Kodak Commercial Ektar 81/2" f/6.3 for 8x10???

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Hello. I have seen a "Kodak Commercial Ektar 81/2" f/6.3 with No. 3 Ilex Acme Synchro Shutter" available and was wondering if it is has enough coverage for 8x10 work. I am new to large format and lenses are still a bit of a mystery to me. If it won't work what is the a good cheap lens to get me started (i will be doing scenics mostly)? Thanks.

-- Ian Dickson (akboy99@yahoo.com), March 09, 2002


Ian, IMHO Kodak Commercial Ektars are a great first lens for the 8x10 I'm not familiar with the 81/2" but I've heard that the 190mm Wide Field won't allow for much movement on 8x10, and thats a wide field lens. I'd suggest looking for a 12" or 14" commercial ektar in good shape in a working universal shutter, OR a 10" Wide Field Commercial Ektar. The 12 and 14 inchers are pretty common as they were popular for studio work and would have been well taken care of and can be bought for $250-450. The 10" Wide Field was a favorite of Ansel Adams which is a nice endorsment. Good luck!

-- John Kasaian (www.kasai9@aol.com), March 09, 2002.

Not likely that the 8-1/2 Comm. Ektar will cover 8x10".

You definitely want a lens that gives you room for movements as a first lens, and the 10" Wide-Field Ektar has a huge image circle. It's also quite large and bulky, if that's a concern.

12" is a normal lens for the format. A Commercial Ektar or a Dagor would be a nice affordable lens in that range, both capable of excellent results. Gold Dot/Rim Dagors are regarded as better than the standard ones, but at three times the price, typically.

Something like a Turner-Reich triple convertible isn't too expensive, and it would give you three possible focal lengths.

I just picked up an older, uncoated 168mm/f:6.8 Serie III Dagor, which I was pleasantly suprised to discover covers 8x10" quite nicely. If you remove the front lens cell, it doubles as a lens of about 13"--not as well corrected as a full Dagor, but usable stopped down. Mine is in a small Rapax shutter of later vintage than the lens, and it fits perfectly in a Copal 1-sized lensboard hole. I'm thinking of using it as the one lens I might carry if I want to travel light with the big camera. Might not be a bad starter lens, if you can find one. I paid around $150 for mine.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), March 09, 2002.

I have to agree with John. The 12 inch Commercial Ektar was my choice as a first lens and have absolutely no regrets. The Goerz lenses are very good also, but the good deal on the Ektar was "an offer I couldn't refuse".

-- Steve Gangi (sgangi@hotmail.com), March 09, 2002.

I feel, but don't know really, that an 8.5" Commercial probably wouldn't cover 8x10. That never seemed to bother Emmet Gowin.

I own a 14" Commercial Ektar and a 10" Wide field Ektar and love them both. I bought them because one of my all time favorite photographers, Wynn Bullock, said he used them. I was just starting out in 8x10 and didn't know anything. Ansel once said he enjoyed using a 7" or 7.5" wide field lens for landscapes. I imagine the movements on 8x10 for the 7" would be practically nil, but who cares? You work on the edge, you pay a little price.

You have to stop down the Wide field Ektar to maximum to get a sharp image. Also the coatings on these lenses are somewhat soft, so finding one without a haze of coating scratches is difficult. I have had mine recoated and they are now perfect for me. My 10" was made in 1947, and the 14" was made in the '60s. I'd put them up against any modern lens for sharpness. However, when I bought a 450 Nikkor M, I was startled at the increase in contrast. It is nearly N-1 development from the negs made with the older lenses.

Anyway, these are solid sharp lenses. If I had it to do over (and a big budget!), I'd probably go for all Nikkors or Schneiders (or Dagors!). But all in all the Kodaks have been great. I've made 20x24 enlarged negs for platinum/paladium from the 8x10 originals, and they are sharp as hell. You won't be sorry for choosing them, and you can always upgrade later in life when you have more money.


-- Bill Marsh (redcloud54@earthlink.net), March 10, 2002.

Thanks everyone, you have been quite helpful. I found a 10" Comm. Ektar that is slightly out of my budget, but i think i will stretch my money a little and get it anyway. Thanks again all.

-- Ian Dickson (akboy99@yahoo.com), March 10, 2002.

the 10" Commerical Ektar is nice, but will only just cover 8x10, with a touch extra movements( although not to bad at +f22).

There is a difference between the 10" Commercial Ektar and the Wide- Field Ektar - the latter has more coverage than you could ever use!

A nice alternative is the 250mm Fujinon W f6.7 (NOT the newer 250 6.5, which again, doesn't have as much movement). Confusing, isn't it...

tim a

-- Tim Atherton (tim@kairosphoto.com), March 10, 2002.


I used to have this lens and I made a few 8x10 exposures with it. You could get an image all the way to the corners of an 8x10 plate if focussed at infinity, but the image was really bad out there. Very nice in the center, though. My very first 8x10 exposures were made with this lens.

I once had the 168 mm dagor mentioned above (or at least I think I did, mine said it was 6.5") and I couldn't get it to cover 8x10 at infinity. The 7" does though, but again, out in the corners the image suffers. That 7" is an outstanding 4x10 lens, though. You can pick them up pretty inexpensively. In the 8 inch focal length look for a 210 mm G Claron. It will offer minor movements. If you find one in an enlarger mount the cells will screw directly into a #0 shutter.

Also the 8.5 inch f6.8 dagor covers easily.

For more movements get the 9.5 inch dagor or the 240 mm g claron.

Also, I have had very good luck with those enormous old f4.5 12 inch velostigmats that are all over the place and pretty cheap. They are truly awful wide open but stopped down even a little bit they perform (in my view) very well. I have a few Velvia transparencies taken with my Carl Zeiss 300 mm uncoated f4.5 from God-knows-when in a Betax #5 and am amazed how sharp they are. Go figure.

-- Erik Ryberg (ryberg@seanet.com), March 10, 2002.

would second everything said about the Wide Field Ektar. Tons of movement for 8x10. Bought it mounted on an Ilex #5 - sent it to Grimes for an $80 CLA and couldn't be happier with the whole setup.

-- bill youmans (bill@greatgrips.com), March 10, 2002.

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