Best camera for 8x10 landscapes? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am new to large format photo, stepping up from 35mm. I am interested in shooting landscape scenes, is there some cameras out there better than others for this type of photography. It seems the precision in some of the more expensive models is not so necessary for landscapes? Is this true? Any input would be greatly appreciatied. Thank you.

-- Bill Glickman (, August 29, 1998



Are you really lookingto step up from 35mm to 8x10? That isa couple of quantum leaps in terms of technique (LF requires lots of patience, gear is much bulkier and can be heavier,) even the way you think about making pictures is very different. I would suggest that rather than focus on gear right now, you work at educating yourself first by taking a workshop through an organization like the Santa Fe Photo Workshops, View Camera Magazine, or Arizona Highways magazine. Equipment wise i would invest more heavily in a couple of really good lenses, a really good tripod and head,a polaroid back and not so much on a camera body. That way if working in LF agrees with you will have made the really important quality purchases and can upgrade to a better body later. The price difference between an okay lens and a really good lens is much less than the difference between a starter body (like the Calumet Cadet) and a high end body like an Arca, a Sinar, a Canham (the DLC is my favorite landscape camera right now) a Wisner, a Horseman, a Toyo or a Linhof (to name just a few.) Also find a good dealer in your country or your part of the country.

Good luck and remember the lenses are the important thing.

-- Ellis (, August 30, 1998.

I agree with Ellis, that's quite a jump in formats.

You said you want to shoot landscapes. Are you planning on doing any hiking or backpacking to get to those landscapes? If so, I would seriously reconsider your decision to go with 8X10. Why not 4X5? More compact, lighter, greater depth of field for equivalent focal lengths (the normal for the 4X5 is a 150, for the 8X10 I believe it is a 300), etc. Take into consideration the cost of a sheet of film and it's processing when comparing the formats also.

As previously mentioned the lenses are ultimately more important. Spend your money there.

-- Mark Windom (, August 30, 1998.

I vote for 4x5 also, at least if you want to stick with it. I recommend a field version in either format for landscape stuff.

-- Ron Shaw (, August 31, 1998.

One thing none us have mentioned so far is that is far cheaper (and a lot less bulkier) to shoot 4x5 polaroid than 8x10. While you might not want to shoot P'roid in the field. It is an excellent teaching tool. So much so that I notice the upcoming Arizona Highways Grand Canyon Large Format landscape seminar being taught by Jack Dykinga is using Polaroid as the teaching medium. Polaroid lets you judge the effect of light, composition, and camera movements immediately.

-- Ellis (, August 31, 1998.

I say, if you want to shoot 8 x 10, go for it! For a justification of 8 x 10 compared to 4 x 5, see the Toyo forum, specifically^12443@.ee6c54a

Another big advantage is the lack of a need for an enlarger. As for your specific question, the Wisner Traditional L is of high quality, light weight (11 pounds), and reasonable price ($2595). Good luck!

-- Stewart Ethier (, August 31, 1998.

I am a great fan of polaroids in the field, i love using 665 film for my hassy. Its so much fun to see the polaroid and the negative 1 minute after exposure!! Now thats as close to affording a digital scanning back as im going to get for now :)

-- Altaf Shaikh (, September 01, 1998.

Go for it! But be prepared for a lot of failures, especially in the beginning. My favorite camera is the Deardorff. Forget about precision swings and tilts; you use the groundglass for determining all that anyway. A 10" WF Ektar is a great buy and excellent for landscapes. Don't be pressured to limit yourself to 4x5; the difference is not only in the final print: as AA points out, there is a great difference in "seeing" with the two cameras as well. Contact prints are without compare. Like Josef Sudek, you may never want to make an enlargement again.

-- Peter Hughes (, September 01, 1998.

I'm wondering if maybe the "8x10" refers to print size instead of format. 8x10 is a pretty standard print size for 35mm work, and maybe Bill is looking for a higher quality 8x10 print. Just a thought.

Take care, Chris

-- Christopher Cline (, September 02, 1998.

Chris, You should be an attorney! Are you?


