My first 8x10 lens : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I just decided on a 8x10 field and I'm going to need a lens for it. I noticed that in 35mm I use my 28mm lens most of the time so I'd like to get an equivalent for the 8x10. Using the large side as reference that would be around 190-200mm.

So, I'm trying to decide for a lens in this range. Any recomandations? I'd like to have as much coverage as possible since It looks like I use movements a lot with my 6x9 and I never have enough :-). I don't have the cash for a modern lens so we're looking at classics. I don't mind a barrel lens too much either. I have a packard shutter that I could use with it.

Oh yeah, I shoot color slide film.

-- Sorin Varzaru (, January 11, 2001


You won't find an inexpensive lens in that size that will give you much room for movements, and it's good to be able to experiment with camera movements with your first lens. You might also find that your lens preferences, despite the common wisdom, don't correspond exactly from format to format.

I'd start with a 10" Wide-Field Ektar. It corresponds about to a 35mm lens on a 35mm camera, isn't terribly costly, has a huge image circle, and is coated and designed for color or B&W, and it was sharp enough for Ansel. I have one, and I quite like it. Only downside: Big Ilex #5 Shutter, but if you only have one lens, that's not so bad.

-- David Goldfarb (, January 11, 2001.


I assume you are aware of the cost of 8x10 slide film. It's a pretty pricey way to learn LF, but if you can do it more power to you. However, you won't be wanting to botch many exposures with a rickety shutter. The above advice is very sound about lenses, just make sure the shutter is accurate. I would consider living with a "normal" focal length for awhile and picking up one of the ubiqitous 12 inch or 14 inch lenses on ebay like the 14 inch Commercial Ektar or maybe the 12 inch dagor. Wide angle 8x10 lenses with good coverage are pretty expensive. The only one I can think of that would suit your needs (wide angle, lots of coverage, "inexpensive") is the 8x10 f18 protar and I'm not sure how well that works with color. It's a nice b&w lens if you can live with focusing at f18. Are you sure you don't want to start out with black and white?

-- Erik Ryberg (, January 11, 2001.

KODAK 190MM WIDE FIELD EKTAR should serve your needs, if you do not need a lot of movements. You can buy it , either mounted in Ilex #4 or Copal #3, for about $425. Check Ebay, Lens and Repro, Midwest Photo, Exchange, and Levine in Boston. A G-Claron 210 should also cover your 8x10 if you stop down (there are some discussions about it a few days back on this forum). If you can live with 240 mm, then you have a lot more selections.

-- Geoffrey Chen (, January 11, 2001.

Eric and David are correct.

Anything in the 200mm range with big coverage is gonna cost big bucks! I dont know what your budget is, but about the best that Ive seen, with a LOT of coverage is a used 210mm Angulon or an older Super Angulon. The Angulon was about $500 - $800, the super $1,200 compared to a late model lens, those prices ARE a bargain. If you can live with out the big coverage, go for 210mm f-9 G-Claron (it will cover around 350mm @ f45).

As far as barrel/process lenses, the only thing that comes to mind is an 8.25 f-8 JML process lens. They are on ebay every now and then. I had one and had it mounted in a shutter, but never used it before I sold it. From my measurements, it had about +/- 20mm of excess coverage along the diagonals @ f22 others have claimed lot more.

Id have to agree with the others and say go with @ 10/12/14 Commercial Ektar for your first lens. The 10 and 14 cover around 440mm, and as said, the 10 is relatively wide on 8x10. I was all gung-ho about getting a 210mm for my 8x10, but then I started looking a some of the 8x10 contacts the masters have done, and re-examining what Id want to shoot with this type of camera. I came to the conclusion that Id like the 14-20 perspective for 8x10 contact prints at least. Dont get me wrong, if someone gave me a 210mm SA, Id take it, but Im not gonna pull my hair out (any longer) trying to find a budget wide with a lotta coverage.

-- sheldon hambrick (, January 11, 2001.

FWIW Joel Meyerowitz's color work - "Cape Light" etc. is shot on color neg with the 10" w.f. Ektar

-- Sean yates (, January 11, 2001.

Sorin: If you are gonna shoot 8x10 color slides, you are one of the lucky few who don't have to worry about what a lens costs. I don't know if you have looked into the cost of 8x10 transparencies. I haven't checked lately, but the last time I figured up the cost of film and developing it was about $15.00 per shot. The format shape is different between 8x10 and 35mm, so I really think a shorter lens costing a lot less would serve you well. I agree with the other posts, start out with the 10" Commercial Ektar. It is a great lens.


