Kodak 2D 8x10 field camera and assorted lenses-should I purchase?

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I'm in the process of evaluating a Kodak 2D 8x10 field camera that is being offered for sale by a co-worker. The camera has 3 lenses, mounted in lensboards (listed below) and 5 filmholders. The bellows are in good shape and my initial tests have not found any light leaks.


13" f/10 Wallensak raptar apochromatic, Betax #3 shutter 13" Taylor Hobson Cooke anastigmatic (shutter but no obvious place to connect a cable release) 180cm f/9 Steinheil unofocal

My initial impression of the camera (I've shot about 20 sheets of film with it, all landscapes) is that it's greatest weakness is the limited back tilt that does not seem to allow focussing on the ground plane, even with the 180cm lens. Rigidity is also of some concern. None of the images I've made so far are adequately sharp accross the whole image, but I don't know whether this is due to not using the old lenses at a proper aperture, or the lack of movements I described above. (I'm new to 8x10, but have used a 4x5 and my wonderful old Galvin 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 for many years)

My exploring via the www suggests that the lenses are all moderately OK.

I'd be interested in feedback on both the camera body and anyone's experience with any of the lenses I've indicated. What do you think a reasonable price for the total package? Note that my intended use is to get a good 8x10-capable backpack and take the camera on trail.



-- Jeffrey Fookson (jfookson@as.arizona.edu), September 07, 2000


Do you have front tilt to control focus on the 2D? You'll get less distortion than you will with back tilt if you do. I know that many people use the 2D quite successfully for landscapes.

The lenses are nothing special, but they're a start. You might consider selling them all on eBay and buying something like a 12" Commercial Ektar or 10" Wide-Field Ektar. Meanwhile, stop down at least to f:32.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), September 07, 2000.

I picked up a fair condition Eastman View #2 about 8 months ago for about $200.00. After cleaning it up and patching the bellows I have found the most limiting factor is the lack of any f/s and tilt. Maybe yours is in better shape and more rigid but I would not consider backpacking with mine as wind vibration is something to really consider. For indoor use its fine within limits. I have since picked up a Burke & James Commercial which I'm fixing up and it is much sturdier and has all the movements you could want. The Raptar and THC lens are fine for B&W if the condition and price is right.

-- bill zelinski (willy226@yahoo.com), September 07, 2000.

Hi Jeffery, Basically, the (not Kodak I think, but Eastman-help me out on this) Eastman 2D is a loser of camera. Probably OK in its day, what choice did they have, but now probably better used if wired for a novel livingroom lamp. The lenses might be OK if they are well centered; of course you never know until you try them. Wollensak was not all that well known for its consitancy in manufactoring. The glass could be servicable. However, the Betax #3 shutter, ha ha, I can't imagine it will still provide reliable service. The unofocal might be nice if you are into really-really soft images which are "in" right now among certain perrifial photographic circles.

If you want consistant good images, then maybe there is another package that's got your name on it. Try something newer, something made post W.W.II.

By the way, if you don't mind, please send me the email address of the person who is selling this old junker.

Glad to be of help, David

-- david clark (doclark@yorku.ca), September 07, 2000.

I think there are probably several things to consider here. You don't really state what type photography you plan to do, or just how important movements are. My feeling is that, unless you are attempting some pretty serious architectural work, this camera should me more than adequate for most applications. I'm not at all sure that I understand your problem with associating back tilt with focusing. Achieving proper focus and perspective control involves a combination of movements between the lens stage, the negative stage, and a proper point of focus.

So far as the lenses are concerned I would highly suspect the Wollensak, but I have no experience with the other two. I think (contrary to what David Clark has to say) that the Betax #3 shutter is a fine unit so long as it has had some proper maintenance. I used a triple convertible Turner Reich lens for many years and was more than satisfied with its results. Behind my computer, on my wall, is a 4 foot by 5 foot duraflex print shot with the 8x10 and some old lens and it is wonderfully sharp, but it falls off on the edges some. This does not bother me in the least and, in fact, draws one's eye into the center of the photograph (confederate area of Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, GA.)

I guess my point is that I would base the decision on the camera and not the lenses. I remember owning a Steinheil years ago, but I really don't remember its performance characteristics. They must not have been very good.

You can do some wonderful with old gear, you just must learn to make it work for you. I acquired my first 8x10 from a friend in a trade (with the Turner Reich lens). At the time I had 4 or 5 top line Nikons with motors and all the lenses as well a bunch of medium format stuff. After a period of time I realized that I was only shooting 8x10 so I sold everything else! Used the 8x10 for years and loved it! I now own a 30 year old Canon 35mm with 2 lenses with a total investment of $52. Everything I do now is digital (on a personal level) and the photographic lab business is going that way also.


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