Another Shen-Hao query

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Alexz, Aug 22, 2005.

  1. Alexz

    Alexz Member

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    I know, this is rather beaten horse, but still cannot clear up my mind regarding this camera (as my choice for my first 4x5 field camera).
    The general opinion about ShenHao 4x5 seems to build up a very positive concensus (as long as reading online reviews and opinions, including many of these here on APUG), however there are few I encountered that raised questions:
    One of LF experienced users who had bought a Shen-Hao 4x5 heavily complained really struggling to have camera's standards aligned prior to a shoot, thus making almost impossible to use camera movements.
    Another opinion I've heard from another experienced LF shooter, that the camera itself is made far from the standards of good 4x5 field folders as long as design or finishing-wise.
    I would like to gather a statistics of experienced LF shooters who also use Shen-Hao: Do you also feel the camera's finish isn't up to a standards of other well accepted 4x5 field folders ? (such as Wista, for instance or similar ?) Any comments regarding its actual operability (standards alignment and any other issues ?)

    I have no any prior experience with LF and field cameras in particular so have no any references to compare with, this is why I trust the educated opinions of experienced LF APUGers.

    Thanks in advance, Alex
     
  2. sattler123

    sattler123 Member

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    Alex, sometimes you just have to stop worrying and bite the bullet! You will always find negative reviews of any camera somewhere on the net. There will always be someone who paid a lot of money for a camera and hates the fact that now there is a much cheaper alternative.
    For what is is worth- I own three LF cameras (Canham DLC45, Wehman 8x10 and the Shen Hao 4x5 and I am very impressed by the Shen. Given the price you get an incredible value - there is no other camera out there that will match the price/feature comparison.
    Now, if you ask an Ebony owner what he/she thinks of this camera you will most likely get a very different answer - that person paid much, much more for their camera and it is indeed a nicer piece of equipment, but do you want to spend $2,000 on the camera alone? Life is all about compromises. Call Jeff at Badger Graphics and he'll tell you what your options are and I am sure he'll take back any camera you wouldn't feel comfortable with. Good Luck
     
  3. Digidurst

    Digidurst Subscriber

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    What he said!

    Seriously, for the money, I don't think you'll do better (unless you're looking for used stuff and even then I'd question it). And I'll second the recommendation that you call Jeff; In all my dealings with him, he's always been really helpful and the service is excellent. Just take some advice (from someone who's been there - me!), DO NOT under any circumstances buy a Shen from anyone but a reputable dealer. There are some knock-offs out there and they are not worth the metal in the screws.

    Have fun and good luck to you :smile:
     
  4. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I agree fully with the two previous posts. I own a Wehman 8x10, a Shen Hao 4x5, a Wista 4x5 and a Deardorff 5x7.

    In my opinion the Shen is a great value, it has completely replaced my Wista Metal Field camera as the 4x5 that I use. I found the Shen to be much more versatile than the Wista. As the others have said, talk to Jeff at Badger Camera!

    I do not understand your reference to difficulties with standard alignment. Sounds like a misplaced reference to a monorail camera (or possibly a poorly aligned Shen knock-off). Zeroing the Shen's movements is simple and intuitive.
     
  5. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Alex-

    I can only relate my own experience. I've had a Shen-Hao HZX-45II for two years and have used it heavily. I have had no problems with the alignment of the standards or with the finish of the camera. The camera looks and functions as well today as when it was new, and the results it produces are as good as those from any of the other LF cameras that I own and use. The Shen-Hao is my most used camera and I'm very happy with my decision to purchase it. I find it easy to set up and to use, and I find the flexibility of the movements and of the Graflok back to be helpful for me.

    The only complaint that I have with the camera is with the knobs that are used to set the front standard rise and fall. I found them a bit thin and hard to use, especially when locked down tight (a bad habit that I have not yet broken). I found a couple of rubber model car tires at a hobby shop and stretched them over the knobs; this solution has worked extremely well. A few dollars to fix the only real complaint I had with the camera seems reasonable to me. (Note that lots of people use the camera with the knobs as they come from the factory; I just wanted them to be easier to grip. This was a personal issue, and I'm sure most people won't find this modification necessary.)

    Good luck with your decision.
     
  6. Poco

    Poco Member

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    My SH had lateral alignment problems that would sometimes show up after moving the back forward on the rails for wides. Tightening the knobs didn't automatically set the back exactly perpendicular to the rails and that sometimes threw off my standards and focus. Now I check for parallelism against a credit card I squeeze between the standards at the beginning of every outing or any time after moving the back. Just looking at the credit card reminds me of how easy this work-around is and how little I want to spend money buying another camera (see "Piece of heart" thread.)

    Would a better camera not have this problem? Maybe. But it can't be stated enough that the SH provides amazing bang for the buck. Small issues aside, I've never regretted the purchase for a second.
     
  7. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council

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    Poco....

    ... Where did you buy your SH? The factory or in the US from a dealer.
    I would be disappointed if this were to happen to me and if it was a US dealer I would have a talk with them.
     
  8. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Bruce,

    Got it at auction a few years ago for $425 from a guy who'd bought a couple of 'em direct from the factory.
     
  9. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    I've owned my Shen Hao for about 31/2 years now (since 1/7/02, just looked it up). As a cabinet maker, I was somewhat skeptical about fit and finish from China on a wood product. I was very pleased with my Shen Hao when it arrived. It is certainly a wonderful value in today's market. Since I'm only 5'7", my fingers aren't so large that the knobs are too small for my hands (check a bio on Mongo or see Blazing Saddles), but I may get some tires as he did to make the knobs more user friendly. Thanks for the tip, Mongo!

