Tachihara 4 x 5 Field Camera & Roll Film Backsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread
I have just about decided to purchase a Tachihara 4 x 5 field camera as my first view camera. I almost exclusively shoot landscapes. Most of the time I day hike, or backpack, to nature areas for shooting pictures.
I would like to use it primarily with a roll film back (to save film costs and not be required to carry film holders with me). Can you use a 6 x 9 roll film back with the Tachihara? Which are the best ones to use with it? Will it take a Toyo back? Is there a problem with the camera shifting focus when a roll film back is inserted? Is this problem mitigated by certain roll film backs but not others? Any shared experiences or advice is appreciated.
I find the terminology for roll film backs confusing. What does it mean to be a Graflock back for instance?
-- Howard Slavitt (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 09, 1998
Any of the "slim line" roll film backs that can slide between the frame and the groundglass (Sinar and certain Toyo backs) should work fine with no focus shift. Horseman also makes/markets terrific roll film backs but these are so thick that removing the Groundglass and its frame is mandatory. Hence the desirability of having Graflock (aka International) locks on your camera. With a graflock mount you unhook the groundglass frame and set it aside. Place your roll film or grafmatic back against the frame on the camera and slide the two bars down so that the back is now held against the camera frame.
Another alternative to carrying individual film holders are the competing Kodak Readyload and Fuji QuickLoad film holders. While each has it's defenders and critics (I for one think the Kodak system is lousy and unreliable based on over three years of working with various iterations of the back and still having a 25 to 30% failure rate due to light leaks.) they do have the advantage of letting you shoot 4x5 with out having to carry a bunch of dead weight with you, and both offer the assurance of perfectly laboratory clean film. In the US, Fuji has released only transparency emulsions (RVP, RDPII, RAP, and 64T) (overseas there are a black&white(neopan 80) and a color neg availible. Worldwide Kodak has released E100s, 64T, a ISO100 color neg, and T-max 100. Each has their own proprietary backs but both will work in a Polaroid 545 or 545i holder.
-- Ellis (email@example.com), October 10, 1998.
Back when I had a Tachihara I did use one of the "fatter" Calumet C2N 6x7 holders without any problems. Although the Tachihara seemed to be looser in the back, I just made sure everything was tightened down real good before inserting the back. Never seemed to have a focus problem. The Calumet holders are also a little less expensive. One note....I also backpack with a 4x5 camera and I never brought the 120 holder with me because of its heavy weight. Quickloads are nice, but expensive. I bring about 6 holders, film and a changing bag...or the sleeping bag at night. The Tachihara is an excellent camera...but don't drop it. Enjoy.
-- John Wiemer (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 10, 1998.
I own two of the older Calumet C2 (as opposed to the newer C2N)slide-in 6x7cm roll backs. They are the made-in-America-terrible quality version. The frame spacing is uneven so I can only reliably get 9 frames (instead of ten) per 120 roll. I believe the newer C2N made-in-Holland-better-quality is improved. The film flatness is also a problem because there is ONLY one roller near the pressure plate. After extensive testing and botched shoots I finally placed a few layers of gaffer tape in a particular place to prevent any floating film problems. That was three years ago and the film flatness is OK, just not the uneven spacing.
-- Richard Stum (info@KinesisGear.com), October 11, 1998.
I am using the Tachihara with a Horseman 6X9 back. After reading many reviews of the various rollbacks here and elsewhere on the web, the Horseman came up a winner in reliablity, film flatness and accuracy. The problem on the Tachihara is the springback design cannot be removed, however it is hinged to open plenty wide to accept the horseman. Another problem, however, is the filmback will rest against the ground glass and damage or break it. I made a ground glass protector out of 1/8" thick plastic that I use when I pack it. When I put the 6X9 back on the camera. I insert the protector between the ground glass and the filmback. Sounds a bit complicated but really is not a problem. I would rather do this than deal with some of the stories I hear about the Calumets. There may be some other slim backs that are reliable, film flat, and fit the Tachihara without these issues. The Tachihara does accept a "standard graphlock back". You will find this on just about all film backs for 4X5.
