Yay, a "which camera should I get" question

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by winger, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I currently have a Cambo 4x5 monorail, a Speed Graphic with a working focal plane shutter, and a Crown Graphic with a working rangefinder (sometimes I swear these things breed in the closet). I'll be moving west soon and it looks like I might be traveling by plane more than doing roadtrips to shoot. I'd like a good field camera with reasonable movements that I'd be able to haul in a carry-on. I like the Chamonix and Shen Hao designs and have heard good things about both. I'd sorta prefer used for the price, but could possibly make a new one work (will likely sell the Crown either way to have something towards it). I don't want to get something really old that I'll have to repair off the bat.
    Could someone do the compare and contrast thing if they've used both? I can get decent images with LF, but I don't know all the little details I might not have thought of. You can tell from my gallery here what I usually shoot. I might be doing more still life stuff in the future, but I'll still have the Cambo, too.
    TIA!
     
  2. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 1, 2013
  3. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I can't wait to read the insights folks will be offering. I have similar 4x5 cameras to yours (except no Crown) and have had the same thought numerous times. Every time I've ended up reminding myself that movements are relatively unimportant to my photography and how well the old Anniversary Graphic meets my needs as a travel camera. I grapple more with the challenge of schlepping a tripod on airplanes.
     
  4. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    The Shen Haos are reasonably priced, and if I had the funds I'd own one. I really like the look and feel(function) of them. Right now, I'm shooting a B&J Watson 4x5 stripped down to basic(removed all RF's on it), fits in a Jansport knapsack with everything I need for it except the t'pod. The lighter weight allows for a lighter pod.
     
  5. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

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    I had a similar choice not long ago--I had (still have) a Speed Graphic, wanted a field camera, decided in the end to choose the Shen Hao over the Chamonix, but that was partly because I got a reasonable deal on a lightly used Shen Hao. But I haven't used it enough to really get comfortable with it yet. I ride with it on my bike (the camera and lens (in photobackpacker cases), meter, and film holders in one pannier, the tripod in the other), so it would probably all go in a flight bag.
     
  6. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    When I need to travel light I use a Wista 45 and a bunch of old angulon 6.8 lenses. I can recommend Wista. There are different models but I use the wooden one with exchangeable bellows so I can use bag bellows as well as normal.
     
  7. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    You might want to add Tachihara to your list. It's also a lightweight wooden field camera. If you go to Ken Rockwell's site he gives a great review on it.

    The Tachihara is extremely light weight and has a very bright ground glass. You can use a 90mm on a flat board without a bag bellows. You can go as wide as a 65mm on a recessed board with little to no movements. The Tachi does not support a bag bellows. It has 13" of bellows draw. The Tachihara takes Technika style lens boards like the Shen Hao.
     
  8. ataim

    ataim Member

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    I have a Wista m450 Monorail and a Toyo CF45. When traveling I take the Toyo. Its compact and light. Movements, not so much, but I also shoot mostly landscapes so a little front rises and sift and swing is all I really need.
     
  9. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    One thing to think about is if you purchase a folder that uses Technika style boards and you buy a Cambo/Calumet to Technika lens board you will be able to swap lenses back and forth between your new camera and your Cambo.

    I can easily swap most of my lenses between my Tachihara, Sinar P monorail and Wehman 8x10.
     
  10. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I hadn't gotten around to seeing if such boards existed, but this would definitely be a good thing.

    Thanks for all the ideas! I'm also trying to keep the cost low. The Wistas I've seen are way out my likely range. No clue about the Tachiharas.

    Does anyone know if there's anything about either the Chamonix or Shen Hao that I'd be giving up if I got the other?
     
  11. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    They show up on Ebay from time to time. I even have one of them around here somewhere.
     
  12. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    A used Tachihara should be somewhere around the price of a used Shen Hao in the same condition.
     
  13. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Thanks very much, Alan!
     
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  15. r-brian

    r-brian Member

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    You should decide what focal length lenses you will use. I started using a Busch Pressman D 4x5; a press camera similar to the Crown but with rotating back. I could just barely use a 90mm on it, but 90mm wasn't wide enough for me. Switched off to a Tachihara. Extremely light weight, 3.5 lbs. I think. Ended up actually using a 65mm on a flat board; had to move the rear standard forward to use it. Not much room for movements though; the bellows were almost totally compressed but then the little 65mm f8 Acugon didn't have much room for movements anyway. Did end up with a recessed board to give me a little more movement. On the long end, I had a 240mm tele lens; plenty of bellows for it.

    The problem with the Tachihara I found was it had a little play even locked down tight. Still, it worked fine.

    Finally decided I had too many formats so sold the 4x5 and the 2 1/4 square and went with a 6x7 RZ. Damn thing weighs 3x what the Tachihara did.
     
  16. TXFZ1

    TXFZ1 Member

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    It really depends on which Shen Hao that you are considering. I have the HZA 4x5IIA and think it is a great camera. The PTB is almost a clone of the Chamonix while the HZA is more like the Tachihari. The basic difference is I have rear shift and limited bellows extension. It says 360mm but think I would need a tophat to use my 300mm. For 8x10, I have the FCL which functions the same as the Chamonix and since getting it, I have been thinking of trading for a PTB or Chamonix in 4x5.

