The Chamonix Approach to View Camera Design and Function
Chamonix cameras are composed of wood and carbon fiber composite material, and are designed to be both light and durable while retaining the aesthetics of hand craftsmanship. Little-used view camera movements are omitted to ensure the slimmest, lightest build possible.
The structure of Chamonix cameras overcomes some limitations found in traditional wood view cameras. The screw-focus mechanism and stainless-steel focus track make Chamonix cameras much more accurate and durable than traditional wood view cameras. The front standard of Chamonix cameras can be detached so that, with the extension accessory (see ACCESSORIES above) the bellows can be greatly extended as is possible with a monorail view camera. This feature is especially useful for lenses of long focal length and macro photography.
Materials Used in the Construction of the Chamonix View Camera
Chamonix cameras are constructed of carbon fiber, anodized aluminum 7075 or 6061, and teak. Models' aluminum parts are finished in either titanium gray or black; see the information about color at each model's page. Wood components are formed in either American black cherry or teak–chosen because both are extremely stable. The wood is finished with a clear coat to preserve the warm appearance of the wood and to protect it from weathering; see photographs of the various models. Both woods are ideal for view cameras (see the information about these woods under the HOME tab above). The wood selected has a minor impact on the camera's weight. Teak is slightly heavier than cherry. Teak and cherry differ in appearance as well, but both woods have a beautiful grain that changes with light and angle of view.
The Work of the Craftsmen
The asphalt-based carbon fiber filaments used in Chamonix view cameras are combined in alternating horizontal and vertical layers with epoxy resin under intense heat and pressure. This process is done manually, sometimes leaving marks of handwork on the surface. These are not flaws, but rather a sign of the careful labor which goes into the construction of each camera. Such marks are offset by the beautiful glaze of the carbon fiber.
Every stage of camera construction--from material selection, manufacture, and painting--reflects the exacting standards and superb techniques inherited from ancient Chinese craftsmen. After basic semi-mechanical construction using power tools, each camera is carefully handmade to give the finest appearance possible. Only the most experienced craftsmen are assigned to this task.
Chamonix is the first to combine wood and carbon fiber by heat pressing. The resulting composite material is used for the bed and focusing module. This is the key difference between Chamonix view cameras and traditional wood view cameras--the core innovation of the Chamonix design--and embodies the Chamonix principle of light weight and high quality.