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View Full Version : What to buy for my first Field camera



esbtse
16-Dec-2007, 01:47
Hi,
Im looking for a field camera 4*5 for landscape photography that can take Teknika lensbord and preferably my old international standard film back and in the future a digital back, or some other film backs. I am using 65mm to 360T/500T mm lenses. There are a lot of Tachihara 4x5 on sale and is there a reason for it? Would you like to recommend some second hand field cameras?
Best Regards,
Thomas Eriksson

IanG
16-Dec-2007, 06:59
Wista or Shen Hoa are fine, both take Linhof boards. Not sure about the YTachihara I think they are probably OK as well but someone else who has used one can advise better.

My Wista is fine with a 65mm SA, and has an international back.

Ian

Walter Calahan
16-Dec-2007, 07:13
Think inexpensive at first to see if you enjoy the process.

Preston
16-Dec-2007, 07:20
Thomas,

I use a Tachihara and like it very much. It is light (a smidge over 3 lbs.) and yet rigidity is good. It is well constructed. Since the camera does not have the capability to exchange bellows, using a 65mm will be possible, but movements will be slim to none, since the standard pleated bellows will be really scrunched. This camera does not have an international back.

A question I have, that relates to your 360/500T, is will this lens focus at infinity given that the Tachi has a bellows extension of about 310mm? The longest lens I use is the 300mm Nikor M. If not, then this camera may not work for you.

When I got my Tachi, I needed a field camera and the price was right. I'm not selling this camera short; it is a good one. When I upgrade I'll likely go with a Wista or an Ebony.

Good luck in your quest!

-PB

Eric Biggerstaff
16-Dec-2007, 07:45
I have used a Tachi for many years and it is an excellent, light weight field camera that can easily handle lenses from 75mm to 300 mm on standard lens boards. The camera is well built and lovely to look at and worth the price. I have not used a Shen-Hao but those who use them, like them very much as well.

I switched from my Tachi to a Zone VI as I wanted a longer bellows, but I find myself using the Tachi more and more again as it is light weight and straightforward to use.

As Preston noted, I think the 65mm will be a tight squeeze but you should be able to work with it as long as you don't require a lot (any) movements. Also, I am not sure the 500T would work.

The good thing is, if you buy one and it doesn't fit your needs then chances are you can re-sell it for what you paid (or close to it).

Gene McCluney
16-Dec-2007, 08:00
Thomas,


A question I have, that relates to your 360/500T, is will this lens focus at infinity given that the Tachi has a bellows extension of about 310mm? The longest lens I use is the 300mm Nikor M. If not, then this camera may not work for you.



-PB

These focal lengths in "telephoto" formulas focus infinity with less bellows draw than a standard 300mm lens. They are designed to be used on field cameras with limited bellows draw.

IanG
16-Dec-2007, 08:03
Don't worry too much about the tight squeeze hampering movements the 65mm's only just covers 5x4 anyway.

Ian

BarryS
16-Dec-2007, 08:32
The Chamonix 45N-1 is a very new camera with limited availability for now, but it looks like a great value for $700. A number of us have them on order and from what I understand, there may be some extra cameras available from this production run. You can find a few posts from people that already have one and they seem pretty happy. It seems like a very light and rigid camera. I was considering the Shen Hao, but I wanted something lighter and still reasonably priced, so I'm taking a bit of chance with a new camera. It does take Technika lens boards and the bellows is interchangeable, although accessories will not be available until next year.

Alan Davenport
16-Dec-2007, 08:46
I use a Tachihara (well, to be entirely honest, I use a Calumet Wood Field XM. AKA, a Tachihara.)

Whichever name plate, it's light and sturdy. It might be a bit too pretty, but you learn to live with the oohs and ahhs. With a 90mm Super Angulon, it allows plenty of movements although the bellows is starting to feel compressed. I also have a 10 inch f/4.5 lens in a #4 shutter -- pretty heavy -- which the Tachi handles with aplomb.

Obviously I like the camera. If I were planning to use wider lenses than 90mm, I'd consider the Shen Hao, which has interchangeable bellows (bag bellows option.)

Bill_1856
16-Dec-2007, 09:36
What are you currently using all those powerhouse lenses on, and why do you need something different? If there's a problem, just get a Technika (new or used) and be done with it?

Preston
16-Dec-2007, 10:46
This is a tad off the topic, but Gene wrote, "These focal lengths in "telephoto" formulas focus infinity with less bellows draw than a standard 300mm lens. They are designed to be used on field cameras with limited bellows draw."

Gene: This piece I know about. My question is, will the bellows draw on the Tachihara be enough to use the 360T/500T as I considered getting one if I can find one? Thanks, I appreciate your help.

