Shen Hao 4x5 View Camera
I looked at J&C site and found the camera. I am thinking 'bout going LF for some of my work (still lifes), and think camera would suit my needs. Any comments?
If anyone says I should go 8x10 I really need good arguments. I think it's tooooo expensive and I think 4x5 will give sufficient quality.
Tom Sauerwein just bought one, so you might pm him if he doesn't respond in this thread. It looks like the best value in a wooden folding field camera out there right now.
8x10" would give you a nice size neg for contact printing, and I found I working with the larger groundglass more intuitive and appealing at first. There are used 8x10" cameras to be had for around the price of a Shen-Hao, and it's not necessarily more expensive to work in 8x10". You can process in trays and can contact print, so you don't really need an enlarger or enlarging lens big enough for 4x5". There are lots of affordable excellent classic lenses out there for 8x10", particularly if you contact print, where you might want more modern lenses for 4x5" if you enlarge. In general, one just shoots less film and shoots it more carefully as format goes up, so that cost balances out somewhat.
I shoot both, but I'm generally more satisfied with the work I've done on 8x10" than 4x5".
I have shot with the Shen-Hao 3 times now and am beginning too relax with it. For the money it is really well worth it. It packs up very nicely and has plenty of movement. I am spoiled however by my Horseman so I do get a bit irratated by all the effort involved for using the different functions. Also 2 of my lenses don't fit so I'm having to make adapters.
I bought a Shen Hao 4x5 about 2 years ago now. I'm pleased with it and it has proved to be a reliable, decent, well thought out camera. It weighs 6 pounds. Fit and finish are both satisfactory. It has a few advantages over the Wista. Axis tilt and base tilt. The rear standard moves forward for short focal length lenses. You will be limited to 300mm lenses, unless you go the tele route. A good value for the money.
I agree with everything noseoil said. I have had mine for about 18 months now and still am very happy with it. I am thinking of getting the 8x10 version as well, expecially if I can get a 5x7 reducing back for it.
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I've been shooting with my Shen-Hao for a little over a year and am very happy with it. About the only thing that I would change (in fact, will change in the near future) is the ground glass. The stock ground glass isn't the best (it's usable, but upgrading a ground glass is cheap and an easy way to make a good camera even better). It's heavier than the camera to which it is most often compared (the Tachihara), but it has a full compliment of movements whereas there are some sacrifices in the Tachihara in the interest of saving weight. Only you can decide which is more important to you: more movements or less weight.
I pack up my Shen-Hao, 3 lenses (90, 127, and 250), light meter, six film holders, a roll film back, various filters and cables, a loupe, and a dark cloth all into a backpack that's quite manageable.
Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.
I shoot 4x5 and 8x10, both toyo. The 8x10 is so large I seldom use it on location but I love it in studio. I print 24x36 inch from 100-TMAX 4x5 negs with no grain problem so I see no need to go bigger unless you are going to contact print. Composition on 8x10 ground glass is nicer than on 4x5 and there is just something about viewing those big negs but with modern films you don't need to use 8x10. Also with 4x5 you can use a roll film back. I shoot black and white sheet and back up some shots with color on a 6x9 roll back. I found the 4x5 will not draw crowds like the 8x10. Most people have not seen a camera that size in use and they all want to talk and see the glass (or argue that you need to give it up for digital). This has cost me several shots.
I don't have a Shen-Hao, but if I had chosen to start my LF career with a new camera, the SH would have been teh choice. In the three years that I have been following LF equipment reviews, I have never read a bad word about it.
With regards to going 4x5 or 8x10, my experience is similar to David's. I started with a 4x5 but moved to 8x10 after less than a year. Despite haveing the same capabiities as 4x5, the 8x10 just seems far more intuitive. Expense has just not been a factor except for the initial outlay for the equipment, which has repaid itself in my mind. There certainly is a valid issue with portability between the two formats. That is something each individual has to decide for himself. If I had it to do over again, I would have started with 8x10 and not bothered with 4x5.
I can make the same argument about contact printing versus enlarging. Contact printing is a breeze. Now the enlarger feels like a PITA. And I waste more sheets of paper trying to get the good print than I do contact printing.
Last edited by Alex Hawley; 09-20-2004 at 02:52 PM. Click to view previous post history.
It all depends on what you want to shoot. If you want to shoot color then 8x10 is way more expensive. If all you want to shoot is BW then the cost is negligable because of what you don't need and you can shoot with older lenses that are pretty cheap.
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
Since everyone else is debatine 4x5" vs. 8x102, I'll just jump in to recommend 5x7".
The cameras are bigger and heavier than 4x5", but a lot smaller and lighter than 8x10". With a reducing back they are only slightly heavier than a 4x5" (especially if you compare a 5x7" Shen-Hao to a 4x5" Technika). Most lenses for 4x5" will cover 5x7", so there is very little need for "upgrading". Even old "convertible" Symmar 150mm/f:5.6 cover 5x7" straight on!
Except for very wide lenses, a reducing back poses no problems in use.
5x7" cameras have longer, wider bellows, which make extreme movements and long lenses easier to use.
5x7" contact prints are a lot larger than 4x5", and only slightly smaller than 8x10". This sounds crazy, but is very much my experience.
For the record, I shoot 35mm, MF, 9x12cm, 4x5", 5x7", 13x18cm and 18x24cm. Every size is different, but in LF I find 5x7" (13x18cm) to be an exellent compromise between size and portability.
Now I only have to sell some picures, so I can afford a 5x7" Shen-Hao - it's on top of my wish list!
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist