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Thread: Looking for a 4x5 Field Camera - Suggestions?

  1. #11

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    Re: Looking for a 4x5 Field Camera - Suggestions?

    Drew is absolutely right, that each of us will tell you what we like the most. I will try to restrict my response to experience: I have owned a Sinar F, a ZoneVI/Wista (which is very similar to your Tachihara), and my current Canham DLC 4x5 (which was my compromise, but is way out of your implied price range).

    The Sinar F was designed to be Sinar's "field camera" (F for Field), but that is in comparison to the Sinar P which was their studio camera. So it's lighter than other Sinars, but heavier than most (all?) wooden folding cameras. Unlike folders, which collapse into a box-shaped package, the Sinar F was designed for you to disconnect the bellows from the front standard, fold the two standards down parallel to the monorail, unscrew any monorail extensions you might have, and end up with a "relatively" compact package looking something like a narrow box on top of a pipe. You could fit it into a small backpack, but loose, not in any sort of protective case (the shape is just too awkward). So the downside was weight, packing shape, and a slightly slower set-up process. In return you had essentially an infinitely flexible, well-made all metal and plastic camera. Throw in a bag bellows, some monorail extension sections, and you could handle virtually any lens, and in fact since it was a "system camera," configure almost any set-up (behind the lens shutter, reflex viewer, etc.) that you could think of.

    The Wista (think your Tachihara) was limited both in wide-angle lens and very long lens capability, didn't have all the movements of the Sinar, nor it's rigidity. But it was about 1/2 the weight, easier to pack, and quicker to set-up. Also, with smaller lens boards, there were lenses within its focal range that wouldn't fit simply because they were too big for the board (think of Petzval lenses), while the Sinar boards are big enough for anything.

    So in comparison, the Tachihara is better suited for landscape work where you have to do some hiking, the Tachihara and the Sinar are equal for portraits, and the Sinar wins out for architecture or close-up work.

    P.S. You could substitute "Cambo" for "Sinar F" in everything above, but the Cambo is even heavier, and as far as I know the accessory range is limited relative to Sinar's.

  2. #12
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Looking for a 4x5 Field Camera - Suggestions?

    Peter - I backpacked with a Sinar F 4x5 for many years, and it was much faster to operate than any wooden folder, because I left it set up in the backpack. All I had to do was put the thing on the tripod and extend the rail standards. I could even leave any lens in place. The big advantage of a Sinar is the extreme range of movements and extension. And it's rugged system with readily available replacement parts. But it is a bit bulky, so I prefer a little Ebony folder for airline travel or
    long backpacking trips. There was once a time when Tachis and little wooden Wistas were popular with backpackers, but they also struck me as a little on the flimsy
    side.

  3. #13
    Giovanni Sinico gsinico's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for a 4x5 Field Camera - Suggestions?

    I suggest
    - Chamonix (whatever model you can bring) best for backpack and extensions of bellow, very light and sturdy.
    - wista field (the wooden one)
    it is similar to tachiara but faster to open and fix.
    You can have a small lens fit on it, such a 135 or 150mm primary lens and close the wista leaving the lens on.
    - arca swiss F, it is a leisure fast to backpack but heavy monorail, better than the sinar F.
    - an Ebony, but it is very expensive if you look for nicer models.

    I've used all of them except for the ebony, and now I bring a Chamonix for outdoor landscape, and the Arca when I need big smooth movments and the car is close to the subject!

  4. #14

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    Re: Looking for a 4x5 Field Camera - Suggestions?

    Drew: I don't think we are disagreeing, merely our experiences are a little different. I also did a lot of hiking with my Sinar F, almost always sticking it in a now-ancient Sierra Designs "guide pack." Partly for compactness, and partly because I simply followed Sinar's instructions, I would fold it up.

    When a friend decided to sell his Z6/Wista, I grabbed it and also used it for quite a while. I got an adaptor board for the Sinar, so I had all my lenses on Wista boards, but could also use them on the Sinar.

    Ultimately I wanted to simplify, and saw the Canham as a good compromise, with the rigidity of an all-metal camera, the ability to handle a pretty wide range of focal lengths, but some of the weight and portability advantages of the folder. I sold the other two to buy the Canham. In retrospect, while I would do the same thing again, I do miss the Sinar. Perhaps we all should just own a bunch of cameras!

