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View Full Version : Quality 8x10 gear...how much does it matter?



adam satushek
6-Mar-2012, 09:03
Hello I have a few questions about 8x10 gear. Now that I have a drum scanner and am able to scan my 8x10 color negatives (Portra 160) I have been more interested in shooting 8x10 and have been wondering if I should think about upgrading certain pieces of my kit in order to obtain the highest possible resolution for large enlargements. (Currently my max print size from a single capture is 40x50, though I have made prints up to 40x80 by stitching 4x5). However, I see a 64in printer in my future, so I am keeping this in mind while asking these questions.

1) How much do film holders matter if I am looking for ultimate resolution? I currently own 3 Fidelity Elites and 1 Lisco Regal. They seem fine and are in good condition, but I am tempted by Toyo holders as my experience with them in 4x5 has been great. So, if I switched to Toyo holders would they really hold the film flatter? Would you think I might notice a difference?

2) How much should I worry using top quality optics? I am very pleased with my 4x5 line up, and would hate to use second rate optics for 8x10. Currently the lenses I have that cover 8x10 comfortably are a Caltar-S II 300mm f5.6 (with Schneideritis) and a Nikkor-M 450 f9 (purchased for 4x5). From my understanding the Caltar-S is a re-badged Schneider Symmar-S, is this correct? And, if i upgraded my 300mm to a Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-S, would I potentially experience a noticeable increase in resolution? My 150mm Apo-Sironar-S has quickly become my favorite 4x5 lens, so Im contemplating upgrading to the 300mm for 8x10, even though it seems difficult to find these lenses used.

Anyway, sorry for the long post, but any opinions would be greatly appreciated. I know the real answer would be test the lenses and film holders I am thinking about to compare to what I currently have, but have not had the opportunity yet. And I know there are many other factors contributing to resolution other than lenses and film flatness, but Im using a Sinar 8x10 F2 on a Gitzo giant and it seems like a darn solid setup, and just want to know if I can improve things..........

Drew Wiley
6-Mar-2012, 09:39
Filmholders make a significant difference. They should be modern and unwarped for starters. Brand doesn't make a lot of difference, but none of them will hold film flat enough
for critical big enlargements. Film tends to bow a bit at times, might pop in very long exposures during cold conditions as the film warms up, but mostly, just isn't dead flat. I
personally modified a number of holders for critical work. You might find some past posts
on adhesive holders. Lenses also make a difference, but most relatively late lenses (from
the 60's onwards) are well corrected, though closeup work might need specialization.
Depends on the exact application. All the little details do add up. But the most frequent
culprits are film plane flatness, camera shake, and just plain technique.

Ben Syverson
6-Mar-2012, 09:55
A lot of very recognizable images have been shot with that Nikkor 450/9. I'm sure the Caltar-S is a great performer. I'm not convinced film flatness is a real problem.

IMO, just shoot. Your gear is sufficient to get fantastic enlargements at your desired size.

E. von Hoegh
6-Mar-2012, 10:08
Technique might be the single most important factor, followed by filmholders, then lenses. For example, I use a mid 1920s uncoated lens, a set of 8 Kodak/Folmer&Schwing wooden filmholders which I have carefully checked and repaired where neccesary, and a 61 year old wooden camera on a wooden tripod. I am utterly happy with the technical quality of my images.

Your lenses are more than adequate, don't worry about them. Used 8x10 holders should be carefully checked for damage, it isn't always apparent. The tripod is the foundation, it must be solid. The rest is up to you, enjoy! (smiling smiley)

John Kasaian
6-Mar-2012, 10:36
Wanky holders and tripods, locks that won't lock, the wind and ground vibes will all cause bad ju-ju, but that is common knowlege. AFAIK, the maximum difference between one lens and another is example specific when it comes to the major players. If you settle on a lens model have MIT or JPL select the best resolution from a sampling of lenses representing that make and model (thats what Bradford Washburn did.)
But does it matter?
Probably not. It sounds like you're itching to go on a hunt for magic bullets.
Christopher Burkett gets truly amazing resolution working with color 8x10 and his gear seems to be third, maybe even fourth generation and yet his results are, to my eyes, stunning.
I'd suggest taking a look at his site. Google is your friend ;)

adam satushek
6-Mar-2012, 10:50
Thanks everyone for your opinions so far, they are very helpful and I am taking them all into consideration. I don't think I'm searching for magic bullets....just want to squeeze very thing I can out of my setup. I am already getting excellent results with what I have in 4x5 and 8x10.....however when I did upgrade my 4x5 lenses I noticed a difference. Like I said above..I'm consistently blown away with my 150mm Apo-Sironar-S, as well as my 210mm Apo-Symmar. But who knows....my technique could have improved around the same time I got these lenses.....its hard for me to say.

But I agree that technique and actually shooting is the best way to get good results.....and since I think I have good technique...and do get out and shoot...I just want to make sure I'm getting the best results I can.

Thanks!

Kevin Crisp
6-Mar-2012, 11:07
If they're clean and in good shape I've never had a problem with a really old 8X10 film holder. Some of them are quite light too.

