Taking the 8x10 plunge!

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I want to start getting into Large Format. My plan in to buy a 8X10 Tachihara. Is this a good camera?

I'm an enthusiast. I don't plan to give it a professional bashing. My interests are portraits and landscapes, so it doesn't need to be built like a tank. Is there a lot of difference between the Tachihara and say, the Wisner?

With a budget of two lenses, what would be the ideal pair? A 450mm and a 250mm?

Does the Tachihara have a sunken lens panel to take Wide Angles? If not, what's the minimum it can take? What would be the equivalent of this in 35mm?

At the portrait end, would I need a triple extension to do head and shoulders?

My immediate plan is to do contact prints, but eventually to invest in an enlarger, what's the least expensive 8x10 enlarger?

Thanks in advance! Yaakov Asher Sinclair

-- Yaakov Asher Sinclair (sinclair@actcom.co.il), June 25, 1998


The Wisner is probably a bit sturdier, has longer bellows, and is prettier than the Tachihara. But either camera should be adequate for your needs.

The 450 is an ideal portrait lens (equiv. to 63mm in 35mm format). A 240 would be a gentle wide angle lens (equiv. to 34mm in 35mm format) and would be a good second choice.

The Wisner would allow life size portraits with the 450---in other words, tight head shots. (But depth of field will be very poor.) For a head and shoulders shot with the 450, I imagine you'll need something like 28 inches of bellows extension. I'm not sure what the Tachihara has, though it should be easy to find out.

Don't know about 8 x 10 enlargers---I'm happy with contact prints!

-- Stewart Ethier (ethier@math.utah.edu), June 25, 1998.

The only 8 x 10 enlargers I have ever seen were those I used in the Navy. They stood about 7 feet tall, took four men to wrestle into position, had enough glass condenser lenses to furnish windows for a fair sized house, needed two people to focus.

I don't know what they cost, but I am sure I could not afford one, nor would I even try.

An 8 x 10 contact print is the nearest thing to photographic perfection most of us will experience.

-- Tony Brent (ajbrent@mich.com), September 08, 1998.

Re Enlargers for 810, don't forget the 8 X 10 adapter for the Besseler 4 X 5 enlarger than Alan Ross created. It ocassionaly shows up used and of course is available new. Also, you'd be surprised how cheaply you can occassionally find the old Elwood (and I'm not talking 'bowt Jake's brother) ocassionally listed for - you gotta be persistent and have Cash on Hand! Rarely you might find an old and I mean OLD Kodak. Ken Hough recently got a massive massive enlarger for darn near nothing. One last possibility is to try a newspaper or other printing house place they often have old copy cameras and other graphic arts type gear they are getting rid of because they're going digital. All of this assumes you are capable of and willing to Do It Yourself! Your big expense would be glass - good 8X10 enlarger lenses are either new & costly or old and acceptable but you gotta get some kind of try out period. And of course you need to have a lense board for the enlarger made and drilled for the lense to test it. Lastly FILM FLATNESS - how does the negative carrier work, if it's glass then dust and Newton's Rings move in for a visit - if it's not then you need to check for sag and focus "pop" especially in the older enlargers with the massive 300 watt+ bulbs. I have been doing some digging in this area recently myself and hope what I have learned is of use. Living near chicago has many phot advantages -primarily a very large and active used market in large format gear.

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), September 17, 1998.

look in the new view camera for the cost of a good 8x10 enlarger, Yaakov, for bare bones black and white they start at 1500 u.s. and go to about 40,000 u.s. for a color horizontal. I've been looking for a steal in 8x enlargers for 5 years, have given up and will probably resort to making my own. I've found stat cameras for sale that would be easy to convert but most are 14 feet long and eight feet or more height. If any of you more mechanically-minded than me care to help send plans of your 8x enlarger to Triblett Lunger-Thurd, 1812 andover ct., Oklahoma City Ok 73210 don't e-mail (work)

-- Triblett Lunger-Thurd (666@HELL.com), December 02, 1998.

There is a cheaper and more reasonable alternative to some of the expensive and large 8 x 10 enlargers mentioned above. I currently use a Zone VI 5 x 7 enlarger for much of my work. When I moved up to 8 x 10 I purchased the Zone VI 8 x 10 head, which fits on that chassis. I beleive that the current price is around $1000 from Calumet. I picked up a used El Nikkor 240 mm lens on line and with the combination I am now set up for 8 x 10 for under $1500. Switching the 5 x 7 head and the 8 x 10 head only takes a few minutes and is not difficult at all. I have my column mounted on the wall with drop down tables and sof far all works very nicely. It is one more alternative to consider. Regards, Rob Rielly

-- Rob Rielly (ArtFlic@aol.com), December 07, 1998.

If you want an 8x10 enlarger, coldlight heads are availabe for Beseler 45s and Zone V1s, but the won't do you much good for color printing. The mighty Elwood is a funky old beast that lends itself well to experimentation. You might be able to rig some kind of filter drawer for color printing. Aristo also made a cold light for Elwoods back in the days when that last dinsaur slipped in the LaBrea tar pits. Good Luck!

-- John Kasaian (kasai9@aol.com), December 10, 2001.

Look into the Shen Hao 8x10 camera sold at badger graphics, also I vote for the zone VI 8x10 head, unless you can find a good deal on E bay.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm58@prodigy.net.mx), December 10, 2001.

Yaakov's thread is over three years old now, and that's just the reason why I want to respond to a particular point concerning the Tachihara that came up in Stewart's response. When I purchased my 8x10 triple extension in 2000 the point was made by a knowledgeable salesperson that the Tachihara had once had a reputation for flimsiness but that this was no longer the case. I can certainly testify that my 3X is sturdily constructed. So far, I have not been able to detect any signs of camera movement in the many exposures I have taken in about a year and a half of use.

As for WA lenses, the spec sheet claims 135mm minimum extension (90mm for the 2X), but, barring special corrective movements, I would estimate the shortest usable lens at 150mm. When I set the bellows at the flange focal distance of the Nikkor SW 150/8, 165.9mm, i.e. focussed at infinity, I still had full or nearly full use of tilts and swings. But front rise (30 mm) and fall (25mm), when everything else is zeroed out, are somewhat limited. The Schneider SSXL 150/5.6, at 157.9, is going to be about the same. On 8x10, 150mm is approx. equivalent to 22mm on 35mm in the long dimension. I have not looked into recessed lens boards or "sunken lens panels" for this camera.

As for long bellows extensions, the spec sheet gives 840 mm. I do head and shoulders shots all the time with a 450 and get Stewart's 28" with plenty of room to spare, but the 2X, at 550 mm, will fall far short.

Cheers, Nick.

-- Nick Jones (nfjones@stargate.net), December 11, 2001.

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