Suggestions for first 8x10 lens : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am in the process of buying an 8x10 camera. I've had a 5x7 for a while, but haven't really been able to use it much. In my quest for a reasonably priced 5x7 enlarger, I ended up getting an old 8x10 Elwood instead, which is in need of a baseboard, so I haven't been able to use it yet, either. Last week I found out that 1)Kodak is rumored to be discontinuing TMax 100 (which is the film I use for B&W almost exclusively) in 5x7 sheets, and 2) My local lab will do 4x5 and 8x10 'chromes, but not 5x7. So, when the chance to buy an old B&J 8x10 came along, I took it. Now what I want to know is what lens should I buy first? I was looking for a lens that would function as a normal lens, but convert to something I could use for portraits. Any ideas on this possibility? I also would welcome opinions/experiences with the Elwood 8x10 enlarger. It looks like I oughta be able to make it work nicely, perhaps with some modifications to the light source, etc. Thanx in advance, folks....

-- Brad Daniels (, August 21, 2000


Don't quite know what you mean when you say that you want a normal lens that will convert for portraits. Don't forget that with an 8x10 a "360mm" normal lens will have over 500mm of bellows draw when used for protraiture. If you want a dual focal length lens something like a Convertible Symmar may be in order.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, August 21, 2000.

A Convertable Symmar is exactly what I was talking about. Do they make one that would have good focal lengths for the normal/portrait combination, and if so, would any of you recommend it? Thanx.

-- Brad Daniels (, August 21, 2000.

Hi Brad, I've had pretty good luck with 300mm/12" for portraits, close-up with extension.

-- david clark (, August 21, 2000.

Brad: What lens do you have for your 5x7? Some of those lenses will cover 8x10. The Cooke and Turner Riech lenses for 8x10 are convertable, as are the Protar sets and others. The Turner Reich and Cooke were triple convertables of 12, 19 and 21 or 23 inch focal lengths. I think the Protar was about the same. Since you are going to enlarge the negs, you might consider a 4x5 back for the 8x10 and use 4x5 film for portraits. A 12" lens would then work for both a normal and portrait lens. A 12in. or 14in. would also work on 8x10 film for 3/4 or half length shots. A half length shot on 8x10 or seated full length can look awsome with the big neg. Incidentally, the Elwood is a great old enlarger with the lighting system it comes with.

Regards, Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (, August 21, 2000.

I have an 8X10 B&J and use a Nikkor 300 mm f9 M lens. I'd highly recommend this lens since it's fairly inexpensive, multicoated, small (52 mm filter size), and very sharp. It also has an image circle big enough to do 8X10 work with lots of movements. My bellows gets in the way well before I run out of lens.

I purchased this lens originally for 4X5 portrait - or at least portrait focal length - purposes. This focal length is the same as a 35 mm 85, 90, 100 or 105, depending on which book or magazine you refer too (which is kind of funny all by itself) but it's around there somewhere.

The bigger 5.6 lenses have their place as well. But I carry this stuff on my back to shoot landscapes and the like, and don't see any advantage in those lenses for 8X10 and in fact their size, weight and expense would make them a liability to me for field work with a 4X5.

-- David Grandy (, August 22, 2000.

How about a 240mm or 270mm G-claron? I am happy with my 270mm G- claron as a general purpose 8x10 lens. Since the G-claron is a symetrical lens, the front element can be unscrewed to double the focal length. The quality is surely not as good without a front element, but this may be a plus if your purpose is portraiture.

-- William Marderness (, August 22, 2000.

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