What advantage do I get from an Ebony?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by paul_viapiano, Jun 28, 2006.

  1. Hi all...

    I'm looking at taking a step into large format 4x5, coming from medium format
    experience. I've read Steve Simmons' book and many others and am looking at
    and comparing cameras.

    What advantages does an Ebony (say, their lower end RW45 models priced around
    $1,595) have over the Tachihara model that is priced at about $695?

    I also love the Ebony SV45TE, priced at $2,895.

  2. Not much really! Maybe a little weight! In your valet that is!:):) What I mean is that I have a Tachi 8x10 and don,t feel any urge to by Ebony at all! It's somehow not gonna make a better image at all! But if you are a person who have a lot's of money and wanna show off then the Ebony probobly is your camera!! :)Buy good lenses and holders insteed and a good pair of shue!
  3. The advantage of either of the cameras you mentionover the Tachihara is longer bellows
    draw and a bit more movements in the case of the SV45TE. OTOH, do you know you need
    the additional bellows draw? Will you use all the movements? How do you know you love
    the Evony SV45TE? Have you actually seen it and used it? I am only asking these
    questions because the Ebony might not be your best entry into 4x5. Very few folks stick
    with their first camera and the Tachihara is a solid choice. It will allow you to use lenses
    from 75 mm through 240 mm and will give you ALL the movements youa re likely to need
    for landscape work in the field. I know at least one professional who has been shooting
    with a Tachihara for 20 years. The Ebony is a beautiful camera but only you can decide if
    you want to pay the extra dollars. More importantly you should see if you can actually
    handle one or both of them and see if they feel "right" to you. Coming from a MF world
    you are used to a certainlevel of precision in the controls that mya not equal your
    experience with any wood field so you might want to look at some of the metal fields that
    are in the same price range as the Ebony, all of which give you the same or more
    functionality as an Ebony. The Toyo 45AII is priced comperably to the RW45 and the AX,
    Canham DLC or T45/57, Horseman FA and Wista Technical cameras are all a bit less than
    the Ebony SV45TE.
  4. I started with a Tachihara and agree with Ted that it makes an excellent starter camera.
    However, a nut came loose from mine during the second day of a photo workshop in
    Oregon. After that, I decided to get an Ebony because of the reputation of its build quality
    (which I found to be true -- it feels much more sturdy than my Tachi), its longer bellows
    and its graflok back.

    I also agree with Frank, it's probably a good idea to put more of your starting off money
    into lenses. You may want to think about the Shen-hao. It has the graflok back, a longer
    bellows and is priced close to the Tachihara; although the Taichihara can use at least a
    75mm lens (maybe even a 65 mm) without a recessed lens board.

    Good luck!
  5. I asked the same question of this forum several months ago and got a lot of informative answers. I had owned a Tachihara, and considered stepping up to an Ebony. Subsequent to my post, I borrowed an Ebony 45SVTi from Jim and Midwest Photo Exchange. It was a work of art in its fit, finish, and functions. Is it worth 4x the Tachihara? Is a Porsche 911 worth 3x a Mustang? Some people think so, but it's an individual decision.
  6. "(The Tachihara) will allow you to use lenses from 75 mm through 240 mm . . . . "

    Actually you can use a 300mm normal lens on a Tachihara. It has 13 inches of bellows and that one extra inch will allow focusing to about 10-12 feet. Not as close as if it had a 15 inch bellows but close enough for most purposes since a 300mm lens wouldn't usually be used for real closeups. You also can use a 65mm lens at the short end.

    I owned a Tachihara and I've also owned the Ebony 45SVTe. I owned the Tachihara for about 4 years. I owned the Ebony for less than a year. That probably tells you as well as anything my thoughts about the merits of the two cameras.
  7. Both the Tachihara and Ebony are fine cameras. Being basically a light tight box, either is capable of producing beautiful images. I have the Ebony SV45U2 and love it. My lenses range from 90 to 450mm and I have no problem using any of them with the bellows draw on the Ebony. Like others have stated, the bellows length is one of the differances in the two cameras and that only becomes an issue if you plan on using lenses longer than 300mm. The build quality is top notch on my Ebony. It is very solid, stable and smooth. If you can, try looking at both before deciding. The differance in cost would pay for a few lenses and the accessories needed for the move to large format photography.
    Good luck with whatever camera you end up with. Large format is great!

    Larry, ("However, a nut came loose from mine during the second day of a photo workshop in Oregon.") I remember when the Tachi nut came loose. If memory serves, you found something to replace it and were able to continue making images.
  8. pvp


    IMHO, the primary advantage of the Ebony over the Tachihara is (to borrow from a well-known German auto manufacturer's commercials) higher ego emissions. I've seen lots of photos, taken with Tachiharas, that are much better than most of mine, so I know I haven't reached the limits of my Tachi. Also, since I make no pretense of earning my living with my camera, I can't justify the relatively small improvements that come with really large increments of money. YMMV...

    When choosing a large format camera, keep in mind that the old saw about a camera being a light-tight box with a lens at one end and film at the other end, is not a joke. If money is no object, sure the Ebony (and others) will offer some nice bells and whistles, a little more rigidity and maybe a longer bellows. If money is limited in any way, put it into your lenses first.
  9. Hi, Ben!
    Hope you got some great shots in Zion last fall. I got a couple of halfway decent ones.

