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View Full Version : Chamonix, Shen Hao, or other for 4x5?



tigger_six
22-Jan-2013, 06:24
Hello. I am considering moving up to 4x5 from MF for reasons of
negative size, slowing down, being able to develop negatives individually
and having access to a large array of old lenses. I will be using it
mostly for landscapes and portraits.

Getting a complete set of hardware will be a long process, so I want to make as few
mistakes along as possible. (I need to get absolutely everything, nothing I have
save for filters and cable release will work with larger than 6x7 negatives.) So to
start with, I want to inquire about camera choice. Weight is a significant factor for me,
as are movements.

I was considering getting a chamonix 45 (perhaps the new f-1? that is a bit too concrete for now).
Is that a wise choice? I've seen there are similar cameras by shen hao but those seem much
more confusing as there is a much wider selection of models. Are there other manufacturers outside of China?
I have no problems with buying used gear, but it seems to me that finding a used 4x5 Chamonix is
rare, I don't think I've seen a single one on ebay so far. Is there something I should keep in mind
when buying a camera? I have literally no experience with large format.

I know this topic must have been beaten to death but I cannot find any relevant but new enough threads. I suppose
the design of the "new" cameras from asia changed in the past few years so old threads aren't fully relevant anymore.

Woodturner-fran
22-Jan-2013, 06:46
Well, I'm pretty new to 4x5 - and like you would have made the move from MF for all the reasons you listed.

I bought a 045N-2 just before Christmas and am thrilled with it. Its a joy to use, very light and easy to set up/take down. That's important as you will end up doing that for every shot you take - it is these repetitive things that make the camera nice to use or not. I didn't appreciate that at first, and was thinking of a sinar F1 or similar. I was lucky enough to get some good advice from a LF friend who gently guided me towards a camera like the chamonix. The Shen Hao/Ebony etc look similar.

Dealing with Hugo was very simple (not insignificant as you are sending ~700 on trust) and the camera arrived safe and sound a few weeks later. I had only seen pictures online before this - and the camera looks better in the flesh than the pics. Fit and finish is very good indeed.

I bought secondhand lenses too, a symmar S 150mm and a fujinon 250mm. They are weighty enough items on their own! I bought 2nd hand DDS anywhere I could. I also invested in a decent bag that I can fit all my stuff in so when I get a chance to head out, I can just grab the bag and go.

Like you, I looked for a 2nd hand chamonix for a while, but absolutely nothing came up. I decided to go for a new one even though it was outside my budget at the time.


Fran

Larry Gebhardt
22-Jan-2013, 07:09
I traded my Shen Hao HZX in to buy a Chamonix 045N. I found a used one on this forum in very good condition. For the most part I am very happy with the decision. My only gripe, and it's minor, is I don't like needing to screw the front standard into the track. Especially when changing lenses requires you to move it to a new spot. The camera is rigid, light weight, has plenty of movements, and is easy to adjust. My camera is one of the first versions, and it came with the fresnel in front of the ground glass. I did have a few shots ruined because of this, and quite a few that won't enlarge as much as they otherwise could, because of this. It was easy to fix and test once I became aware of the problem. The newer cameras have been fixed at the factory.

Also, the bellows are not opaque to infrared film. So I need to use the bag bellows from my Shen Hao when I shoot IR film. Just something to be aware of if you plan on shooting IR.

I think you would be very happy with the Chamonix. There are also a ton of other great cameras out there. I can attest that Canham makes a good camera and his service is second to none. If you think you may want to go to 5x7 you may want to look at his 4x5 traditional. It's heavier than the Chamonix, but has more extension for longer lenses.

John Kasaian
22-Jan-2013, 08:02
Which lens do you intend to use? Make sure your new camera has the bellows to handle the lens.
Do you want a camera for hiking? If so you may prefer a field camera.
Sorting out the differences between Chinese wooden 4x5 cameras sounds daunting---try handling as many of the models as possible before hand and see which feels more intuitive to you.
If you can't do that, look at the pictures and get the one that you can best imagine yourself shooting.
Have fun!

tigger_six
22-Jan-2013, 08:54
Thanks for the replies!