-- Doug Paramore (, January 11, 2001.


I have to agree with all the previous posters suggesting that you go with something in the 10 to 12" range. The 10" WF is as good as anything else in this range, and the choice of good 12" lenses is abundant.

One small point about the use of shorter-than-moderate WA lenses with the 8x10 format. I used one as short as the 150SW Nikkor and was always less than impressed with the results of my contact prints; not in a technical sense, but they failed to make a visual impact. It was only after I started to enlarge these 8x10 negatives that the real usefulness of 8x10 WA lenses became apparent.

I think most folks find 8x10 contact prints made with extreme (and not-so-extreme) WA lenses less than satisfying because there is so much information on the relatively small 8x10 contact print. It's only when you enlarge these negatives/transparencies that they open up and allow you to enter the image, if you will. And I believe that the wider the lens, the more pronounced this effect.

Good luck, Sergio.

-- Sergio Ortega (, January 12, 2001.

"I think most folks find 8x10 contact prints made with extreme (and not-so-extreme) WA lenses less than satisfying because there is so much information on the relatively small 8x10 contact print. It's only when you enlarge these negatives/transparencies that they open up and allow you to enter the image, if you will. And I believe that the wider the lens, the more pronounced this effect."

My thoughts exactly! Or at least that's what I tell myself whenever I get a hankering for one of those muli-thousand dollar wide angle lenses.

-- sheldon hambrick (, January 12, 2001.

I may just be agreeing with the consensus here. There are a number of lenses that are shorter than 10 inches, that cover 8x10, and that can be had for reasonable sums (often under $400), but none of them have much room for movements. In addition to those mentioned above, some even shorter examples are the 165mm Angulon, the 159mm Wollensak, and even a few old lenses in the 120mm range (there's a 120mm Berthiot Perigraphe and a 1930's vintage Rodenstock the name of which I forget). But if you want movements in that range, it's really going to cost you. Probably the cheapest sub 10-inch option with good room for movement is, as someone has mentioned, the 210mm Angulon (the static page shows the 210 Angulon w/ a coverage circle at f/22 of 362mm, but based on my experience with the 165 Angulon, I'm guessing that's very conservative). But these are fetching pretty high prices now. (Sheldon Hambrick estimates $500-800, but from what I've seen lately, that's optimistic.) I also agree with everyone else that a 10-inch is a good place to start, especially if you tend to shoot with wide angles. In smaller formats I also generally shoot with wider lenses, but I find the 10" to be by far my most used lens in 8x10 (probably 75% of my shots). An alternative to the Ektar worth checking out is the Fujinon 250mm W f/6.7. It also has lots of coverage (about 400mm at f/22) is a bit more modern design, and comes in a No. 1 shutter. You see them from time to time on Ebay. Finally, I shoot only B&W, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

-- Chris Patti (, January 12, 2001.

Since the "Commercial Ektar" and "Wide-Field Ektar" are being bandied about here, note that they are different lenses, and the 10" WF Ektar has lots more coverage than the 10" Commercial Ektar.

-- David Goldfarb (, January 12, 2001.

It's easy to tell the 10" Wide Field Ektar from it's normal relative. The 10" Commercial Ektar was in a size 4 shutter, and the 10" W. F. Ektar came in a size 5.

-- Jim Galli (, January 14, 2001.

I recently purchased the Schneider 210 G Claron for my 8x10 camera from Robert White in England for around $400. I bought it on the recommendation of Ron Wisner and I've been very pleased. If you look at Schneider's published numbers for this lens it looks like the image circle is way below the 325 mm image circle needed for 8x10. However, due to the design of this lens, the image circle gets larger as the aperture is stopped down and this continues until the aperture is at its smallest size (F 64 on the 210 G Claron). At F 32 it easily covers 8x10 and probably also covers at F 22 though I've stayed with F 32 to be safe. I've used it with some front rise and also front tilts with no problem at F 32. There would be even greater room for movements by stopping down to F 45 or F 64 (no diffraction problems with contact prints). If you go to the Wisner web site, and get into the older question and answer section (sorry I don't remember the exact names, it's been a while since I did this) towards the very end you'll find a question concerning use of G Clarons with 8x10, followed by Ron's response concerning their coverage and his technical explanation of why G Clarons work with 8x10. I went this route rather than buying one of the older moderate wide angle lenses that have been mentioned lenses mentioned because by buying from Robert White I was able to get the G Claon new, in a new Copal 1 shutter, for not much more than the older lenses, in their older shutters, would have cost.

-- Brian Ellis (, January 15, 2001.

-- sheldon hambrick (, January 17, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