    There have been no problems at all with my camera. Alignment is good and there are positive stops and locations for zeroing all movements when setting up for a shot. The back tilt (axis and asymetric) make things easy to focus, and I agree that the Graflok back makes using a Grafmatic back easy and fast. All in all, you can't go wrong, but if you want a really nice camera, buy the Ebony. Then you can start saving to buy your first lens some time next year. tim
     
  10. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I recall reading (no idea if true, but it was on the 'net, so it must be :wink: ) that Shen Hao have (or had) two versions: one for export and one for internal sales. The export model is/was made to higher specs.

    The only downside to my Shen 4x5 is that the grain pattern on the GG holder does not match up very well (it being made from 4 pieces of wood) - I suspect that on the Ebony, they will take more care of such a detail; but if that's all I get for saving the best part of a thousand quid, thank you very much: I'll take the mismatched grain!

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  11. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    My pleasure Tim. Given that I'm a full foot taller than you, you can imagine why the knobs are a little harder for me to work with than they are for most people. :smile:
     
  12. brimc76

    brimc76 Member

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    I've been talking to Mark from this Apug forum and following this thread as well and just wanted to say thanks to everyone for all the great info. I ordered my Shen 4x5 yesterday and I'm now waiting for delivery.
     
  13. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Brian,

    After the comments from others and your research, I would be interested in your first impressions of the camera when it arrives. Please let us know what you think! tim
     
  14. Alexz

    Alexz Member

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    I would also be glad to hear your opinion on Shen-Hao 4x5 upon its arrival.

    Thanks, Alex
     
  15. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Who did you order from?
     
  16. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council

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    Ahhh, very good question.
     
  17. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    No, "From whom did you order?" tim
     
  18. brimc76

    brimc76 Member

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    I will post my opinion of the camera after I have had a chance to try it out but I will say that the 4x5 and the 5x7 I looked at on the Rattlesnake Point outing a few weeks ago were both very impressive cameras for the money. I think for me this was the point of it all - for a bit more than I paid for my Crown Graphic (which is in fairly new condition) I'm getting almost all the movements of my Arca Swiss monorail, but in a more compact package.
    I ended up ordering from Badger Graphics.
     
  19. Wyno

    Wyno Member

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    Wyno

    I just received my Shen Hao 4x5. It looks great. I haven't had a chance to play with it yet, but it feels so much more solid and has way more movements than my Nagaoka. Jeff at Badger Graphics was terrific. He let me know that new units had been ordered from China and roughly how long I would have to wait, but it arrived before I expected it to. Thanks Jeff. I'm looking forward to doing business with him again. I'll post more when I've taken some shots with it.
    Mike
     
  20. brimc76

    brimc76 Member

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    Well I've been looking at this new Shen Hao for a week now and I've must say that I am very pleased with it. I haven't got a negative developed yet but I have had it set up on the tripod and put it through as many movements as I could shooting what I would normally shoot. I'm still using the same glass as I have been using on my Arca Swiss and my Crown Graphic so I'm not expecting much of a change there.
    Out of the box it is a little confusing. I've never used a wooden field camera like this before so I wasn't sure about folding or unfolding. My Crown is simple, you just push the front standard in all the way and fold up the front until it clicks. There are no instructions with the Shen - just a picture of the camera and a number to tell you what the part is. I can tell that the bubble level is a bubble level.
    Anyway, I put it on my tripod and put both my lenses on it (one at a time) and figured out how to slide the front forward then use the knobs on the side to bring the image into focus. It's pretty straight forward once you start playing with it, I was a little nervous of snapping something through forcing it but there was nothing to worry about.
    After that I took the ground glass back off and tried my Grafmatics as well as my Graphic 23 - 6x9 back. Everything fit snug and perfectly. I folded up the camera after I removed the front board and lens, by pushing the front all the way in and then folding it down to the base. Then the base will fold up and lock. I was use to it by the second time I set it up and as far as movements go it is a less than my Arca Swiss but so much more than my Crown. I like to shoot landscapes but my favourite is old abandoned schoolhouses and churches. There are more than enough movements on the Shen Hao for what I need to have, and the portability is just as good as carrying my Crown Graphic. In fact I have it packed up in a LowePro Magnum35 camera bag at the moment, with both my lenses (mounted on boards), my Minolta Spot F, and a couple of Grafmatics.
    The build quality is very good and the look is of a much more expensive camera. I would highly recommend this camera to anyone wanting to get into 4x5 or anyone that is looking for a reasonably priced 4x5 camera that offers a good amount of movements and great portability at the same time.
    If you want to get a little farther away from the car, this is the camera. Now if you have a lot of money laying around and want to spend it on something top of the line then that is your choice. I just don't have that kind of money at this time.
     
  21. Wyno

    Wyno Member

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    wyno

    I just got back from holidays where I used my Shen Hao 4x5 for the first time and it was very easy to set up. There was a real problem with focussing because the gg is soooo dark. I'm going to get a new one from Dave at Satin Snow as soon as I can. In the mean time I have taken the gg from my Nagaoka and put it on the Shen. I did find out that the Nagaoka had a fresnel lens as well. Apart from that the Shen is a delight to use, and I'm looking forward to using it again.
    Mike