Chamonix 5x8 view cameras are primarily designed for outdoor landscape use. However, this format is used by photographers for portraiture, still life compositions, or any subject that might be rendered in other formats, such as 4x5, 5x7, etc. The view cameras are made with teak, and occasionally black cherry, combined with high density carbon fiber. The carbon fiber material is used for the camera's base plate to ensure the stability and rigidity of the camera.
The Chamonix 5x8 view camera was developed for two reasons:
1. In many parts of the world, the supply of 5x7 film is limited while 8x10 film is easy to find. Photographers can easily cut one sheet of 8x10 film in half to get two sheets of 5x8 film.
2. The more important reason: The 5x8 rectangle is more appealing aesthetically, especially when viewed horizontally. It is only one inch longer than the 5x7 format, but because it approaches the golden mean, the image area on the ground glass is much more satisfying. Its physical dimensions and weight are only slightly more than that of the 5x7 view camera, but the 5x8 contact prints or enlargements are very attractive.
For this unique 5x8 format, Chamonix makes two types: horizontal only and convertible. The convertible view camera's back can be changed from landscape to portrait view. The former has a weight of only 2150 g and the latter has a weight of 2840 g. The horizontal only model uses Linhof-type lens boards while the convertible model uses Sinar-type lens board so that a wider range of lenses can be used.
For both models, Chamonix can manufacture the front standard to take Arca-Swiss lens boards for the convenience of Arca-Swiss users.
In every stage of construction Chamonix 5x8 view cameras are totally handmade and all wood parts are coated by hand. For 40 days, 12 coats of clear varnish are carefully applied to the wood. The wood polishing and painting job requires a total of 90 days.
The metal parts of the Chamonix 5x8 are anodized aluminum with black finish. The wood choices are teak and occasionally black cherry. There is a slight difference in weight due to the different densities of each wood. You can choose the kind of wood you want when you place your order with Chamonix.
Besides the convertible model--the 58WC--there are two models of the horizontal view camera--the 58NH horizontal and the 58WH horizontal. The difference is the "N" model has no metal side arms connecting the camera back and the base, while "W" model has that metal arm just like you see in the pictures below.