-PB

Brian Ellis
16-Dec-2007, 11:24
You see a lot of Tachiharas for sale because they've been a popular camera in the U.S. for at least 25 years so there's a lot of them around. For most of that time they were the clear best choice for someone who wanted an inexpensive, light, compact, well-made field camera that would accept lenses from 65mm (without a bag bellows) to 300mm normal (with some limit on close focusing distance) or 400mm (maybe a little longer) telephoto. Tachiharas don't have an international back, they have a spring back that allows use of Calumet roll film holders and Polaroid, Readyload, Graflex, and Quickload holders.

Then Shen Hao came along about 5 years ago as competition for Tachihara in that category of LF camera. Shen Haos weigh about 2 pounds more than the Tachihara (6 lbs vs 4 lbs), allow/require use of a bag bellows (a bag bellows being a plus or a minus depending on how short a lens someone uses and what movements they need), have a 12" bellows (an inch shorter than the Tachihara) but with workarounds that will allow the use of a 300mm normal lens, and have an international back. The Shen Hao also has more movements than the Tachihara (mainly rear shift IIRC) which is important to some, unimportant to others. Both the Shen Hao and the Tachihara should allow you to use your 360mm telephoto lens but probably not 500mm (I used a 400 mm telephoto on my Tachihara).

In the last few months a third camera, the Chamonix, has become available on the U.S. market as competition for the Tachihara, Shen Hao, and other similar cameras (e.g. Wista). Based only on specs and pictures it looks like the best of both worlds - bellows several inches longer than the Tachihara (so that normal lenses longer than 300mm can be used) and much longer than the Shen Hao, ability to use a 65mm lens without a bag bellows like the Tachihara, weight about the same as the Tachihara, same movements as the Tachihara but with shift added like the Shen Hao (though at a different place I think), accepts an international back, price almost the same as the Tachihara and Shen Hao (about $100 plus shipping more).

I'm unclear about the Chamonix bag bellows situation. I didn't think it would accept a bag bellows but Barry above says it will. My longest lens is 100mm so it wasn't important to me and I didn't check carefully. While lengthy delivery times - months - have been the case so far, I expect to have the Chamonix I ordered within about a week from my order date. I assume that's because of left overs from the current production run, I don't know how long they'll be able to deliver that quickly. If you're interested in the Chamonix contact Hugo Zhang, hugo z _ 2000 at yahoo dot com. You can see pictures at Jack Flesher's web site.

Obviously you're unlikely to find a used Chamonix at this point. While you can find many used Tachiharas and probably Shen Haos, I'd question the wisdom of buying either of these cameas used, especially on ebay. When I've seen final prices for them on ebay they've been within a few dollars - like $50 or even less - of the latest new price I've seen ($595 at Midwest Photo Exchange for the Tachihara and I think the same for Shen Hao). To me $50 or so isn't worth the possible downsides of buying used, especially on ebay.

I don't mean to suggest that these three cameas are your only choices, there are many other cameras that you could buy for the same price or less than these three. These are just the three relatively inexpensive cameras with which I have personal experience and that would seem to suit you well.

Jordan
16-Dec-2007, 14:40
While others have told you to buy "cheap" at first to see if you like it, I will recommend that you spend a little more as it is often true that you get what you pay for. I am not saying that there aren't inexpensive field cameras out there that are of plenty acceptable quality. Just don't buy based on price. Toyo ax and axII are excellent field cameras and those Chamonix cameras look really damn awesome as well!!!!!!!!!!!

Hollis
16-Dec-2007, 15:46
I have a wista 45sp for sale. You can interchangeable bag bellows and telephoto bellows for it as well (with the bed extension). Its a great camera but I am moving in a different direction.

BarryS
16-Dec-2007, 21:10
I'm not 100%, but I read a forum post that indicated the Chamonix bellows is interchangeable. Of course, there aren't any accessories for the 45N-1 at this point, so I wouldn't count on a bag bellows soon unless you're constructing it yourself or ordering one. I plan to get one if they're offered.

Matus Kalisky
17-Dec-2007, 00:41
Hi, I am using Tachi for more than a year and it is reallynice field camera. I have just bought 75mm lens and while usable on flat lens board - the belows are quite compressed so not full movements are possible. If you want to shoot with wide angle (65 & 75) lenses I would get camera that allows bag bellows.

Concerning the 369/500 T - the 500 will not work. I think it would need more than 320mm of bellows and it would be stretching too far concerning the camera stability. I use Osaka 400/6 tele lens that weights ca 0.5 kg - i think that it is the lightest tele lens in this focal length. While the stability is OK when focused to infinity (cca 200mm bellows draw) - once focused closer the whole setup becomes very vibration prone. The 360T weights 0.8 kg so it would be at the limit of the camera in the real world conditions (slight breeze).

