8x10 upgrade

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I'm looking to expand to 8x10 and am weighing the benefits of two options. What I will either do is to recondition an old 8x10 flatbed or get a format conversion kit for my Linhof Bi Kardan 4x5. Right now I'm leaning towards the format conversion option, but that's only if I can find a kit somewhere on the used market. I like the idea of the lighter weight with the field camera, but I'm not sure about the limited movements. I would appreciate some input on the matter. I'd like to hear your opinions on the pros and cons of both options. Thanks!

-- Dave Munson (orthoptera@juno.com), February 23, 2000


So there is no question Linhof nor we have any 810 B conversions. The only source of these will be second hand ones. I recently was at ken Mar and he had a rather large selection of B cameras so you may find the best alternative would be to just buy an 810.

The conversion consists of a new rail, bellows and rear standard. The only piece not included in a conversion is the front standard so the cost of converting is about the same as buying the camera in the first place.

-- Bob Salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), February 23, 2000.

Consider this:

Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, George Tice, Edward Weston, Art Sinsabaugh, Michael A. Smith, Paula Chamlee, Cole Weston, Richard Misrach, Nicholas Nixon, Imogene Cunningham, Brett Weston, Ezra Stoller, Irving Penn, Alan Ross, Morley Baer, the staff at Hedrich Blessing, Pompeo Possar and the other folks at Playboy that shoot/shot the centerfolds,

and Lord only knows how many others,

made some of the last centuries most famous images with field cameras, Agfa/Anscos, Deardorffs, Kodaks and the hard to find Century Universal. Some folks today wouldn't even look twice at the cameras they used. Every camera has it's limitations - price, weight, durability, flexibility, ease of use, "system approach", bellows draw, etc. etc. etc.

I don't know what kind of work you'll be doing - although it sounds like you'll be moving around. I don't know if you're a Mercedes/Rolls kinda guy, or a HumVee die hard. I have been very happy with my 8 X 10 Kodak and there are enough folks out there to keep Keith Canham, Ron Wisner, the Austrian folks at Lotus, the Japanese folks at Ebony, Dick Phillips and others in business.

Still, those Linhoffs are nice................

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), February 23, 2000.

Well said Sean!!! The vision and the commitment can be more important than the hardware. You gotta' dance with the girl that you brung'.

-- Dave Richhart (pritprat@erinet.com), February 23, 2000.

I'd like to throw in a little more from my stance. The fact that I could probably buy a separate camera for about the same amount as a conversion kit has, in fact, crossed my mind. However, it then ocurred to me that a new camera would mean a new system, and therefore would probably need a separate set of accessories. I'm 18 y/o and running on a part-time budget, so the added cost wouldn't exactly be easily absorbed. Also, I've gotten to love working with the Linhof, as it really fits my methods well. However, the weight issue keeps the field camera option in the back of my mind. I currently carry the bi-kardan, a Mamiya TLR, Nikon F4, spotmeter, 16 film holders, and a Manfrotto tripod in an F.64 backpack (which now weighs in the range of 45 lbs.), so I could get used to any added weight that might come along with rearranging things and replacing the 4x5 monorail with an 8x10. However, I could certainly get used to a lighter pack (considering that I usually trek between 5 and 12 miles when I go out with my camera).

As for the vision thing, I couldn't agree more. I mean really, all a view camera is, is a light tight box with a lens at one end. But oh, what a wonderful box a Linhof is. For the last two years I've been learning and exploring LF photography, and in the process I've learned that for me, the larger the format, the more able I am to capture my vision on film. I'm neither a Rolls kind of guy nor a Humvee kind of guy. I definitely put my equipment through it's paces in the rivers and forests, but my only criterion beyond durability is that the equipment needs to perform exactly what I need it to. I got hooked on LF at age 16 and I've never looked back. The commitment I've made to it has caused some dismiss me as a freak of photographic nature, but I know that it's worth it, and that's what keeps me going.

Thanks again for the suggestions; I appreciate it.

-Dave Munson

-- Dave Munson (orthoptera@juno.com), February 23, 2000.

Rowdy that makes you a Willys Overland kind of guy then.....

-- Trib (linhof6@hotmail.com), February 24, 2000.

my only criterion beyond durability is that the equipment needs to perform exactly what I need it to.

Ok, so what features do you want on your 8x10 camera? From what you're saying, it sounds like you use the camera for field work. Give us more clues.

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (mhayashi@phys.ufl.edu), February 24, 2000.

Quite true, I do use the camera almost exclusively for field work. I shoot all kinds of stuff, but one of my big things is close up work (I often shoot things at around 1:1). The features I use most are front axis tilt, front swing, rise, and cross, which, now that I think about it, is pretty much everything. Normally I only need a few degrees of front axis tilt, but there are certainly times when I push the camera and lens to their limits. If I do decide to take the field camera route, the camera will have to have both sufficient bellows extension and rigidity. One thing I've come to love about the Linhof is that it's absolutely rock solid. I'm not experienced with field cameras, though, so I'm not sure how they generally compare in terms of rigidity.

-Dave Munson

-- Dave Munson (orthoptera@juno.com), February 24, 2000.

As you recognized in your original post, one of the problems with a conversion is that you still have a 4x5 camera in all respects except the back. Among other things, your bellows length effectively gets cut in half so that if, for example, you have a 20" bellows on a 4x5 camera, it effectively becomes a 10" bellows when you convert to 8x10. Not many people would buy a camera that came with only a 10" bellows, particularly not if they wanted to do macro work like you do. I don't know what the actual bellows length is on the Kardan so this is just something to think about.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis@tampabay.rr.com), February 25, 2000.

I realize that you get effectively half the bellows extension on a rail x inches long when you go from 4x5 to 8x10. However, I can get an extension rail easily enough, and that would solve that problem. Also, I'll probably be starting out with a lens in the 210-240mm range, and that would also decrease the amount of bellows extension needed (as compared to a longer lens). The actual bellows length on the Bi-Kardan is about 24" for the 4x5 and about 30-34" for the 8x10.

-Dave Munson

-- Dave Munson (orthoptera@juno.com), February 26, 2000.

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