-- Gary Frost (email@example.com), October 11, 1998.
I am using the Tachihara with a Horseman 6X9 back. The Tachihara does have a "standard graphlock back" however, it is hinged and cannot be removed. It does open plenty wide to accept the Horseman back but it will rest against the ground glass and damage it. I made a ground glass protector out of 1/8" thick plastic I use when packing the camera. When using the Horseman filmback, I insert this between the ground glass and the film back to avoid damage to the ground glass. It sounds a bit complicated but really isn't a problem and after reading many reviews here and elsewhere on the web about the various film backs, the Horseman always came up at or near the top for reliability, film flatness and accuracy. I didn't want to deal with the stories I read on the Calumets. (my second try on posting this, I usually put "nospam" when posting to avoid so much junk mail. I'll try again (some trepidation...) to post again with my email address)
-- Gary Frost (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 11, 1998.
Thanks for all the responses, thus far. I have a follow-up concerning the last comment by Gary.
> I made a ground glass >protector out of 1/8" thick plastic that I use when I pack it. When I >put the 6X9 back on the camera. I insert the protector between the >ground glass and the filmback. Sounds a bit complicated but really is >not a problem. I would rather do this than deal with some of the >stories I hear about the Calumets. There may be some other slim backs >that are reliable, film flat, and fit the Tachihara without these >issues. The Tachihara does accept a "standard graphlock back". >You will find this on just about all film backs for 4X5. >
Wouldn't putting something between the 6 x 9 back and the ground glass throw off the correct position for appropriate focusing? I.e. isn't the film plane now 1/8" too far back?
How does this work?
Also, have you heard anything good/bad about the Toyo backs?
What is the shortest lens you have used on the Tachihara with which you have been able to tilt the focus plane a bit?
I assume that the Tachihara back is reversing, i.e. I don't need to flip the camera on a tripod to shoot verticals. Is this correct?
-- Howard Slavitt (email@example.com), October 12, 1998.
To answer your questions: "Wouldn't putting something between the 6 x 9 back and the ground glass throw off the correct position for appropriate focusing? I.e. isn't the film plane now 1/8" too far back? How does this work?"
A: you focus before you insert the roll film back. Focus plane remains unmoved, but he spring loaded ground glass is now behind the inseted back. Just remember to remove the protective plastic plate after you have made your shot and removed the RF back and before you set up for the next shot.
Also, have you heard anything good/bad about the Toyo backs?"
No. I use Horseman and Sinar backs. Toyo is a good company and they generally make good product.
"What is the shortest lens you have used on the Tachihara with which you have been able to tilt the focus plane a bit?" A. Probably a 90mm. If you want more short (and long) lens versatility in a folding camera, spend the extra dollars and get a Canham DLC.
"I assume that the Tachihara back is reversing, i.e. I don't need to flip the camera on a tripod to shoot verticals. Is this correct?"
A.) Correct. Although as with all view cameras you have to stand on your head or hang by your knees to see the image right side up. (that was a small attempt at a joke.)
-- Ellis (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 12, 1998.
I agree that the Horseman roll film back is less suspect when it comes to film flatness. It uses two rollers that work in tandem to "pull" the film flat as opposed to Calumets and Toyos system of using a looped film system. Yet my experience is that the Calumet system has worked for me. Also...when I did have a Tachihara I used a 75mm lens without a need for a bag bellows. And I did use tilt...although not a lot. By the way a better camera with a Graflock and spring back for a fair price is the new Toyo 45AX. They offer a student discount of $1063.
-- John Wiemer (email@example.com), October 12, 1998.
If I had it to do over again, I would purchase a Toyo slide-in back, rather than the used Calumet backs which I currently own. The slide-in style is much easier to use that others, especially if the back doesn't lift out far enough for a Horseman type back (i.e. with my Sinar P). I haven't used the Toyo, but anything is better than the older Calumet backs.
-- Richard Stum (info@KinesisGear.com), October 12, 1998.
John Wiemer wrote: "By the way a better camera with a Graflock and spring back for a fair price is the new Toyo 45AX. They offer a student discount of $1063."