Which lens do you intend to use? Make sure your new camera has the bellows to handle the lens.
Do you want a camera for hiking? If so you may prefer a field camera.
Yes, I want to hike with it. Isn't the Chamonix a field camera? As for lenses, I don't know yet but perhaps a 90/160/300? Is there a way to calculate the required belows extension? (I'd expect it would be focal length * some constant close to 1)


Well, I'm pretty new to 4x5 - and like you would have made the move from MF for all the reasons you listed.

I bought a 045N-2 just before Christmas and am thrilled with it. Its a joy to use, very light and easy to set up/take down. That's important as you will end up doing that for every shot you take - it is these repetitive things that make the camera nice to use or not. I didn't appreciate that at first, and was thinking of a sinar F1 or similar. I was lucky enough to get some good advice from a LF friend who gently guided me towards a camera like the chamonix. The Shen Hao/Ebony etc look similar.

Dealing with Hugo was very simple (not insignificant as you are sending ~€700 on trust) and the camera arrived safe and sound a few weeks later. I had only seen pictures online before this - and the camera looks better in the flesh than the pics. Fit and finish is very good indeed.


Thanks for the reassurance! Yes, I'd be a bit worried about sending the money with a bank transfer...



I traded my Shen Hao HZX in to buy a Chamonix 045N. I found a used one on this forum in very good condition. For the most part I am very happy with the decision. My only gripe, and it's minor, is I don't like needing to screw the front standard into the track. Especially when changing lenses requires you to move it to a new spot.
The front slides, right? So I need to move it only if I need to focus very close or change to a very different lens? How do other cameras implement this? They have a larger sliding window?




Also, the bellows are not opaque to infrared film. So I need to use the bag bellows from my Shen Hao when I shoot IR film. Just something to be aware of if you plan on shooting IR.
I do plan to, so that's quite useful..



I think you would be very happy with the Chamonix. There are also a ton of other great cameras out there. I can attest that Canham makes a good camera and his service is second to none. If you think you may want to go to 5x7 you may want to look at his 4x5 traditional. It's heavier than the Chamonix, but has more extension for longer lenses. Maximum bellows extension of 395mm would mean that if I put on a 395mm lens I can't focus closer than infinity? Are there extensions available?


Edit: Now I realize that my focal length calculations probably only make sense if the lenses are fully symmetrical and I don't know if they really are.

Preston
22-Jan-2013, 09:22
Tigger,

Welcome to the LFPF! Since you are really new to the world of large format photography, I suggest that you read up on the various topics such as terminology, camera types, lenses, foucusing, etc. There is an excellent resource in the Large Format Photography Info (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/) pages.

I have a Chamonix 045N-2, and I love it. Considering the quality of the camera, it's truly a bargain for the price. Hugo is great to deal with, and I had no issues what so ever with my purchase or shipping.

Enjoy your large format foray! We're here to help.

--P

C. D. Keth
22-Jan-2013, 09:29
Thanks for the replies!


Yes, I want to hike with it. Isn't the Chamonix a field camera? As for lenses, I don't know yet but perhaps a 90/160/300? Is there a way to calculate the required belows extension? (I'd expect it would be focal length * some constant close to 1)

There is a way to calculate it but it's easier to think in terms of enlargement. Ignoring slight differences in lens design, a 90mm lens with 90mm of bellows out will be focuses at infinity. If you double the bellows you have out to 180mm, the plane in focus will be at 1:1 enlargement. With about 400mm of bellows you can use a 300mm lens pretty comfortably, but not in to 1:1 enlargement.



The front slides, right? So I need to move it only if I need to focus very close or change to a very different lens? How do other cameras implement this? They have a larger sliding window?

