Sub $1000 8x10 Cameras (used) : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

One day (in the not too distant future) Id like to get an 8x10 camera to take shots of landscapes and cityscapes, then use the B&W negs make contact pints. However, if I have to fork over $2500 plus for a Wisner, Wista, Toyo, or Zone IV, that day will be in the very distant future!!! I know that these are excellent pieces of equipment, but I cant justify spending that much money on a single camera any time soon (too many other hobbies and a Wife that wants a house : - ).

My basic question is, are there any decent used/older model 8x10s out here for less than $1000?? When I say "decent" I mean, one that has enough rigidity so that your movements/settings stay set when you take the film holders in and out. For what I plan to use it for, basic movements would be fine. Friction movements would be fine, but geared focusing would be nice.

What about a Burke & James, Ansco, Deardorf, or used studio monorail???? I dont plan on hiking or packing far with it, so Im not really concerned about weight. Come on, I know you all arent using the latest and greatest. What should I keep an eye out for? Any oldies, but goodies?? Im pretty decent with my hands and tools, so if I had to tighten/shim things up a little, that would be fine.

In short, I dont need a new F5 or EOS 1n RS, so how about a used K1000???


-- sheldon hambrick (, January 03, 1999


The used K1000 of the 8x10 line is probably the calumet c-1, It has most movements of newer 8x10s and costs around 700 depending on the condition. It has a fairly short bellows so you'd need a wider lens (shorter focal length)for macro. Your on the right tack (less camera, more lens). I would avoid a monorail 8x10 at all costs unless you plan to shoot only in the studio from a camera stand. The weight of most monorailed 8x's will crush all but the largest tripods. The C-1 weighs 16 lbs (remember, the camera will be the lightest piece of equipment you'll have to carry at least until you can afford to go get carbon fiber everything else ) so a C-1 with all the needed gear is still too heavy for anything but trail hiking. Any other 8x alternatives for $1000 other than the deardorff is the Kodak masterview. Full moves on the masterview in a all-metal field should be slightly cheaper than a deardorff. I think the BJ, ansco, etc. would be ok if they felt solid and if all you shot were landscapes/protraits just make sure the bellows is good. Don't worry about the camera so much as the lens. What kind of 4x5 do you shoot? What are the limits/problems you have found with that configuration? Now double all limits and problems for 8x10. Good Hunting. P.S. Avoid buying a flimsy new camera.(see tachihara)

-- Triblett Lunger-Thurd (, January 04, 1999.


I have and use two extremely sub $1000 8x10s. I have a B& J Grover monorail and an Eastman "Improved No 2." I like the B&J quite a bit but it is harder to carry in the field not because it is heavier but because it comes in two pieces. I don't think it is any heavier than the Eastman. It has all movements and is surprisingly sturdy although it doesn't compare with the new expensive cameras. I bought this camera for 250$ to see if I liked the format, which I do, and am now trying to sell it for the same amount.

My other camera, the Eastman, has pretty limited movements (no front tilt) and has been more of a restoration project for me but I have begun shooting with it and while I really miss the tilt I like the camera anyway. It is pretty rickety. It fits into a case and is thus much easier to haul around. But you wouldn't want to get too far away from the car in any event. The above post about the camera not being the worst of what you carry is absolutely correct. The lenses are enormous, the film holders are huge, the tripod is massive, and then there are all the other little things to haul and lose.

-- Erik Ryberg (, January 05, 1999.

Mr. Hambrick,

I sent you my $.02 ealier on different camera models. I would like to temper the previous posts about weight. Yes, an 8X10 system is rather onerous when compared to a Contax or Leica, but it ain't as bad as a Betacam or a 16mm rig either.

My camera weighs about 13.5 lbs. I have 9 older holders, mostly wooden ones, 2 lenses, the dark cloth, 2 meters (1 for back-up) 6 72 mm filters & adapter rings, stop watch, 2 cable releases, Toyo loupe, lens cleaning brush & cloth and Kodak's Professional Photgraphers Hndbk, or whatever it is. The camera and all the accessories go in the original Kodak fiberboard case and the holders go in a waterproof shoulder bag I got from an army surplus store. My tripod is a Bogen 3046 with a 3047 head which rests on the shoulder opposite the holders.

I haven't weighed the lot, but this post has me thinking I should. It can't be much more than 40lbs. I have paired my stuff down as much as possible to make life easier. My point is, although 8X10 is no stroll in the park, it ain't that hard either if you restrict yourself to essentials and balance your load. I don't backpack out to Godforsayken, MT or Whoknowzwhair, UT but I do carry the stuff around for 3 hours at a time while I look for the shot. At 5'6" and 165lbs, I'm no Arnold either. Weston was no bruiser and Adams at 6' weighed around 120 in his earlier days. Michael A. Smith is a little shorter and maybe 20 - 30 lbs lighter than me and he uses an 8 X 20 Deardorff. I'd like to know how Kenro Izu totes his 14 X20 around at Angkor Watt.

-- Sean yates (, January 05, 1999.

Don't forget the Century Universal 8X10. Don't see too many of them around these days but it is called the poor man's Deardorff, has very good movements, is lighter, and has lots of bellows. I use 121mm to 600mm with ease. I see them now and then for $700 and less. I use this and a Kodak 2D convert (custom-built monorail with aluminum standards) for all of my 8X10 work.

-- Rob Tucher (, January 06, 1999.

I am the originator of this tread, and I just wanted to update it.

Over the last several months I've acquired a green Calumet C-1 (EX condition) and a 14" Commercial Ektar (EX++ condition), both totaling just over $800. So the deals are out there. Now I'm saving more ca$h for film holders, darkroom chemicals, and paper.

Thanks to all those that contributed. Sheldon

-- sheldon hambrick (, August 27, 1999.

Sheldon, good luck with the new camera and I hope it works out. I shoot an ooooolllllddddd 8x10 Gundlach Wizard and I love it. The contacts are really nice. Let us know how your first prints come out. And remember that the $.99 stores have the cheapest film utensils around. James

-- james (, August 27, 1999.

I bought an old kodak metalfield and use only wide short small lenses as well as pinho put it all ina pack and use natural tripods found in nature as in rock/tree/ground

-- adrian j schafgans (, September 21, 2001.

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