Inexpensive (relatively) 8x10 Lenses : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I recently acquired an 8x10 camera with 30 inches of bellows. I don't know how well, if at all, I'll like this format so other than the relatively high initial cost of the camera, I'd like to keep my start up expenses down. I have a 300 mm Nikon M lens that I figure I can use as my "normal" lens. I'd like something shorter and/or something longer (more interested in longer than shorter). If anyone has any suggestions for shorter and longer lenses in the $400 - $700 range that will cover 8x10, or if anyone knows of a source for discussion of such lenses, I'd appreciate your suggestions. I'll be doing only black and white contact prints and I don't mind single coating.

-- Brian Ellis (, September 28, 2000


Commercial and Wide-Field Ektars are fine lenses in that price range. I have a 10" WF Ektar that covers 8x10" with lots of room for movement. It comes in an Ilex #5 shutter, though, so you might take that into consideration, if you are concerned about weight.

-- David Goldfarb (, September 28, 2000.

Why don't you just stick with the one lens, learn the format and the style, before investing financially or in more learning curves in other lenses. If you like 8x10, you'll like it with one lens, if you don't, more lenses will not help. Some of my own personal best work was done when I had only one lens for 4x5. It radically decreases the number of decisions one makes when making an image. Good luck.


-- Eric Brody (, September 28, 2000.


I could not agree more with Eric. Simplify your life. Learn to use your camera with the lens you have. A 12" lens with the 8x10 format is a great combination. There's very little you cannot do with it. Sergio.

-- Sergio Ortega (, September 28, 2000.

I agree. Use the lens you have until you know you want to stick with 8x10. AA once said he prefered having just one lens. 'If I have several lenses, then I never have the right lens.'

-- Ron Shaw (, September 28, 2000.

For the longer, try a 12-19-24 Turner Reich triple convertible. They can be had for less than $300 in shutter - sometimes much less, Ive purchase two very nice ones for around $150. Or you might try a 480+mm process less (for around $300 on ebay), and have Mr. SK Grimes put it into a shutter for you for $200-300. Oops  I forgot the cost of the shutter, but Ive bought a #4 Ilex for as little as $95.

As for the wide, besides the great recommendation of the 10: WF Ektar, see if you can find a 240mm f9 G-Claron in barrel, and screw it directly into an inexpensive Copal #1.

-- sheldon hambrick (, September 28, 2000.

Or a 210 Claron. It's what I use for sorta-wide 8x10 and it works great. Not much in the way of movements but a little bit and a terrific 4x10 lens. Same goes for the 7 inch Dagor, which can be had for a song in barrel. You're going to want at least a 210 I think; anything longer is going to be too close to your 300 in my view. For longer lenses you'll probably end up with a red dot artar in the 18 or 24 inch focal length. I'd stick with 18 personally but I have a rickety camera and take pictures in windy places.

If you want really wide you'll either have to shell out a lot of cash or go for the 6x8 Protar V: about a 5.5 inch focal length and amazingly offers movements on 8x10. It's even pretty sharp. But good luck focussing the damn thing: it's an f18 lens.

-- Erik Ryberg (, September 28, 2000.

Of course, the advice to use one lens for a while is good. That said, I'd agree with a 19" Artar on the long end (to save money get the plain APO, not the later Red Dot). On the short end, two lenses that haven't been mentioned are the 165mm Angulon, which will cover with a little movement stopped down, and the Wide Angle 8x10 Wollensak, which is about 158mm, I think. It comes in two versions f/9.5 and f/12 (if memory serves).

-- Chris Patti (, September 28, 2000.

Thanks to all who responded. I should have made it clear that I don't plat to rush out in the next week or two and buy two more lenses. I was interested in the information for the future, assuming that using just the 300 mm initially is enough to encourage me to pursue the format.

-- Brian Ellis (, September 28, 2000.

Brian: If you do contacts from 8x10, you will find that just about any kind of lens will give you great photographs. One of my best images in 40 years of photography is a contact print made with an old uncoated l2 inch lens. Even a doublet or triplet can give you great contact prints. The 10 inch Wide Field Ektar is a great lens and was one of AA's favorites. He also used a 7 inch WF Ektar on 8x10. Since you don't enlarge and go through another lens that reduces print sharpness a little, you get everything possible out of the taking lens. I don't use my 8x10 much anymore, as it is getting a little heavy to carry around, but there isn't much that can give you more satifaction than an 8x10 contact print. I use 4x5 mostly because I do the art shows and need to be able to make more than one size print as I don't have an 8x10 enlarger. If you are willing to put up with the weight and don't get in a hurry, you will make some of the best images you have ever made.

Regards, Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (, September 28, 2000.

Dittos to Sheldons recommendation of a 12-19-24. I have use one converted to 19 and 24 extensively over the last 3 years and if used properly, i.e. with an orange filter behind the lens and focusing at the taking aperture with the filter in place when converted, they produce excellent images.

I am especially fond of the 19 inch focal length in 8X10, but you really do have an excellent lens in the Nikon. As the others have said, explore that focal lengyh, and see what its limitations really are. I used a only a 135mm on 4X5 for 14 years and really got to know and appreciate that focal length. As luck would have it 12" is pretty close to that length in 8X10 so the move over was easy from the stand point of composition but if I weren't as familiar with the focal length, I would have been truly starting from scratch.

-- Marv (, September 28, 2000.

I think that the Caltar S II's are excellent lenses, which are Schneider Symmar S's. I purchased a 300mm (415mm image circle) for $625 and a 360mm (500mm image circle) for about $750. They're heavy, but they're excellent.

-- neil poulsen (, September 29, 2000.

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