If you are serious about using such a long/heavy lenses with 4x5 a lot - consider some "stronger" camera. The tachi does best what it is built for - lightweight field camera for lightweight lenses 75 - 300 on flat board with movements that are more than enough for field work.

Salty
17-Dec-2007, 17:07
You asked nearly the same question last July 30th

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=27674

esbtse
18-Dec-2007, 12:54
Thomas,

A question I have, that relates to your 360/500T, is will this lens focus at infinity given that the Tachi has a bellows extension of about 310mm? The longest lens I use is the 300mm Nikor M. If not, then this camera may not work for you.

-PB
I have a 360T and it focus on 240 mm at infinity. You can switch the back lense and then you got a 500 mm lense. I have not find this adapter omn Ebay yet but I ceep locking. I think you can use 500T at infinity on the Tachi.

esbtse
18-Dec-2007, 13:00
I don't mean to suggest that these three cameas are your only choices, there are many other cameras that you could buy for the same price or less than these three. These are just the three relatively inexpensive cameras with which I have personal experience and that would seem to suit you well.

Thank You. I need to think more about this
Regards,
Thomas

David Karp
18-Dec-2007, 13:07
Call Jim Andracki at Midwest Photo Exchange (mpex.com). He will take the time to talk to you directly about what you want to do with your camera, what will meet those needs, and what will fit your budget. He is honest and straightforward. Highly regarded and oft recommended.

esbtse
18-Dec-2007, 13:17
What are you currently using all those powerhouse lenses on, and why do you need something different? If there's a problem, just get a Technika (new or used) and be done with it?

Im using a View camera Horseman LX.
I have the standard lenses 90, 120, 240, 360T and I looking for a 65 mm to use with a roll film back and the rear lens adapter for the 360T to expand it to a 500T lens.

I like to reuse as much as possible of my equipment and that includes Teknica lensbord and international roll film backs. I need to spend my money on photo work shops and not on hardware.

David Luttmann
18-Dec-2007, 13:18
I'll second the vote for the Shen Hao. I was surprised by the decent build quality. After using a Linhof monorail for a while, I decided that a field camera was definitely for me. Still have that Linhof sitting around though......

lenser
18-Dec-2007, 22:06
I've been using a Zone VI for about 15 years for both professional (architecture) and personal field work. The bag bellows allows for using the 47mm XL (although you've got to watch that the bed doesn't intrude in the image) and the standard bellows is long enough for the longest (300mm) lens that I have used with it. There is plenty of bellows left over for close focusing, so I assume that much longer lenses will work at and near the infinity range.

I don't know about the light weight version as mine is the older "full strength" model, but I've put mine though the mill with no problems whatever.

esbtse
19-Dec-2007, 14:12
I have a wista 45sp for sale. You can interchangeable bag bellows and telephoto bellows for it as well (with the bed extension). Its a great camera but I am moving in a different direction.

HI,
I think that the Wista that take an International backs is 45DX III Field Camera
So Im more intrested in that camera.
Regards,
Thomas

esbtse
19-Dec-2007, 14:15
I'll second the vote for the Shen Hao. I was surprised by the decent build quality. After using a Linhof monorail for a while, I decided that a field camera was definitely for me. Still have that Linhof sitting around though......

I think the Shen Hao is limited to medium lenth lenses, therfore Im not so intrested in bying that camera.

esbtse
19-Dec-2007, 14:19
While others have told you to buy "cheap" at first to see if you like it, I will recommend that you spend a little more as it is often true that you get what you pay for. I am not saying that there aren't inexpensive field cameras out there that are of plenty acceptable quality. Just don't buy based on price. Toyo ax and axII are excellent field cameras and those Chamonix cameras look really damn awesome as well!!!!!!!!!!!

Is the Toyo metal camera?
I will check the Chamonix

esbtse
19-Dec-2007, 14:21
I've been using a Zone VI for about 15 years for both professional (architecture) and personal field work. The bag bellows allows for using the 47mm XL (although you've got to watch that the bed doesn't intrude in the image) and the standard bellows is long enough for the longest (300mm) lens that I have used with it. There is plenty of bellows left over for close focusing, so I assume that much longer lenses will work at and near the infinity range.

I don't know about the light weight version as mine is the older "full strength" model, but I've put mine though the mill with no problems whatever.

No one recomend ebony? is it a bad choise?

uniB
19-Dec-2007, 16:44
No one recomend ebony? is it a bad choise?

The Ebony is a great choice but to get one that will allow you to use the lenses you want is getting into a much bigger budget, an RW45 maybe but that's over 3 times the price of a Shen Hao, Wista, Chamonix etc.

A Chamonix would be ideal probably, but I believe they've sold out of the first batch so you'd be waiting until June