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Thread: 8x10 Advice Needed - Wide-Open 240 at f/5.6 coverage, Chamonix Rationalization

  1. #1

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    8x10 Advice Needed - Wide-Open 240 at f/5.6 coverage, Chamonix Rationalization

    After a lot of soul searching, I am at the point of getting serious about moving (back) up to 8x10. As many of you know, I do a lot of environmental portraits at large apertures (f/5.6, f/8), some of it handheld with a 4x5 Technika or Graphic. Now that I am more comfortable with my subject matter -- I have more control over the situations, I know what to expect from different kinds of people, I get more "keepers" out of a take -- I want to use 8x10 on a tripod again. The 4x5 was a great learning tool but I've always thought of 8x10 as the ultimate, be-all, end all for film photography.

    (I stated my project with 8x10 but I wasted so much film that I needed to drop down to 4x5 because of finances... now I am more confident with my abilities and I think can shoot 8x10 at a more modest clip -- just a few sheets per set-up -- and still get better images.)

    My 8x10 experience has mostly been with very solid metal monorails -- my last one was a vintage Arca, which was a really nice camera -- solid but compact and lightweight. But nice older Arcas like that are very scarce and I know I can't afford a F-line 8x10. Sinars are a bargain but a bit too bulky for convenient (no surcharge) air travel. And the other solid monorails are heavier still. My sole Deardorff experience was with a sloppily, unmaintained one the 1980s at the old Kodak HQ studios (they didn't take care of their gear very well). And whilst the Wehman and is nice, I just don't care for its looks. Wisners, Wistas, Tachis, and Toyos are a bit too much of this or not enough of that I suspect... So I've gotten it down to either a used full-featured Phillips or the similar Chamonix (now that I feel OK that Dick Phillips is OK with the design I think they're a nice camera). Or possibly a Shen-Hao or Canham.

    Which probably means a Chamonix unless I stumble upon a deal on a Phillips or an Arca. But the last Phillips I saw on eBay went in the $4,400 range!

    I'm thinking an 8x10 Chamonix should match a Gitzo 3-series CF tripod OK, correct? And my Linhof 3-way head might be borderline but probably fine too.

    I am a one lens kind of guy, wide-normal modern symmetrical f/5.6 lenses, Schneiders or Rodenstocks.... of those, I see a lot of 240/5.6 Rodenstock Sinronar-Ns (or Caltars) on the market for $400-$500, which seems like a deal. But I suspect these 240mm have the smallest image circle and since I like to work wide open, I am worried that I won't get any rise at f/5.6. Most of those charts are assuming f/16, which is quite stopped down for me....

    What would be the next step up in image circle for reasonable money, in a modern lens? I know the 240mm Sironar-S would be great but those go for a song, $1400 or so used, and they are rare too. Is there a happy inbetweener or a sleeper Fuji out there?

    So those are my questions...

    1. help me rationalize that a $2500 Chamonix is better than a $1200 Sinar P or a clean 8x10 Tachi-Wista.

    2. And that an 8x10 Chamonix is a good match for my Gitzo 1300-CF and Linhof 3-way head.

    3. What modern 240mm lens would be best at f/5.6?

    4. And finally a confirmation that I'll be able to fit a Chamonix, five+ holders, and big modern 240mm lens all into a legal airline carry-on with room to spare for smaller essentials.

    ~~~

    I posted a "want to trade" ad in the classifieds, saying that I'd give you a portfolio of art prints, a portrait session, photo lessons, etc. in exchange for setting me up with this gear. That was partially in jest but, hellya I'd do it in a heartbeat, lol. Heck I'd even vote for Obama!

  2. #2
    Greg Lockrey's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Advice Needed - Wide-Open 240 at f/5.6 coverage, Chamonix Rationalization

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
    . Heck I'd even vote for Obama!
    What a whore...
    Greg Lockrey

    Wealth is a state of mind.
    Money is just a tool.
    Happiness is pedaling +25mph on a smooth road.



  3. #3
    Dave Karp
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    Re: 8x10 Advice Needed - Wide-Open 240 at f/5.6 coverage, Chamonix Rationalization

    Frank, I never used one, but I have heard lots of good things about the 250mm f/6.7 Fuji W (single coated).

    I was thinking about buying one, but got a good deal on a single coated 240A.

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    Re: 8x10 Advice Needed - Wide-Open 240 at f/5.6 coverage, Chamonix Rationalization

    Frank, you know which lens is the best.

