Chamonix 4x5 or 8x10

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by JackRosa, Jul 3, 2014.

  1. JackRosa

    JackRosa Member

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    Does anyone have experience using a Chamonix 4x5 or 8x10 that would care to share your insights/impressions with me? Thanks in advance. Particularly interested in quality/rigidity/movemnets. I know it is fairly easy to use.
     
  2. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I don't own either, but have seen the 8x10 up close in use. It's a handsome mid-budget practical field camera. You really need to get your hands on various camera models to decide what is best for you. Even more important, which format do you really want to shoot? Handling an 8x10 is quite a different game than shooting 4x5. What type of subject matter do you contemplate - in other words, do you gravitate mostly toward a wide-angle view, so-called "normal" range, long narrow perspectives, or all the above? This will determine what bellows you need. Do you already own lenses, and need to accommodate them, or will do that afterwards, in relation to the camera itself? Try to find some large format shooters in your own area who have things like these.
     
  3. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    I have Chamonix 4x5 and 8x10 cameras and the build quality and rigidity are top notch. They're remarkably stable for lightweight field cameras. They have extensive movements--well in excess of what most people use in the field.
     
  4. JackRosa

    JackRosa Member

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    Thanks Drew

    Thanks Drew. I own what is arguably the best 8x10 camera out there . . . the top of the line Ebony 8x10 (with asymmetric tilts & swings). I've been shooting 4x5 and 8x10 for a long time and have the lenses, etc. I am not shooting nearly as much as I used to because of health issues. The Ebony cameras are rock solid (and gorgeous) but heavy. It breaks my heart to have a camera that costs as much as a small car sitting there collecting dust. I have been contemplating selling it (it is in MINT condition) and buying a less expensive 8x10. This is the reason I am asking about the Chamonix cameras.
     
  5. JackRosa

    JackRosa Member

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    Thanks Barry

    Thanks Barry. I appreciate you taking the time to share your impressions/experience with me.
     
  6. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I have the 4x5 F1 and +1 to Barry. I will admit having detentes would be handy for having everything lined up straight at the start, but it only takes a little more concentration to do it. I started with a Cambo monorail and was used to those. But the Chamonix has been steady, light to carry, and easy to use.
     
  7. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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  8. jimmyp

    jimmyp Member

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    I have a 045-N2. It is a wonderful camera. Well-made, lightweight and beautiful.

    I also have a Deardorff V8 8x10 and that thing is heavy!
     
  9. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    I don't want to hijack the thread, but could explain what that means? (just in case I ever win the lottery, and find myself in a position to choose between 8x10s)
     
  10. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    For instance, the Chamonix front standard doesn't click into place at the zero swing and shift settings--you have to make sure it's visually aligned and then lock it down. Takes an extra moment.
     
  11. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Detents are valuable on 4x5 cameras for quick setup. I have them on my Ebony folder. Of course, if you want a tilt, for example, to be just
    barely off the zero setting, a ball detent will want to kick back into the zero position. But a few degrees off, no problem. I can't afford an Ebony
    8x10, but shoot a very early (serial no. 9!) Phillips 8x10, which the Chamonix basically copied with respect to key innovations. Typical studio
    monorail camera all have detents or locks for every zero setting, on every feature; but they're harder to install on small field cameras. With
    the big groundglass of 8x10, small adjustment errors are easy to spot with a loupe. With 4x5 you have to look closer. One just gets accustomed
    to whatever after awhile, so no big deal.
     
  12. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    My 4x5 is a Walker Titan SF, and I was at a gathering of LF photographers about 5 years ago and had a technical issue with my camera which rendered it useless. I was loaned a Chamonix 4x5 for the day - no idea what model but it left a very favourable impression. Fit and finish were top notch, the movements were never a limitation weight was less than my Walker Titan, and controls were intuitive. I don't have detents on the Walker Titan, so I never noticed that they didn't exist on the Chamonix.
     
  13. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    Hey Drew, On your Phillips do you screw your front standard down into a threaded hole on the bed like the Chamonix? If you do, how do you like this feature? I know it saves weight.
     
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  15. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Yes. That was an innovation invented by Dick Phillips and has since been copied by several manufacturers, with his blessing. He was also the
    first to ignore making a "pretty" camera and use lightweight custom laminates for the bed. I made a number of minor modifications on the hardware to improve function prior to him introducing his second generation camera. Although these old Phillips rigs sell for a lot of money now, they were ironically introduced as entry level budget "alternative" 8x10's. But I absolutely love the simplified construction, which is quick to set up and quite resistant to wind and vibration (provided you don't have a bouncy tripod head - I don't even use one of those things). The sheer durability of this camera over the years has amazed me too, except for the few pieces I did replace and improve myself. So yes - I'm a big fan of those threaded holes for the front standard. And if I didn't have one of the originals, I'd certainly be tempted by a Chamonix.
     
  16. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    I've been using a Chamonix 045n for the past couple of years. It's very solid, and pretty! It's also lighter than my Nikon D7100. I have no hesitation in recommending the Chamonix. You might find 4x5 just as satisfying and 8x10, and it's a lot easier to use too. The Chamonix is very modern but has kept the classic look. I take a lot of shots in the Dakota/Minnesota winters here, and the Chamonix has had no problem with that.


