View Full Version : Tachihara 4 x 5 opinion vs Zone VI

29-Jun-2009, 16:12
Sometimes a guy can do too much research and become afraid to pull the trigger. That has happened to me. I missed out on a Chamonix with Kerry Thalmann. It is now time to pull the trigger and make a purchase. There is a 4 x 5 Tachihara here on largeformatphotography for $450 and it looks good. Please give me your opinion on whether or not you would purchase this or a used Zone VI for $650.

And yes I know that I am doing more research when I complained about doing too much beforehand.



Bruce Osgood
29-Jun-2009, 16:20
I have Tachi 4X5 that I bought from this list at $300. It is just what I wanted and is in excellent condition. The Zone VI is a Tachihara. Save the $200 and buy some film and film holders.

Gem Singer
29-Jun-2009, 16:54
The original Zone VI was a Wista that Picker slightly modified. Picker and Wisner then re-designed and manufactured the next version of the Zone VI camera. Wisner manufactured it for Picker. After they split up, Picker manufactured a slightly different version of the camera in Vermont. Finally, Calumet bought out Picker and designed and manufactured a light weight version of the Zone VI.

Which version of the Zone VI are you considering?

Both the Tachihara and the later Zone VI's are excellent wooden folding flatbed field cameras. The Zone VI has a few extra features. Weighs a little more than the Tachi. Worth the extra bucks.

$650 for a newer type Zone VI seems like a reasonable price (depending on it's condition).

If you don't want to spend that much, you can't go wrong with the Tachi for $450.

Brian Ellis
29-Jun-2009, 16:58
Correction to Bruce's post - the Zone VI isn't a Tachihara, they're two entirely different cameras. He's perhaps confusing the Zone VI with the Calumet Woodfield, which is a Tachihara.

I've owned two Tachis but I've never owned a Zone VI so I can't compare them based on experience. The Zone VI weighs 6+ pounds, the Tachihara weighs 4 lbs. If you hike that can be an important difference. Also, the Zone VI has a 22 inch bellows, the Tachihara has a 13 inch bellows. That obviously means the Zone VI is better suited for longer lenses, the Tachihara for shorter. I used a 300mm normal lens on my Tachis and that was the longest normal lens I could use and even with it the near-focus distance is limited. OTOH, I could use a 75mm lens without a recessed board. My impression from reading is that the Zone VI requires a recessed board or use of the bag bellows for anything in the 100mm range or less.

There are other differences which I'm sure you know about - e.g. the Zone VI will accept a bag bellows, the Tachi won't (though as noted above, you can go pretty short with the Tachi even without a bag bellows). The Tachi has relatively limited movements - front tilt, swing, rise and fall and back tilt and swing. I always found them perfectly adequate for the landscape and exterior architecture I mostly do but some might prefer more movements.

There is a review of the Zone VI in the camera review section of this forum which you should read if you haven't already and of course if you search here you can find a wealth of information about both cameras. FWIW, I liked both my Tachiharas. They're reasonably solid, well built, light, and have adequate movements for most purposes. The only thing that bothered me was the relatively short bellows since I like longer lenses. I solved the problem by buying a Fuji 400mm telephoto lens but that's an expensive solution since the lens costs more than the camera. If I was considering the two cameras I'd probably go with the Tachihara unless it doesn't have some feature that's important to you that the Zone VI has such as the longer bellows, the availability of a bag bellows, etc.

29-Jun-2009, 17:10
For what it's worth, I saw the Tachihara here almost as soon as it was posted, and if I wasn't a little tight for cash this month I would have grabbed it immediately. New at Midwest they're $699, not including a lensboard. This one looks in beautiful shape, and having had an old Osaka which was nearly identical to the Tachi, I don't think you could go wrong.

I have no connection with the seller of the Tachi, I just hope someone else buys it before I scratch and claw and find the money somewhere... :)

eta: btw, I have an 8x10 Tachihara currently. Very easy to use cameras.

Mark Sampson
29-Jun-2009, 17:21
I moved up from a Tachi to a Zone VI in 1992 and have seldom looked back. The Z-VI is a stronger camera with more capabilities- thus the extra pounds. The Tachi is a fine camera and a great place to start. (You can use a 300mm lens on it, which its great advantage over the other featherweight cameras.) Just get one or the other and go shoot for a year or two.

