View Full Version : Advice for beginner toward LF

14-Jul-2008, 09:57
Good morning,

After the traditional 35mm and digital, I would like to get the 4x5 room.

Advices, especially Ken Rockwell would point me towards a Tachihara 4x5. As I am in France and that I would not take equipment that I am not able to verify, I would try to provide me here:


Take the room only a tablet and plans films, and probably an used lens.

And probably also an epson V700.

Does this looks a good choice or do you know where we can provide me for cheaper?

Also, could you tell me where it is better to go for the development and prints for France or Europe? Is the scanner option + digital printing is more interesting qualitative / financially speaking as the traditional printing (cibachrome I presume ..)?

Thank you in advance.

14-Jul-2008, 10:04
Tachihara 4x5 and V700 sounds like a good combination to me! I have the Epson 4990 (a bit older than the V700 I think) and it scans 4x5 film nicely :) The Tachihara will probably be a nice camera to start of with, as well as a good one to keep with you if you decide you like large format. I have an 8x10 tachihara and it has been serving me well.

14-Jul-2008, 10:09
As you live in France

why don't you go and visit ARCASWISS in Besancon .
They produce absolutely great gear for LF and as far as I can see for your needs , the MISURA would be great .


14-Jul-2008, 11:42
I'm gonna make a trial for this format. I've got a glance on the Misura and I think it's too expensive for my purpose...

Sheldon N
14-Jul-2008, 11:57
For used lenses, check the buy & sell forum here. There are always several good lenses for sale from trustworthy members. If you prefer to deal with a storefront, Midwest Photo Exchange or KEH.com are both good choices.

I have a couple lenses posted for sale myself (Schneider 150mm & Schneider 210mm) that would be cheaper for both lenses than what you are looking at paying for one. :)

14-Jul-2008, 13:23
I think your choice of the camera and scanner is an excellent one to "make a trial," as far as they let you do the kind of photography you intend.

Badger Graphic is a very reputable dealer as well as Midwest Photo Exchange (www.mpex.com). I wouldn't hesitate to buy from them if the price (best in the U.S.) makes sense after adding shipping, import tax, and so forth.

Locally, this thread has some recommendations for stores and labs in Paris:

If you live in Lille on the Belgian border, finding resources (stores and labs to see/try/consult) in Brussels may also be a good thing to try.

Ken Lee
14-Jul-2008, 13:40
There is no need to buy a new camera or lenses. The Tachihara is a great camera (I had one for several years) but you might find it limited.

You can get a used Sinar for the price of a new Tachihara. I did.

Ralph Barker
14-Jul-2008, 14:32
For "trial" purposes, I'd also suggest buying a used camera, along with good second-hand lenses and accessories. That way, if you don't like LF, you can sell the equipment for near what you paid.

Ole Tjugen
14-Jul-2008, 22:05
If you ask this question on the forum at http://www.galerie-photo.com/index.html I'm sure you will get good and relevant answers. They also have a lot of good information about various cameras, equipment et cetera.

Matus Kalisky
15-Jul-2008, 01:10

I started in a very similar way you are considering to some 2 years ago. I was attracted by the Medium format (Mamiya 6) and came across the Ken Rockwells website ;) I knew about this kind of stuff, but only then I realized that it is "real". So today here I am with a Tachihara and some lesnses.

What I can say now is that Tachi is a great choice for landscape photography - very easy to sue and very light too. But you should indeed consider what is your goal before you buy. For architecture, tabletop/macro or interior photography I wold choose a monorail instead. You should not hesitate to get a used camera over THE auction site. I bought mine second hand in Germany (it was just 2 years old). But Ken makes a good point - for the same money you can have a Sinar P (or even P2) with all movements geared (if you need/want that) but of course a few kg heavier. Ken is too modest to point your attention to his website - have a look - a lot of nice photos and tech information that may help you.

For the scanner - I do not have any yet and would advice you not to buy one until you will get a few scans from some cheaper lab where they scan with Imacons and offer scans without any post processing (= cheaper). I am sending my slides HERE (http://www.digitalcopy24.de/) and for the price I am happy with the results. My point is - if you after half a year decice that LF just is not your cup of coffe you will manage to sell the camera and lenses basically without a loss, but not the scanner. But if you would like to get one, you may consider the Microtek F1. People report low noise and good Dmax. Personally I would love to get a used Pro flatbed like Screen Cezanne or Creo EverSmart, just it is now out of my price range (actually space range too).

