Shen-Hao camera

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by ann, Nov 14, 2003.

  1. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    Any thoughts on this camera? One of my students is considering this camera ( or,his parents are asking him). His father was going to build him a Bender but this is another option that has possibilities.
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I haven't handled one personally, but all reports have been excellent (perhaps in part due to low initial expectations about a camera made in China). It looks like one of the best deals out there as a field camera with features you wouldn't find on cameras that are two or three times the price (interchangeable bellows, extensive rear movements, Graflok back).
     
  3. Steve Hamley

    Steve Hamley Member

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    Ann,

    I don't own one, but had a chance to check one out at Midwest Photo. I think it's an excellent camera, well made and with a good feature set. It appears to be an excellent value as David points out. The only "fault" I could find is that the bellows draw seems a bit short if you are a long-lens person.

    Thanks!

    Steve
     
  4. Robert

    Robert Member

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    I've thought of the Bender,Shen and now the new badger. The only info on the badger is the price. The badger website shows a price less then the Shen but no other info yet. The Bender to me seems too expensive for what you get. The Shen seems like a pretty good value.

    I figure I won't be making any choices until next spring then it'll be between the Shen and the new badger. If the badger is lighter then I might go that way. The Shen is supposed to be close to 7lbs-(
     
  5. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    The Bender is a wood monorail I believe. Given the choice between it and the SH, I would choose the SH. In nearly two years of reading the Large Format forums, I have yet to see a negative comment about it. IMO, the only better bargain for a 4x5 is a used (and old) Graflex View, which is also a monorail.
     
  6. Poco

    Poco Member

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    The SH is my main 4x5 and I can recommend it almost without reservation. My only minor wish is that its movements would zero out with a bit greater surety. Only the front tilt zeros with a "click," but that's a small matter.

    I think the camera gives exceptional bang for the buck.
     
  7. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I now use a SHen-Hao almost exclusively as well. It is very well made. My only wish is that it had more bellows draw. I am going to get a 300mm lens, but I am not sure how close it will focus with that. I think a lightweight lens such as the Nikon f/9 should work well. Other than that I think it is a great camera. Definitely a better deal than a Bender when you factor in time - plus it is a field camera so they are not directly comparable.

    My other camera is a Graphic View II wich I would also recommend if you want an inexpensive quality monorail.
     
  8. Poco

    Poco Member

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    L Gebhardt,

    I use a Fujinon 300 C with the SH and am able to focus within 6 ft.

    I also rigged an "extension cone" from a tin can for my 450c and am able to cover medium to distance shots with it -- the only problem there is that the lens has a huge image circle and puts out a lot of stray light which the can funnels down to the film. The negs aren't pretty, but I'm able to print through the elevated fog in most cases.
     
  9. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    Poco, is this with the front extended out past the front standard? Is the Fujinon 300C the f/8.5 lens at Badger? How do like it?
     
  10. Poco

    Poco Member

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    "is this with the front extended out past the front standard?"

    Yup. With a compact lens that configuration offers plenty stability. I got mine at Badger and really love the lens ...sharp, compact, huge image circle, etc... Same story with the 450C. They really are jewels.
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Does the Shen-Hao take Linhof boards? If it does, the Wista extension lensboard is a handy way of getting some extra extension with long lenses or for macro, and it comes with three threaded disks (Copal 0, 1, and 3, and the smaller ones can be drilled like lensboards), so you can use it with more than one lens.
     
  12. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    That's one more zero click than a Deardorff has!
     
  13. jadphoto

    jadphoto Member

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    I used a Shen Hao and a Toyo 45CF for three months this summer in a side by side comparison.

    Both are excellent cameras but I would give the Shen Hao bonus points for the bag bellows option.

    If you crave solitude don't get the Shen Hao. Every time I set up everybody had to come over to look at it. Great camera for serious photograpers and wall flowers.

    Joe Dickerson
     
  14. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    I've had my Shen Hao now for more than a year and am pleased with it. I would have to vote for it over the Bender for several reasons.

