by Q.-Tuan Luong for
the Large Format Page
This camera seems to be available under several names, two of them
being Osaka (distributed by Brownwell)
and Calumet wood field XM. It is one of the cheapest fields at less
than $700 (from Adorama in NYC, or Midwest Photo Exchange).
Note that the Brownwell and Calumet
versions are more expensive than the one distributed by Adorama.
The only cheaper field cameras are the
old classic cameras and the Graphics, which
are significantly heavier, clumsier, and have much less movements, therefore,
I would tend to say that it is the cheapest reasonnable field camera.
The design of this camera is quite classical for a double extension field
camera. The only geared control is the front focus. There are scales for
focus and shift (that I find of limited utility). When the front standard
is used in its rail, all the locks are independant. The lensboards are
compatible with Technika's and therefore easy to find new or used, and quite
small. Since you don't need the precise fit of the Linhof boards, you
can get cheap third party boards.
For a photograph of this camera, see figure 4-6 in Ansel Adams book
"The Camera", or check the (highly recommended) book of Steve Simmons
"Using the view camera". It is the wooden field 4x5 of which many
pictures are shown.
Globally, I have found the Tachihara 4x5 to be a very capable
small/lightweight camera and had very little complaints about it.
It is also an excellent value.
I sold it only to move to a better 5x7 camera.
As pointed out to by Barry Sherman, the photographer
one of the best,
albeit, unfortunately, not best known, large
format pictorial (landscape and architectural, primarily)
photographers on the planet, used his Tachihara for years,
including for architectural
If you are going to buy a used camera, note the following warning by
Mike Long (email@example.com):
"there are a couple of important things to
watch for. When I got mine a year and a half ago, I didn't have a clue
which end to look into. So, I didn't know enough to check rigidity of
the front and back standards (and also positioning of the bright
screen - but that's not the camera's problem). As a result, when
inserting a film holder, the back would pull backwards and settle in a
different position than when I focused. Since the film plane
positioning is so important, I got lots of slightly soft chromes &
negatives. I put a pair of vice grips on the "C" clamp for
the back and squeezed it together. This made is a little more
difficult to move the back standard but strengthened it
considerable. You can go to far with this and I can''t
envision a cure if you do. So, be careful.
I would check the back rigidity to ensure it is solid when buying
Also, my front standard is now getting a little sloppy and this is
from a thin metal piece that the front standard hardware is riveted
to. I cannot sink a screw in it as it would affect extension. I
tried super glueing that
piece of metal down,
but this did not work. A less permanent and more
reliable fix was to replace all the metal washers on all the
tightening knobs with nylon. I wish I could claim full credit
for this but I read a review of the Wisner where the author said
the nylon washers on the Wisner were not keeping with the overall
beauty of the camera. But, you can tighten nylon washers tighter
and still loosen them easily. This worked very well and the
camera was solid when I finished.
Other than this necessary pre--purchase check or the requisite
if it is a problem, I have no complaints."
The Tachihara as a 4x5 camera:
- The camera is very light, at about 3.8 lbs. The earlier version
was even lighter at 3.3 lbs. The newer version has brass hardware
and a sliding back standard, which is useful for wide angles and
the 5x7 extension. I folds extremely compactly.
- It looks beautiful (like most wood fields) with red cherry wood
and classical brass hardware.
- There is a 5x7 extension (more on it latter).
- There is a bellows extension (but I have not bought it, so no comments).
Due to short and very flexible bellows, it makes a great camera for
I use a 58mm without need for a recessed lensboard, and I can still make some
movements, which are back tilt and swing. The fact that the camera prevents me from
doing other movements with this lens is not a drawback for me, since the lens that
I use (a Rodenstock Grandagon) just covers 4x5. With a 90, you can do all the direct front rise/fall available,
which is a total of 7cm. With a 75, because of bellows compression,
you can rise or fall of about 2cm each way.
- The design is reasonably good.
The amount of movements is very
adequate (tilts of about 30 degrees, swings of 20 degrees, rise/fall of 7cm)
in particular, by using a combination of
tilts and shifts, I can reach the coverage limit of the Super Angulon 120mm.
