toyo 810m and schneider 480(6.8) s mc : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've been a professional Photographer for thirty years. I am primarily a Portrait and People Photographer I have used my 35 and roll film cameras to shoot people in my studio and on location wide open usually around dawn or dusk to catch that twilight or "sweet light". I'm pretty good at shooting wide open. I've gotten bored lately with my work.

I've been reawakend by the idea of Contact printing and some the alternative processes I read about and intend to try. I am going to get an 8x10 camera but don't care in the slightest about the movements although I may grow into that type of photography later. I want a lens that I can shoot portraits with in 8x10 and I've always shot tight anyway and will never change.

The combination I want is the toyo 810mII and the Schneider 480(6.8) s mc and it seems that this combination will give me what I want. Is this combination going to work or is there something I haven't foreseen. I'm a one lens kinda guy anyway so I'll be getting one lens and shooting with the view camera from that perspective.

Thanks in advance for taking the time and trouble to answer my question

Jonathan Brewer

-- Jonathan Brewer (, June 22, 2000


Hi, what kind of weather do you usually have to work in? I'm kind of constrained by the wind, I've been doing some 8*10 people shots, and the wind here is a real limiting factor. I don't know the answer to this, but with a longer lens, do you have to worry about vibrations more so than with 12"? Again, I've had what I thought was good luck with my 8*10, but I can't help but think it's difficult for the average person to relax sitting with an 8*10 a few feet in front of their face. I think a very long shutter release cord works best in this process, and I wish I could find a good one. I find it's hard to interact with the subject when I have to lume over the camera in the person's face because my shutter release is short. Just a few comments.

-- david clark (, June 23, 2000.

Hi David

I appreciated your comments. A few thoughts in response. I love shooting portraits in the studio where you have to piece together every technical aspect of the shot but still come up with something seems impromptu. I like to counterbalance this with going out on the street with my cameras and shooting of the cuff all the while attempting the same technical level that I achieve in a studio setting. Doing this helps me to grow as a photographer and my interaction with people has always been positive when I shoot on the street because I rarely try to "steal shots from people", which I feel is intrusive and a form of disrespect.

I would feel insulted if I were photographed having an argument with my wife by somebody I didn't know was there and you have to go out shooting with the idea that you've got to respect who you shoot. I tend to let my subject know that I'm there which lets them know that I care and it therefore breaks a lot of Ice. You'll find most people don't mind giving you a piece of themselves if you give them a piece of yourself which is only fair. The other way is stealing.

I'm NOT naive, I know I will on occasion have to do some things differently with an 8x10, but who I shoot isn't going to change and while learning this format I'm going to have to pick and choose my spots. There are going to be certain shots that I will need to shoot with my other equipment. but when the opportunity presents itself, I will break out with the Large Format, and if I fail in my objective initially, I will find another way to do it. The bottom line though is that the 8x10 is going to work for me, not the other way around. I'm going to tell the 8x10 what to shoot, it's not going to tell me how to shoot.

The smaller formats are perfect for taking a lot of shots and messing up a lot of them for any number of reasons and in spite of that coming up with a masterpiece. The unfortunate part about this is when you want a print of an image you may have cropped, grain rears it ugly head. The 8x10 will teach me what it has to teach me about being economical in the way I shoot in order to get that masterpiece and being an 8x10 it will only improve my shots which are on the money.

I obviously won't be walking up to a complete stranger with a 8x10 and getting the same initial reaction I would if I had my 35 or my 6x6, I don't expect to, I'll be picking and choosing my spots with the 8x10.

It all goes back to the same mind set, If you decide to do something, really made up you mind to do it, you'll do it, and be sucessful.

Best Regards Jonathan Brewer e-mail:

-- Jonathan Brewer (, June 23, 2000.


I'm not familiar with the Toyo 8x10, but everyone says it's a fine piece of machinery. It looks pretty heavy, though.

I did try out one of the 480 Symmars when I was looking for a lens in this focal length. It's also a fine lens, but it's big, heavy and quite expensive. Filters in this size are very costly. Big shutter, too.

Are you sure you want to lug around a metal 8x10 Toyo and a lens this large in the field? With 8x10, I find this is the single most inhibiting factor to using it as much as I'd like in the field: weight and bulk. But, in the studio it makes no difference.