    Hope this helps,

    David
     
  17. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    On my Cambo (yes, I haul it into the woods), I use the 135mm and 210mm the most. I have a 105mm and rarely use it. I'm more likely to do close-ups than sweeping vistas. I think I use the 210mm the most, actually.
    David, I was thinking of the HZX over the PTB. Will it be a big difference? I'm sorta starting to think that it won't really matter that much as the price is fairly close (even new) and the cameras don't seem to be hugely different.
     
  18. TXFZ1

    TXFZ1 Member

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    Not much difference, a slight weight difference and bellows extension. They make an extension for the Chamonix as I have heard of lengths of 450mm. 300mm at infinity is about the limit for my HZX even with the Nikon M which is a compact and light lens.

    I made a close-up photo of my blooming snake plant with my 210mm and had some extension left over. To get closer, I would be fiddling with the front standard and using the axis tilts. This does not lock down as tight as base tilt, especially with a heavy lens like my 250 or 210mm.

    I am still happy with it.

    David
     
  19. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

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    I was going to add that one of the drawbacks of the Shen Hao is the need for a recessed board with wide-angle lenses. A 90mm with a recessed board is probably about the shortest it will take. I like my Super Angulon, but it sounds like this will be less of an issue for you.
     
  20. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    When I purchased my Tachihara there was only one model of Shen Hao available and no Chamonix. I picked the Tachi over the Shen because of the brighter Tachi fresnel over the ground glass of the Shen, the ability to use a 90 on a flat board with no need for bag bellows, and it was a little bit lighter. The advantages of the Shen Hao is that it's a bit sturdier and if you like using wide lenses it will take a bag bellows. As far as looks go the Tachi has been called beautiful and it's been called gaudy. It does draw a lot of attention. I actually prefer the look of the Shen.

    I have never held a Chamonix but people who's opinion I trust on the Large Format Photography Forum say it's the sturdiest of the three. The Chamonix is kind of weird in that when you unfold it you have a loose front standard which you place into a hole and tighten down. Check You Tube for the video on this. From what I have read owners don't seem to mind this.

    If you like metal the Toyo's are really nice. A very good friend of mine owns one.

    Both the metal and wood Wista's have big followings but are a little pricier.
     
  21. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I had an HZX for at least 8 years. The only reason I got rid of it was that I was using my 5x7 Canham a lot more and was doing lots of alt process contact printing. I loved that camera, though. They're extremely rugged, have oodles of movements, accessories for them are cheap, and they have good support (I lost a part, well out of warranty, and got a free replacement from I think Badger Graphic in the mail a couple days later). The Chamonix are a bit lighter, they do their focusing and movements (especially for the rear standard) a bit differently (they're a knock-off of the Phillips design). You can coax 14" (360mm) of bellows extension out of the Shen Hao, but you have to do it with a combination of front standard movements that's hard to explain in writing, but easy to demonstrate. I solved that problem by getting a Fuji 300mm f8 Tele, which has an infinity focus bellows draw of something close to 210mm, so you could actually focus it fairly close. With a 210mm, you can easily focus close enough for a tight head-shot, and get about 1:1.5 macro reproduction without using funny movements on the camera.
     
  22. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    Coming from my Graflex to the Tachihara is great leap in build and control. I just did the move, and the Tach is lighter, easier to setup, and a joy to use.

    I got mine for reasonable price. Look under Zone Vi on Ebay.
     
  23. eddie

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    Bethe- If the Tachihara is on your list, keep a look out for a Calumet Wood Field. It's a re-branded Tachihara, and usually goes for less on the used market. I've had one for about 30 years. It's a great traveler, and has held up very well.
     
  24. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Oh sure, shoulda expected it. Had my mind narrowed down to two and now the list has grown. :wink: Thanks all for the great advice! I'll get searching on ebay, I guess. Though there is still the lure of a new one (the last camera I bought new was in about 2000). Sturdy and light is the key - I'm not very muscular and like to go into the woods.
     
  25. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Really? Even with the bag bellows??

    I'm looking to replace my aged and ailing Technika III some time this year and have also been looking at the Tachihara, Shen and Chamonix. One thing I don't like about the Chamonix is that the bellows is not IR safe, and I have several boxes of Efke IR820 unopened in the freezer that I will definitely want to use.

    I also have a 90mm Angulon which will go on my new Wanderlust Travelwide and be replaced with something with a bit more coverage for the "big" camera - I like 90mm on 4x5, and would like something shorter for use with a RF back, so the fact the Shen and Chamonix take a bag bellows is an advantage over the Tachihara.
     
  26. LJH

    LJH Member

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    Depends on which model.

    I use a 72mm on a standard board on my XPO with (Sinar) bag bellow. Also use a 210mm with the same bag. My XPO will also extend to 400+mm.