Drew Wiley
6-Mar-2012, 11:31
Sorry to lock horns with you again, Ben, but I'll bet if you actually compared enlargments
done my way (precision filmholder) vs conventional, you'd see quite a difference. Not so
noticable 20X24 down, but makes a significant difference with 8X10 in big enlargements.
4X5 is less a problem. Acetate film like Provia is distinctly worse for sag than the stiffer
polyester base. With ULF the problem is major, though again denial might be in operation
due to the non-enlargement of contact prints (though ULF shooter were probably the very
first to put at least a spot of ATG tape behind the film).

Drew Wiley
6-Mar-2012, 11:38
John - I wouldn't call all of Burkett's gear third rate. His enlarger probably cost 75 grand
and has all kinds of fancy trimmings. I'll bet he's pretty damn nitpicky, but that doesn't
exclude the fact that older cameras can be solid, or that lenses at f/45 have to be less
than ten years old. Plenty of good lenses out there to choose from, though at my age the
cumulative wt of them is getting to be a relevant factor (that pack feels a pound heavier
each year). But a precision filmholder is something of a magic bullet if sharp detail is a
priority. It's just like folks who think they get crisp enlargements without using a glass carrier - which is of course either relative or just plain a myth. Just try one.

Mark Sawyer
6-Mar-2012, 12:04
...or that lenses at f/45 have to be less
than ten years old.

Just curious why... have they changed the rules on diffraction limits in the last ten years?

Oren Grad
6-Mar-2012, 12:13
Old-timers here may remember Chris Jordan wrestling with the same question, way back when. No, he didn't have rigorous comparison tests to back up his final decision either, but FWIW:

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?11593-240mm-8x10-lens-which-is-best

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?13409-Rodenstock-Sironar-S-unbelievable-performance

Drew Wiley
6-Mar-2012, 12:50
That's exactly the point I was insinuating, Mark ... with 8X10 one is almost always going to
use a small stop, and at f/45 it isn't going to make a lot of difference whether a lens was
made in 1960 or 2010. There are of course other logistical considerations in lens choice,
but most modern lenses designed for this format are probably going to perform well, as well
as quite a few even older lenses.

adam satushek
6-Mar-2012, 13:21
Yeah that's a good point. I try to stay on the good side of F/45, but have had to go there occasionally. Usually only when trying to get my Nikkor-SW 120 or my Apo-Symmar 210 to cover 8x10, but i am not satisfied with the results.

IanG
6-Mar-2012, 14:29
I'm reminded that when I bought my first 10x8 camera the seller, a Professor of Photography in in the US, told me the lens was useless, had sweparation anmd he'd never used it, he did tell me who was the original owner, turned out he's studied then lectured at the Clarence White School of Photography.

The bottom line was that the Dagor with separation was actually factoty coated and very sharp, the separation was years of poor cleaning piling dirt up around the edges :D

In real term the quality of results is down to mainly the lenses and your expectations, it's also about understanding potential limitations particulkarly when using early uncoated lenses and using what you feel is most appropriate for what you're shooting.

Ian

Nathan Potter
6-Mar-2012, 14:55
Good advice here especially on camera stability. But don't underestimate the effect of film flatness in a standard holder. When I used 8X10 in industrial setups I would use a standard holder but for critical work on highly detailed flat copy I used a specially designed vacuum holder whose film plane was surface ground. That was for extreme work, but one can consider what flatness might be required by just examining the Depth of Focus relationship, D = 2 CN (for no magnification factor) where D is Depth of Focus, C is a COC chosen to be compatible with the desired degree of enlargement and N is the chosen f/no.

For example if C is .020 mm, (20 um) and N is f/32 then the depth of focus will be 1.25 mm (50 mils). Hey almost 1/16 of an inch which is not too bad but you would need that over an 8X10 surface assuming you have determined the center point of focus. In practice this is not so easy. If you want to push the focus limit the sticky, removable tape is not a bad idea and easier than some kind of vacuum apparatus in the field.

When you combine some focus difficulty with a few other variables you can quickly run out of capturing the plane of focus.

Nate Potter, Austin TX

Ben Syverson
6-Mar-2012, 15:22
The channel for film in a double dark is specified as 0.3mm, and sheet film is around 0.25mm, so we're talking about 50 microns of play. I don't want to derail this thread, but film flatness is a made-up problem.

Brian C. Miller
6-Mar-2012, 15:33
If you want to push the focus limit the sticky, removable tape is not a bad idea and easier than some kind of vacuum apparatus in the field.

One fellow had holders which he modified to have the vacuum provided by him sucking on a tube during the exposure.

I've found that glue sticks with the removable glue (water soluble kind) can hold a sheet of film in place. It's only sticky for one sheet, releases easily, and I haven't done any long term tests.

Drew Wiley
6-Mar-2012, 17:22
You don't get it, Ben. The problem is not with the channels the film slides into - it's with
what lies (or doesn't lie) in between. The bigger the film, the greater the problem, esp if
the camera is pointed down or some temp/humidity differential causes it to expand outwards. Why do you think evey copy camera ever made (at least that I've ever seen)
comes equipped with a vac fram for the film? Even film in a conventional holder below an
enlarger will not expose as accurately as when held flat by vaccum. In the field vac holders
are a hassle, but adhesive ones are not if they are intelligently designed. For a number of
years Sinar sold one as a standard option - a bit pricey for what you got, but it certainly
worked!

