View Full Version : How does one tell if they have a real Toho?

Jeff Rivera
30-Jul-2004, 10:30
I bought a used Toho off of eBay. It's here and looks good but it has no markings what so ever that say it's a Toho and not a Badger knock off. How can I tell? Is there a serial number marking somewhere that is unseen? I'm getting that sinking feeling that I've been had. Please help!

Michael Kadillak
30-Jul-2004, 11:29
Does your acquistion lock down to your satisfaction? Are the bellows light tight? Are the controls adequate and smooth in their operation? Does it make sharp photographs? And lastly, was the price right?

Will its certified manufacturing origin improve your photography?

There is a lesson here IMHO. If you are not familiar enough with the detailed specifications of the camera you are interested in acquiring, you are incurring a transactional risk that will only stress you out and take your mind away from the art and craft of LF photography. I strongly suspect that you got the camera for a great price - Forget about it!

Don Boyd
30-Jul-2004, 12:10
Jeff, my Toho has badging labels on the side of the monorail. The bellows also has a label on the back along with a serial number engraved on a label at the bottom right, underneath the gg. There is also a Toho label on the upper right side of the front of the plate where the lensboard attaches. Except for removing the labels on the monorail in order to put a numeric scale, I couldn't see why someone would remove the labels. And, there would be no reason to remove them in the three places that they are on the bellows section. It would make a difference to me if it was misrepresented as a more expensive Toho.

Jeff Rivera
30-Jul-2004, 14:00

All the labels have been removed. I also can see where a label was afixed to the back of the hood door which is clearly shown on the M2. Does the Toho have something like this on the back?

Michael, you're right, I shouldn't have purchased something I couldn't verify. But to suggest I should keep it and be happy regardless is a little strange.

And the sellar has not gotten back to me.

Michael Kadillak
30-Jul-2004, 15:02
My apoligies Jeff.

All I was making reference to is based upon past experience and keeping the stress level to a minimum. If you are coming to this forum on this subject, clearly the seller is not in communication to answer your questions and you are asking for an experienced third party to ascertain its legitimacy as a Toho. Why someone would remove the name labels is mysterious, but people do strange things. If it looks like a Toho, is light as a Toho, functions like one and all you are missing is a name plate or two you probably have a Toho. That is unless someone tells me that a far inferior manufacturer has infringed upon their manufacturing patent and is producing and selling a clone at 1/2 the price and it is a piece of &#%$ as to the original, I say take the camera out and shoot it and see how it feels and what it produces. If these check out, why not just keep it and learn from it?

I have seen folks stew over dealings at the almighty auction house that for one reason or another have been a less than expected and IMHO it makes them unnecessarily crazy for extended periods of time. In a very objective point of view, it takes a seller and a buyer to put together a deal and when it falls short of expectations both parties can be held equally accountable for contributing for that hollow feeling you have in the pit of your stomach (post auction psychosis - ie. I feel like I got screwed). Only the best of everything to you - Good Shooting!


Leonard Evens
30-Jul-2004, 15:32
As far as I can tell, all the labels on my Toho are removable, including the one with the serial number on it. But it is not clear why anyone would remove all of them, except perhaps for one on the rail in order to afix a scale.

I believe that the sole distributer for Toho and for the Badger Brand M2 is Badger Graphics. You should call them and ask to speak to Jeff. He ought to be able to tell you if there is any way to distinguish the two except for the labels.

If you paid less than the price of an M2, and the unit is in good condition, you probably don't have much to worry about. The M2 hasn't been around very long, so if someone sold you one as a Toho, it can't be very old, and Badger is a pretty reliable source for large format equipment, so the M2 ought to work just fine. If it seems to function properly, then go ahead and enjoy it and don't worry.

You should be aware though that even a real Toho will have some minor glitches. For example, with mine, the front and rear standards are not exactly parallel when in the detent positions. So check your camera out and see if it has any defects. Check here to see if they are to be expected or if it means your camera has a serious defect. Probably the most important thing to check is that the gg and the film plane are within the acceptable tolerances or one another.

