View Full Version : Visit to the Camera Store

5-Jan-2009, 10:15
I dropped by Photomark cameras in Phoenix the other day...just to poke around and see about making contact with Rod Klukas, who offers a large format class locally.
I met Rod. He was enthused and helpful. He took the time to set up an Arca Swiss for me and let me fondle it a bit. Looks to be a wonderful camera, but likely forever out of my financial reach.
While I was there, I also handled a Tachihara field camera. I liked the light/small aspect of the Tachihara, but I was a bit intimidated by the feel of it. There seemed to be a great deal of play in it. Once locked down, I guess everything was fine, I'm just worried I'd never get it all zero'd out and locked in place.

Now, this is my complete NOOB perspective and that was the first and only field camera I've ever touched. So, you'll forgive me if I'm completely out of place here.

What impressed me about the difference between the 2 cameras is that the Arca Swiss felt like you would just mount it and everything was in its right place. The Tachihara made me worry that it would take a long time to be certain of it before I was able to take a shot.

Of course, there is a huge price difference between those cameras.

Joseph O'Neil
5-Jan-2009, 11:05
It's a balance between what you want and what you need, IMO. love my Tachihara, especially for it's light weight. yes, the drawback is for some big, heavy lens it's not suitable, but my other field camera, which is very robust, feels like a million pounds after walking with it for an hour.

How are you going to use your camera? For what it's worth, despite some drawbacks, my tachihara is my favourite 4x5


5-Jan-2009, 11:11
I was in the same place not too long ago. The big difference was that I bought a camera, wagged it home and then said to myself, "Self, what have you done?"

The good folks here helped a lot. Today I wonder why I was so perplexed at first. Here's the rest of the story...


Good luck!

5-Jan-2009, 11:19
It wasn't really a matter of shopping for me.
I've got my Crown Graphic on the way as the only affordable solution in the short term.

Just relating my first impressions.

Gem Singer
5-Jan-2009, 11:20
Good move, talking to Rod. He's very knowledgeable. Sounds like you are a "metal camera guy".

Most wooden cameras feel the way you described, when you first begin to use them.

However, after a while, you will find that, when locked down, they become very solid.

There is a beautiful metal Linhof outfit listed for sale on this forum today by a person in Casa Grande. If you cannot afford that outfit, give up on the idea of LF photography. It is out of your price range.

5-Jan-2009, 11:22
It wasn't really a matter of shopping for me.
I've got my Crown Graphic on the way as the only affordable solution in the short term.

Just relating my first impressions.

I knew that. Just pointing out that I had similar first impressions. They go away. Replaced by a big grin. I also bought a Speed Graphic first. I'm keeping it too.

5-Jan-2009, 11:25
I knew that. Just pointing out that I had similar first impressions. They go away. Replaced by a big grin. I also bought a Speed Graphic first. I'm keeping it too.

I read the thread you linked...you expressed my concerns very well.
I suppose you get used to setting the things up, it's just a whole new world for me.

Kirk Gittings
5-Jan-2009, 11:51
I used a Tachihara for many years both for commercial photography and my landscape work. With a little practice it sets up very quickly.

Bjorn Nilsson
5-Jan-2009, 11:53
Ehh, I kind of feel like repeating myself here, but for whoever who puts the question, I recommend the Sinar F (F1, F2 whatever you can afford). I'm pretty sure that there are "complete" cameras, with a couple of lenses, film holders etc. to be found at a very nice price for anyone who have the patience you seem to have. Something in the line of a camera, extra rail, bag bellows, a Super Angulon 90mm, a Symmar 150mm, some 10 filmholders etc. for around $1200 or so. Not new, rather +20 years old, but still fit for another 20-30 years of faithful service.
Now, why the Sinar F? Well, they are plentyful, so finding a nice one at a good price shouldn't be too hard. Lots of accessories around, as Sinar was among the studio photographers first choices. They are very easy to operate and have a few extra gadgets which helps you to learn and use swings and tilts as well as an DoF scale. Of course there are other cameras which have some similar features, but as a "complete" first camera, I cannot think of anything better than the Sinar F line.
I'm using a Sinar F2 outdoors, while it gets rebuilt into a Sinar C when indoors or when I want to shoot 5x7". (A Sinar C uses the same rail with the F front and a P back. It's very easy to change formats with the P back.)


5-Jan-2009, 11:56
My first LF camera was a used Linhof which is heavy, heavy, heavy but mechanically superb.

Now I use a Tachihara which I love due to its weight. I also love the wood esthetics - it is warm and inviting. I can carry it, 3 lenses and a backup digital outfit with no problems for quite a bit longer without as much fatigue when doing landscapes.