29-Jun-2009, 21:34
very likely neither is the last LF camera you will own. Just buy one or the other (it really does not matter) and use it. Buy a good lens and decent film. Learn the process and don't worry about the small stuff.

Kirk Fry
29-Jun-2009, 22:44
I own an older tachi. Mine tends to be a bit floppy. When I got it was broken. Someone had dropped it and broke the front focusing rod. I got another one from Calumet (see above). To stiffen it up I stuck a couple of chunks of Velcro on the front and back standard and stuck small piece of wood with Velcro on it stiffen every thing up after I had adjusted everything. Mine came with a nifty back extension so one could use longer lenses. These days I tend to grab the crown for compact travel.


Joseph O'Neil
30-Jun-2009, 06:09
Do like I did - get one of each! :)

They are different cameras, and I find uses for each. for backpacking, lightweight travel, the Tachi wins hands down. For wider range of movements, and handling large, heavy lenses, the Zone is a better camera.

The fresnel/bright screen on the Tachi is also better, IMO, for my smaller, darker lenses - my F8 and F9 lenses I backpack with. On the Zone camera i use my F5.6 and F6.3 lenses, which also happen to be larger and heavier, and put more strain on the frame of the camera.

So there you go,a nd to mess with you in a parting shot, I've never given up my old Crown Graphc either, as there's just some days it works best.


Jon Wilson
30-Jun-2009, 06:19
I have used my tachi for several years. I truly enjoy it. It has the brightest viewscreen of all of my rigs...even those which have satin gg. As Brian indicated, the only shortfall, if any is the fact the maximum lens one can use is 300mm. However, you can get the extension back or the extension lensboard. I recently saw the extension back advertised in a recent View Camera ad for about $200 IIRC. I purchased the extension lens board for about $50 on ebay a while back. I don't think you can go wrong with the tachihara 4x5 IMO. Jon

Eric Biggerstaff
30-Jun-2009, 08:49
I own both of these cameras and they are both excellent.

The Tachi is a very well made, lightweight camera that can easily handle lenses down to 90mm (I have used a 75mm but bellows compression is an issue) and it can take my Nikon 300mm at infinity. The camera was used as my primary camera for over 10 years and never let me down, excellent.

I also own the Zone IV and it is a very different animal. The bellows are long enough to allow the use of a 450mm lens like the Fujinon 450C (I used one but don't own it) and it easily handles lenses down to 90mm. The bellows are removeable and can be replaced with a bag bellows for very wide lenses. In addition, mine has a bail back which I enjoy very much. My camera is heavy and very well constructed, it is made from Black Walnut. It has the gold plated hardware which some like and others don't. It does show some wear on the hardware but that is OK by me. It is my main camera now. I have NOT heard much good about the Calumet / Zone IV lightweight 4X5 version so cannot recommend it. Mine was made towards the end of Zone IV being a stand alone company.

The Tachi can be purchased new of course while the Zone IV can be found on the used market. Richard Ritter can repair either camera and of course he was the primary builder of the Zone IV camera while he was with that company. I can highly recommend his services. If you buy a used Zone IV, send it to Richard for a cleaning and adjustment, also make sure the bellows are good.

You would be pleased with either camera and it really comes down to your budget and what you want to do with it. If you need a camera that can easily be backpacked, then the Tachi is hard to beat, but the Zone IV has more features.

Good luck and have fun!

30-Jun-2009, 17:34
I agree with all the above posts. I'm a Tachi owner for about ten years now, and love it a bunch. I think your decision should be based on price and how much do you want to lug around in your backpack? I like the Tachi because it is smaller, and weighs less. That means I can carry more accessories, and not throw my back out of place. As said above the Tachi is pretty effective with focal lengths of 90mm to 250mm. Construction wise a new Tachi is every bit as good as a Zone VI. I'd say save yourself some money for a nice range of lenses and go with the Tachi. :)

30-Jun-2009, 17:41
Thanks for everyone's help I have purchased the Tachihara and a 135 5.6 Nikkor lens.

30-Jun-2009, 18:15
You made a good choice. These cameras are like comparing apples and oranges. Both are good, the Zone is heavier and the Tachi is lighter. I had your combo as my first setup and made many great, IMO, photos. Have fun!

30-Jun-2009, 19:03
Thank goodness. I was going to break down and get it in a day or two... :)