Camera Archiving... : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

The recent posts concerning the unfortunate issues surrounding maintenance of Deardorfs and the fragility of the specialty camera marketplace as evidenced by Wisner, Zone VI and others gave me pause to consider how I store my own woodfield, a Tachihara. It would seem that some of our current cameras may well become endangered species sooner than later if the digital progression steamrolls forward, and the economies of manufacturing do what they do to the "obsolete". Gentlemen like Mr Grimes, and Mr Hough (present difficulties notwithstanding) are a valuable resource, not to be dismissed lightly. Currently my Tachi sits in a display case in my living room when its not packed for field use, and draws lots of comment about the "old camera" (yep, made in the "second millenium", that'd be the one just past:). However, as I sit and look at it in the case, I wonder is that a good place for it?, Should the bellows be open, closed or somewhere in between? What is the best way to look after this thing? And even, should I buy another and stick it in a vault for parts later?? I am much less concerned about my Cambo, given its industrial nature. Maybe my soft spot for things that exude "handcrafted" is just getting too large:)

-- Paul Coppin (, May 03, 2002


As long as your camera is not sitting in one position for extended periods of time, I do not believe that keeping it folded has any harmfull consequences. If you live in a humid climate, obviously a certain amount of normal maintenance is in order. Just using it regularly is the best medicine.

I would recommend getting a complete parts listing from the Tachi manufacturer along with the prices and contemplating the acquisition of a small number of dymanic parts replacements for your camera as it sounds like you will be using this camera for many years to come. Components like the back springs, the front lensboard clips and the handgrip attachments to the camera along with normal replacement screws, nuts and bolts would be a god idea to back up. My point is that if a reasonable amount of care is excercised for your prized camera, all you are needing to hedge against is simple wearing out or loosing some components over time. Another camera is overkill in my opinion. Use the money to buy film for your freezer. While any accessory components could probably be fabricated if they are not longer available, the time, costs and aggrivation will be many multiples later than they are now. Consider it like acquiring a bit of insurance and you will find that you will continue to be using your Tachi than unintentionally using it far to infrequently for the reasons that initiated this posting.

Good Luck

-- Michael Kadillak (, May 03, 2002.

Paul, Buy 3!! One to display, one to use and one in a bank vault...just in case!

-- paul owen (, May 03, 2002.

As wit ha car or an airplane , the best thing you can do to keep your camera in good operating condition is to take it out of storage every month or so (when you aren't actually using it) and exercise it . rack the focusing standards back and forth to flex the bellows, use the swings a nd tilts, use the rise and fall. With mostly wood cameras you haveto worry about the wood warping and while exercising the camera won't necessarily stop that (if it will happen atall, at least it will give you chance to notice any binding that might indicate thre wood moving.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, May 03, 2002.

I have a 1917 Kodak Cirkut camera that I use regularly. From what I can tell of it's condition this camera has never had any parts replaced on it apart from some new gear train bushings I made myself.

This camera is over 80 years old, the leather covering is falling off it but it still shoots great panoramas, I'm talking negs six feet long. I hope I'm working as good as this thing when I'm 85!

I'm quite sure there are 100 year old view cameras out there being regularly used, they're so simple, what can go wrong that can't be fixed with basic hand tools including new bellows. Come on could build one in your garage if you really wanted too!

-- Clayton Tume (, May 03, 2002.

Paul, I'm sure you've heard the expression " If you don't use it, you'll loose it". Well that also pertains to cameras. I've heard that fine wooden musical instruments will loose their tone quality if not used. Store your Tachi in a cool, dry place. Exercise the bellows and shutter often, preferably burning film. When, and if, you wear the Tachi out, buy a newer, larger camera like everyone else does. There will never be a shortage of cameras. They will probably be a lot different than the ones we use today. Archive your negatives and prints, not the tools you use to produce them. It's a good thing you didn't fall in love with a Wisner or Ebony. You can buy three Tachihara cameras for the price of a Wisner 4x5 Tech Field or an entry level Ebony. Don't worry, be happy- make lots of photos.

-- Eugene (, May 03, 2002.

I keep a 1900's Thornton Pickard 1/2 plate field for display and a 1950's MPP (Graphic type) for day to day use. I could probably get the TP up and running if required. These things last better than almost any other bit of technology I can think of.

The bit that has changed least since the early days is the camera itself. Lenses have developed quite a bit but the most change has been in the recording medium. First Wet plate and daguerrotype, then dry plate, roll film, color film and now digital. I don't know whether digital manipulation is able to completely replace LF camera movements but my guess is that size will always matter as it does with film.

-- colin carron (, May 04, 2002.

If in doubt, buy an extra one. I loved a pair of shoes I had and had the chance to buy an extra pair or two on clearance. I still regret not doing so, especially since shoes wear out so fast. Of course the camera will last you longer than a pair of shoes, but if it is the perfect extension of your artistic vision, why bother with finding another model when this one dies. If it is your favorite camera, at least make sure you'll have access to spare parts somehow...

-- Jason J. (, May 10, 2002.

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