Chamonix 045-N2 received today - impressions on unpacking
I was on the April list for a Chamonix 045-N2 field camera. The package showed up at my office door 1 hour ago. I have unpacked it and conducted an initial evaluation of the unit.
First, it was very well packaged. Short of it being run over by the truck, I don't see how it could be damaged in shipment. Kudos to the factory for this. The small box is lined on all sides with thick styrofoam sheet. Below the outer sheet of styro, the camera is wrapped in the leather wrap (assuming you ordered that option), then the cloth wrap (standard), then a dark brown oiled packing paper. Everything was tight and secure.
The leather wrap is snapped on the camera, but it is not permanently attached. The wrap includes a sticky portion that sticks to the bottom of the camera. The sticky part is covered with a plastic sheet. When you are ready to permanently affix the leather to the camera, just peel and stick. Easy. I suggest you fully inspect the camera before sticking on the leather, just to make sure everything is correct.
There have been many complaints posted on the forums about the bubble levels. It seems the Chamonix folks have been listening. The levels on this camera agree with each other, they have good fluid, and they are not filled with a "slow" fluid. Some complained that the bubble takes too long to move - not mine, they behave just like the levels in a carpenter's level. Perfect. Further, they packed an extra bubble level, in its metal holder, with the camera in a separate plastic pouch. So if I have a problem with a leaky level, I have an instant replacement. Sweet!
Another complaint some have had is regarding the alignment marks. I found them to be abundant on my camera, but they are subtle. The marks are filled with a white paint, which is not very easy to see against my camera's grey metal finish and Maple wood. There are plentiful white marks on the black carbon fiber base for swing alignment, and those are very obvious. For the marks on the metal, I might consider putting a dab of red paint over the white in the future if this proves to be a problem - that would match the color of my Wista's marks, which are very easy to see. But for the moment I think they are fine - since I know where to look for them, I think they'll be easy enough to use.
I'm impressed that there are locks (not detents) for the vertical position of front standard and back standard tilt. On first impression, this is much, much better than the detent based mechanism on my Wista. The detent mechanism makes it difficult to make a very slight tilt, because you find yourself fighting the detent. It isn't terrible, just annoying. No such problem with the Chamonix mechanism - slide the lock to the unlocked position, and you have completely free tilt motion. (And front tilt is axial, not base, which is one of the reasons I bought the camera.)
I ordered the bed extension. It is a light block of carbon fiber, very easy to attach with one screw without any tools. It adds very little weight, so will be no issue throwing into the bag with the camera.
The ground glass is now a sandwich. Ground glass on the inside, a fesnel outside the glass (between the ground glass and the photographer), and a thin outer protective sheet over the fresnel. I noticed one small spot, off center to the left and low, where newton's rings were visible, I assume where the outer sheet is touching the fresnel. I'll report back on whether that is a real issue or not, but I'm not worried (yet). The focusing screen sandwich is protected by a sheet of carbon fiber that is easily removed. However, "easy" takes some figuring out - you have to lift the spring loaded door slightly to remove and replace the cover. This is not obvious at first, and without knowing this, you'll spend some time puzzling over how to remove it. At least I did. Once the door is lowered again, the cover cannot come off (without major forcing - not recommended). It is a nice design, but needs an explanation.
That leads me to the one critique of this package. There is no instruction sheet at all. Everything about this camera is left as a voyage of discovery for the user. Experienced field camera users will have no real problem with this (except perhaps for the ground glass cover). In fact, they will probably spend a very happy hour (as I did) laughing with glee as each new feature is revealed through exploration. But a first time field camera buyer may be a bit lost.
Perhaps I'll write an owner's manual...
Overall, my impressions on unpacking were extremely positive. It is a beautiful, light, well made camera. Congratulations to Hass and Hugo for producing a very nice, very affordable camera!
I previously reported that there was a spare bubble level. Others write that this is for the accessory clip on the forward standard. It does fit there, so sure, I'll use it that way.
The newton ring issue so far seems to be a non-issue. It focuses fine, I see nothing untoward when looking through the glass through those areas. But I'm open to hearing others experiences with this too.
I bought a fan today. It came with instructions.
Here's all you need to know: Righty tighty, lefty loosey.
What does it take to order one of these? I have a mint 45CF coming that got a killer deal on that I will use for a couple months but the 45N-2 looks to be *exactly* what I am looking for.
"I'm the freak that shoots film. God bless the freaks!" ~ Mainecoonmaniac ~
The process is pretty simple. Keep in mind this is a part time operation - a "virtual" company. That said, the support for me has been excellent.
Originally Posted by PKM-25
First, go to the website: www.chamonixviewcamera.com. Get a feel for what you want (wood choices vary by production run - this run was a choice of teak or maple). There are also two choices for hardware color: black or grey. I chose maple with grey metal, and I think it looks great. I've seen photos of teak with black metal - those look great too. The teak is darker than maple.
There are a few options and accessories, like a bag bellows, a leather wrap cover, and a bed extension for handling long lenses. See the site.
Once you have an idea what you want, send an email to Hugo Zhang <firstname.lastname@example.org>. He is a Chinese large format photographer who, part time, represents the company for sales. Tell him what you want by email, he will put you on the list, and tell you when the next run will be (or who knows, maybe he will have inventory available - you'll just have to check).
When they are ready to do the factory run, Hugo will contact everyone on the list and ask for payment. You will send him the money (I wired to the company's bank account, since I'm living in Beijing and they don't do checks in China). He'll tell you what he accepts. Once the money is received, you will be confirmed to receive a camera. At that point, you'll probably see your camera in 2-3 weeks. He'll let you know when to expect it.
While this seems like a risk (you're sending the money before you receive the product, and worse, you're sending it to China! Yikes!), so far, no one has complained, and from my view these guys are scrupulously honest in their dealings with the customer.
My product arrived exactly when he said it was, and Hugo has been incredibly responsive to my many emailed questions. I can tell he is a great guy.
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Just received mine in the mail yesterday, too! I got the teak with grey metal and the camera is gorgeous. I was very happy with how securely it was packaged for shipment, although it did take a little cleaning to get rid of some construction dust (compressed air did the trick nicely). Although there was no instruction manual, I had watched the demo video on youtube and found everything to be very intuitive. Lefty looset, righty tighty all the way, except for the rear swing locks where it makes sense to buck the trend.
I haven't had a chance to really put it through its paces yet, but my first impressions are quite good and expectations quite high. Also, props to Hugo, who was a pleasure to deal with and was quick to answer all my questions.