View Full Version : What starter lens for the Tachihara 45

24-Jul-2009, 06:37

I am looking at getting into large format (4x5). Would like to find out what lens should i get for the Tachihara45.

Hope someone can advice.


Gem Singer
24-Jul-2009, 07:35
The usual answer to this oft asked question--- start with a "normal" focal length lens that was manufactured by one of the major optical companies.

More specifically, a 135,150, or a 180 that was made by either Schneider, Rodenstock,
Nikon, or Fuji.

Later, you can add a 90 wide angle and/or a 210, 240, 300. The Tachihara's bellows length is maxed out at about 300 mm.

The classic three lens set that can easily be handled by a 4X5 Tachi: 90, 150, and 210.

There are recessed lens boards and extension boards for the Tachi that allow the use of slightly longer, or shorter focal lengths.

24-Jul-2009, 07:36
If you are thinking of doing detail photos or relatively close focus work I would get a 180 over a 210. I started my studio commercial work with a Tachihara and a 210 and was forever running out of bellows or working right at the limit of my bellows doing table top stuff. So I got a camera with more bellows.

John Kasaian
24-Jul-2009, 08:03
How much money do you want to spend? What types of photography interest you?
Whose photographs do you admire? John Sexton and Roman Loranc, for example, have used 210mm for most of thier landscape masterpieces, while nearly every architectural photographer around puts a 90mm SA to work.
If you want to learn about all the movements your new tachi can give you, just about any lens with generous 4x5 coverage (generally these will be medium to long focal lengths) will work.
Enjoy and have fun!

Brian Ellis
24-Jul-2009, 08:13
If you don't have a clear preference for one particular type of photography - e.g. portraits, close-ups, etc. - that call for particular types of focal lengths then try to see what your favorite lens is for 35mm and multiply that focal length by 3 or 4. You won't get the same photographs because 35mm and 4x5 have different aspect ratios but you'll be in the general ball park. If you haven't been doing 35mm or have no particular favorite lens in that format then a 135mm, 150mm or 210mm is a good place to start. 150mm is generally considered the "normal" lens for 4x5 (much like a 50mm on a 35mm camera), 210 is long normal, 135mm is wide normal. I'd guess that most LF photographers who use 4x5 cameras have or have had at least one of these three lenses in their bag.

Walter Calahan
24-Jul-2009, 08:58
A good 135 or 150.

Ken Lee
24-Jul-2009, 09:11
If you have made photographs in other formats, what length of lens do you use: Long ? Short ?

Robert Skeoch
24-Jul-2009, 16:22
I would start with a 135 or 150... then add the 210 and 90/75 down the road.

Donald Miller
24-Jul-2009, 16:32
I will recommend something a bit different than a normal 150 or 135 lens. I don't know about others but I find photos taken with normal lenses to be booooring!!!

What I found to be of benefit when I moved into 4X5 over 25 years ago was I paid attention to what lens I used most in my medium format or even 35 mm photography...I found that consistantly I used a short telephoto. So a 210 fit usage on 4X5 better than any of those booorrring normal lenses.

As time has passed my visual tastes have changed (I enjoy both wide and long lenses now) but I have never gotten to the point that I like the pablum of normal lenses.

My advice, if I am to have any, would be to pay attention to what you have used before on the format that you have used before and emulate that type of lens on 4X5 to begin. You might just save yourself the money spent on one of those common lenses.

Donald Miller

Bruce Watson
24-Jul-2009, 16:33
Would like to find out what lens should I get for the Tachihara45?

Like most people here I suggest a "normal" lens. The reason is that it's much easier to learn camera movements with a normal lens.

Once you've seen how tilts and swings look on the ground glass, and gotten a feel for how to use them, you can branch out to longer and shorter lenses. But until then a normal lens makes it much easier to see what the movements actually mean to the image. Remember, the ground glass always tells the truth. No matter what you think should happen, trust your eyes and the ground glass as they will tell you what truly does happen.

Craig Roberts
24-Jul-2009, 17:25
I started with 2 lenses, a 210mm and a 90mm. After using them for a while I added additional focal lengths. Craig

25-Jul-2009, 05:36
Tomorrow I am going on my first field trip with my Tachihara 4 x 5 to the Columbia Gorge in Oregon. The only lens I have is a Nikkor 135mm 6.8.

Ernest Purdum
25-Jul-2009, 10:12
Whille I like the idea of starting with a 203 or 210, most any focal length "normal" or longer will do as long it has enough image circle to let you use your swings and tilts. (Wide angles are a little harder to get used to.)

John Kasaian
25-Jul-2009, 11:54
I agree with Ernest Purdum. The 203mm is one of my favoritest lenses! The Kodak is fairly common while the Wollensak version is more rare (and usually a few bucks cheaper 'cause the Kodak has a "cult" statue of sorts) Either would make an excellent lens for your Tachi.

30-May-2010, 15:06
A couple of points. focal length differences matter much more in 35mm and medium. Large format lenses tend to hover in the near-normal range. 90-300.

Hmmmm. Lenses are not boring, but photographers sometimes make boring pictures.
If you want extreme optics---Large format may be disappointing.

30-May-2010, 16:52
Here’s my short answer for a re-born thread: 135mm

(I’ve never owned or used one, but as a 4x5 Tachi user thinking in retrospect, I now know that’s where I’d start to best serve my so-called “diverse landscape needs.” And for the moment, I’m pretending that you are me.)

...I don't know about others but I find photos taken with normal lenses to be booooring!!!...

...Hmmmm. Lenses are not boring, but photographers sometimes make boring pictures...

I agree with both. O, the conflict.

Before my first LF lens purchase – w/ no LF experience to figure out which single lens would best serve my “diverse landscape needs” – I came upon this AA quote:

“In general, I do not find the normal lens especially desirable, functionally or aesthetically. The angle of view and depth of field characteristics do not seem favorable to me in interpreting space and scale. In my experience, lenses of shorter or longer focal length are usually preferable in an aesthetic sense. I frequently find that the ‘normal’ concepts and performances are not as exciting as those that make an acceptable departure from the expected reality” (from The Camera, chapter 5).

I remember this striking a chord in me. (I thought he sounded like a poet speaking about “normal” words or “normal” syntax.) But let’s keep this story short. I got a 110. Much later, a 240. Funny thing is, my third lens (a 150 g-claron) is more “fun” than the other two lenses combined – but still, my 110 and 240 are the tools that produce the most satisfying compositions for me. And all three take care of 98.6% of my work.

(Now I “need” not a 75/90, nor a 300 – but a 180!)