Why is the Toyo 45AX better? My understanding is that it's difficult to use short lenses (i.e. 75 mm) with the Toyo. Do you have a different experience? Also the Toyo weighs over 2 lbs. more than the Tachihara. Unfortunately, I'm not a photography student so I won't benefit from the discount, though it seems like a reasonble deal with the $100 offer for the Sekonic light meter. When you say the Toyo has a Graflock and spring back, does that mean I can easily use a roll film back with it, and not risking scratching the fresnel lens (unlike apparently with the Tachihara)?
Richard Stum wrote: "If I had it to do over again, I would purchase a Toyo slide-in back, rather than the used Calumet backs which I currently own. The slide-in style is much easier to use that others, especially if the back doesn't lift out far enough for a Horseman type back (i.e. with my Sinar P)."
Do you know if the Toyo back will work easily with the Tachihara? Would it obviate the risk of scratching the fresnel lens?
-- Howard Slavitt (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 13, 1998.
Howard: Excellent questions. IMHO the Toyo is a better camera because it is sturdier, it locks down tighter and the Graflock back gives you more options in choosing a 120 back, if that is important. I now own a Toyo 45 AII and it limitations are that the extension only allows the use of a non-telephoto 300mm lens. There is no problem with the 75mm lens that I use. All that being said, the Tachihara was an excellent camera until I dropped it and bent the front "focusing rod" (for lack of a better term) that created problems in focusing. If it is not dropped, taken care of (making sure things are tightened down) it can do the same things any Toyo can do. Your limits are your creative choices. I do agree with Richard. The Toyo slide-in back is better made....but more expensive. It should not scratch your fresnal lens.
-- John Wiemer (email@example.com), October 14, 1998.
In reading through all the great feedback I've gotten, I've come up with a few more queries.
First, could I buy a new Tachihara and have the back converted (relatively cheaply) so that it was a lift off Graflock back? Any suggestions on who I might send it to for that?
Second, does the Tachihara take recessed lens boards? Are they difficult to use? Would they allow me to use: (a) a 75 mm with a bit of movement and/or (b) a 58 mm with a bit of movement. My movements would be almost exclusively front and/or back tilts to change the plane of focus for landscapes.
-- Howard Slavitt (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 15, 1998.
Howard, From your queries and further queries I think you are going to want a different camera. My suggestion is the Canham DLC, especially if you are going to want to use the 58mm. Surely others will have their own suggestions. My argument against the Tach is that you are already running into its limitations and you haven't even bought the camera. If you are relatively serious about making photographs, the price difference will not be meaningful in a year and insignificant two years from now.
-- Ellis (email@example.com), October 15, 1998.
I agree with Ellis. If you wish to use a 58mm lens on the Tachihara I don't believe it will work. For one, you will need a bag bellows. For another, unless you have a moving rear standard your front standard will be in the photo. My recollection is that the Tachihara does not have a moving rear standard. Also...I would never recommend the expense of trying to change to a Graflock back. Why? Just get a camera that has such a back or use the 120 backs that will work with the spring loaded back. Besides, are you getting the 4x5 because it will adapt to 120? I personally like the 4x5 transparency or negative. I seldom use my 120 back. Best of luck.
-- John Wiemer (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 15, 1998.
The Tachihara will get to 75mm, the rear standard does allow to slide forward. No way to 58mm and a recessed board is available but I have heard, because they are small boards, access to shutter & controls is a real pain. ( no personal experience ) For modifying the back, forget it. If thats the plan, definitely get a different camera. If your concern is damage to the ground glass, taking it off the camera and placing it somewhere is as risky to damage. Best left on the camera. If your concern is ease of use, sliding a protector behind the film holder is easier than removing the ground glass. As far as expense, a ground glass protector is an inexpensive good idea anyway for taking it in a pack. Much cheaper than modifying the Tachihara back. As I stated in a previous post, the hinge on the back opens plenty wide to accept the horseman back. Get the current issue of Popular Photography, it has a section on 4X5 cameras (what? in Pop photo? yes.) Reviews a number of cameras with some specs on movements & features.
-- Gary Frost (email@example.com), October 15, 1998.