Be sure the Toyo will comfortably handle a lens that large and heavy. And if you're planning to shoot "tight", your bellows will be extended pretty far beyond infinity. So also make sure the Toyo will be stable with that much extension when out in the field. As the previous poster mentioned, even the slightest wind with this much weight and bellows extension will cause image-degrading vibration. This is not a big deal in the studio, but in a stiff wind you'll be cursing everything in sight.

Coverage for the 480 Schneider on 8x10 format is huge, and, if you're not that interested in lots of movements, it might be more lens than you'll ever need. I chose a 450mm focal length instead, because of all the size, weight and cost factors.

The focal length I find myself using almost 90% of the time in 8x10, for all kinds of photography, including portraiture, is the 12". I have a friend who shoots tight head/shoulders shots almost exclusively with an 8x10, and he uses an older 14" Commercial Ektar. He swears by this (14") focal length for portraits. I like the perspective of a 12" lens for portraits, but that's just personal taste.

Shooting "tight" portraiture with an 8x10 is not exactly a subtle or inconspicuous thing, so I would think that camera distance from your subject is not that big an issue. It might make a difference in 35mm, but it's a moot point with LF.

Depth of field with the 480 at short distances will be rather limited. How much of the subject's face do you want in focus? Shooting wide open with a 480 might give you just the tip of the subjects nose, or just the eyes, in focus in a tight head shot. Is that the effet you're after? If not, how far are you willing to stop down to achieve the DOF you're after? And have you thought about the resulting slower shutter speeds such small apertures will require? Live subjects tend to move. You did not mention using flash, is that an option?

Just a few things to consider. Good luck with your choice, Sergio.

-- Sergio Ortega (, June 23, 2000.

With my 4x5 and a 210 lens, f/16 will barely keep the human face in focus at close ranges of around 3-5 feet! Typical exposures indoors are between 1/8 and 1 second.

With the 8x10 start thinking in terms of f/32 or f/45 resulting in substantial challenges if you are using low available light. 8x10 photographers like Yousuf Karsh used strobes. Off course, you are going to need a lot of strobe power...

As mentioned earlier Ektars are a popular choice for portraiture. A modern Fuji 450mm might also be a good choice. You may want to look into a wood field camera such as a Deardorff or Kodak.

-- VNC (, June 23, 2000.

Don't overlook the gear from the era of stunning 8x10 portraiture, which may save you some serious money and still deliver the goods. Many 8x10 wooden field and studio cameras are available at decent prices as well as the 12" to 30" classic portrait lenses. I use the Afga/Ansco 8x10 wood field and various old portrait lenses in my daily professional portrait business.

-- C. W. Dean (, June 23, 2000.

Unfortunately with an 8X10 camera there are going to be lots of times where the camera, in fact, does tell you how to shoot. Wind, light and depth of field considerations are much more problematic with 8X10s than with a smaller camera.

You've mentioned that you'd like a 480 mm lens to shoot available light portaits and on the surface that focal length be a good choice. But consider the depth of field of a 480 at a H&S portrait distance. At two meters it can't be much even at f32 and at f6.8 it will be negligable. LF lenses (like any other) want to be stopped down for sharpness, although in a contact print you'd be pressed to tell. But focusing accuracy is a concern with a lens like this wide open. You have to focus, close the lens, load the film holder, pull the darkslide and shoot; all without the subject moving more than a tiny bit of an inch.

I guess my suggestion would be to perhaps think of a 300 mm lens for street use rather than a 480. I use a Nikkor 300 f9 M lens on my 8X10 but not for any portraits so far, but that should change next week. The advantage of this lens is the size (very small) and although you don't get gobs of depth of field with this lens, you will get more than the 480 at any given f-stop.

I'm planning on attaching a string to the camera, doing all my focusing then stretch the string to the subject's nose. Then I can do all the stopping down, putting the film holders in and so forth while the subject relaxes (a bit!). Then after all that's completed I can get the subject back into position by using the string again. I'm hoping that it works and the shorter focal length can't hurt.

-- David Grandy (, June 23, 2000.

Intersting people work with an 8x10 includes Nicholas Nixon, Sally Mann, Jock Sturges. 4x5/8x10: Arnold Newman.