The front on a chamonix slides out on a worm gear type system. On that sliding extension, there are 5 different holes very roughly coinciding with infinity focus of a 90mm, 125mm, 150mm, 180mm, and 210mm lenses. If you change lenses and you're in a hurry or you already have some movements applied that you don't want to lose, you can often just turn the focus knob and move the extension. You don't have to unscrew the standard and move it every time. That said, I do try to keep the extension bed as short as possible for greatest possible stability. Other field cameras don't really give you this flexibility. The front standard is at the same place on the bed all the time and you move the bed in or out for everything. Both ways work, chamonix's way may be a tiny bit slower since you have to fiddle with screwing the standard into the bed and making sure the swing, shift, rise and fall are centered.

Light Guru
22-Jan-2013, 10:01
I have a Shen-Hao HZX 4X5-IIA and have been extremely pleased with it. I also looked into the Chamonix 45N2 but ended up going with the Shen-Hao because Chamonix did not have any available ant it was several months out before they would.

Both are fine cameras.

tigger_six
22-Jan-2013, 12:08
I sent an email to Hugo then, at least to ask how long are the waiting times. I have two more questions:
1) Development- how well does the Mod54 work? I have heard about (and seen) problems with uneven development with 4x5, does Mod54 and other tank-based daylight development solve them? I can't develop in trays as I have light in my bathroom and I prefer to do it home rather
than go to darkroom which is rather far away.

2) Film loading. If I understand correctly, I have to load film into holders in darkness (i.e. changing bag). Does that mean that I have to have as many holders as I want to shoot and if I run out I'm done? What if I go on a holiday? I suppose people swap exposed film for fresh and store it somehow? How?

Light Guru
22-Jan-2013, 12:55
I use the Mod54 myself you just need to practice loading the holder several times.

Uneven development can happen with just about any development method if you don't do it right. The most common development problem with the mod54 is the film coming out of its slot and touching another piece.

Your going to want to get a large film changing tent that you can use to load an unload your film holders in.

C. D. Keth
22-Jan-2013, 13:59
2) Film loading. If I understand correctly, I have to load film into holders in darkness (i.e. changing bag). Does that mean that I have to have as many holders as I want to shoot and if I run out I'm done? What if I go on a holiday? I suppose people swap exposed film for fresh and store it somehow? How?

Film holders are 2-sided so you have double the number of sheets as you have holders. Most people don't find this much of a problem because large format work tends to go much slower than with a 35mm or medium format camera. I have a dozen holders but most of them sit unloaded most of the time. I tend to carry 3-6 at a time.

If you go away, you would need a 100% dark means of loading and unloading film. For most, that is a dark bag or a dark tent. The tent option is slightly more expensive but vastly more pleasant to work in. Keep your old film boxes and when you take a trip, you can unload exposed film into one of the old boxes and develop it when you get home. Keep the cardboard insert and black bag from inside the box, too. Use it all, because the time you don't the box will get cut or crushed and the negative of a lifetime will invariably be the one inside. Ask in the classifieds here if you need a few empty film boxes before you've shot your way through them yourself. There's a good chance of somebody fairly nearby (I know we have French, Czech, German, and Italian members, as well as numerous others from further out from you but still in Europe.) being able to send you a few for the cost of post.

tigger_six
23-Jan-2013, 15:04
Thanks!

I have 2 more questions about lenses:

1) I can mate any (reasonably modern) lens with any lensboard? The chamonix needs a linhof board, they are selling CF ones for 75$ but
there are no shutter specifications. So can I just buy any lens from KEH and mount it to any linhof board?

2) What does "telephoto" mean? It seems to mean more than "any reasonably long lens".

Lachlan 717
23-Jan-2013, 15:23
Thanks!

I have 2 more questions about lenses:

1) I can mate any (reasonably modern) lens with any lensboard? The chamonix needs a linhof board, they are selling CF ones for 75$ but
there are no shutter specifications. So can I just buy any lens from KEH and mount it to any linhof board?

Most "modern" lenses come in one of four sizes: 00, 0, 1 or 3 (00 is fairly rare). Their size increases as the number goes up. You will easily be able to get boards for these sizes. You need to know the shutter size in order to get the correct lens board. A quick search will give you this information.

Don't bother with CF; too expensive. Just get generic Linhof/Wista boards. They run around $20.


2) What does "telephoto" mean? It seems to mean more than "any reasonably long lens".

Two uses of these:

First, is a lens design where (in basic terms) the focal length is greater than the extension needed to focus the lens at infinity.

Second to mean longer than "standard" focal length. This is a bastardised use of the first meaning that has nothing to do with the lens' design, just its focal length.

Jim Cole
23-Jan-2013, 15:55
I've had my Chamonix 45n-2 for about two months now. I traded "down" from an Ebony RW45. I was limited to 300mm focal length on my Ebony and my 75mm was very tight (just a couple of mm for movement). I bought the extension rail for the 45n-2 and can now easily use my 450mm lens and the 75mm has room to move. I could go shorter if I felt the need to.

The Chamonix is extremely well crafted. I like the "Philips" style focus even though I'm not used to it yet and still reach around to the front of the camera. All parts lock down solidly. The camera is very rigid. The moving of the front standard when changing out some lenses is a bit of a pain in the butt, but something I was willing to deal with considering all the other fine features of the camera. The front standard positions may accommodate a couple of different lenses, so you don't always have to move the standard. For example, depending on where I'm focusing, I can use my 150mm and 210mm in the same slot.

All in all, a very fine camera.

tigger_six
23-Jan-2013, 16:17
Two uses of these:

First, is a lens design where (in basic terms) the focal length is greater than the extension needed to focus the lens at infinity.

Thanks, I suspected this was so.

Gary Tarbert
23-Jan-2013, 16:32
Hi , I have owned the Shen Hao Tachihara and Chamonix(current), so effectively all of the cheaper lightweight fields ,My vote goes to the Chamonix and isn't a new version out now. I also own a 5x8 Chamonix ,So i have purchased two cameras from Hugo ,He is a pleasure to deal with . Buy the Chamonix you won't be sorry . Cheers Gary

tigger_six
24-Jan-2013, 01:46
Hi , I have owned the Shen Hao Tachihara and Chamonix(current), so effectively all of the cheaper lightweight fields ,My vote goes to the Chamonix and isn't a new version out now. I also own a 5x8 Chamonix ,So i have purchased two cameras from Hugo ,He is a pleasure to deal with . Buy the Chamonix you won't be sorry . Cheers Gary

If by the new one you mean the F1:http://www.chamonixviewcamera.com/045F1.html, the difference seems to be that the F1 has assymetric tilts of the rear standard. I thought this wasn't important for me as I'd be probably tilting a bit forward at most most of the time. It is also 130$ more expensive and comes only in March.

Gary Tarbert
25-Jan-2013, 04:45
Yes ,Sorry i thought it was out already ,I would not be looking to change my 45n-2 in any case .The new model will run i believe alongside the 45n-2 ,So in your position the 45n-2 would be the wiser purchase, I am very happy with mine .Cheers Gary

tigger_six
25-Jan-2013, 05:05
Are there any pills I can take against gear acquisition syndrome? I might have ordered a 045n-2...

Woodturner-fran
25-Jan-2013, 05:27
No pills, although a wife often helps!

I don't think you'll be sorry about your purchase!

tigger_six
25-Jan-2013, 05:50
No pills, although a wife often helps!

I don't think you'll be sorry about your purchase!

My wife is completely unhelpful. The only things she objects to is waiting until I take a photograph and whining that I want to buy something...

Gary Tarbert
25-Jan-2013, 15:49
Rule number one about buying photographic gear with a less than supportive wife is "Don't ask for permission ,Ask for forgiveness";) Cheers Gary

tigger_six
27-Jan-2013, 06:04
Can I get a focusing loupe that doesn't cost 75$? All I found seem to be terribly expensive so I was wondering I am perhaps looking for the wrong thing.

