Tachihara questions

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I'm considering purchasing a 4x5 Tachihara (saving the money for the glass), and I have some questions. I would certainly appreciate help with this.

1. Perhaps more important than the Tachihara is the fact that I would like to use the Schneider 90mm XL lens. Will this reportedly huge lens fit on this reportedly small camera and be well supported?

2. Can the Quickload holder be used with the Tachihara? If so, how well and easily?

3. Supposing the above pieces of equipment are compatible, would there be any reason not to use them with this camera?

Again, I appreciate any tips, tricks, techniques, or Canham DLC donations that you can offer here. As you can tell, my budget is not what I would like it to be, but I will do what I can.


-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), May 15, 2002


Matthew, You may also want to consider the Shen-Hao HZX-IIA, which is the same price as the Tachi, a bit heavier (and more stable) and has interchangable bellows, so you can actually use the movements that the XL allows. Even with the bag bellows, I suspect that the 90 may well be overkill--If you really need LOTS of movement with this lens, you are best off with a monorail.

-- jason (sanford@temple.edu), May 15, 2002.

Matthew, talk to Jeff at Badgergraphic.com You may need to look up his phone number on that website. He sells both, the Tachi and the Shen Hao. The Shen Hao is about two pounds heavier than the Tachi, but if you are using a 90XL, weight doesn't seem to be a concern here. Both cameras are the same price at Badger. Both will take the 90XL and the Quickload holder. The bag bellows on the Shen Hao will make make life easier with that huge lens.

-- Eugene (TIAGEM@aol.com), May 15, 2002.

Hi, Matthew

I can only contribute to question 2. I use the Kodak and Polaroid quick/ready loaders without a problem in my Tachihara. I seriously doubt there would be a problem with the Quickload holder.

The Tachihara is my first large format camera, but I've been very happy with it. The only thing I would wish for is geared tilt movements. I suspect such a feature is available but only on the higher priced field cameras.

Good luck!


-- Larry Mendenhall (larrymendenhall@netscape.net), May 15, 2002.

Matthew: I recently obtained the new Kodak holder, which seems to work quite well. On a recent trip I was in a precarious position on some rocks and used it for one exposure with a later generation Tachihara instead of the Canham I used for everything else that day. I thought at the time I put the holder into the back that it didn't seat with much authority and could be easily pulled out. The slightest tug, without relieving pressure on the back, and the holder would slide out. That one exposure had the only light leak of the trip. At least on my camera, is was necessary to widen the light trap slot on the camera (150 grit sandpaper) to get the ridge on the readyloader to go all the way down and the holder flat against the camera. I don't know if my camera is slightly out of spec or what the problem is, but I did have to make this fix. It seems to fit everything else I own without a problem.

-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), May 15, 2002.


Given the choice of the 90mm XL, it sounds like you are going to be photographing architecture. If that is true, another possible advantage of the Shen Hao is that it offers more extensive back movements (swings, tilts, rise) than the Tachiahara. If not architecture, I am curious why you would choose the XL over other more compact 90mm lenses.

Another potential advantage of the Shen Hao is that it offers more bellows extension than the Shen Hao, enabling use of a 300mm normal design lens. I do not have a Shen Hao, but if I ever decide to pick up a field camera I would be very interested in checking that camera out.

-- Dave Karp (davekarp@ix.netcom.com), May 15, 2002.

Wow. I've been keeping up with the forum for some months now and still I'm very impressed with (and grateful for) these quick and helpful replies. Thank you very much.

It really sounds as though you all have a better idea of what I need than I do so I'll share with you what I hope to get out of the gear I buy.

My style of working is different from that of "landscapers." I tend to stay in one general location, such as a few city blocks, and make different types of images of the same area. I work mainly in urban areas and only rarely in the field, and I like to leave the camera on the tripod and move a short distance between subjects.

The thing is, I may lift and move the camera/tripod many times over the course of a few hours. This isn't so bad with my Nikon, but is a major hassle with the heavy monorail that I'm currently borrowing.

I'd like to buy a 4x5 that will feel more like the Nikon than the Linhof. I like the listed weight of the Tachihara (and the Canham), which is why I mentioned it.

I do photograph architecture sometimes, so basic movements (mainly front rise) would be helpful. You've got me thinking that I may be able to get by with a smaller lens. I'll look into that, as well as the Shen Hao.

Given that this style of working is a bit different from that of many LF photographers (who may pack up between images), would you be able to offer further advice on equipment?

Again, thank you very much for the above answers and ideas.

-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), May 15, 2002.

Does exercising a lens mean your negatives get thinner?

-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), May 15, 2002.

Matthew, the further elaboration of your need to move the camera and tripod around the location does not change any of the recommendations, so far. your only problem seems to be with the weight and bulk of the camera and tripod. A 90XL is heavy and bulky. It has the capability of much movement with it's huge image circle. The 90XL is better utilized when used on a monorail, as you're doing now. Just think compact and lighter weight. You can even reduce the weight of the tripod you use if you change to a smaller, lighter camera outfit. You obviously need a lot of front rise. The Canham is outstanding in that department, but price is the problem. So, either bite the bullet and invest in the Canham you really want, bulk up so you can lift the monorail you're now using, or hire an assistant.

-- Eugene (TIAGEM@aol.com), May 15, 2002.

Note to self: Make sure quip goes in the right thread.

-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), May 15, 2002.

With regard to Dave's comments regarding use of a 300 mm lens on the Tachihara, this may not really be much of a problem.