Frank Petronio
6-Mar-2012, 17:46
The channel for film in a double dark is specified as 0.3mm, and sheet film is around 0.25mm, so we're talking about 50 microns of play. I don't want to derail this thread, but film flatness is a made-up problem.

It's the bubbling in the middle of the holder that looses sharpness, the edges are usually OK. 8x10 is a large floppy piece of film and taping it for even normal, everyday use isn't a bad idea. When you shoot down, copystand style, you pretty much have to tape it or even Aunt Hilda will notice it's not as sharp.

As for the original question, I think an F2, Gitzo giant, and a modern multicoated lens stopped down to the middle apertures is going to be as good as you can get. You might do as well buying three older 1980s Caltars/Symmars/Sironars for $3-400 each and testing them, as I suspect sample variation in lenses probably will help you find the sharpest lens at a reasonable price. Or just pony up for the latest Schneider or Rodenstock (or maybe Fuji) for $1000-plus and know it will be as sharp as the sharpest 1980s lens. You'd be paying that extra for the convenience and confidence.

Drew Wiley
6-Mar-2012, 20:01
... Or you'll be paying a premium for a lighter lens in a smaller shutter,
since these are more in demand nowadays than big clunky fast studio
plasmats. But other than sheer portability, smaller lenses with smaller
shutters can produce sharper images - not so much due to the optical
formulae involved - but because smaller shutters vibrate less, and lighter
lenses are easier for the camera to support, esp at long extensions. Just
something to think about in terms of optimization if you need to lighten the
gear up at some point in time.

adam satushek
6-Mar-2012, 20:12
Yeah thanks, I do have a Nikkor-M 300, but have only used it for 4x5. Doesn't have a lot of movement on 8x10 but I suppose I should try it. But in terms of lightening my gear i don't plan on that anytime soon. I'm not backpacking....and if i go hiking ill just bring my 7ii. The kind of subjects I shoot are accessible by car so weight of the gear is not really an issue.

In terms of film holders, it sounds like that they shouldn't matter as long as they are not warped and are light tight. When you guys mention taping or gluing the film in the holders how do you go about this? Do you do a small piece of double-sided tape in the center of the holder and press down with gloves? Or a smear with the glue stick? Could the thickness of the tape/glue affect how flat the film lays?

Thanks for all your great suggestions thus far!

Frank Petronio
6-Mar-2012, 21:32
Put a couple - three small squares of that clear double-stick, low tack Scotch tape (sold in the art area of the grocery or office supply store) around the center to keep the film from popping when the holder is parallel with the ground. Test it with a sheet if you must. The thickness of the tape is negligible compared to the amount the film would move.

adam satushek
6-Mar-2012, 21:45
Awesome! Thanks Frank, I will try it. Seems like a good fix and should convince me that I don't have to my all new Toyo 8x10 holders as like $200 a pop. And even those I'm sure would benefit from some tape in the center.

Now I just have to convince myself that my Caltar-S II 300 is sufficient....and im sure it is, but can anyone confirm which lens this actually is? Is it a Schneider Symmar S MC? Because according to certain charts the Caltar has an IC of 420 and the Schneider has an IC of 411. Or am i missing something? Which is quite possible.

Thanks,
Adam

Kimberly Anderson
6-Mar-2012, 21:55
I guess I'll put away this Century 7, my 10 inch portrait Petzval and these old wooden holders. This stuff all sucks.

http://www.tawayama.com/centuryportraits/abigailcenturyportrait.jpg

Chris Strobel
6-Mar-2012, 22:03
John - I wouldn't call all of Burkett's gear third rate. His enlarger probably cost 75 grand
and has all kinds of fancy trimmings. I'll bet he's pretty damn nitpicky, but that doesn't
exclude the fact that older cameras can be solid, or that lenses at f/45 have to be less
than ten years old. Plenty of good lenses out there to choose from, though at my age the
cumulative wt of them is getting to be a relevant factor (that pack feels a pound heavier
each year). But a precision filmholder is something of a magic bullet if sharp detail is a
priority. It's just like folks who think they get crisp enlargements without using a glass carrier - which is of course either relative or just plain a myth. Just try one.

I'm with Drew, Chris' cine tripod cost more than some cars, and his lenses are as modern and good as they get.His black C-1 is about the oldest piece of gear, but even that has been modified.I spent about a half hour or so with him on the phone when I ordered one of his books, that time alone was worth way more than the book for me.He explained why he uses the heavier C-1, and talked me into keeping it when I was going to sell it and buy a new Tachihara, and I'm glad I did (though I'm toying with adding a lighter 8x10 for backpacking vs. a D800e dslr for stitching (nother thread though)

One thing I did spring for new was film holders.They were expensive, but it was worth the piece of mind.To date my favorite lens is the 300mm Rodenstock Apo-Siranon N I got used.Bought a new Nikkor W 360mm, and new Nikkor M 450mm, but I don't even use em, that old used 300mm is just great, below is a close crop I did with it out of a bushel of eight sunflowers..BTW Burkett uses that 450mm Nikkor M and highly recommended it to me.On the film flatness thing, I've seen Lough Jr. loading his Arca Swiss with Lisco/Fidelity holders, and the giant prints I saw at Pier 39 were sharp as a tack, maybe he uses some kind of adhesive though.

http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4002/4691590813_89a5ce4b66_o.jpg

adam satushek
6-Mar-2012, 22:05
Michael! I'm sure it doesn't suck......I'm sure it suits your need quite well. Personally, Ill probably never own another wooden camera, and only want new MC lenses....but that doesn't mean that wooden cameras and Petzval's are not just as relevant. It's just a matter of personal style, and mine happens to be large, sharp, color inkjet prints with as much DOF as i can pull off. And that is the gear I'm interested in.