Starting with 150 or 210mm lens is a good idea - you can get a good quality lens for 200 - 300 euro or even less if you are lucky. (Apo Sironar N, Fujinon W, Symmar S, Nikkor W). I started with 210, added 125 later and these two lenses get used for 90% of the shots (the rest is with 400 and 75).

And of course do not forget about the tripod, head, darkcloth, loupe, FILM ....

For the printing - I can not compare the output of analog and digital method (did only digital up to now), but digital is much easier in color than analog - and cheaper too. I guess priting cibachrome requires mastering many techniques. You may find a lab that does that, but it cost a lot, of course. You may consider starting with BW and doing some contact prints (though 4x5 is a bit too small for that).

good luck. Should you have a way through the north Germany - let me know

15-Jul-2008, 07:58
Salut la France!

I have a Tachihara for some time, and I am impatiently waiting for the arrival of the Chamonix (!) in August. Tachihara is ok, but I found the fine-tuning difficult and inaccurate with the Tachi. On the positive side, it is rugged and light, ideal for the mountain bag. Plenty of lenses available on the ebay (tiny angulon 90mm for around $100) and badgergraphic is a good address for films and accessories. Closer to France there is Robertwhite.co.uk.
I have the V700, it is ok up to A3+ when scanning with 2400ppi. More ppi would request multi-processor MAC Pro, and I am not sure there is a gain.
Replace the flimsy holders Epson with the one from betterscanning.com. Bigger print requests high-end flatbend, drum or virtual drum. Good second-hand starts at $3500.
LF is a very satisfying way of spending time, sure that you will enjoy, especially in France.

Salutations du Valais, Serge

Former Member 8144
15-Jul-2008, 07:59
I think there is a camera shop that has lots of large format equipment...new and used...'le grand format' in paris?


15-Jul-2008, 14:42
I Thank you for all your advices. I will take some time to investigate.

What do you think to start with a (cheap) press camera like a CROWN GRAPHIC ?


Jan Nieuwenhuysen
17-Jul-2008, 08:51
If you take your time and wait for a late model in good condition you will have a very nice camera indeed.
Read all about it here http://graflex.org/
I bought a pacemaker Speed myself beginning of this year, just because I wanted to have one of these iconic cameras, really. What I soon found out is that I had bought a fully functional, very well made and sturdy 4x5 that is a joy to use use hand held.
The Crown does not have a focal plain curtain shutter, hence is lighter in weight, but lacks the fast shutter speeds up to 1/1000. It's up to you whether that is important or not.
Compared to a monorail like, e.g., those made by Sinar or Arca-Swiss these cameras lack movements and versatility. I think they are very well suited for a first 4x5. And not for only that I might add. I have found it is a very capable camera you can always cary with you in a small sack. They are surprisingly quick to work with once you get the drill down.
If you do not need the movements, it might be all you ever need.
One last thing: be sure to get one with a Graflock back if you decide on taking this route.

Ben Syverson
17-Jul-2008, 08:53
A Super Graphic can sometimes be had for cheap, if you think movements may be important... It's no view camera, but it has a healthy amount of front swing, tilt and rise. And the bed can drop as well....

QT Luong
17-Jul-2008, 10:28
I started with the Tachihara too. With the Graphic, you'll miss a lot of movements, which is part of the fun of large format. I'd consider it a specialty camera, something to get maybe after you've decided more clearly what you want from large format.

17-Jul-2008, 14:42
Before you buy and start, have a close look at the SINAR f2:

- you pay very reasonable prices
- often available in Europe (no import and tax costs)
- system open to all formats and add-ons, exchangeable components
- lots of lenses on SINAR boards available
- should be sold for little loss in 1 year if you don't like the format

- lightweight, easy to transport in backpack
- lot's of movement compared to field cam

I am lucky I didn't start with a field cam, as I nearly did. Today I received my 8x10 back, darkslides and lenses waiting, just need to buy films ...

Good luck and have fun (how I would like to go to "Bretagne, Côte de Granite rose" with my LF equipment ...)