    Kent in SD
     
  17. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    I have an early Phillips 8x10 and a 7x17 Explorer. As Drew says the Chamonix is a copy of that design. You mention the weight of the Ebony slowing your use of it down, Dick Phillips had an 8x10 Deardorff @ about 13 pounds. He dreamed up the new design literally over night in his sleep.

    I am 74 with a bad back. If you haven't tried it, consider carrying your new camera around in a baby jogger or one of the other popular methods of transport. It has made large negatives possible for me. Get one with large wheels, mine has 20" bicycle wheels. They even out the rough surfaces. You can't do stairs or climb down cliffs, but maybe that is not realistic hunting grounds for you if you are approaching my age.

    A baby jogger or something similar might let you use the Ebony a bit longer or it might make you more mobile with the lighter Chamonix.

    As you age another reason to stay with the larger format is the amount of light that gets to the ground glass. i have early age related macro degeneration. It became harder to properly focus my Linhof TK45 even with a light enhancing screen. I looked through an 8x10 Linhof one day and it looked like a lighted TV by comparison. I bought the Phillips 8x10 as soon as I found one and sold the 45.

    John Powers
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2014
  18. Richard Man

    Richard Man Member

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    I love my Chamonix 4x5 F1, especially the asymmetrical base tilt. If it has detents, then it's a nearly perfect camera to me, IMHO.
     
  19. JackRosa

    JackRosa Member

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    Thank You All

    Thank you all for your contributions to this thread thus far.

    John ~ great idea re: baby jogger. I used to carry my 8x10 Ebony in a backpack but the current condition of my neck/back will not allow me to do so any longer. My experience (4x5 vs. 8x10) parallels yours . . . I can focus much more easily when I am using the 8x10! The smaller the image, the harder it has gotten for me to focus.
     
  20. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    Thanks Drew.

    It's an interesting design and I have always wondered what it would be like in use. It appears to set up a little slower but not much. I think it would easily be worth it for the weight savings.
     
  21. Gary892

    Gary892 Member

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    I have the 045-N2 from Chamonix and I almost regret buying it. I have been using view cameras for over 35 years and I too have health issues and that is why I bought mine, it's lighter for sure.
    However, I don't like having to pick which hole I am going to screw the front standard in, there must be a better way.

    The bellows at the front standard is not pleated but sort of like a bag bellows that is about 2 inches long. This causes the bellows to vignette in some cases.

    The ground glass cover is a joke in my opinion, I have never been able to get it back on correctly, even after working with for an hour carefully tracking which side and corner I am using. I no longer have it.

    I have found the levels to be inaccurate. I have compared against some high quality levels and they never match up.

    I will say it is easy to set up once you decide on which hole to put the front standard in.
    I do like the way it focuses.

    Just be sure to lock everything down once you have you image composed, that goes for all view cameras though.

    My 2 cents.

    Gary
     
  22. Simon Howers

    Simon Howers Subscriber

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    Hi Jack,
    I note you ask about both of the common sizes. My experience of this is that if you intend to use the camera for fieldwork then its portability is a crucial factor. Most 4x5 kit is relatively easy to carry and the lenses and associated kit are also lighter.
    After using a Wista 4x5 and a Deardorff 10x8 (heavy!) I decided I wanted a bigger format than 4x5 but not the weight or bulk of the 10x8.
    The Deardorff has a WP back, so I started using this format and fell in love with it.

    The answer for me is a Chamonix whole plate (6.5 x 8.5).

    It is beautifully made and light and I have got some great pictures with it.
    I have no difficulty working with the screw mounted front standard or the lack of stops - this is a personal decision.
    Whatever you decide, it's the weight of the associated lenses, film holders, tripod etc which tip the balance.

    Good luck

    Simon
     
  23. vyshemirsky

    vyshemirsky Member

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    I have a Chamonix 045-N2 for about four years now.
    Pros: Lightweight and cheap.
    Cons: The standards do not click into 0. The camera is not that rigid and it is possible to move standards while adjusting dark cloth. The bellows are the biggest disappointment - they are not pleaded next to the front standard as it was mentioned before. My biggest disappointment is that the bellows are not IR safe. I never managed to use IR film in it at all, there is nothing you can do short of replacing the bellows. I even had some fogging on normal film with very long exposure time in bright sunlight when using 10stop filter.

    edit: If I have known about the IR issue before buying the camera, I'd prefer ShenHao.
     
  24. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Jack,

    Here is one of many threads on carrying LF gear. My post is #12
    http://www.largeformatphotography.i...rge-format-carrying-stroller&highlight=jogger

    There are many more threads on the subject. Go to www.largeformatphotography.info Then go to advanced search. Then search the entire posts on jogger.

    Some people like other methods of carrying their gear. All have their advantages. My only suggestion is avoid small wheel as they get stuck in small cracks or bumps.

    John Powers
     
  25. JackRosa

    JackRosa Member

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    Thank you Simon for this insight and advice. I am going to look into it as one of my options.
     
  26. JackRosa

    JackRosa Member

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    Thanks John ~ very useful information. I think the baby jogger is definitely an option for me.