Thanks,
Adam

Kimberly Anderson
6-Mar-2012, 22:07
Ha! I also have a Canham 8x10, a bunch of G-Clarons and some longer process lenses. I am totally tongue-in-cheek in my last comment.

I do however, have some issues with the whole 'old film holders are not good' school. How many of us shoot straight down? How often does that small fraction of people do it? I have shot in some weird situations and have never seen a problem with film bowing away from the holder. That doesn't mean that others haven't, I am just surprised that a tiny amount of people have taken us all hostage with that train of thought.

http://www.tawayama.com/2012panos/8x10onicepano.jpg

adam satushek
6-Mar-2012, 22:16
Cool, yeah Michael, I haven't noticed a problem per say, but I can tell you that I trust my Toyo 4x5's much more than my fidelities. And I can imagine that with 8x10 the bowing issue much more severe. And no I never point my camera at the ground ( in have a video leveling head for a reason.....to keep things level), but I am eager to try the double sided tape trick to see if I get any improvement in image quality.

Hey Chris, which film holders did you spring for?

Thanks,
Adam

Chris Strobel
6-Mar-2012, 22:21
How many of us shoot straight down?

Guilty and quite a bit :D

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2443/3786914341_744da8f9a5_z.jpg?zz=1

Chris Strobel
6-Mar-2012, 22:22
I'm actually looking at wood field 8x10's right now, hadnt considered wood film holders, but it certainly would add to the look.........hmmm :)

John Kasaian
6-Mar-2012, 22:24
I've not had any noticable problems from film buckling when contact printing but I can see where that would be a big problem with enlargements. It does seem to happen more while shooting in very cold weather. I didn't mean to imply Burkett's gear was third rate, only the equipment I've seen appears to be professional quality from an earlier time---he might have moved up to spankin' new glass and cameras (he could certainly afford to) but in all the photos i've seen he's still using what appears to be "classic" gear.

Daniel Stone
6-Mar-2012, 23:51
I asked him(Burkett) about his lenses and choice of such when talking with him last year on the phone, he uses the following lenses(and maybe some more, IDK exactly):

150XL
210XL
240 Sironar-S
300 Sironar-S
360 Sironar-S
450 Nikkor-M
600 Fujinon-C
800 APO Tele-Xenar HM(gray barrel, 1st generation)

and occasionally(with a supplementary 2nd tripod on the front to support the standard, a 1200T Nikkor)

so modern glass. He can afford it :). But they're just tools, but he's used LOTS(his words exactly) of lenses over the years, process lenses such as Artars, Ronars, etc... But the above lenses are his staple lenses now.

And that's just the capture stage, then he's got the APO EL-Nikkor 480mm to enlarge his 8x10's with.

I've seen his Ilfochromes 1st hand, and they're utterly breathtaking!

-Dan

Frank Petronio
7-Mar-2012, 00:10
Now I just have to convince myself that my Caltar-S II 300 is sufficient....and im sure it is, but can anyone confirm which lens this actually is? Is it a Schneider Symmar S MC? Because according to certain charts the Caltar has an IC of 420 and the Schneider has an IC of 411. Or am i missing something? Which is quite possible.


You're talking about 9mm for a subjective measure at best. For all we know they cheat or measure the circles differently between manufacturers... and it gaining 9mm worth the price difference of $1500 or so for a 300 Sironar-S?

Also I don't tape my film unless I am shooting down like that.

It seems like you're really anxious about this. No matter how much comfort we give you, you either need to go out and buy the fancy stuff and compare results -- or learn how to live with not having the absolute pinnacle of gear.

What kind of car do drive, what kind of house do you own? Can you deal with the fact it's not a Buggatti or that you don't have a mansion in Newport? Same with cameras.....

Tony Karnezis
7-Mar-2012, 00:41
Guilty and quite a bit :D

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2443/3786914341_744da8f9a5_z.jpg?zz=1

Homage to Ruth Bernhard.

Ben Syverson
7-Mar-2012, 00:55
Film bowing? I'll believe it when I see it (and measure it). I've shot a fair bit of 8x10, and loading a dud sheet into a holder, I see no significant problem, even tilted 90. It's telling that no public test has ever demonstrated the necessity of vacuum holders.

I believe vacuum holders are predatory products preying on people with OCD.

Jim Graves
7-Mar-2012, 01:10
Wow ... it's amazing that Adams and Weston were ever able to get a decent print!

Tony Karnezis
7-Mar-2012, 01:16
Hacks. Weston's negatives were so bad that he never bothered to enlarge them. :p

Tony Karnezis
7-Mar-2012, 01:29
Film bowing? I'll believe it when I see it (and measure it). I've shot a fair bit of 8x10, and loading a dud sheet into a holder, I see no significant problem, even tilted 90. It's telling that no public test has ever demonstrated the necessity of vacuum holders.

I believe vacuum holders are predatory products preying on people with OCD.

