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Thread: Suggestions for info on which 4x5 Field camera?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    53

    Suggestions for info on which 4x5 Field camera?

    I am considering a move up to a 4x5 Folding field camera ( new or late model used) and would like to a good source for comparisons and value. It is a little overwhelming to try to sort out all the features, strengths weaknesses, etc. Any advice is appreciated.

    I am going to spend in the range of $700- 900 for the body. It seemed the new Chamonix was a good bet - but I just missed those. I can go on the waiting list, but then most of the summer will be gone. They seem to have the older version, but it doesn't seem to be a good deal compared to the upgrades with the new one (focus problems, standard versus universal bellows). So far I have looked at the Toyo 45cf, Shen Hao HZX and TZ, and the Tachihara. I am sure others have faced the same challenge starting out - how did you decide the meaningful features versus the one you can live without?

    Thanks in advance for any advice or links to resources for a rank beginner looking to get a system to grow into!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Milford Pa.
    Posts
    2,923

    Re: Suggestions for info on which 4x5 Field camera?

    i would buy the chamonix no matter what. even the "older" one is awesome. it can be had with the universal bellows. i like the regular bellows (i have them on my new one) i had no problems with focus issues.

    i only bought the new one to see it and try it. and i was able to sell the older one very conveniently....

    the chamonix is much better than the others you listed IMO for my style shooting....light and fast. perfect for travel.

    eddie
    My YouTube Channel has many interesting videos on Soft Focus Lenses and Wood Cameras. Check it out.

    My YouTube videos
    oldstyleportraits.com
    photo.net gallery

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Wondervu, Colorado
    Posts
    1,089

    Re: Suggestions for info on which 4x5 Field camera?

    I have a Tachihara and can't say enough good things about it. It's lightweight, and yet very solid...and stunningly beautiful. Classic field camera design. I don't think you could go wrong with it as your first 4x5. And it's on the low end of your budget, so you have more $ left for lenses, film, etc. my 2 cents....
    Last edited by Michael Roberts; 20-Apr-2010 at 06:38.

  4. #4

    Re: Suggestions for info on which 4x5 Field camera?

    Zone VI's are cheap and decent. there are 2 versions: one is a Tachihara and the other made in Vermont (by Wisner before he had a falling out with Picker... later ones are less well constructed). plus I've got one for sale... PM if interested. otherwise check out some of the threads here and elsewhere since this is well plowed field:

    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/ and especially

    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/roundup4x5.html

    and some others

    http://photo.net/equipment/large-format/choosing

  5. #5
    David Gainer
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    88

    Re: Suggestions for info on which 4x5 Field camera?

    I would go with a less expensive entry-level field camera to save money and permit you to build your lens kit. After a few years, you can evaluate what you really want in a camera and feel more confident in what you want and need.

    This is the way that I got into the format, and I imagine that many others have done the same. The reason is because it is impossible to know what you need or want by reading websites and personal accounts of cameras.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    159

    Re: Suggestions for info on which 4x5 Field camera?

    Another vote for the Tachihara. Inexpensive, lightweight, practical and good looking. It's been my starter and I have zero complaints.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    159

    Re: Suggestions for info on which 4x5 Field camera?

    By the way, first post here (second now). Lots of posts on Apug, lots of reading here. Thanks to all for all the great info.

    Best,
    Leo

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    York, UK
    Posts
    39

    Re: Suggestions for info on which 4x5 Field camera?

    gdi,
    I went through the same mind-wrestling some months ago when I decided to get into 5x4 on a fairly limited budget.
    Unfortunately, there's no such thing as the perfect camera; it depends on you and what you want to do with it. Users of Tachiharas, Shen Haos and Chamonix all seem to be very pleased with their cameras. I ended up buying a mint used Wista DXII which I can wholeheartedly recommend also. Like the Tachi, it's beautifully made, lightweight, easy to use and has a lovely bright screen. However, its bellows draw doesn't really allow the use of lenses over 270mm if that's important. (The DXIII has, I believe, interchangeable bellows, though.) I think Wista Fields are maybe a bit over-priced new when compared with their Chinese-made counterparts but if you see a good used one, it'll represent great value for money IMHO.

    Good luck,

    Gavin

  9. #9
    Eric Biggerstaff
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    1,323

    Re: Suggestions for info on which 4x5 Field camera?

    Tachihara is a great bet and a great camera. Classic, proven design and it will last for years, nothing fancy in terms of design but it just keeps on going. I used one for 11 years and never had a problem.

    I also have a Zone VI and it is great, but if you consider one educate yourself on the history of the brand and who made them so will be well informed. Mine is a later model that was made by Zone VI prior to them being purchased by Calumet. Bruce Barlow and Richard Ritter are members here and they worked for Picker at Zone VI and made the cameras so they may chime in here.

    But, Tachihara is a great little camera that will do darn near everything you want for a field camera.
    Eric Biggerstaff

    www.ericbiggerstaff.com

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Homewood, IL
    Posts
    177

    Re: Suggestions for info on which 4x5 Field camera?

    After a Crown Graphic in the 60's, I purchased a Tachihara in 1978, and I've had it ever since. I don't shoot 4x5 much any more, but the Tachihara is still in fine shape. Light as a feather as well as functional.

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