Frank Petronio
5-Jan-2009, 12:37
If you bought that Linhof monorail and three lens outfit currently listed for $700, you could buy a second ultra-light camera for back-packing and still come out cheaper than half an Arca-Swiss. It would be hard to beat the Linhof in a studio or close to the car situation, and the the ultra-light could be almost half the weight of the Arca.

Adapter lensboards are a wonderful thing.

Steve Hamley
5-Jan-2009, 13:12
Frank's got a point. Older rails go for peanuts these days, and some are surprisingly light for the features they have. The Linhof rail set is a bargain.

As a compromise between the Tachihara and the Arca, you might consider an Ebony RW45. More than the Tachihara, less than the Arca, capabilities in between (but more similar to the Tachi), and the build quality is excellent.



Brian Ellis
5-Jan-2009, 14:10
I've owned two Tachiharas. They're very easy and fast to set up even without a lot of experience. I've never owned a Sinar so I can't speak from experience but just from looking at them they appeared to me to be considerably more complex than a Tachihara from a set-up standpoint.

Frank Petronio
5-Jan-2009, 15:04
Nah Sinars are practically ready to shoot once you put them on the tripod... one of the simplest ever. And, like most other monorails, you can easily check that everything is parallel and zeroed far easier than most wooden contraptions.

Sometimes for travel you might disassemble a Sinar to make it a bit more compact but the way most people use them they just get their bellows compressed tight and both standards shifted onto a short rail. The rails just screw on with ease. Five second operation.

Bjorn Nilsson
5-Jan-2009, 16:17
I'm not saying that you should jump on this, rather see this as an example of a nice package deal (which probably will sell soon though).


Maris Rusis
5-Jan-2009, 17:46
I sold a Linhof Technika V and a Plaubel monorail to buy a Tachihara and some lenses. The deciding factor was photographic productivity.

The Linhof was too heavy to carry to the top of all the mountains I wanted to climb and the Plaubel was too bulky. In the equation "photographs achieved for effort expended" the Tachihara was simply too good.

Sure, the Tachihara had more flex than the other cameras but I found that it did not matter. Even the mechanical ideals such as zero-able detents, parallel standards, calibrated scales, and geared movements turned out to be irrelevant for shooting in the field.

The only thing that counts is the image on the ground glass. If that is right then everything is right and it does not matter how it got there. Well, actually there is one more thing. Absolute camera rigidity isn't needed. Inserting a film holder into a wooden camera bends and twists it slightly but this is of no account if the camera then settles back exactly to where it was when the ground glass image was set up.

My Tachihara has never failed to do this even once since I bought it in 1992.

6-Jan-2009, 07:47
That does look like a great deal...I just don't have the funds.

I hope to get my hands on a number of options over the next year or so. Off the top of my head, I think I would value quick set up over weight savings. I ain't young anymore, but I can still hike up and down hills for the better part of a day without a couple of pounds being the deciding factor.

Matus Kalisky
6-Jan-2009, 08:47
I am using the Tachi 4x5 for about 2 years and can not really complain about the setting-up procedure. To get movements zeroed one has to be a bit more careful. It does the job for landscape photography very well as long as you do not want to use some extremely wide or long lenses. I would not recommend too heavy lenses longer than 210mm (like 240/5.6 or so) as the camera looses on the stability over the last few centimeters of the extension. The light 300/9 lenses like Nikkor M or Fujinon C work reportedly very well on the Tachi.

I recently started to use a 75/4.5 lens and have probably reached the limits of the Tachi on the side of movements (what makes me thinking of another 4x5 camera). The bellows are rather compressed and allow only a very modest movements (front rise being on my mind). For some reason my Tachi allows much more front fall than front rise.

Kirk, how did you use the wide lenses on the Tachi? You mentioned you used it for architecture for a long time ...

Gem Singer
6-Jan-2009, 08:54

I'm not Kirk, but I can tell you from experience, use a recessed lens board when using a 75 on a Tachi, and your problem will be solved.

Kirk Gittings
6-Jan-2009, 10:02
Matus, yes my usual lens was a 90MM, which as "not Kirk" mentioned I used on a recessed board. Once broken in the Tachi bellows is incredibly flexible so I could get full movements with a 90. For many years this was my only VC and I used it for all my commercial and landscape work.

David Karp
6-Jan-2009, 12:56
I think that Ray McSavaney also used a Tachi. I think Anne Larsen also uses (used) one. If we were the types to buy a camera just because of the photos taken with them, then after finding out these people used a Tachi, we would all buy one. :)

6-Jan-2009, 13:41
I'll jump on the 4x5 Tachi bandwagon. I've had mine for 10 years now. It's a heck of a little camera. It literally doesn't break your back when you sling a pack on. It's real easy to use IMO, although you're limited to about a 250mm lens on the bellows that come with it. The Tachi will take a 90mm, but don't expect a huge amount of movement. I say go for it. :)