Can anyone provide scans from regular vs. taped film or a vacuum holder +/- the vacuum applied to illustrate the problem of film bowing and the effectiveness of each solution?

Jim Graves
7-Mar-2012, 02:30
Hacks. Weston's negatives were so bad that he never bothered to enlarge them. :p

Yep ... both Ansel and Weston used the wooden Century Universal camera that Weston complained was not rigid enough ... he built a brace for the front standard when long extension was needed ... and Weston used the Turner-Reich 12" triple convertible lens for his year-long photo shoot throughout California ... made 1200 8x10 negatives that year (1937-38) ... probably none that were sharp, though.

Cor
7-Mar-2012, 02:37
I can see a potential problem with film bowing when one uses lith film as in camera film. The lith film I used (APHS lith from Freestyle) is so much thinner and flimsier than the regular (B&W) stock, that I sometimes worried about it, but I only contact print my 8*10 negatives, no problem with resolution of Lith film, but boy is that film a dust magnet!

I guess that is one of the reasons why these mentioned copy camera's had vacuum backs.

best,

Cor

Frank Petronio
7-Mar-2012, 05:23
Film bowing? I'll believe it when I see it (and measure it). I've shot a fair bit of 8x10, and loading a dud sheet into a holder, I see no significant problem, even tilted 90. It's telling that no public test has ever demonstrated the necessity of vacuum holders.

I believe vacuum holders are predatory products preying on people with OCD.

Ask any commercial photographer who shot tabletop, jewelry, etc. regarding tape and film bowing. Remember that sometimes you'd leave the loaded holder in the camera for several minutes while doing multiple pops and you don't want the film moving. Perhaps some other crusty half-dead geezer could rise from the depths and give me a confirmatory slap across the nether area of my body that used to be functional before the maggots ate it away.

aluncrockford
7-Mar-2012, 06:56
Hmmm I might well be one of those commercial photographers who did indeed use multi flash and many other things of that nature including double exposures on separate cameras, and not once did I or anybody else I knew used a vacuum back, what we did do was put a strip of double sided tape in the centre of the slide and de tacked it, the film was stuck and peeled off with out any problems, it is also a lot more cost effective and more portable than a vacuum back

E. von Hoegh
7-Mar-2012, 08:11
Film bowing? I'll believe it when I see it (and measure it). I've shot a fair bit of 8x10, and loading a dud sheet into a holder, I see no significant problem, even tilted 90. It's telling that no public test has ever demonstrated the necessity of vacuum holders.

I believe vacuum holders are predatory products preying on people with OCD.

If you focus with dollar store spectacles and use a wobbly tripod, you are correct - film flatness will never be an issue.

Tony Karnezis
7-Mar-2012, 09:16
Ask any commercial photographer who shot tabletop, jewelry, etc. regarding tape and film bowing. Remember that sometimes you'd leave the loaded holder in the camera for several minutes while doing multiple pops and you don't want the film moving. Perhaps some other crusty half-dead geezer could rise from the depths and give me a confirmatory slap across the nether area of my body that used to be functional before the maggots ate it away.

Admit it, Frank. This has nothing to do with film flatness. You just want someone to slap you across your nether regions. ;)

A colleague of mine has a saying when he wants to remind people that you don't need experimental evidence of what is self evidence: nobody ever felt the need to do a study demonstrating the effectiveness of the parachute. I just figured that if Contax went to the trouble to put a vacuum back in the RTS III (which, like all 35mm cameras, already has a pressure plate), then there must be objective value in a LF vacuum back. I guess film flatness in LF is not as cut and dry as I thought.

Will Frostmill
7-Mar-2012, 09:49
I've seen this discussion before, and I think I know why some people never need to use sticky tape and others do. The nice folks at Zeiss put out this article, Schrfentiefe und Bokeh (http://www.zeiss.com/C12567A8003B8B6F/EmbedTitelIntern/CLN_35_Bokeh_EN/$File/CLN35_Bokeh_en.pdf), and included this formula;

image-side depth of focus = twice z times k,
where z = circle of confusion size
and k = aperture number

People shooting at wide apertures (small k), and making big enlargements (tiny z) are going to see focus errors that their peers aren't. This is going to be particularly bad for short focal lengths* (wide angles) and I believe (but can't reference) infinity focus.** If your shooting doesn't meet those conditions, you aren't going to notice, and don't need to care.

So, who do we know uses vacuum backs? Some people who do aerial photography. I don't know if astronomers did, but I do know they used glass plates until really recently.

Adam, the OP, I would encourage you to do a little math with the typical apertures, focal distances, and the CoC you use for your biggest prints. I'll point out that the IQ180 vs. 8x10 test seemed to suggest that f/16, an almost unworkable shallow f-stop, allowed the best resolution on a particular lens. You might want to make a similar test, or hire someone to do so for you. (I really recommend the second; you'll only ever need to do it once, so it should be money well spent.)

Will

*the article explains that with longer focal lengths you usually get *something* in focus, so errors are less apparent.
**for some purposes, you can assume that infinity is, ah, infinitely flat.

Frank Petronio
7-Mar-2012, 09:56
The idea behind all these view camera movements is that you should be able to shoot tack sharp 8x10 at f/16 if you do the right moves (if your subject matter works). Unfortunately, unless you do the classic Ansel Adams rocks in the foreground of the mountains shot over and over, very few subjects comply!

