I have been wanting to get into Large Format photography for quite some time. After having subscribed to “View Camera” mag for about a year I decided it was time to take the plunge and get a 4×5. But which one, there is a huge range of choices? Do you get a rail camera or a field camera. The Rail camera has the most movements but is likely to be heavier and less portable, where as a field camera is lighter and more portable for “field” use. As I like Landscape photography and I don’t have a studio the choice was clear. But which field camera. After many reviews I ended up buying a Shen Hao.
Material Used: Black Walnut/Aluminium Alloy Format: 4X5"inch Movement: Front: Rear Rise: 23mm 55mm Fall: 43mm Right Shift: 12mm Left Shift: 12mm Swing: 25°+25°10°+10° Base Tilt 90° 22° Bellows Draw: 80-340mm Weight/Exterior: 1.9kg/190x190x110mm
I got this camera new from Badger Photographics as a kit including, a Rodenstock 150mm lens which is normal for 4×5.
After watching some youtube videos on how to load and use a large format camera I dived in head first. Being use to all manual cameras and metering using a hand-held meter It didn’t take long to feel quite at home using the camera. I have experimented with the camera tilt and shift movements, but find for most of the landscapes I have been taking it is not necessary to use them.
As I develop at home I decided to try developing 4×5 sheet film at home as well. I have tried tacho method (using a 120 film tank), tray developing, and lastly using a daylight print drum. I have found this last method to be the easiest way to develop 4×5 sheet film. I still don’t have a 4×5 scanner, so I can only make contact prints and scan the print for digital upload. Which is why I don’t have any slide film to show you, for the review.
well built – for the price
Good entry level 4×5
Doesn’t have all the tilt and shift of a rail system (but no Field camera does)
So in conclusion if you are looking for a 4×5 to get you started in the world of 4×5 the Shen Hao is a great little camera. It is well built, but light enough to carry in a backpack. I can fit the Shen Hao, Rollieflex and a 35mm RF all in the same camera backpack, as well as associated film and bits and pieces. I took it on holidays at x’mas and it was quite easy to travel with.