Gem Singer
27-Jan-2013, 06:53
Look for a Toyo 3.6X focusing loupe.

Used ones usually sell for $30-$40.

tigger_six
30-Jan-2013, 10:14
Sorry, one more stupid question. I bought a 8.5" ilex paragon off ebay, I think it has a ilex 4 universal (?) shutter. Can I find a linhof board to drop it into? Or does it make sense to try to cut down the cambo board it is mounted on? It seems to be plastic so I could probably manage that. (I don't have it yet, I'm going by ebay images.)

Terry Christian
30-Jan-2013, 11:45
Tigger, it might make more sense to fashion your own lensboard instead of cutting down another. Just get a piece of black matboard and cut to fit. Measure the size hole you need and you might then be able to find permanent one on eBay in the proper size.

tigger_six
30-Jan-2013, 12:20
Tigger, it might make more sense to fashion your own lensboard instead of cutting down another. Just get a piece of black matboard and cut to fit. Measure the size hole you need and you might then be able to find permanent one on eBay in the proper size.

So remounting the lens is just a question of finding a lensboard with hole of correct size, unscrewing a retainer ring or perhaps the front and rear lens component and mounting it to the new board? According to this: http://www.sizes.com/tools/shutter_photo.htm#ilex the ilex #4 has the same 10.2mm diameter as the copal #3, so I should probably be looking for a copal #3 lensboard.

Terry Christian
30-Jan-2013, 12:32
Yes. If you need more info, check the information given at the parent site of this forum.
But basically: the front and rear lens cells screw into the shutter. The shutter goes into the hole in your lensboard and secures with a retaining ring in the back. So if you need a new lensboard, just unscrew the retaining ring and remount into another lensboard with the same diameter hole.

tigger_six
30-Jan-2013, 13:06
Yes. If you need more info, check the information given at the parent site of this forum.
But basically: the front and rear lens cells screw into the shutter. The shutter goes into the hole in your lensboard and secures with a retaining ring in the back. So if you need a new lensboard, just unscrew the retaining ring and remount into another lensboard with the same diameter hole.

Thanks. So I should be fine with a copal #3 board then. I just got temporarily confused by the ilex shutter dimensions, not realising that those are lens mounting threads.

yuexiachou29
31-Jan-2013, 12:01
No pills, although a wife often helps!

I don't think you'll be sorry about your purchase!

:p

yuexiachou29
31-Jan-2013, 12:02
I am new to LF too. May I ask a few question in regards to buy equipment?
1. where can i get old/cheap 4x5 film holders? How much is it per unit?
2. what kind of lenses should I prepare? i shoot urban scene, portrait mostly.

Roger Cole
1-Feb-2013, 04:22
Are there any pills I can take against gear acquisition syndrome? I might have ordered a 045n-2...


No pills, although a wife often helps!

I don't think you'll be sorry about your purchase!

Hummph, my wife is responsible for my getting back into photography - she really loves art and when we were dating and she found out I had been into photography and darkroom work got excited and encouraged me to take it up again. She recently told me that at one of her lady's nights when her friends asked how things were going with me she said the only complaint she had was that I didn't spend enough time in the darkroom and on my art.

No help there at all, but I feel very lucky. :)

One point about changing bags and tents - if you have to in order to travel, well you have to. But you will have far less trouble with dust if you load your holders, whenever possible, in your darkroom assuming you have one, or any other room you can black out and that you can keep scrupulously clean.

