View Full Version : Considering purchasing a Calumet Wood Field XM

John Mauser
7-Mar-2005, 11:19
There is a Calumet wood field XM camera in excellent condition for a good price. I'd like to get it but I had a few questions. The bellows have moderate wear but no pinholes. How hard is it to get ahold of bellows for this camera and install them. Are there any other concerns or things I should keep in mind about this camera? I'll be using it for landscape photography. This will be my first large format camera although I have used a Zone VI before. Thanks, John

Edward (Halifax,NS)
7-Mar-2005, 11:26
What is a good price? It is an older Tachihara. The new ones go for about $600-700.

John Mauser
7-Mar-2005, 11:33
$250 with a lens board.

steve simmons
7-Mar-2005, 11:40
If you are new to large format here is some suggested reading

User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone

Large Format Nature Photography by Jack Dykinga

Using the View Camerathat I wrote.

all are books and should be available on Amazon.com

There are several free articles on our web site


Select a camera based on its features.

steve simmons

steve simmons

Gem Singer
7-Mar-2005, 11:45
Hi John,

The Calumet woodfield is an entirely different camera than the Zone VI. I owned/used a Calumet Woodfield in the early 1980's. It was my first wooden flatbed folding field camera. If I remember correctly, it was a re-badged Tachihara. However, I don't remember if it was designated as an XM model. Perhaps the Calumet XM is a different camera. You can check out the specs. for the 4X5 Tachi on the Badger Graphics website. Calumet discontinued their Woodfield cameras a few years ago.

As far as the bellows is concerned, there are several places where you can have a replacement bellows made. It will probably be relatively expensive. The bellows is cemented into place, and unless you know exactly what you are doing, it will not be a simple job to remove it and replace it.

Jon Shiu
7-Mar-2005, 12:04
Calumet XM is same as current Tachihara, so that is a great price.

Steve Hamley
7-Mar-2005, 12:08

$250 is a good price if the bellows is light tight or easily repairable with one of the many things things people repair bellows with. This assumes everything else on the Calumet is mechanically perfect and cosmetically very good.

IMO, you could not buy this camera and replace the bellows for less than a new or used Tachihara. Jim at Midwest recently had demo Tachiharas for $450 or so.


Mark Sawyer
7-Mar-2005, 13:23
I have a little wood field Calumet 4x5 I don't use much any more, but I do like it a lot; small, light, stable, good movements, and cute as can be! The only drawback I ever found was that there are lots of little knobs to tighten/loosen every time you set it up/ut it away.

John Mauser
7-Mar-2005, 13:37
There are no lightleaks, but I was just wondering about repairing the bellows in the future if they did pop up. And since the camera is basically a tachihara, I figured it wouldn't be that hard to find bellows in the future. I would probably only buy one lens for this camera, a 90mm for landscapes. So there wouldn't be a lot of twisting and stretching of the bellows to wear them out quickly. I didn't know there was a lot of difference between the zone VI and the calumet woodfield. I read an article about this camera on this site and it seemed to give it a lot of praise for the price. John

Brian Ellis
8-Mar-2005, 07:12
Calumet Woodfields were Tachiharas with a Calumet decal and $200 added to the price. Anything you read about the Tachihara will be equally applicable to the Calumet. Used Tachiharas in excellent condition seem to sell for about $350-400 so your $250 price is very good if the camera's in good condition.

Tachiharas/Calumet Woodfields are excellent cameras, wel-built but light enough to backpack with ease, adequate movements for most types of photography, a flexible bellows that allows use of lenses as short as 65mm without the need for a bag bellows, and no major disadvantage except maybe the relatively short bellows (13") that necessitates the use of telephoto lenses if you want to use a lens longer than 300mm. There's a detailed review of the Tachihara at my web site, www.ellisgalleries.com.

Tachihara apparently made various changes to the camera over the years because the earliest version weighed about a pound less than the current version. The only obvious difference is the metal finish. The early version had nickel-looing metal while the later version(s) had brass-looking metal. The earlier version (of which I've only handled one) didn't seem to be as sturdy as the later version so if buying used I'd stick with one that has the brass-looking metal.