Ted Harris
30-Jul-2004, 16:38

If it were me I would get the sellers phone number from ebay and call him if I had your sorts of concerns.

I was curious and went and looked at the auction. It si very difficult to tell anything from the pictures other than that you paid top dollar if it is a Toho and over new retail if it is a Badger. Sure, you can take pictures with it but you should be sure it is a Toho as you have paid almost 70% of the new price which is what a dealer whould charge you used.

Good luck.

Jeff Rivera
30-Jul-2004, 16:55

Yeah, it was top dollar, but a good price for a used Toho which are scarce used (for info, $825 + shipping, including 5 lens boards and a case for the bellows unit. Described as in very good condition which I would agree with). But yes, it needs to be a Toho! The sellar emailed back and says he has paperwork he can forward. So I'll wait and see, but I do feel better now.


Leonard Evens
31-Jul-2004, 03:51
I also checked the ebay auction. I don't see anything there that looks different from my Toho except the total absence of labels. The seller looks like an individual rather than a dealer and has previously sold mainly some darkroom equipment. She has only one negative feedback comment and that concerned shipping. She doesn't look as though she might be misrepresenting the camera. Her comments read like what I might have said were I in the same situation. But I really doubt that Badger would have sold her a camera without a serial number.

The lens boards themselves, if they are M2 boards, cost $25 each, so that would be a $125 value there. (Original Toho boards cost more.) So even if it is an M2, the cost new would have been $975 plus the cost of the case.

Again, I suggest calling Badger Graphics and talking to Jeff. There definitely seems something strange going on. The most relevant issue is whether or not any Toho guarantees, if there normally are any, would follow the camera if it were sold used.

If the camera is in good condition, and the focus test shows the gg image and film plane are within acceptable tolerances, then the worst case scenario is that you've done a bit better on an M2 than you would have had you bought the package from Badger Graphics. Of course, none of us likes being misled, but it may be a reasonable deal anyway. Again, the only important issue may be that of guarantees, if any should be applicable.

Jeff Rivera
31-Jul-2004, 09:31

I talked to Jeff. He said that without the labels it is virtually impossible to tell the Toho from the Badger. I just have to wait and see what the documentation looks like. I'm hoping for the best.

I also think I'm done buying on eBay!

J.L. Kennedy
31-Jul-2004, 13:28
I think it's sort of short-sighted everytime I hear someone say they are never going to use eBay again because of one bad experience. Not to mention we don't even know yet whether this even was a bad experience. eBay has given unprecedented access to stuff that otherwise would have been forgotten in attics and closets everywhere. I would even say that it has contributed to the life of our landfills, although I'm not a hard-core environmentalist. I have purchased many items that I never would have found used in a million years, and thus didn't have to spend the money for new. However, I have always been able to be patient and keep my head when bidding. It's really silly to knock eBay when it has obviously changed our lives in many ways. Large format photographers should know this better than most. Before eBay, how many of us could take our pick of the relatively obscure tools of our craft without an impossible amount of camera store visits or phone calls, or looking at Shutterbug ads that are a month old before the issue hits the newstand or mailbox? Not to mention the fact that one could just as easily get burned in these venues. End of rant! (but it was a good-natured rant!)

Jeff Rivera
31-Jul-2004, 15:09

Please don't misinterpret my post. I think eBay is great for most people. But I must confess I get the worries every time I buy through them. It's my own personality defect I guess. I do agree with your statement. Maybe I need some whisky with each eBay purchase. Sip slowly and tell myself "everything 'll be all right"!

Jim Rice
31-Jul-2004, 17:47
*Knocks on wood* My few Ebay purchases have all been positive experiences. I must admit that I had researched the items reasonably well, and knew what I wanted. My favorite purchase was my beloved 16 1/2" RD Apo Artar in Universal #4 for $420. Not an exceptional deal, but certainly fair, and from a seller with zero feedback. My toes still curl when I look at trannies made with that lens. And whiskey does help, as long as one keeps one's head.