Those who have only shot smaller formats, where film is loaded factory clean and in the case of 35mm passes through a felt light trap that wipes it, may not think of this but dust on LF film is a much bigger problem than in smaller formats. The smallest speck on your film at exposure will result in an unexposed white area on the negative. Such white spots print as black and are a lot harder to deal with in printing than dust on negatives that print as white, plus there is no option to simply make another print. Those working hybrid mode with scanning will have a lot less trouble with this. Fixing such spots on the computer is usually trivially easy but even then if there are many of them or they are large they can be aggravating. Those of us who print optically will go to great lengths to avoid dust in the first place. I don't own a changing bag and don't want to. I load my holders in my darkroom, holding them in the air stream blowing out of a HEPA room air cleaner to blow any dust off and not allow any other to settle on while I close the slide. I have 11 holders and keep them all loaded. 22 shots plus a rollfilm back has been more than enough for any trip I've taken so far.

mikebarger
1-Feb-2013, 05:07
You didn't mention this brand, so I'll throw it out as an option. I've been very happy with my Zone VI.

Mike

tigger_six
1-Feb-2013, 05:24
Hummph, my wife is responsible for my getting back into photography - she really loves art and when we were dating and she found out I had been into photography and darkroom work got excited and encouraged me to take it up again. She recently told me that at one of her lady's nights when her friends asked how things were going with me she said the only complaint she had was that I didn't spend enough time in the darkroom and on my art.

No help there at all, but I feel very lucky. :)

One point about changing bags and tents - if you have to in order to travel, well you have to. But you will have far less trouble with dust if you load your holders, whenever possible, in your darkroom assuming you have one, or any other room you can black out and that you can keep scrupulously clean.

Those who have only shot smaller formats, where film is loaded factory clean and in the case of 35mm passes through a felt light trap that wipes it, may not think of this but dust on LF film is a much bigger problem than in smaller formats. The smallest speck on your film at exposure will result in an unexposed white area on the negative. Such white spots print as black and are a lot harder to deal with in printing than dust on negatives that print as white, plus there is no option to simply make another print. Those working hybrid mode with scanning will have a lot less trouble with this. Fixing such spots on the computer is usually trivially easy but even then if there are many of them or they are large they can be aggravating. Those of us who print optically will go to great lengths to avoid dust in the first place. I don't own a changing bag and don't want to. I load my holders in my darkroom, holding them in the air stream blowing out of a HEPA room air cleaner to blow any dust off and not allow any other to settle on while I close the slide. I have 11 holders and keep them all loaded. 22 shots plus a rollfilm back has been more than enough for any trip I've taken so far.

Thanks for the dust warning. I have had dust on my 120 negatives and as you say, it's much worse than dust while enlarging. My current plan is to do all of the loading in the bathroom, after I use the shower to add a little humidity to the air. I learned the trick while putting finish on a guitar. I'll see how it goes.



You didn't mention this brand, so I'll throw it out as an option. I've been very happy with my Zone VI.

Mike

Thanks, but I already bought the Chamonix- I set Hugo money last Thursday and the camera arrived this Thursday. Quite amazing, considering it was shipped from China.

tigger_six
8-Feb-2013, 03:59
So, first experiments were a success. I got a 150/4.5 Xenar off ebay, it looks nice enough.
I managed to develop 2 negatives in the mod54 tank. I was way too rigorous with the
inversions, doing it like I would for 120 film, so the negatives went loose on one end and
emulsion got scratched. Better now than for real photos. I managed to scan them in two
passes just putting them down on V600 glass. No Newton rings surprisingly.
One can see the 1200dpi scan here (click for full res):

http://www.100acrewood.org/~rasto/stuff/photos/img2050s.jpg (http://www.100acrewood.org/~rasto/stuff/photos/img2050p.jpg)

I also got another lens in the mail, a ilex paragon 8.5"/4.5. It looks like this:
http://www.100acrewood.org/~rasto/stuff/photos/paragon2.jpg

It seems to run fine, the only issue is my cable release seems too short. It moves the
release almost to the end but not quite. Is this something I can fix if I disassemble
the shutter? Should I get a different cable release? Of the few I owned this one seems to have the most decent throw. 2 cm or so...

Jim Cole
8-Feb-2013, 06:30
Tigger,

You may need a long throw cable release to push the shutter release far enough to fire.

yuexiachou29
28-Feb-2013, 12:57
where did you buy the used lenses? would you mind sharing the recourses?
thanks