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Thread: Shen Hao TZ45-IIA

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Wollongong, Australia
    Posts
    9

    Shen Hao TZ45-IIA

    After using Cambo SC for a year, mainly out in the bush, I decided to get something lighter and more convenient to carry around. After a lot of deliberation, I got a new Shen Hao TZ45-IIA ( http://www.shen-hao.com/E45.html ). There is no much information on the web on this model, so here we go. I would also like to hear your opinion regarding my concerns about rigidity of the front standard on this model-see below-is it likely to cause me problems in practical situations?...

    TZ45 is a new model, lighter than HZX45, with more bellows extension, better spring/lever locking mechanism for the back, and with aluminium metal parts. As opposed to TZ45-IIB, it is meant to be used with longer focal lengths. Minimum bellows extension is 110mm (but this can go to about 50mm with a bit of playing with the movements etc.), which suits my lens range (127-305mm). Maximum extension goes to 360mm (420mm, playing with the movements).

    When I first saw it, I said WOW! It felt like a nicely made tool, both visually and by touch. I could not take my hands of it! Woodwork is of very high quality and metalwork is not far behind. The weight is not quite as advertised, 2.030 kg (not 1.9kg), but it feels very lightweight. I will be definitely taking this one bushwalking. The size is as per specs, with addition of 2cm on each side thanks to protruding knobs.

    Both grafmatics (1268 and an older model without cat. number), as well as Riteway film holders, fit well on the back. They can be slid under ground glass or attached by graflok clips. Focusing screen is quite good, comparable to Satin Snow I have on Cambo and slightly better than the original Cambo screen.

    I was playing with my new toy last three evenings. While if feels rather good handling it, it doesn't feel as rigid as Cambo. The rear standard is attached to the body quite firmly, however front standard is attached to focusing rack (wood), which slides in wooden groove on camera body. This seems to be the main reason for front standard moving (tilting) about 2-3 mm when pressed with finger on the top. I have to say, the standard seems to come to the same position each time when I release it, so it does not seem to affect focusing accuracy.

    I wonder if this is normal for wood cameras? I am concerned about using it in windy condition, when front standard may move upon exposure. It is the bellows that pull it back to its original position and in wind the bellows will make it move. Has anyone experienced any problems in this respect? But then, I guess, one usually waits for wind to stop before releasing the shutter....

    I was thinking to use a plastic spring loaded clamp to fasten the focusing rack to the body, which would make it rather rigid, even making a lock through the bottom of the camera . (the focusing lock that comes with camera does not help much here because it immobilises the gear rod, not focusing rack). However, I wonder if this is really necessary and the slight wobblyness has no real effect on sharpness due to the standard always coming to the same position when no force is applied to it? What is your experience with wooden cameras?

    Joseph

    P.S.
    I just noticed there is a slight light leak at the bottom of the lensboard that came with the camera. The lensboard is Linhof Technika-style, with 2-3 mm long slots cut in the middle of the bottom and top edges of the lensboard. For some reason, the lens opening on the front standard of the camera is a bit too large, allowing a slight leak of light through the bottom slot of the lensboard. This is difficult to spot and should be easy fix: a bit of black silicone to fill in the slot. It may be also good to add silicone or foam all around the lens opening on front standard, to make those light seals of the lensboard actually do their job. Shen Hao uses velvet seal at the front surface of the lensboard seat as the light seal- apparently,no one thought of those slots on Technika lensboards.
    Last edited by jhorvat; 20-Feb-2008 at 04:37. Reason: follow-up: light leak

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Minden, Nevada
    Posts
    79

    Re: Shen Hao TZ45-IIA

    Some weakness in the front standard is fairly typical for folding flatbed field cameras, and I believe you have analyzed it correctly; so long as it returns when you let go of it you can focus accurately, and it will tend to move in a strong wind. But if your new camera has a problem it ought to be fixed, so I would recommend you get together with someone else in your neighborhood and just do a reality check, so you can either get some reassurance or decide to have it repaired by the vendor.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Location
    Baraboo, Wisconsin
    Posts
    7,695

    Re: Shen Hao TZ45-IIA

    I've owned 11 different wood field cameras of 9 different brands in three different formats and don't recall anything I'd call real weakness in the front standard with any of them. However, it's possible that the front standards would have moved 2-3 mm if I had tried to move them with my finger, which I didn't (and don't have time right now to try it with my Chamonix).

    FWIW I think it's unrealistic to expect a wood camera to have the same degree of rigidity as your Cambo metal camera. I went from a Linhof Technika to an Ebony and back to a Technika partly for that reason (it was the back that moved with the Ebonys). As wood field cameras go the Ebonys were exceptional but they weren't metal cameras. And depth of field will fix tiny focusing errors in most situations anyhow. So I'd suggest not worrying about it for now. Just make some photographs and see how they look.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  4. #4

    Re: Shen Hao TZ45-IIA

    I own too many cameras, including metal and wood cameras in various sizes. On all of the wood cameras, I can put my finger on the top of the front standard and wiggle it a bit. It seems to be the nature of the beast. I've never had an unsharp image that could be attributed to movement of the front standard once I'd set up the camera. (I've had plenty that could be attributed to a sloppy photographer...)

  5. #5

    Re: Shen Hao TZ45-IIA

    I have an HZX45A-II, which if anything is probably not as well made as the newer TZ series. Even with a heavy brass Zeiss 21cm f4.5 on the front, there is no flex caused by a heavy lens.

    Worst wind situation was photographing at the edge of a harbor, with some fairly steady wind and gusts. I did one four minute exposure during which the Quickload packet actually started humming from vibrating so much. The bellows on the camera was moving too. I thought that exposure was ruined, so I set-up and shot another one. Neither exposure showed any difference in resolution, and no indications of blur nor focus shift. Short of the tripod actually blowing over, I don't think it will ever be a problem.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat Photography

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Wollongong, Australia
    Posts
    9

    Re: Shen Hao TZ45-IIA

    Thanks everybody, this sounds encouraging.

    I have been checking little bits and pieces on my camera and was thinking to put small "leaf springs" under focusing rack, to prevent any movements. However, hearing this, I will definitelly test it in strong wind first. I made a test shot so far, to check the calibration of ground glass and it was spot on. Weekend is here, I will finally have time for real shootout!

    Joseph

    Quote Originally Posted by Gordon Moat View Post
    I have an HZX45A-II, which if anything is probably not as well made as the newer TZ series. Even with a heavy brass Zeiss 21cm f4.5 on the front, there is no flex caused by a heavy lens.

    Worst wind situation was photographing at the edge of a harbor, with some fairly steady wind and gusts. I did one four minute exposure during which the Quickload packet actually started humming from vibrating so much. The bellows on the camera was moving too. I thought that exposure was ruined, so I set-up and shot another one. Neither exposure showed any difference in resolution, and no indications of blur nor focus shift. Short of the tripod actually blowing over, I don't think it will ever be a problem.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat Photography

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