    The standard image circle specs are usually for f/22, not f/16. But Schneider quotes image circles for open aperture too - checking just now, I'm surprised to see they put it at 291mm for the 240 Apo-Symmar, which is more than I expected though still not really enough unless you want to be stuck in a close-focus, no-movement box. If you think there's a chance your budget might be able to stretch as far as a 240 Apo-Sironar-S, I can put mine on an 8x10 sometime within the next few days and see how the coverage holds up at f/5.6. Let me know if that would be useful.

    I usually put my 8x10 Phillips on a metal 3-series Gitzo with the Gitzo 3-way low-profile head. I'd be comfortable with a CF leg set in the studio, but a bit nervous about the rig being top-heavy if I were working rapidly under uncontrolled conditions on squishy grass or foliage, uneven terrain, etc.

    I'm really happy with the Phillips design. But if your style depends on really quick setup from scratch, be aware that the free-floating front standard takes a few seconds extra and more careful attention to position and screw into place compared to the classic folding design where you flip up the front standard from the bed. I can imagine that it might drive some people crazy.

  5. #5

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    Re: 8x10 Advice Needed - Wide-Open 240 at f/5.6 coverage, Chamonix Rationalization

    Thanks Oren -- Ehh I might rather go to 300mm before I could justify a 240mm Sironar-S, as nice as those lenses are. I used to use a 300/5.6 Xenar in a Copal 3 and had no complaints, although another inch of coverage would have made a few shots better...

    David - yes I thought about the Fuji 250mm lenses but there seem to be a range of them from over the years... one has a huge IC and the other just does 5x7... I think. So figuring out which one is the key! I could give up half a stop I suppose.

    Afterall, as Greg says I am a whore ;-)

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    Re: 8x10 Advice Needed - Wide-Open 240 at f/5.6 coverage, Chamonix Rationalization

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
    Ehh I might rather go to 300mm before I could justify a 240mm Sironar-S, as nice as those lenses are.
    For sure, that extra $1000 will buy you lots of film.

    Another thought - for what you have in mind, would it be catastrophic if the corners go out sometimes? Maybe you could get away with a Symmar-S / Sironar-N-class 240 after all. It's not as if your style is ultra-correct to begin with...

  7. #7

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    Re: 8x10 Advice Needed - Wide-Open 240 at f/5.6 coverage, Chamonix Rationalization

    I use a Chamonix 8x10 on a Gitzo 1348 - it's a great set of legs for this sort of set-up - perfect IMO. I'm sure you'll be fine with the Linhof 3-way head - personally, I use an Arca B2 for 8x10 - which is really a 3-way head in disguise anyway. The Chamonix seems very well put together - I have no complaints. Value for money for a field camera, it cannot be beaten. I don't have enough experience with 8x10 monorails to comment, but the few have I have owned (a Sinar F2 and a Cambo Fugginheavy), have been so physically cumbersome to use on location that I am a field camera convert.

    I think you will find a 240mm tough on image circle especially wide open. The 300mm plasmats are cheap and plentiful on the used market and have a lot more coverage. Because you are going to be using longer lenses on 8x10, you may find that you actually end up stopping down a little from wide open anyway - obviously you know the answers to your vision, but don't underestimate the rapidly reducing depth of field as lenses get longer. I frequently use a Fujinon A 360 at F10 (max aperture) where previously I used to use a 360 Sironar at f6.8 - and I usually end up with a better image because the DOF at f10 is a little bigger than a sliver, although not by much...

    My 8x10 gets lugged around in a Lightware backpack - I think it's backpack case with a 1420 hardcase in the backpack - I have carried it on airlines as well as checked it several times. I can squeeze in my camera, 6 small lenses, filters, meter etc and 6 holders - bascially everything you may need.

  8. #8
    Dave Karp
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    Re: 8x10 Advice Needed - Wide-Open 240 at f/5.6 coverage, Chamonix Rationalization

    Frank,

    This will help you sort them out: http://members.aol.com/subgallery/byfl.htm

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    Re: 8x10 Advice Needed - Wide-Open 240 at f/5.6 coverage, Chamonix Rationalization

    I have a 240 symmar-s in the for sale section. I listed it a few weeks ago.
    vinny

  10. #10

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    Re: 8x10 Advice Needed - Wide-Open 240 at f/5.6 coverage, Chamonix Rationalization

    Yeah actually I find myself darkening the corners quite often anyway... I could be like Atget and just start clipping all of the tops to black!

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