John Mauser
8-Mar-2005, 07:41
Thanks Brian, your information helped out a lot. The camera I am looking at has the gold colored brass hardware, so I guess it is a newer one. Since I would shoot mostly landscapes, I wouldn't need a lens with a long focal length. I also am glad to hear that it will except very wide lenses without bag bellows! Thanks for the info, John

steve simmons
8-Mar-2005, 08:25
Yes, it is possible to use lenses as short as 65mm with this camera but the bellows are pretty jammed up and not much movement is possible. Of course most 65mm lenses do not allow for much movement anyway

As I stated above before buying a camera I would suggest some/all of the reading I have listed. The key to selecting a camera are the features and the lenses it will accommodate.

steve simmons

Mark Sawyer
8-Mar-2005, 10:21
Well, I can use a 58mm Grandagon on mine, without a bag bellows or recessed board. Nyaah-nyaah!

John- I do a lot of landscapes also, and if I could have just one lens, it would probably be the 90mm you're thinking of. The 90mm Super-Angulon (& its clones) have more coverage, but the 90mm Angulon (& its clones) are so much smaller and lighter (and cheaper) that I prefer them. You can actually turn the lensboard around and fold the Angulon (but not the Super Angulon) lens up in the camera, which is a huge advantage for backpacking.

steve simmons
8-Mar-2005, 18:28
The Angulon lernses are, by today's standards, of a relatively old design and will not compare in results (sharpness, contrast/saturation) to anything made in the last 20 years. I once had a 65mm Angulon that was not sharp at the edges of the image circle and only moderately so in the center. It may be small and light but I still would not use one.

Regarding the 58mm on a Tachihara/Calumet Woodfield XM this is also not a combination I would recommend to anyone. The fact that it can be done does not mean it is convenient. If I really wanted to use a len that wide I ould get a camera more suited to a lens of that focal length.

I wonder how many people really use a 58mm lens for general outdoor work. The more usual set of lenses would be beween 75/90 to maybe 300mm as the extremes at each end. I would consider the 58 to b an extreme wide angle for landscape work, It is more generally used for interior spaces.

Just my thoughts.

steve simmons

John Mauser
8-Mar-2005, 20:54
Well the Camera sold! Once I got over my anger (I'm actually still working on it) I've decided to keep looking for one of these cameras. I really like the fact of being able to use a 75 or 90mm lens on it. Anyone know where I can get ahold of a used tachihara or calumet woodfield camera???? Thanks, John

Gem Singer
9-Mar-2005, 09:09

Don't be disapointed. Calumet woodfields are discontinued cameras. A newer and better camera will surely come along. Midwest Photo Exchange (www.mpex.com) is a direct dealer (importer) for Tachihara cameras. Call, or E-Mail Jim (and only Jim) . He frequently has previously owned or demo. cameras for sale at very reasonable prices.

Mark Sawyer
9-Mar-2005, 18:22

Yes, the 90mm Super Angulon is a more modern lens, and has better resolution, but my little Angulon is sharp to the corners with good contrast. (You'll have to trust me.) Considering the weight/size savings and price difference (usually half the price of the SA or less), I'd still call it a good lens for someone starting into large format on a budget, as John seems to be. (Yes, I know, some people won't settle for less than a new Schneider XL!) But your points are true and should be seriously considered.

I wouldn't bother with a 75mm if I already had a 90; not enough difference. I do like the 58mm, and it does fine on the little Calumet with the standard bellows; very little movement possible, but the coverage is so minimal that I can't use much for movements anyways. (See how well I can rationalize my lens choices?) I do admit I tend towards very wide lenses; I have a 75mm, but use it on an 8x10. To each his own...

BTW, very excited to hear about Paul Caponigro's new work being featured in your 100th issue. Mail mine first and I promise I'll agree with you more in the future. And congratulations!