Here is the 20s version of this article : This camera is a fantastic alternative for an experienced large format user who needs a light weight alternative for backpacking. Inexperienced or people new to large format may get frustrated by lack of precision in some movements.
I'll be honest, both Alex and Ben Horne have done a much better job of explaining various functions of the camera. I would urge you to view those videos in case you are looking for an in-depth review and how to use this camera. Ben's recommendation as a good light weight field camera has without a doubt helped the sales.
While the generation I of this camera had some serious issues and I agree to most of them, the second generation is very refined. I used this camera for a portrait session and some architectural shots and here are my impressions.
First session at home.
The Good -
- Rotating back - amazingly clever and simple design and engineering.
- possibility to use roll film back despite the light weight of the camera.
- Weight - under 1 kg this is one of the lightest large format camera (4x5) there is.
- Price - £250. Fantastic for someone to give it a go. I mean you can easily spend more on film and development within a year.
- Functions - no light leaks, good front axis movements.
- Novelty factor hence many people buying it. And so the possiility of more film available. Kudos Maxim and Co.
Not so Good -
- Ground glass is not protected. One must take care while carrying/backpacking
- Variability is the enemy of manufacturing. There are some tolerance and manufacturing variability issues. Mine was replaced free of cost by Maxim. Check the forums - there are still some issues which need addressing. A 6-sigma study will help iron out quite a few them easily and help make the third generation even better. #Intrepidcameraco give a shout if you need help. As of now you are in the same boat as Tesla motors. One can get away with lots of things gone wrong due to novelty factor. (Yes, I'm an engineer by trade and attribute engineering is my specialization).
- When you insert the film holder you need to give it a push. This is may mean moving the camera and potentially focus. For my shoots I had all the time so not a problem. However for landscape photography when light is changing fast this could be a problem. It only happened twice so not a huge deal perhaps and potentially user error on my part.
- Ground glass is good if you have a bright lens and it is a bright day. Anything like f8 and you must invest in a Fresnel lens. There is a good discussion on Intrepid User Group on Facebook.
One must also understand that while the folks at Intrepid are very friendly and passionate about their product this company has grown. That means there will be issues with communication compared to say a year ago. They are also into production stage of their 8x10 and recently moved to a new place. It is great to see the film user base increasing and demand for LF camera going up however Maxim and Co are now very busy - expect delay in your delivery. If you happen to be on the wrong side of the pond this could mean - waiting. For long time.However they are very friendly and often will take care of production variability.
Some more good reviews and information on the internet
Alan Brock contemplating selling his Shen-Hao
Some images made with Intrepid camera recently. Using my favorite Ilford FP4+ film at ISO 100, handheld meter and strobes. It was then scanned using Epson V750 and Vuescan.