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Thread: Wista 45vx or Chamonix 045n-2

  1. #1

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    Wista 45vx or Chamonix 045n-2

    Hi Folks,

    I guess we're all sick of this vs that type of camera thread, but I will soon be new to LF and just wanted to canvas opinions.

    So, here we go....I've had my hands on a Chamonix 045n-2 on a workshop, cost incl. shipping $960 and weight 1.3 Kg. I liked the camera but so far I've only my hands on that and an ebony (wayyyy to expensive!). I want to try LF, give it a go for a year or so and if I like it and it likes me, then I'll downgrade my digital gear. If I don't like it, then I'll sell the LF kit and keep with digital. Will be for landscape photography. I was ready to buy a chamonix.

    But I keep on coming back to metal field cameras. I spotted a deal on fleabay for nearly $895 for a Wista VX + extension boards (300mm) + long bellows + horseman 6x7 film back. I would sell the back, but the board and bellows seem really useful!

    My "dilemma" is "new, know nothing is wrong with functionality but paying new prices" for the Chamonix vs "probably fully depreciated, but functionality may be not perfect" for the wista. Gain in weight for the wista can probably be taken by relatively healthy back, but with the wista vx I imagine it would be more stable. Is this so?

    I imagine using 90, 135, 210 + one longer lens. Would the wista be more restrictive on the short end?

    Any seasoned users out there want to chime in?

    Cheers

    Graham

  2. #2

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    Re: Wista 45vx or Chamonix 045n-2

    I've owned a Chamonix, I've never owned or even seen a Wista metal camera. But based on what you've said here as between it and the Chamonix I'd buy the Chamonix, mainly because I have a 300mm lens and wouldn't want to fiddle around with extension boards, add-on bellows, etc. in order to use it. I'd buy a camera that was designed to use the lens in the first place. But maybe you won't be using a lens that long or maybe it isn't that big a deal to mess around with the other stuff in order to use it.

    The Chamonix I owned was plenty stable. The metal cameras I've owned (Linhofs) were very nice, a tad more precise, a tad smoother, in general more like a precision instrument than any wood camera I've owned including the Chamonix. But for me whatever minimal gain there was in those areas (and it's very minimal, more a matter of "feel" than a real practical benefit in actual usage) would be more than offset by not wanting to use extension boards, bellows, etc. every time I wanted to use a 300mm lens.

    There obviously may be considerations other than using a longer lens that would sway you towards the Wista and if so that's fine. I'm certainly not saying the Chamonix is a "better" camera, just that it would be better for me given the lenses I use and the way I photograph.
    Brian Ellis
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  3. #3

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    Re: Wista 45vx or Chamonix 045n-2

    I'm a fan of the Wista VX because you can close it with most 135/5.6 Schneider-Nikkor-Rodenstock lenses. Having seen and handled both, the Wista will be more robust and durable, it is a high quality camera, good for most landscape work. I think it is faster to open and set-up than the Chamonix too. I like the all black stealth looks and I can assure you the fresnel and ground glass are top-notch (better than the Chamonix I think). I used to own the SP, which is nearly identical to the VX (buy whichever is the best deal).

    The advantages of the Cham are that it is lighter, has more movements and the bellows being longer and more flexible is better able to handle the extremes of lenses in stock configuration (to a point), also the bellows should be brand new. Not too shabby at all.

    The Wista is the more conservative choice - I especially like keeping a lens mounted and ready to go and the controls are more intuitive, but both are great cameras.
    Last edited by Frank Petronio; 14-Sep-2012 at 06:05.

  4. #4

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    Re: Wista 45vx or Chamonix 045n-2

    I've never seen a Chamonix, but have used several Wista cameras, and now have the RF. They're solid cameras, quick to set up, and have all the movements I need for landscape. There are two kinds of WA bellows - one uses regular recessed lensboards, the other uses a special Wista recessed board that is great to work with. A 90mm can be used with the standard bellows, which are quite flexible, while either WA bellows will allow a 55mm lens.

    Kumar

  5. #5

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    Re: Wista 45vx or Chamonix 045n-2

    Problem is the people who have Chamonix cameras will mostly recommend those, and same for Wista owners.

