Time for some LF pin-ups;
Maybe go out with some large format shooters on a field trip. They would love to let you lug some stuff for them.
Maybe buy 2 or so holders and 25 sheets of film and see if they will teach you on your film. Dev and print, then you will have a taste for it. After that you can spend away your paycheck on more and more stuff.
My first 4x5 was a cambo monorail, its a great camera all around. But I got bitten by the bug, no I have 5 of them. 2 more 4x5's and 2 5x7's
I don't use the Cambo anymore, been thinking of selling it.
Some interesting points. I never really considered going out with a group, I tend to be a pretty solitary shooter. I work very weird hours so it's difficult coordinating with people. My aim is going to be to try one of these out. I live in Los Angeles so there is no shortage of places that rent out LF gear, and I'm sure there are a few shooters around here. I know Sammy's rents some LF cameras and lenses so maybe I'll try that out to get a feel for it.
One of the things I try to do is that I make sure I want something before I start, and when I do I try to do it right. I prefer to buy a high quality system that is rugged and has room for me to learn and grow vs one that I will want to replace. So a couple of the cameras I've been eyeing the Camonix 45N-2...but that Tachihara sure does look beautiful. But like I said this is not a purchase that will be happening anytime soon :)
If you buy a Tachi just be prepared for people to approach you and ask if you did the restoration on the beautiful antique camera yourself! :D
8X10 isn't necessarily exponentially more expensive than 4X5. It is more expensive, yes, but with 4X5 you will need a large, heavy, bulky enlarger to get prints larger than 4X5. With 8X10, you can make contact prints with simple equipment.
My first large format camera, not counting an ancient Ansco 3A folder, was 8X10, and I never regretted starting out with the larger size. If you shop carefully, you can get a usable 8X10 camera for about twice the price, or a little less, of a decent 4X5. Also, if you shop carefully, you can get a usable 8X10 lens for a bit less than twice the price of a good 4X5 lens. And you don't have to look for an enlarger.
8X10 film is about 4 times as expensive as 4X5 film, but you can make negatives on printing paper, ortho litho film, and X-ray film at much less cost. X-ray film, especially, is far less costly than 4X5 photographic film.
You can get a used tripod with head that will handle 8X10 for not much more money than a good 4X5 tripod. Old Majestic tripods are considered good for this.
I use an inexpensive contractor's tripod with a large, heavy wooden plank mounted on top that supports the entire bed of my ancient and not very rigid Improved Seneca View. Cheap and ugly, but I have no problems with unsharp negatives due to camera movement.