-- VNC (, June 23, 2000.

I really appreciate the input I'm getting and I feel like I'm getting the benefit of the experience of some real knowledgeable folks who shoot in Large Format. I may have to obtain two lenses as suggested with one for the studio and one for the field. The input regarding this issue makes a lot of sense to me.

Regarding the depth of field issues I have of a few thoughts in response. I'm regarded as very good with faces and portraits and shooting tight is all I ever do. Shooting tight and wide open in 35 and 6x6 doesn't give you a lot of leeway either in terms of DOF in the studio or on location. When I shoot a tight head and shoulder and I have a minimal about of depth of field. I focus on the eyelashes and having done that I will know that the eyes are in focus. The mind tends to accept a face as in focus if the eyes are in focus even if the rest of the face is not. This doen't always work but you would be surprised if you really scrutinized some close-ups on how little depth of field the photographer really had.

If the right things are in focus in a shot there is a tendency to accept more of the shot as being in focus than there really is. Now this doen't always work but as you get good at portraits you become less afraid of the shallow depth of field issues and after a while you start coming up with shots the book says you can't do.

Regarding portraits I used to be afraid of taking shots unless I had the nose all the way to the back of the head in focus. I don't attemt that anymore and don't forget that the more you increase depth of field the more in focus things are going to be in front and behind your subject. Instead of calculating depth of field and telling myself that I need to this or that in focus, I now "feel" my way into focus as I look through the lens.

In doing doing portraits which has been my specialty for thirty years I have struggled with the very depth of field issues some of you mentioned. Quite a few times early in my career I would consider a shot and do a few calculations and say to myself "no I can't make this shot". I don't do that anymore I just take the shot.

Shooting wide open and tight in the studio and out in the field, I am photographing a very sweet light, a very soft light, and with only one or two subjects as subject of my composition, the tightness and the shallow depth of field throwing everything else intensely out of focus tends to 'edit out' everything you don't want in the shot. Believe me the depth of field issues you wrestle with when you shoot tight are the same in 35 and medium format as they are apparently in 8x10. I will push the envelope in that area since I very experienced in that area.

Same thing with the issue of people moving, which is the same in 35 and MF. I'm certainly not going to try to shoot somebody walking down the street with an 8x10. Other scenes with interesting faces which are less on the move which will afford me the time to set up and do the shot I will attempt but I know I will have to learn about my 8x10 and find a 'niche'in which my style combined with the 8x10 flourihses.

Shallow depth of field doesn't intimidate me, I love playing with it. The mention of the wind, and the stablity of the camera with a big lens on it does concern me though and it seems from everything I've read that I may have an easier time in the studio with some increased difficulty out in the field.

I do have a question from you folks experinced in 8x10. I always thought that these cameras and especially the Toyo 8x10 since it is made out of metal would be stable no matter what the bellows draw and the size of the lens was. Is this correct? Does the 480(6.8) s mc fit the Toyo 810mII? Does anybody know specifally what will happen if this camera/lens combination is extended to its max bellows draw? I don't care about weight since I lift weights, I only care about rigidity of the camera.

Someone brought up the issue of strobes. I have taken tight head shots with a 100mm handheld at 1/60 and even 1/30 and they come out sharp. Why? Don't forget that a strobe will tend to 'freeze the action' for a shorter duration than the actual time the shutter is open. You can get sharp shots because of this that the books says you cannot do.

From all the e-mails I've gotten it's apparent to me I'm going to have to learn my way around my 8x10 in the studio and get comfortable with before I start lugging it around the park or the beach.

Is there anybody out there experienced with the 8x10m and a big lens who could give me it's quirks and limitations. If it can't handle the Schneider 480(6.8) s mc then I can stop looking right now, does anybody know? I need specifics. Can anybody help?

Thanks for all your input Joanthan Brewer

-- Jonathan Brewer (, June 23, 2000.

I began my portrait career using a view camera, then moved to small format, than back to view cameras so it might be interesting to hear your experiences, frustrations, successes and failures as you make the transition.