Chris Strobel
7-Mar-2012, 10:13
I don't know if astronomers did

Yes astronomers did.For example well known astrophotographer Tony Hallas used a Pentax 67II with a modification that pumped gas into the body to keep the film flat

E. von Hoegh
7-Mar-2012, 10:19
Astronomers use glass plates because they are flat and can be accurately positioned.

adam satushek
7-Mar-2012, 10:33
Thanks Will, I will do some math, thanks for the article and formulas. I don't shoot wide, and try to keep my F stop at 22 or 32 when shooting 8x10. I also never point the camera down. So I might not be overly impacted by film bowing, however I think I will still try the double sided tape just to see.

Frank, I may seem anxious, but I would call it curious, and I do prefer to have top notch camera gear....but within reason. The way I look at it, I'm spending around $20 per color negative, so I might as well do the best I can. I have been pleased with my Caltar, but am just curious whether I would get better results with a different lens.

(PS...Frank, I don't lust after fancy cars or houses, as long as they get me around and keep me warm respectively I'm happy. I'm not itching to go out and drop a pile of cash for a lens...but if it would make sharper negs than my current setup I might consider it.)

E. von Hoegh
7-Mar-2012, 10:40
Adam, I understand your desire to get the best results possible. To show a real difference between the 300mm lens you have, and a newer Apo-type, EVERYTHING else will have to be impeccable. And even then, the difference won't be large, and may well not exist due to sample (of lens) variations.

John NYC
7-Mar-2012, 11:04
The way I look at it, I'm spending around $20 per color negative, so I might as well do the best I can. I have been pleased with my Caltar, but am just curious whether I would get better results with a different lens.

From my own limited field comparisons of the lenses I have owned, my conclusions are that the differences among most modern lenses are very small, but I would say that corner sharpness has varied the most among them. I believe the best lens I have owned so far with sharpness across the entire frame is my older Fujinon W 250mm f/5.6 (the single coated one with the inside lettering). Maybe I just have a great sample of that one and I had less good samples of other lenses? As another generalization, I would say my Copal 3 lenses have been slightly slightly less sharp than those in smaller shutters, but they also have seemed more "smooth" in some way that was most pleasing. Ultimately, I got rid of the larger lenses to favor weight in my backpack.

Chris Strobel
7-Mar-2012, 11:13
Astronomers use glass plates because they are flat and can be accurately positioned.

Big instrument like the Anglo Australian and Hale scopes yes, images from smaller instruments, the likes of whose photos graced the covers of periodicals like Sky & Telescope for years no.I worked quite a while for Astrotrak Engineering back in the day making mounts for everyone from advanced armatures up to instruments used for site testing the Cerro Tololo Inter American Observatory in Chili.Of course CCD's killed film in astrophotography long before they hit our dslr's.

Ben Syverson
7-Mar-2012, 11:15
If you focus with dollar store spectacles and use a wobbly tripod, you are correct - film flatness will never be an issue.
Glad that doesn't describe me, then.

Drew Wiley
7-Mar-2012, 12:40
I've got some Sinar literature around explaining why the weakest link in focus with modern
camera and lenses is the uneven film plane caused by the conventional holder itself. This
is not a guess for anyone who has actually experimented with the difference. 8X10 film
has a tendency to bow in a conventional holder. I've had to discard shots made with ordinary holders because they weren't sharp enough for big enlargment (or reserve them
strictly for small prints). People have different standards, but given the original question
regarding optimization, this is a significant and real factor, a FACT. Sorry if certain people
keep scooping BS to serve up, but they apparently have a very loose concept of sharpness.

adam satushek
7-Mar-2012, 12:54
[QUOTE=michael slade;858063]Ha! I also have a Canham 8x10, a bunch of G-Clarons and some longer process lenses. I am totally tongue-in-cheek in my last comment.

Michael I see now that you were being sarcastic....for some reason when I was looking at this thread last night your image didn't show up.....makes much more sense now....

adam satushek
7-Mar-2012, 13:03
Thanks everyone, I'm sure my lenses are sufficient. Ill probably still pine over the Sironar-S's (240, 300, and 360mm), as well as the Schneider 600/800 Apo-Tele-Xenar.......but luckily i cannot afford any of these now. My money would be better spent on a few more film holders, some double sided tape, and a bunch of Portra 160.

Drew, out of curiosity how have you modified your film holders for optimal flatness? Would you recommend the double sided tape or glue stick approach too?

Drew Wiley
7-Mar-2012, 13:21
You start with a conventional plastic Lisco or Fidelity holder and carefully cut away flush
the fins of each side holding the film in (obviously not the part that holds the darkslide).
A straightedge, steady hand, and sharp utility knife are all that is needed. The film should
press directly in rather than slide in. Then you need the repositionable version of 3M ATG
tape which is permanent adhesive on one side (facing the septum) and reusable Post-It
adhesive on the side facing toward the film. You apply parallel strips lengthwise. I wouldn't
use an ATG gun. There should be no bubble, ripples, or bit of leftover adhesive. It's fairly
straightforward and the tape should work for maybe a thousand film changes if not stored
in a hot area. Be careful not to get dust on the adhesive during film changes. Might be a
good idea to practice first on a funky old holder. I believe the correct tape is 3M no.928,
but you might want to double check that.

adam satushek
7-Mar-2012, 13:37
Thanks for your response Drew! It seems fairly straight forward but, the adhesive loosening in hot weather does make me nervous. With the film channels gone the film would be loose if the adhesive released. This seems like a great solution to shooting straight down especially in a studio environment, but may not be ideal for the kind of situations I tend to shoot in. I will try the simpler double sided tape method first and rely on this more extreme method if i feel the film needs to be even flatter, or if I ever have to shoot straight down.

