View Full Version : Camera and lens to begin?

Richard S. Ross
16-Sep-1998, 20:44
As not quite revealed in my previous question about the Toyo-view 45CX, I am get ting myself ready (read collect enough cash) to dive in to LF. I will do landscape and field macro work primarily and want a set up that is backpackable, hence body < 5 lbs say.

I planned to start with a 150/5.6 and add a 90/8 and something like a 240/9 later. I also thought the Tachihara would be the perfect camera to begin with. They can be had for ~$500 new from Badger Graphics, at least as of last month.

My question is : given the already significant outlay of cash for the above starter setup, would it not be wiser, given the cash, to spring for a better camera that I would not grow out of? I will be learning LF technique from scratch here, and while I expect to enjoy it fully, one never knows. Is the Tachihara a better camera to learn on than say a Canham DLC or Wisner Expedition, both of which satisfy a backpacking weight requirement. Wh at else is worth considering?

Thanks for any input,


Rob Rothman
16-Sep-1998, 21:45
Although I've never used a Tachihara, I've heard good things about it, and a num ber of landscape photographers find it's all they ever need. My sense is that t he mian thing you might get from some other choices which you wouldn't get with the Tachihara is a longer bellows. Whether or not this is likely to be importan t to you depends on your style of working. If you use a 150mm as your "normal" lens, I believe that you can get down to 1:1 with the Tachihara's bellows, so yo u may not need anything longer.

Just as an aside, when I first started in LF I knew that my style of working was more suited to slightly longer "normal" lens, so I settled on a 210mm. Because I like to do moderate (and sometimes more than moderate) closeups, a long bello ws was my priority. Not wanting to spring for an expensive model before testing the waters, I bought an Iston. I soon outgrew it (due to very limited movement s) and bought a Zone VI. While, with hindsight, it might have been a better cho ice to go for a better camera right off the bat, I don't regret my decision.

In any event, I don't think you'll outgrow the Tachihara's movements for the typ e of work you're talking about, so if the bellows meets your needs, you might we ll go for it and not find a need to upgrade.

Good luck and welcome to the large format world.


Mike Long
17-Sep-1998, 01:04
I have owned a Tachihara and I agree with your decision on buying one and the pr evious post. It works very nicely with the lenses you're planning on. As an asid e, I use a 90/150/250 combination with my AX and it covers most of my needs. The re is occasionally the need for something longer in the areas I visit.

I do recommend buying new unless you really know what to look for. You want a st urdy camera and a well used Tachihara might begin to get a bit sloppy. There are ways to fix most of that but I doubt you want to get into those modifications w hen you're just starting out.

It also has a very good resale value in comparison to the initial price but, OTO H, most LF cameras seem to hold their own.


Michael Wellman
17-Sep-1998, 01:25
The big differnece between a Tachihara and a Wisner (besides the price) are the functions of the camera. The Wisner will offer you more movements and longer be llows draw, interchangeable bellows, and arguabley better quality. Wether these functions are important to you is a question you have to decide. For me, they were important and thats one reason why I got a Wisner. If money is a issue the n you ought to get the Tachihara and start taking pictures. Lets not loose sig ht of what the real goal is--taking pictures. It's kind of frustrating not to b e able to shoot because you don't have the money yet. After you start shooting LF and get a feel for it and what you like to do you might decide that you need something else. At least you will have some experience to make a decision.

As for your choice of lenses, I have never cared for the "normal lens". For me a 210 (or 240) and a 90 are the perfect set. But, you have to decide whats righ t for you. So, if your shooting a lot of 35mm with a normal lens then a 150 wil l be good. Also, you might want to check the minium focus on the Tachihara to m ake sure the 90mm will work. Welcome to the wonderful world of LF. You will en joy it. Good luck.

Ellis Vener
17-Sep-1998, 04:36
Hi Richard,

This one of those questions to which their is no absolute answer. You should try playing with the cameras you are considering and seeing what feels best in your hands. All these cameras have distinct personalities and it is my experience th at the one that feels and works best in your hands may differ from what feels/wo rks best in mine. Having said that my choice given your parameters would be the Canham DLC, but generally it is a better priority to put your money into your gl ass first.

Alan Gibson
17-Sep-1998, 08:39
Just to put another spin on the question, in slight opposition to a previous ans wer, I *would* consider buying second-hand. You won't know what you really want until you start doing it, so your first camera won't give you exactly what you w ant, whether it is new or second-hand. A used camera doesn't need as much cash, and you won't lose so much if/when you sell it. You can use any lenses on your s econd camera, of course.

Ron Shaw
17-Sep-1998, 12:56
I recommend used, also. Most LF cameras are really quite simple, and any problem s can usually be solved very easily, if you have even basic handyman skills. Use d lenses save a lot also.

Mike Long
17-Sep-1998, 17:57
In case I wasn't clear, the recommendation to buy new was for the Tachihara. Mos t of my stuff is used as well but it is equipment reputed to hold up well over t ime. You might even find a good used Tachihara but I had to perform some modific ations to get mine to my liking (it was used when I bought it). Not everyone wou ld wish to do so or be capable of doing so. I should add that when I finished, i t was fine.

With a new one at +/-$500 at Badger and used ones selling at about $450, I'd go with new.


john costo
19-Sep-1998, 04:39
I started with the Canham DLC, as did three other people in the Santa Fe worksho p I took. It's a marvelous camera, light weight, controls very intuitively laid out, and no need for a bag bellows. It has all the movements you'd ever need, an d Keith Canham answers his own phone and will stand behind his product. I know W isner also makes a fine camera, but the DLC was certainly a good choice for me. Good luck.

Mike Long
20-Sep-1998, 22:08
I had the chance to handle a new Tachihara today. Someone posted that the new on es had the nylon washers installed at the factory and that is correct (not that I doubted it).

There were other improvements over my older one as well. The front standard has a little tab now on the metal rise/fall railings. It added to the sturdiness. Al so, IMHO, the railing holding the front standard (the one that is attached to th e bed) is more solid and secured better.

There were so other improvements in hardware as well. Most were minor but this w as a much better camera than my first one. I still recommend a new one or a real late model at least. I think you'd be happiest that way.