The ease of moving to 8x10 for an experienced portrait photographer depends some on one's working methods and the comfort considerations of the sitter. The speed and convenience of the SLR is gone. Some sitters will become quite uncomfortable both physically and emotionally with the slower, less candid, and frankly intimidating camera size and associated manipulations. In practice, you may become frustrated by the loss of the "real time" visual feedback of the SLR. After composing and focusing at the rear of the 8x10, you then have to position yourself back in front of the camera to view the subject and make further corrections/directions before releasing the shutter--this is a difficult change in practice.

If you are accustomed to making dozens of exposures during a sitting, you will be amazed at the time it takes to compose and expose only two or three 8x10 sheets. Be prepared for the frustrations of bumping the camera or tripod after lengthy compositions. Tripod selection needs much thought as well as tripod technique--an area largely overlooked in 8x10 use.

I'll think of 80 or 90 other things later but for now, you may be able to drop the weight lifting as lugging around all the big gear will suffice!!

-- C. W. Dean (, June 23, 2000.

Tight compositions and short DOF can become quite tricky when the subject has to sit still while you insert the filmholder, cock the shutter, remove the darkslide, and shoot, but it's not impossible. You sound determined and have a clear idea of what you want, so you'll master it.

-- David Goldfarb (, June 23, 2000.

i have shot many head and shoulder portraits using a 14'' g- claron on 8x10 polaroid at f 16 -22 when focused on the eyes the pictures came out grea with an old kodak or ansco iused stobe the 14 lets you still be cl,ose enough to relate to your portrait.

-- lee nadel (, June 23, 2000.

Jonathon, I have the toyo 8x10 and I shoot portraits with it. With lenses at the 400 range, consider buying the Fuji 450 f/12.5. It is very sharp and very light (it's a good price too!). Here are a few tings that you will want to consider (and many of them have already been mentioned):

Shooting portraiture with lenses this long is difficult, especially when using natural light as you want to do, because you will need stop down to increase your depth of field. It is true that you can focus on the eyes, but you must consider that once you have composed and focused your subject, it takes alot of time to close the lens, load the holder, pull the dark slide, make the exposure (plus the film flatness problems associated with these larger formats)...that is alot to take into account when trying to shoot a sitting subject that is trying to stand still. The slightest sway of their head will place your focus in front or behind the eyes. I have tried this and when shooting transparency, it becomes very expensive. There are other ways to acheive shallow depth of field other than wide open lenses (ie. simple lense movements will blow out the background to a much greater extent than what a wide open lens can do, the advantage is that this method will allow you to have more generous focus on the important facial features. This extra DOF will save your shot on what may have been an out-of focus one). Condsider the use of a portable flash system for feild applications to increase your DOF.

Also remember camera shake due you bumping it, or wind blowing on bellows...the camera is massive and must be supported with a sturdy tripod. I use a wooden zone 6 tripod and it is very solid. A heavy duty three way head is also nice for quick camera levelling.

The problem with wind blowing the bellows can be annoying and sometimes it will prevent you from taking the shot at all. This is a problem with the format but it is especially picky with a lens that long. a simple way to minimze this is with the use of a large umbrella to keep wind from acting on your bellows.

I don't want to discourage you, but the 8x10 approach is much slower than shooting 35mm or 6x6. And, yes, there are many times when the camera will tell you what to do! But you sound determined and once you get a shot with 8x10, nothing else compares.

I am travelling to Papua New Guinea next year with my toyo 8x10MII to photograph the highland tribes. As a portrait lens I am using a Fuji 300 f/8.5 for full body portraits. I was considering a 400 lense but the possible risk of shallow DOF and camera shake lead me to use a 300 instead. In addition I will have a Balcar portable light system (1600 watt/sec per light head) to allow me to stop down to f/16-f/32! I need that power to overcome the DOF problems.

Keep at it! Best of luck...let us know how you do!


-- Dave Anton (, June 23, 2000.

Hi Dave

Thanks for imparting your wisdom to me. You mention stopping down to increase DOF on a portrait and using a simple lens movement to blow out the backround and that sounds great to me. Please forgive me but just how would you do that with the Toyo? I am a babe in the woods in terms of knowing the movements of a 8X10.

Your description of that technique would help me greatly as I am going definitely try it!

Looking forward to your response Jonathan Brewer e-mail:

-- Jonathan Brewer (, June 23, 2000.

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