Thanks!

Drew Wiley
7-Mar-2012, 13:49
Adam - do not use conventional double-sided tape. You'll regret it. The specific ATG tape
I referred to (repositionable) does not lift or blister from its permanent side. Improper storage might instead limit the useful life of the repositionable side. I have used this system for maybe twenty years without changing the tape - all kinds of weather, in the
desert, up in the high country and snow, etc. I'm an outdoor photographer. It's a very thin tape with an excellent track record. The same product Sinar used when they asked $600 per holder (though they had rectangular sections custom cut rather than parallel strips). It will make a real difference even shooting level.

Chris Strobel
7-Mar-2012, 14:06
You start with a conventional plastic Lisco or Fidelity holder and carefully cut away flush
the fins of each side holding the film in (obviously not the part that holds the darkslide).
A straightedge, steady hand, and sharp utility knife are all that is needed. The film should
press directly in rather than slide in. Then you need the repositionable version of 3M ATG
tape which is permanent adhesive on one side (facing the septum) and reusable Post-It
adhesive on the side facing toward the film. You apply parallel strips lengthwise. I wouldn't
use an ATG gun. There should be no bubble, ripples, or bit of leftover adhesive. It's fairly
straightforward and the tape should work for maybe a thousand film changes if not stored
in a hot area. Be careful not to get dust on the adhesive during film changes. Might be a
good idea to practice first on a funky old holder. I believe the correct tape is 3M no.928,
but you might want to double check that.

Drew is this the stuff? http://www.findtape.com/shop/product.aspx?id=398&setscreen=1&width=1600&height=1074 Would you happen to have a picture of your holder so we can see exactly how you laid out your strips? I have an old beater Lisco holder I'm going to try your method with.Thanks for sharing it.

Chris

adam satushek
7-Mar-2012, 14:13
Cool! thanks Drew, ill look it up! Glad to hear you have had success in various temperatures and the tape not releasing. You think there might be any way to use this method without cutting out the channels that hold the film? That is the only thing that makes me nervous, id like the extra protection just in case the adhesive does release.....but it sounds like you have never had issues....so maybe Im worrying too much.

Thanks,
Adam

adam satushek
7-Mar-2012, 14:16
Oh, and I also tend to load up my holders to have them ready, and they may sit for several weeks or longer before I find something worthy of shooting. Do you think this would be a problem, or does the ATG hold the film secure for long periods of time?

Drew Wiley
7-Mar-2012, 14:32
It wouldn't work in this version without permanently modifying the holder. You won't get
the film to slip past the adhesive. I has to be laid down upon it. Quite easy. I still haven't
determined the life of the adhesive. I just shot some holders I forgot to rotate which had
film on the adhesive for over a year. Worked fine. The important thing in the long run is
to keep the adhesive clean and dust-free. So I blow off any potential dust from the outside of the holder before I open it up in the darkroom to remove exposed film. Just good
practice anyway.

adam satushek
7-Mar-2012, 14:35
Great, sounds good, i think ill give it a shot. Thanks!

Nathan Potter
7-Mar-2012, 15:16
Drew, I used that tape without modifying the holder.

I used two half inch strips of tape one on each side of the center (sometimes two on each side), running long ways. Before inserting the film I slipped a long and narrow piece of mat board along the untaped center of the holder with a bit of a tab sticking out the pull end that could be grabbed for removal. Then the film is slipped into the grooves and moved in. The mat board bows the film so it doesn't touch the tape. Once the film is inserted I grab the tab and slide out the mat board strip. Then I use a lint free wipe to gently press the film onto the tape. All a bit fussy but it works. I only do this for real critical work with 8 X 10 and almost never for field use.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

Drew Wiley
7-Mar-2012, 16:18
That sounds like an interesting trick, Nathan. I personally like the film very flat, so for a test will put a voided piece of film in the holder and view it minus darkslide with the reflection of something rectangular, like a bank of fluorescent tubes. Any waviness in the
film is easily detected. I did this to fine-tune my own Readload holder when I found the
factory ones to be too uneven. But with 8x10 adhesive holders I like the system I now use.
I do enough stupid things already when I'm tired without adding any more complications.
If I get ahold of some old junk holders I'd be willing to experiment some more.

rdenney
7-Mar-2012, 16:18
I've read all seven pages, and didn't see anyone point this out: A 64" printer can produce an 8x enlargement from 8x10 film. Anything that works at 8x for other formats should provide the same quality here. So, whatever one does to achieve a good 32x40 print from 4x5, or a good 16x20 from 6x7, or a good 8x10 from 35mm, should work, with all at the same viewing distance. All of these will need the same circle of confusion definition.

