8X10 Lenses

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I do a lot of 4X5 Landscape Photography and I am making the leap to an 8X10 camera. I am considering three cameras Dick Phillips lightweight 8X10, Gandolfi Traditional Precision 8X10 and Ebony SV810UE 8X10. Also, I am considering the collowing Lenses: Schneider APO Tele Xenar HM 800mm/12, Compact Fujinon 600mm/11.5, Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S 360mm/6.8, Schneider Super Symmar XL 210/5.6 and Schneider Super Symmar XL 150/5.6.

If anyone has experience with or own the aformentioned equipment, Pro or Con, please let me know what you think. Thank you in advance for your help.


-- Joe Wilson (jhwjr64@hotmail.com), November 28, 2001


The only equipment I have experience with is the Gandolfi Variant level II which is the reworked design by Gandolfi. For the price this is a wonderful camera, very well made, beautiful to look at, and very sturdy. I beleive the traditional presicion is about $1000 more, and I really don't see the any advantages over the Variant. ONTH if you can afford an Ebony I guess price is not an objection. Good luck and enjoy your 8x10......

Oh! BTW if you have the kind of money to buy an Ebony, why don't you check Canham's site, you can buy a 12x20 and a lens for the same price as the ebony, plus the Canham 12x20 can be converted to 11x14, 8x10, 8x20 and I think also 16x20 but don't take my word on the last.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm58@prodigy.net.mx), November 28, 2001.

I have a Phillips Compact II and use it with, among other Fujinons, the 600 f/11.5. I am most pleased with this combination for my landscape work. Be advised that maximum bellows extension of the Compact II is 26 1/4 inches, which in combination with the 600 Fujinon results in a close focus limit of around 15 feet.

-- Sal Santamaura (santamaura@earthlink.net), November 28, 2001.

Wow! Just read the thread of $4000 4x5 startup. It's nothing! Here comes the real pro. Good luck finding an assistant to carry your baggage. It's a joke, right? Pardon me!

-- Geoffrey Chen (DB45TEK@AOL.COM), November 28, 2001.

I own and use a 150mm Super Symmar XL. It's a very sharp and contrasty lens. But it is very heavy and big. I prefer to use 150mm or 180mm Zeiss Dagor as a wide angle lens. Only 1/5 of weight and size, covers 8x10 with plenty of room and extremely sharp. Actually, I prefer old dagors than modern Schneider/Fujis. You will be doing lots of contact printing anyway. Dagor+Pyro+Azo+Amidol=beautiful glowing images. I was lusting for that $9,000 Ebony before I settled down with a used Deardorff. I love it and still think that's the best choice I have made. The brand name of the tool is not that important once you get addicted to the vision and technique part of your art. Look at the lens Edward Weston used to make his images. I bought a brand new Arca-Swiss 4x5 and brand new Rodenstock and Schneider XL lenses two years ago which I hardly use now. You grow as you learn, save your money and keep your options open. Welcome to the 8x10 world and best luck!


-- hugo Zhang (jinxu_zhang@ml.com), November 28, 2001.

Certainly hard to find fault with the lens choices from a quality standpoint, though as others have pointed out, they will largely be expensive and heavy. Make that VERY expensive and heavy! Of the lenses you mention which I have experience with, the Fujinon compact is a real sleeper, very sharp and quite small for an 8X10 lens with the amazing coverage (600 mm+ IC) that it has. The 150 and 210 SSXL lenses both travel all over the world with me, most recently to Angkor Wat and India, so certainly it can be done. Anyone who calls the 150 a big, heavy lens has never seen the 210, which eats little lenses like the 150 for a snack! Seriously, this is a chunk of glass with a lenscap you could wear as a sombrero! Nonetheless, I carry it and use it regularly and am VERY happy with the results, including a couple that will hang in an upcoming gallery show. The Sironar S series are very sharp, deservedly famous lenses, which I have used and loved at 150 and 240. The 360 will have a inconvenient 112 filter size, consider the Nikon 360 W, which will cost 1/3 the price, is regularly available used, is very sharp and has a 95 mm filter which you can use with standard Lee filter holder/shade. It's one thing not to be able to conveniently filter and shade a WA lens (you can forget about the 210 w/ a front diameter of 135 mm, unless you have something made, which can be done), just live with using a dark slide to shade it, but it's kind of a pain not to be able to use convenient filters etc on your normal lens. The lenses you mention would probably just fit it an f64 BPX bag, except the 210, which will need its own fanny pack, unless you go for a gargantuan bag.

As for the camera, I use and love the Ebony SV810U. You're welcome to read my review on this site or contact me by email w/ questions. Why bother with the extra 1+ kg and $1500 or so to have it done in ebony? With the finish they use on their mahogany cameras, you won't see a difference (I have looked at mahogany and ebony cameras from Ebony side by side), and taking it from 12 or so to 15 lb is a pretty stiff weight penalty for not much real-world gain, I think.

You will find it tough to get hold of a Phillips 8X10 camera w/o a substantial wait, if at all, and will DEFINITELY want to lose the 600 and 800 lenses if you do buy it. Bellow draw will not do for these lenses.

Good luck, Nathan

-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), November 28, 2001.

The wait time I was quoted by Phillips last week for the Compact II is a year. So if this is your first and only 8x10 camera, as it sounds like it is, you might not want to wait that long. You didn't mention the Lotus. It was my other consideration to replace my Deardorff (too heavy). I've seen one Lotus and it was a gorgeous camera, very well made, ample movements, better bellows extension than the Phillips. I'll most likely go with the Phillips only because I'm not in any rush (obviously) and it weighs a little less than the Lotus.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis60@earthlink.net), November 30, 2001.

Hi Joe,

I was just wondering why you have decided to move up to 8x10 for your landscape work? I did the same thing about three years ago and have just gone back down to 4x5, a lot less gear to hump around!

-- Nigel Turner (npturner@earthlink.net), November 30, 2001.

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