    First: compact and portable. Much easier to pack and set up.

    Second: focusing with the Shen Hao. It is easier for a beginner to turn a knob to focus than to guess at what is needed with the clamp/slide setup on the Bender.

    Third: I've built two 4x5 wood cameras. While it is a labor of love, the father's ego involvement may become a factor when a ding shows up on the Bender for the first time.

    I have a friend with the Wista 4x5 and the Shen Hao has better features, in some respects, than the Wista, especially for the money. For example, the axis tilt for the film plane is a bonus. The ability to slide the film plane forward towards the front of the bed for short lenses is very helpful. The Shen Hao is an outstanding value for the money, I don't know of a better deal in a new 4x5.
     
  15. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Heres a question- Is there any place on that camera that a level can be mounted without getting in the way of something else? Seems every spot I look at has something there to keep the level out of place.
     
  16. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    my tripod has several bubble levels as part of the head.
     
  17. mwtroxell

    mwtroxell Member

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    Has anyone here used a 8x10 Shen Hao? If so, what are your impressions of it?
     
  18. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I own a 4x5 Shen-Hao, bag bellows, 6X12 back, etc. and so far I am pleased!

    I am interested in buying an 8x10 Shen-Hao.

    Does anyone on this forum have any experience with USA importers?

    How about buying direct from Shanghai?
     
  19. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    caveat about buying from China direct. Know who you are dealing with. If it is possible that they sell them in Hong Kong there is one good dealer I know of. They take fax or phone orders. Even have English speaking people to help on the phone. the dealer is Tin Chueng I may have the last name off a bit. I used a friend of mine in Hong Kong to buy my Mamiya. He tried it out before sending it on to me. The first camera body was defective. He took it back immediately. Being there he had no trouble making the exchange. These are things you have to be careful of dealing over seas in the Orient. Not all will give you trouble, but many will.
     
  20. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Thanks, Aggie - - good advice.

    My preference is to find a USA importer ( I will talk to Badger and Midwest Photo Exchange). I bought my 4x5 Shen-Hao from Badger (a good experience).

    If the USA route fails, I have been successful buying camera equipment off-shore in the past. Initially, I will try dealing directly with Shen-Hao in Shanghai.
     
  21. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Tom,
    You may benefit from checking with Sandy King. I believe that he recently told me that he was buying the 5X7 camera direct from the manufacturer. If you want his email address you can message me and I will get it for you. Good luck.
     
  22. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Thanks Donald, good suggestion. I have emailed you.
     
  23. Doug Bennett

    Doug Bennett Member

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    Maybe this should be another thread, but........... Does anyone have direct experience with a Bender? I found one thread with one guy who had a Bender, and actually liked it fairly well.

    I'm looking to make the jump from medium format to large format. As I understand it, monorail cameras do have advantages over field cameras, and the Bender looks as though it would be any easy monorail to carry around. OTOH, the Shen is a fine lookin' piece of gear.
     
  24. Steve Hamley

    Steve Hamley Member

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    Doug,

    The Bender is not a typical monorail. Monorails, with a very few exceptions, are hard to carry - at least a lot harder than a field camera. Trust me, I've tried it. If you do field work, you want a field camera. If you want a monorail, look for a decent used Sinar Norma. You should be able to get a nice one for about $400-500, and it is far more than twice the camera of the bender. In fact, it is a classic.

    Of course, for about $750 you could have a nice used Shen Hao (if you can find one) and a used Cambo 'rail for the studio.

    Steve
     
  25. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    On the View Camera web site

    www.viewcamera.com

    in the Free Articles section there is an article

    4x5 Cameras Priced Less Than $1,200.00. This might be helpful to people.

    Regarding the Bender I have said that if you want to build a kit get one. I am not impressed with the finished product. For the same money there are better functioning cameras.

    There is another kit camera available from

    www.alettaphoto.com

    I have not seen one and the phone number in the contact info is not working but the owner does seem to respond to e-mails.

    steve simmons