- The ground glass is quite good (better for example than the one
which comes with the much more expensive Canham): it is a plastic
ground/fresnel piece protected by a thin sheet of glass, and is pretty bright.
- The camera is not very rigid. If it is windy, it's easier to get
sharp pictures with my current Canham, for instance.
- The front standard: the knobs are too small, and it is a pain to set
them tight enough, particularly when the front standard is used out of its
rail (needed to focus at infinity for the 58mm, or the 120mm with the 5x7 back)
- There is only a double bellows extension (about 33cm), so the longest
lenses which can be used are about 300mm. The bellows are just enough to
focus a 300m lens at infinity. I believe that one could do better
with the older model. One could use a backwards axis tilt of the lens combined
a forward base tilt to gain the distance needed. The newer model unfortunately
allow only for a forward axis tilt of the lens so this is not an option.
The 4x5 Tachihara as a 5x7 camera:
For $300 you can purchase an extension back
which replaces the 4x5 back. This back looks like a wooden cone with a 5x7
spring back, weights 1.4 lbs and is rather bulky (more than the camera itself).
Wista also makes these adaptors specifically for the backs of their DX and SP
(a different model for each).
This equipment is the lightest way to get into 5x7, and one of the
cheapest, apart from using B&J and so on. A B&J costs about the same price
than the 5x7 back. It weights two times more. The Kodak and Corona camera
don't have full movements, as well as some Deardorffs. The Wisner and Caham
are nice but cost $2500.
This 5x7 combination is lighter than
most 4x5 cameras, including the Zone VI and the Wisner. You have also a good
multi-format ability (an important thing for me, since I did not know first
which format I would prefer). The switch between the 4x5 and 5x7 is
almost as fast as switching between horizontal and vertical (not taking into
account the readjustments). You just change the back.
- Minus: The big drawback is that the internal geometry of the camera
remains 4x5, thus there is a lot of limitations on the movements and long
lenses that can be used.
The limitations listed are not too bad for wide angle landscape photography.
- When using short lenses (eg 120), the lens
has to be in the camera. Therefore, there is no possibility of shifts, plus
you have to use an awkward front standard configuration, plus the tilts are
limited to the back. Lenses shorter than 120mm can't be focused at
infinity due to the box+body+bellows+front standard not compressing
to the flange focal length.
- When using longer lenses, ther problem is that
since the extension is a cone joining the 5x7 back to a 5x5 square, to avoid
vignetting by the internal elements of the camera, the lens has to lie inside
the cone. This is not a problem for the large border , but definitely one for
the small one. It means: no extension longer than 260mm. In particular you
cannot even use a normal 300m with the 5x7 back (but a 360 telephoto works).
A 300mm on the 5x7 is the equivalent of a 60mm for a 35mm camera, thus this is
With tilts, you have to be quite careful to avoid vignetting.
I have found that with the 120mm (horizontal and moderate vertical) it is OK,
but with the 210mm I cannot get enough vertical tilt in vertical format.
Shifts are also extremely problematic.
Besides the 4x5, there is a 5x7, and two models of 8x10 (double and
triple extension). The 8x10 double is also good value.
Folded closed size including knobs: W 8 1/4"
x L 7 3/4" x H 3 6/8"
Extension : Minimum: 7.5cm
Tilt: F= 30 degree forward and 30 degree
R= 40 degree forward
and 30 degree backwards
Swing: F=17 degree R=23 degree
Folded closed size including knobs: W 11 1/2"
x L 9 3/4" x 5"
Extension: Minimum: 4 1/2"/10cm
Tilt: F= 40 / 40 R= 40/30
Swing: F= 17 R= 23
Folded closed size including knobs: W 13 3/4"
x L 12" x H 5 1/4"
Extension: Minimum: 6"
Tilt: F= 40 /30 R= 30 / 40
Swing: F= 17 R= 17
Folded closed size including knobs: W 13 3/4"
x L 12" x H 5 1/4"
Extension: Minimum: 6"/13.5cm
Tilt: F= 40 / 30 degree R= 30 / 40
Swing: F= 17 R= 17
Tachihara Manual (PDF) scanned by Rich Long
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