I've been using a 12" Artar on my Tachihara quite a bit lately for landscape and scenic work, in fact I find myself using the 300mm considerably more often than a 150mm. For this sort of work, focus has never been a problem for me and I always have some bellows extension left. It is rare that I find the need to focus closer than ten feet.

The lens is front mounted on an Elgeet #3 shutter; this effectively gives me about 40mm extra extension. One could achieve the same result, obviously, with a short extension tube or, I imagine by reversing a recessed lensboard. Even this may not be needed for landscapes as the Tachihara bellows is about 330mm, if memory serves.

My point is that for the type of work common outdoors, where camera weight can become a consideration, the bellows length of the Tachihara doesn't necessarily present a difficulty.

-- Ed Balko (veggie@monmouth.com), May 15, 2002.


Our shooting style is actually quite similar. I have been photographing in my neighborhood in Brooklyn for several years, carrying a Canham 5x7 (the wooden one), I almost never pack it up between shots, it actually doesn't even fit into the backpack I usually carry with me (I have a plastic trast bag in case of rain). Another thought, you might want to think about a non-folding type of field camera, Ebony has a very expensive model, but Shen-Hao also makes one which I saw on eBay a few days ago. These are very light and have great front rise, at the expense of short bellows. On the other hand, WA monorails are not terribly heavy.

-- jason (sanford@temple.edu), May 15, 2002.


Here are some things to consider. If you will be photographing architecture, even if incidental to the other subjects of your photographs, you might want back swing sometimes. When using a 90mm lens, and photographing a building at an oblique angle, the far end of the building might seem far off in the distance. You can use back swing to help correct perspective. That might or might not be important, and it is an advantage of the Shen Hao (at least in theory, based on the specs).

Another 90mm lens to consider is the Nikon SW 90mm f/8.0. It is unique among the smaller maximum aperture 90mm lenses in that it has a large 235mm image circle. This is comparable to the image circle on the 90mm f/4.5 Grandagon-N (and equivalent Caltar II-N), the Super Angulon f/5.6 (non XL), the Nikon SW 90mm f/4.5, and the Fujinon SWD f/5.6. All of these lenses are bigger and heavier than the SW 90mm f/8.0, more expensive, and require larger 82mm filters. Their major benefit is the wider maximum aperture, which is useful for focusing when the light is dim. (For what its worth, I have the f/4.5 Grandagon-N and I think it is a great lens. ) The f/8.0 Nikon has an excellent reputation. I have no personal experience with it. The 90mm f/6.8 Grandagon-N, and the comparable Caltar II-N, offer a wider maximum aperture than the f/8.0 Nikon, but they have a smaller image circle.

Regarding the 90mm lens, the question you must answer for yourself is how you want to balance the different characteristics: size and weight, image circle, maximum aperture, and price. It is a very personal decision. I went with the f/4.5 Grandagon-N for ease of focusing in darker places. That feature weighed enough in my decision calculus to outweigh the negatives of weight and large filter size. I bought it used to save money.

From what you said about your needs, I think any of the other available 90mm lenses are probably more appropriate for you than the 90mm XL.

Hope this helps.

-- Dave Karp (davekarp@ix.netcom.com), May 15, 2002.

I've been using a Nikon 90/8 SW on an original (1977) model Tachihara for many years and have been very satisfied with the performance of both the camera and lens. A very lightweight combination, with more movements than I usally use. The Nikon lens weighs less than half what the 5.6 and 4.5 90's weigh, probably a third what the 90XL weighs, and is razor sharp out to the edges. Unless you're working indoors with natural light, it's not hard to focus.

I mention the age of my Tachihara because I know there have been changes over the years, but the latest ones still use the Linhof boards and have the same bellows specs, so I can't imagine you would have any trouble using this lens on the current models.

-- Rick Moore (rickm@gethen.com), May 15, 2002.

Many thanks, everybody. The above comments have me reconsidering my options.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the weight of the system is very important to me. I won't be filling the bellows with helium, but I may forgo the 90mmXL. The Shen Hao sounds more versatile than the Tachihara, but I'm not sure that the extra two pounds are worth the hassle for me (I really want to keep this light).

Again, thanks for the help.

-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), May 17, 2002.

So, I bought a new camera and a used lens. I took some advice from the above posts and some of my own experience, and ended up with a Tachihara 4x5, a 90mm f/8 Nikkor, and a QuickLoad holder.

I haven't made any photos yet, as I just received the camera and lens yesterday, but I have played with everything and I think that I have it figured out.

I'm quite happy with the size, weight, and controls of the Tachihara. It's smaller than I expected, and the light weight makes me want to go out and make photos. People who have seen it say it's "cute."

I bought the camera and lens from Midwest Photo Exchange. They were quite helpful, and by going with them I saved quite a bit of money which will probably end up in their hands when I buy a second lens. Again, the lens was used, but it came in the Nikon box and looked so new that it could just as well have come from the factory.

The QuickLoad holder (and the Provia 100F) came from B&H. I tested one packet of film and was gasping with delight because the system appeared to work so perfectly. I still get chills when I think about using the holder.

Thank you for the help! I think that this will be fun.

-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), June 08, 2002.

The 90mm f8 Nikkor is a GREAT little lens - a modern classic. Sharp as a tack and great colour (I much prefer the colour rendition and feel of Nikkor and Fuji lenses over the German equivelents).

I've been using it more and more recently. I got it for some archtectural work, but have been using it with my Toyo 45A for urban landscape projects and a whole series of images along the English "Seaside" where I grew up. It's a real beaut. Even indoors I've found the f8 isn't much of a handicap. Outdoors it's no problem. You'll love it.


-- tim atherton (tim@kairosphoto.com), June 08, 2002.

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