonix and see if it works well enough for me before deciding to sell the Horseman.

Whats the minimum and maximum focal lengths on the Chamonix? Can I use a 65mm or a 300mm if I go that long?

David R Munson
11-Jul-2012, 08:38
I believe the maximum extension on the Chamonix is 395mm, which gets you down to something like 6 feet with a 300mm lens? If anyone else knows better, please correct me, but I recall calculating that being the case. As for a 65mm, I've not used anything wider than 135mm on mine, but I know others have. They do make a bag bellows. It is worth noting, too, that at long extension, the Chamonix maintains admirable rigidity.

11-Jul-2012, 09:11
I believe the maximum extension on the Chamonix is 395mm, which gets you down to something like 6 feet with a 300mm lens? If anyone else knows better, please correct me,

Chamonix does claim a 395mm extension: http://www.chamonixviewcamera.com/45.html

For a 300mm lens, assuming 300mm flange back (which is rarely the case), 1/((1/300)-(1/395))=1247mm minimum distance. If you don't want to work at the absolute maximum extension, call it 1.3 to 1.4m, which isn't too bad.

I regularly use a 300mm Fuji C, which needs 283mm of bellows, on my camera with 365mm of extension. The 17mm difference acts as a "top hat", so I get 1/((1/300)-(1/382))=1397mm minimum distance, which works fine for me. The same lens on the Chamonix gets 1103mm minimum distance. Here you can find the Flange Back for most modern lenses: http://www.ebonycamera.com/articles/lenses.html


11-Jul-2012, 20:34
I use a 300mm Geronar on my Chamonix 045n. If I need longer I could buy the extension. I really like the Chamonix. It's well made and finished. It's also very light. There are a lot of crappy Chinese photo gear manufacturers out there who are just churning stuff out to make quick money, but the guy who makes Chamonix really loves what he does. He seems to be competing with Ebony. If you are talking about a craftsman who takes pride in his work, what difference does it make where he's from? You might consider selling the Horseman and buying a used Chamonix, and an inexpensive monorail for when you need one.

Kent in SD

Frank Petronio
11-Jul-2012, 20:45
You won't get much for the Horseman anyway so you might as well keep it.

David R Munson
11-Jul-2012, 20:47
Frank's right. Was actually looking at Horseman's recently as a budget monorail option for when I need one.

11-Jul-2012, 21:16
Thanks for the info. Looks like next week I'll be buying a Chamonix 45N-2, leather wrap, 3 lens boads and a folding viewer.

Now I just have to decide what kind of wood and color hardware I want. It never ends, does it?

jose angel
12-Jul-2012, 02:06
Chamonix cameras certainly look so good. In all finishings. Same for the accessories.
What keeps me away from them is the focusing system. Never used one, so I`m problably missing anything good.
BTW, I use all kind of made in China products, amongst them, a variety of Apple and top quality Hi-Fi devices.

12-Jul-2012, 02:22
I have the Chamonix 045N-2 and love it. I highly recommend it. As for Chinese made products, consider that the iPhone and iPad are Chinese made... :-)

But a warning: skip the leather wrap. It looks good but is completely useless in practice. You will end up removing it. Just don't waste your money on it.

The problem is that the adhesive used to bind the wrap to the base is not strong enough to retain it. It ends up peeling off in a very short time. Like minutes.

Also, even if it did stay attached, it becomes a sail in any breeze, which can cause camera shake. I bought it, and after I lodged my complaint, they offered to take it back and return my money, and acknowledged the adhesive problem.

Everything else about this camera is fabulous. I use it with up to the 300mm Nikkor M with no problems using the universal bellows and the extension. Extended, the camera is rock stable.

Joseph Dickerson
12-Jul-2012, 08:05
Like Frank and others have said, keep the Horseman, you can get an adapter so it will take Linhof type lens boards (same as the Chamonix) so you can easily swap lenses between the two cameras.

Bruce at Photo Backpackers sells a nice case that will hold and protect the Chamonix. I'd also suggest getting the Universal bellows rather than the standard one. I adapted a Chamonix universal bellows to my Shen Hao and it was great. No need for a bag bellows even with a 75mm lens.


13-Jul-2012, 01:10
I have a 45N-2 in Teak, beautiful camera and brilliantly designed. I have no issues using a 65mm lens without a recessed board, my longest lens is a 240. I also have 6 Chamonix film holders, the folding and the reflex viewer. I skipped the leather wrap since I protect my gear differently than that and they had the adhesive issues. I also made two hard foam spacers for when the camera is closed to help protect it a bit on hikes.

It's all the 4x5 I need, absolutely fantastic.