tachihara vs zone vi ultralight 4x5
I recently had to return a used Tachihara 4x5 I purchased because the back standard had some issues. I really like the Tachihara, but currently do not cannot find one. I do have my eye on a Zone VI Ultralight, but I'm having a hard time finding any concrete information and specs on this camera. Has anyone used both? How does it compare to the Tachihara?
My main concerns are:
Movements. For me the Tachihara was nearly the perfect compromise of size and weight vs movements available.
Ability to use a 90mm lens without bag bellows. Does the Ultralight have changeable bellows? I found I was able to get a fair amount of movement out of the Tachihara with it's standard bellows.
Groundglass brightness. One of the reasons I decided on the Tachihara was that I read it has a very bright groundglass. I have an f8 lens, so anything much dimmer would be a concern. I know I can replace it, but that's further cost of an already more expensive camera.
What type of lens boards does the Zone VI use?
Bellows extension. I read it is 22", which is much more than the Tachihara. Can anyone confirm?
Weight. I haven't found an exact weight on this camera.
Ideally I'd like specs that outline the limits of all movements of the camera, but haven't found any yet.
Thanks for the help.
From the Zone VI 1992 catalog, the "Zone VI 4x5 camera" entry states:
- bellows 22 inch, removable
- bag bellows "unlimited movements for lenses 47mm to 120mm are available"
- it weighs 6 pounds
Weight: 3 pounds.
(I use 90mm with stock bellows, regular lens board.)
Kent in SD
I believe the Zone VI lightweight weighs less than the standard model. Someone out there has an old Zone VI catalog listing all the specs. I've had my standard for 20 years and it is alive and well.
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The Zone VI camera's specs changed over time as different manufacturers made different designs. The Ultralight model was made by Calumet after they purchased Zone VI. I have an older Zone VI camera and a friend has the newer Calumet version. His camera weighs 4 lbs, has 22" of bellows and a bail back. Both his and my camera will focus a 90mm lens somewhat closer than infinity on a flat lens board with the standard bellows but in both cases movements, while adequate for landscape use, are rather restricted by the bellows. Both cameras can exchange the standard bellows for a bag bellows. My Zone VI uses a 4" square lensboard and while I don't know for sure, I believe that his does as well. I bought my camera used and it came with one of the aftermarket "bright screen" focusing screens, and my friend's is also very bright and may be an aftermarket screen as well, I don't know. I haven't measured movements but they are more than adequate for the landscape photography that the two of us do more often.
I'm quite happy with my older Zone VI and my friend must be happy with his since he's had it for at least ten years that I know of. His is lighter than mine but I see no reason to spend money over 2.5 lbs. I know folks with Chamonix and Shen Hao cameras and they're fine cameras, no doubt about it, but ultimately no better than a Tachihara or Zone VI camera, and a used Zone VI will be less expensive.
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming– “Wow! What a Ride!”
— Hunter S. Thompson
For a 4x5 camera outside the studio I use a ShenHao and I have to say I really love this camera. It is decently well made and has all the movements I want. The only thing I did not like was the GG. I replaced the GG and now have a really nice wooden field camera.
There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.
~ Ansel Adams
Thanks for all the help. I think I'm going to pass on the Zone VI because I would need a bag bellows to use a 90mm lens to get a decent amount of movements.
I considered the Wista, but it has an inch less of bellows extension than the Tachihara, which is a bit on the short side too, but would work for me.
Two23, do you feel the Chamonix still has a fair amount of movements with a 90mm lens, or is it limited due to the bellows? That is my main concern with the Zone VI. I may consider one of these if I could find one for less than $800.
Someone told me that the ShenHao also has restricted movements with a wider lens. It seems like the Tachi is a good compromise for what I'm looking for in a 4x5 right now so I'll continue looking for one. It's hard finding a reliable place to purchase these cameras though, and a lot of the time it's without being able to see it beforehand.
I have a Zone VI. Switching out the bellows is a very quick operation, it shouldn't scare you off. You can shoot with a 90 with the standard bellows with limited movements, but once I got the bag bellows I never bother, it's just so easy to change. I also like having the option to shoot with a 65 or wider. With a 90 or shorter you are asking a lot of any pleated bellows. Are you shooting landscape or architecture?