    Yep, you remember correctly. Radio Shack came through and had a nut that would fit so I was able to continue shooting. However, the nut was a little too high and the camera wouldn't close smoothly. It's likely that a dedicated search would have turned up something close to the original nut. I was already thinking about the "next" camera and that incident helped me decide to move on a little sooner than I probably would have.

  10. If you're just getting into LF i wouldn't recommend an Ebony... and I sell them.
    It's a top of the line camera for sure, beautiful to work with, nice finish and layout.
    However where you start and where you finish up are two different points. Many people
    get an Ebony after they've had 3 or 4 other cameras first. I know I had four 4x5's before I
    got one.
    Some people find them great to work with .... a lot of other people are very happy with
    some of the other products on the market.
    Before you settle on any of the choices make sure you see it live, hold it, turn the knobs,
    because they all look great on the websites selling them.
    -Rob Skeoch
  11. The Ebony will be more rigid. If using long lenses and/or roll film backs that may matter to you. The pleasure of using a camera with the excellent ergonomics and finish of the Ebony is an intangible that only you can assign value to, but I've always placed high value on anything to do with touch/control.

    If you're certain you'll stick with LF, then why buy four cameras to end up with the Ebony years down the road? I bought a Leica within 2 years of starting to photograph, and still own it 32 years later. I plan on doing the same with my expensive Arca-Swiss. (I'm also still married to my first wife, so either I'm a stubborn cuss or I'm a lucky chooser to start with.)
  12. Paul, I will add another "dimension" to the advice already given! My first LF camera was an Ebony. I thought long and hard about how I could justify the cash outlay - but I'm glad I did! There are many capable field cameras out there - with a range of prices to suit all pockets. But what happens if (as in my case) you are determined that LF would work for you and you are determined to put the effort into (trying) to master it - why not skip the "introductory" cameras and buy the best availble? I am not suggesting that Ebony cameras take better pictures. But ask the majority of LF users what camera they would like to own and it is (probably) an Ebony. I am fortunate that I am familiar with/have a working knowledge of quite a few makes of 5x4 camera. I have found that no matter which "make" of wooden camera you use that Ebony cameras are better built, nicer to use and so (in my experience) increase the enjoyment I get from my photography. The RW45E is considered as Ebony's "entry level" camera - but it is far from a beginners camera and will certainly keep most photographers happy without the need to change to one of the more expensive Ebony cameras. You also need to consider the level of service that you get when you buy a LF camera. What happens if something goes wrong or you need advice? Thankfully there are some good customer help "desks" but I have found the level of service you get with Ebony certainly goes some way in justifying the price of the camera. Good luck in your quest! Paul
  13. uk


    I have two comments to add.

    Firstly, LF is demanding and if the camera system is onerous to operate it may cause you
    to do less of it. With my previous system, I was ready to stop doing it and revert to100%
    MF and forsake the higher quality offered. An Ebony, the 45SU with asymetric tilts, makes
    LF easier than I ever thought it could be. Set-up time is 2 minutes from dropping the
    tripod on the floor to pressing the shutter. Hence, I do get better images with an Ebony.

    Second is the quality which i enjoy evry time I handle it. I've worn Churches hand made
    leather lined business shoes for 20 years and every day I put them on I feel a tiny
    satisfaction. It's the same ever time I open my LF camera bag. You can't put a price on it,
    but the pleasure is there.

    An Ebony costs a substantial sum to purchase, but for something that lasts a life time, will
    always be worth 50% of it's original price. If you don't smoke, drink or chase women, it's
    hardly a bank breaker. You'll spend more on a mid range DSLR and 1 lens.
  14. My first and only 4x5 camera is an Ebony - the 45S. I bought it because, well, I had saved up enough money to buy it and wanted a good camera that would last. I haven't regretted it. One nice feature of some Ebony cameras I haven't seen mentioned is that the non-folding, instant setup versions, like my 45S, are an absolute joy to use.
  15. The Tach. is a usable camera, the Ebony a great one. A partial list of
    advantages that the Ebony has:
    1) more rigid at all extensions=sharper pictures
    2) A perfect placement of the focus --inside of ground glass is exactly where
    film is=sharper pictures
    3)Much tougher, Titanium is far stronger than steel, let alone brass or
    aluminum. The Ebony wood version tougher than mahogany or cherry by far.
    4)More movements
    5)Smoother and easier to use
    6)Made far better and more carefully.
    7) Like the difference between a Porsche and a Hundai. There is joy in
    owning something really beautiful .
    8) Huge variety of models to choose from including 2 non folding 4x5's that let
    you leave on the lens for quicker setup.
    9)You never have to think about spending money to trade up. You have the
    best wooden camera ever made.
    10)Brighter focusing screen, lines that do not obstruct vision.
    11)Optional asymmetrical focusing saves a lot of time.

    Currently I have an RW45, SW810 and SV 1114, all in mahogany because of
    the lighter weight. Have an SV57E on order. Please write with any questions,
    or you may see the cameras when in NYC. 212 807 1403

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