-- Sergio Ortega (, September 02, 1998.

An attorney? Ouch! ;-) No, I'm a physics professor at a college in Salt Lake City (Westminster College).

-- Christopher Cline (, September 03, 1998.

Well the Arca-Swiss FC can be converted between 4x5 and 8x10. Maybe you could start with an Arca 4x5 and upgrade to 8x10 later. (Or vice-versa).

-- Chris Bitmead (, September 05, 1998.

For many years I used a 8 x 10 Deardorff and printed by contact exclusively.

If you have never seen a good 8 x 10 contact print I would suggest looking at an exhibit of ORIGINAL photos by Edward Weston, among others.

It is certainly the format of choice for the utmost in quality, bit it does have its drawbacks. Equipment is big bulky and heavy. Dont even think about an 8 x 10 enlarger unless you are prepared to mortgage the house and car. Film is not cheap either.

BUT if a thoughtful, careful approach to each photograph is your style, then I cant think of a better format. Under the dark cloth there is just your vision and that great big ground glass.

If you like the uniqueness of the Polaroid medium, where each photograph is a one-of-a-kind experience, then you might give some thought to working with it in the 8 x 10 format. Again not cheap, but very high quality material.

Have fun. Tony Brent

-- Tony Brent (, September 07, 1998.

Bill: Two cameras come to mind: the Arca Swiss 4 x 5 and the Linhof Master Technika 4 x 5. When folded, both are relatively compact. The MT 4 x 5 folds up like a clam, protecting the lens and the focussing glass, to 7 x 7 x 4.5 inches. Both are metal cameras that weigh about 6 lbs, several pounds more than most wooden field cameras. The advantage of the metal construction is greater stability, impact resistance, and durability. The Arca Swiss is a full system modular camera that can be upgraded to 5 x 7 or 8 x 10. The chief disadvantage of the Arca Swiss is the need to switch between wide angle bellows and standard bellows. The MT uses one bellows for short and long focal length. The Arca Swiss can be configured with optional geared lens tilt if desired. The MT has standard center axis lens tilt, which eases sharpness adjustment, compared to the base tilt sharpness adjustment of the Arca Swiss (unless the latter is equipped with the Orbix geared mechanism to control lens tilt). Both cameras are at the high end in terms of purchase price and prestige as the Rolls Royces of cameras. The Arca Swiss has enough bellows extension that it can use a 210 mm G-Claron apochromatic Schneider lens for 1:1 macrofocussing with the bellows extended out to 420 mm. This same lens can also be used for landscape photography at infinity. The MT's bellows extension is limited to 360 mm, limiting the choice of a macrolens to one of the expensive 180 mm lenses, for which the bellows has to be racked out to 360 mm to get a 1:1 image reproduction. The longest focal length available for the MT is a telephoto 360/500 mm Nikkor-T lens combination. The Arca-Swiss can be used with telephoto lenses of 600 and 720 mm, and standard lenses of 480 mm. The relatively small opening of the bellows of the MT does not allow use of lens with rear elements measuring greater than 80 mm. This can be a potentially problem with some of the bulkier lense, but most landscape photographers avoid those lenses any way because of their bulk and weight, althugh these bulkier lenses may offer advantageous bright apertures of 5.6. The shortest focal length is either 35 mm or 45 mm lens, I am unsure which. The Arca Swiss has larger knobs to ease operation of the camera. Both can be set up and folded quickly without risk of crimping the bellows. Aesthetically, some of the wooden field cameras are stunning, with reflective finishes, brass hardware, luxurious leather bellows. However, most of them are more difficult to operate.

-- David Caldwell (, April 22, 2000.

Well Bill, it's been almost two years since you asked this question, so you probably already own an 8x10! However, just in case you're still debating, and noting that David today addressed 4x5 instead of 8x10, here's an enthusiastic recommendation for the Phillips Compact II. It is of unconventional design, extremely rigid, and weighs only 7.8 lb. I don't think a better tool exists for 8x10 landscapes and, in my opinion, it has all the precision anyone could use for that application.

-- Sal Santamaura (, April 22, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