  5. #15

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    Re: Looking for a 4x5 Field Camera - Suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Meisburger View Post
    You should just buy another Tachi. Does everything.
    +1 as Tim says

  6. #16
    Maris Rusis's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for a 4x5 Field Camera - Suggestions?

    I now use Tachiharas in the field, both the 8x10 and 4x5 versions, but in the past I had to use monorails (8x10 and 4x5 again) because they were "cheap" and available.

    The secret for me was to practice carrying a monorail on a tripod over one shoulder then the other as fatigue accumulated. This way I could do one set-up at the car and then walk into the forest for a day of shooting with the camera fully deployed. Putting the camera down to relieve the weight meant putting it down on the tripod. The camera was covered by a garbage bag to keep it waterproof so I wouldn't have to disassemble and pack it away even during rain storms.
    Photography:first utterance. Sir John Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society. "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..".

  7. #17

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    Re: Looking for a 4x5 Field Camera - Suggestions?

    I've read quite a few suggestions about Chamonix as well. I myself am also looking for my first LF camera. From my understanding they were around $700 new in the past, but closer to $1,000 new now. I am having trouble finding a second hand version. Any suggestions?

  8. #18
    uphereinmytree's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for a 4x5 Field Camera - Suggestions?

    I now use a deardorff 5x7 with a 4x5 reducing back. It's light weight considering it has enough bellows and strength to handle a 450mm nikkor M and still allow the use of a 75mm lens. I used to have a tachihara and couldn't deal with the front base tilt. I also carry a cambo around sometimes when I'm feeling strong. My poor zone vi (wisner style) is smooth and pretty and better crafted than the deardorff, but sits on the shelf now.

  9. #19

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    Re: Looking for a 4x5 Field Camera - Suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by sceptic View Post
    I've read quite a few suggestions about Chamonix as well. I myself am also looking for my first LF camera. From my understanding they were around $700 new in the past, but closer to $1,000 new now. I am having trouble finding a second hand version. Any suggestions?
    They do come up for sale on occasion. The problem is that they are a newer brand so there are not as many produced yet as some other brands. Also the people who buy Chamonix cameras seem to really like them and hold on to them.

    You could post in the Forum's for sale section that you are looking for one. Maybe someone has one they are willing to part with.

  10. #20
    Photographer
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    Re: Looking for a 4x5 Field Camera - Suggestions?

    Dear Alan, Peter, Drew,

    Many thanks for your kind and insightful replies. I just got a Calumet NX. I believe that it will be an easy transition from the Tachihara - as said by Alan - but it won't be a full-featured as presented by Drew. I found that I have to compromise features for portability and the Calumet got me the best value plus a lot of compatible options out there. In addition, I like the fact that the camera has a rotating back and it seems even compatible with digital backs (I rather shoot in B&W but I have two Calumet stores nearby and I can rent a digital back over the weekend). My next quest is to get the right lens. I am aiming for a 150 f5.6 and a 180 f.56 but as said by Drew, I will need to research better the lenses when it comes to wide angle and telephotos since I might need a different bellows.

    The camera is in a mint quality, which is great given my poor camera restoration skills and I can stop by the local Calumet store and try before buy some lenses (I know that I can do it with any other camera).

    In response to Tim, I might still get a Tachihara down the road, as of now, it seems like they are asking over $1,000 for one (although I am bargaining for one at $500 but it seems like it will sell for more than that) and I have yet to invest in the lenses (I have the rest of the equipment from my previous experience with the Tachihara). I also tried to get ahold of a Shen-Hao and a Zone VI but the former was too costly (again, over $1,000) and I could not win the bidding on the latter.

    I was also interested in a Crown or Speed Graphics but frankly, what I found was a bunch of old cameras that needed restoration. I would rather be taking photographs. Nevertheless, I have a great feeling for a good Crown or Speed Graphics.

    So, thanks for your kind and instructive answers. I have to admit that the posts by Alan and Drew made me decided for a view camera.

    I will post another threads with recommendation on lenses. I have used Schneider lenses but I want an assortment such as :

    .- A regular lens (135mm, 150mm or 180mm)
    .- A wide angle lens (90mm perhaps?)
    .- A long lens (300mm?)
    .- A macro lens (I have yet to see the Nikkor Macro lenses)

    Thanks

    Regards

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