15th November 2011
Tachihara 10x8 Field Camera First Observations
15th November 2011 - My Tachihara, from now on Tacky Hara, field camera has arrived. This was never a first choice camera and was purchased as it was run-out stock at a very attractive price, a saving of two thousand five hundred dollars over my first choice Canham Metal 10x8 inch camera. The camera I have is the double extension version, I was hoping for the triple extension version with rear swings and facility to move the rear standard backwards for better balance with heavy lenses. Heavy lenses are common with 10x8 inch photography
Like all new things there are problems, mainly small, but two glaringly severe design faults. The minor things are that the camera is bright cherry wood and too shiny brass and it looks a prop from a BBC Television period drama. The second problem is that the camera was purchsed from the former importer in Queensland, Australia. Never buy anything optical from Queensland where the tropic atmosphere makes camera bellows sticky and fills lenses with fungus. The bellows were opened and separated with some difficulty, but only cosmetic damage to the shiny exterior surface has happened. The bellows themselves are cheap and nasty and will be replaced with new better quality bellows
The two serious design flaws are that the rising front has two locking nuts which are fixed to the standard and not to the lens board frame which makes raising or lowering the lens a three hand operation. The other major design flaw is that the rear focusing pinions are separate and not driven from a single shaft. These design decisions I find almost unbelievable
The good things, the camera is cheap and cheerful and light weight. Focussing is easy with a bright screen with an unobtrusive fresnel lens. Inserting and removing darkslides is smooth, but I will add a brass finger lever to the top of the screen frame to make it even easier. The front standard is surprisingly rigid for a poorly finished piece of equipment and will support a 360mm lens, almost. However, the price was low and I have got what I paid for, a lightweight camera that I can drag around the landscape and not feel precious about
Modifications, as I don't feel precious about the Tachihara a number of modifications are planned, firstly simple things like the finger lever for the focusing screen frame and moving the strap lugs to the sides of the rear frame for a shoulder strap. The first big modification will be to modify the front standard to accept my Sinar Copal Shutter. I have purchased a new set of bellows for the 10x8 Sinar Norma, so the old bellows can become a source of bellows front frame which will not affect their use as a viewing hood on the Norma. Once the drawings have been finalised for this work I will purchase new Tachihara fitting bellows. The use of a Sinar Copal Shutter will make lens selection and purchase easier and even with shuttered lenses the use of the Sinar Shutter will mean all shutter speeds will be uniform. I will also make drawings to see if a single pinion shaft can be fitted to the rear standard, but that may cause more problems than I would like to face without a friendly workshop with understanding wood and metal workers. A less important modification I would like to make is to have all the brass fittings painted black
Good luck with your Tachy Hara, hope you manage to make the modifications you outline.
Now and then I also think about getting an 8x10" field view camera (or perhaps better a 5x7", really like that format!), as a light weight complement to my 8x10" (and 5x7") Sinar P; now I use an "all purpose standard", long legged, for the front standard, which make the whole camera a little bit less heavy. Though light weight, this standard is sturdy enough to hold also my very heavy APO Nikkor 1:11/760 mm with Sinars Copal Shutter (yes a nice shutter!); though I admit, I don't run around very much with this lens! No doubt rail cameras like Sinars are quite heavy, but more perhaps quite clumsy to carry compared to a nice field type.
Seems to be at least two strategies with things like these: adapt it to your preference or get used to it as it is!
For the moment I have decided (I think!) to choose the "adapt your self to the gear"-strategy – and I think I do better and better! Putting the lens and the rear frame, with back and bellows, in the backpacker, or into something to carry on your shoulder with some film holders, makes it possible to go around with the rest on the tripod.
Anyhow, good luck with Hara, will be interesting to hear how it develops!
I shall not attempt any major modifications until I am used to the camera, as you suggest - So far I have only made a portrait of Rae in the garden shed, but I am surprised how much I am getting to like the camera
I should have said I am putting these notes here as I can find very little on the Wise and Wonderful Web about available equpment - I wanted the Canham Metal 10x8" camera, but that would have been a lot of money for a camera I only know from the manufacturers praise and their murky photographs
The new bellows for the 10x8 Sinar Norma have arrived from Hong Kong, neat and light weight, but without the end-frames. After being slightly annoyed about the lack of Sinar end-frames I tried the bellows against the Tacky, they fit perfectly so that is where they will be fitted when my head is in a quiet state so no damage will come to the Tacky or bellows. The Sinar bellows I repaired in a temporary fashion, but on looking at my repair I realised it is good and will last at least another ten years, so. . .
Before the portrait of Rae and after focussing on garden detritus I realised my first real modification will be two sets of Linhofoid infinity stops for the split rear racks to keep the back running true for my 300mm Symmar and Roger's 165mm Angulon lenses, the infinity setting being precisely set to the specific lenses I shall be using
Regarding cosmetics, a few brass bits have been off, painted satin black and put back on to see the effect, which is good, but anything is better than the shiny brass
The girlie hand strap is now in the Tacky box, the strap lugs turned around and a wide nylon shoulder strap is on the camera so it can go over one shoulder, a small pack of 300mm lens, DDSs and meter on the other and a big Linhof Twin-Shank tripod as ballast. Like this I can walk for miles and plan to go to Broke Inlet tomorrow, 5x4" pictures of which are www.jbaphoto.com.au/australianbeaches.html