Longer lenses are scaled-up versions of shorter lenses, and, as Kingslake said it, the flaws of a given design scale up with everything else. When we hold the enlargement ratio constant, those flaws become more significant. If we think we need 80 lines/mm to allow an 8x enlargement, then we have to realize that lenses with focal lengths of 300mm and up that perform that well really are more rare than lenses of 50-150mm. That said, I'm not sure any modern lens is the reason we can't make superbly sharp 8x enlargements.

Rick "noting that DOF programs and stated circles of confusion usually assume a constant print size across formats and are not appropriate here" Denney

Drew Wiley
7-Mar-2012, 16:26
Chris - yeah, that's it. 3M 928. But they also offer it 3/4-inch wide, which might be more
practical.

Chris Strobel
7-Mar-2012, 17:26
Chris - yeah, that's it. 3M 928. But they also offer it 3/4-inch wide, which might be more
practical.

Ok found it in 3/4" https://www.bindingsource.com/products/productView.asp?categoryID=2141&CategoryName=Scotch%AE+928+ATG+Repositionable+Double+Coated+Tissue+Tape&productID=18858&productName=Scotch%AE+ATG+Repositionable+Double+Coated+Tissue+Tape+928+%2D+3%2F4%26%2334%3B+x+18+yds

It says "2.0 mil double coated white tissue with acrylic adhesive 1000 on one side and acrylic adhesive 400 on the opposite side, on a polycoated kraft paper liner - For use in the ATG 700 Applicator." Which side sticks to the film, and can it be applied without the applicator gun?

adam satushek
7-Mar-2012, 21:45
Thanks ya'll! I ordered 2 rolls of the ATG 928 3/4" and am excited to try it out.

adam satushek
7-Mar-2012, 22:05
Last question that I have...for now, which has not yet been answered. Is my Caltar-S II 12" (300mm) a Schneider Symmar-S? From what I read I'm thinking it probably is...but am not sure. It's the only lens I have which seem to have what I understand to be "Schneider-itis" on both the front and rear elements, but it sounds like that shouldn't matter in terms of image quality.

Just curious if anyone knows what this lens actually is. It's in the older style copal 3 with the chrome shutter speed ring if that helps at all. I assume its Multi-Coated.....but am not sure of that either.

Any information would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Adam

Chris Strobel
7-Mar-2012, 22:33
Thanks ya'll! I ordered 2 rolls of the ATG 928 3/4" and am excited to try it out.

Adam, where did you buy it from? Want to try some too.

Thanks

adam satushek
8-Mar-2012, 08:20
Hey Chris, I got it from the https://www.bindingsource.com/Default.asp. Its one of the few places I found had 3/4" and didn't require a minimum purchase of 6 rolls. However, I just got an email from them saying that its back ordered and wont ship for 7-10 days.....

turtle
9-Mar-2012, 01:04
Yes, trees and lamp posts have an awful tendency to spoil things.


The idea behind all these view camera movements is that you should be able to shoot tack sharp 8x10 at f/16 if you do the right moves (if your subject matter works). Unfortunately, unless you do the classic Ansel Adams rocks in the foreground of the mountains shot over and over, very few subjects comply!

turtle
13-Mar-2012, 06:56
From the various Caltar references I have seen online, yes it is a Schneider Symmar S. The Caltar N II were Sironar N/APO Sironar N lenses I believe.


Last question that I have...for now, which has not yet been answered. Is my Caltar-S II 12" (300mm) a Schneider Symmar-S? From what I read I'm thinking it probably is...but am not sure. It's the only lens I have which seem to have what I understand to be "Schneider-itis" on both the front and rear elements, but it sounds like that shouldn't matter in terms of image quality.

Just curious if anyone knows what this lens actually is. It's in the older style copal 3 with the chrome shutter speed ring if that helps at all. I assume its Multi-Coated.....but am not sure of that either.

Any information would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Adam

sgreenberg
13-Mar-2012, 10:48
Not in Lee Friedlander's work.



Yes, trees and lamp posts have an awful tendency to spoil things.

adam satushek
13-Mar-2012, 12:02
From the various Caltar references I have seen online, yes it is a Schneider Symmar S. The Caltar N II were Sironar N/APO Sironar N lenses I believe.

Awesome, thank you! That's what I thought but could not find the place where I originally got the information.

turtle
13-Mar-2012, 22:38
I was referring to optimal apertures and tilts....


Not in Lee Friedlander's work.

neil poulsen
14-Mar-2012, 06:33
I forget the lenses he uses, but when I had the opportunity to visit Mr. Berkett's studio, he was using a Calumet (18lbs) later model, black 8x10 on a sturdy, carbon fiber "survey" tripod. Previously, he was using the green magnesium model. He does research on, and tests everything that he uses. Nothing is left to chance. As for an enlarging lens, he uses a 480mm (I forget exact focal length) Apo El Nikkor. Very few of these were made.

Chris Strobel
14-Mar-2012, 17:07
he was using a Calumet (18lbs) later model, black 8x10 on a sturdy, carbon fiber "survey" tripod.

That must have been pretty cool visiting his studio.I got some cool tips from him on our phone conversations, like cutting the back rail down on the C-1 for easier use with wide lenses.His tripod is not a surveyor tripod, but in fact a very very expensive Sachtler cine tripod and fluid head.Here is a pretty good pic of him and his rig.

http://www.pbase.com/cloudswimmer/image/96729599.jpg