    I'm in the latter camp, when I came back to LF a Wista VX was the camera I chose. The Wista is rock solid. From my very limited experience with other wood cameras I'd say it probably has the advantage there. The Wista sets up instantly and is almost automatically zeroed out upon setup, which is how you want to be before setting up a shot. It has geared rise which is nice, and it's tough as nails. As Frank said you can fold it with many 135mm (and some 150mm) lenses inside, which is nice and saves some space in your bag. It's the kind of camera you can throw in a backpack or the trunk of your car and not worry about it.

    I eventually switched to a Linhof since it offers slightly more movement with the semi-wide lenses I prefer and, let's face it, because it's a beautiful piece of engineering. But the Wista is a great deal and a solid metal field camera.

    The only real downside to metal fields in my opinion is that some movements (most notably front fall, which neither the Wista nor my Linhof MT2000 have) are not possible or are difficult to achieve. You'll need to drop the bed or go through other machinations. If you often shoot from tall buildings, for instance, and want to frame your shot lower, then it can be a pain. From ground level I rarely use front rise though.

    So I'm admitting that this is biased advice since I prefer the toughness, rigidity and precision of metal cameras. But I'd go for the Wista.

  6. #6

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    Re: Wista 45vx or Chamonix 045n-2

    Having a front fall is nice for portraits too, as well as landscapes like water scenes. That being important to me, I went with a less than backpack friendly monorail ~ to get more movements.

    However now that I look at it, the Chamonix offers a fair amount of fall, unlike the Wista and Technika. I never realized that until just now ~ I still prefer metal cameras for their rigidity but I have to give points to the Chamonix (first time I said I liked a wooden camera!)

  7. #7

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    Re: Wista 45vx or Chamonix 045n-2

    "The only real downside to metal fields in my opinion is that some movements (most notably front fall, which neither the Wista nor my Linhof MT2000 have) are not possible or are difficult to achieve. You'll need to drop the bed or go through other machinations. If you often shoot from tall buildings, for instance, and want to frame your shot lower, then it can be a pain. From ground level I rarely use front rise though. "

    Noah, you are probably overlooking a major feature of your Technika. All Master Technika cameras have lens drop. All you do is unscrew the accessory shoe on top of the camera and lift it off. That will reveal a 1/4-20 tripod socket on the top housing of the camera. Mount the camera to your tripod head using this tripod socket and what had been lens rise is now lens fall. Same amount of lens fall as the camera has lens rise.

    On the current Master Technika 3000 the accessory shoe is unscrewed with the Allen key that is supplied with the camera. On earlier versions you reach into the body housing, under the accessory shoe and unscrew the large knob that you will find there. Very easy and very quick to do.

    If you have a Linhof Heavy Duty Pro tripod or a Linhof Profi 3 tripod Linhof also makes an Outrigger Arm accessory so you can mount the camera upside down to the Outrigger for lens drop without taking the shoe off the top of the camera. But most people just take the shoe off.

  8. #8
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    Re: Wista 45vx or Chamonix 045n-2

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
    (first time I said I liked a wooden camera!)


    So while my Cham is not as rigid as my Toyo GII monorail, it really is closer than it should be, weighing what it does.

    I carry around my Cham on the tripod, with or without a lens. I almost never fold it up, mostly because it is kind of fiddly with that. Other than that I think it's the perfect field camera, having used a few different ones. I use all of the bellows for lenses from 47mm to 500mm. The only thing more versatile is that Toyo at like 10x the weight, which is why I use it in a studio setting.
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  9. #9

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    Re: Wista 45vx or Chamonix 045n-2

    If you like metal check out a used Toyo 45Al or 45All. Prices have come down on these cameras lately on Ebay.

    These cameras will take a 90 on a flat board and use up to a 100mm lens for landscape photography. You won't be able to close focus the 100mm for portraits though due to the slightly longer than 12" bellows draw.

  10. #10

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    Re: Wista 45vx or Chamonix 045n-2

    The Wista has a very conveniently located tripod socket as shown in the photo. For fall, you only have to loosen the knobs, push the camera back to the desired angle, set the film plane vertical and lock the knobs again. Takes less than ten seconds.

    Kumar
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails WistaRF.jpg  

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