View Full Version : 8 x 10 deardorff lense choices

Randy Unruh
21-Jun-2004, 13:47
I just purchased an 8 x 10 deardorff and know little about large format. What would be the best two lense choices for this camera? I will be shooting landscape. I want quality glass! My budget is probably up to 500.00? for both used lenses. Also is there specific film holders for this camera or anything in 8 x 10? Lense boards? Specifics? Thank you!

John Kasaian
21-Jun-2004, 14:25
Randy, Heres what I've used on my 8x10 'dorff and are "keepers." All these are fine lenses. Just about any of these lenses(except the shuttered 19" RD Artar & 10" WF Ektar) can be had for under $500 in working shutters:

Wollensak 159mm f9.5 WA yellow dot (single coated)in Alphax

Schneider 240mm f9 G- Claron (single coated)in Copal #1(bought as a barrel and mounted into shutter)

Kodak 250mm 10" WF Ektar (single coated)in #5 Universal

Gennert 10-3/4" (maybe a dagor design?--uncoated) in Compound

Goerz 12" Dagor (uncoated) in Compound

Goerz 14" APO Artar (uncoated) in #2 dial set Compur

Kodak 14" Commercial Ektar (single coated)in #5 Universal

Goerz 19" RD Artar (single coated) in #4 Acme

I certainly don't need all of these lenses, and some have found homes aboard other cameras in other formats---I just enjoy experimenting with old lenses: its an illness! FWIW, for the biggest bang for your buck I'll recommend starting with either a 14" Commercial Ektar or 12" Dagor if you can find one in a good shutter for your price. I think if had had to limit myself to one lens, it would be either a 12 or 14 incher. If you see yourself doing serious hiking with an 8x10 'dorff, either do the rational thing and seek therapy OR buy a 240mm G-Claron since it is small and light wieght. Enjoy that Deardorff!!!

Gem Singer
21-Jun-2004, 14:33
Hi Randy,

Your 8X10 Dorf uses standard 8X10 holders. There are tons of used ones for sale out there. Calumet has their brand new Fidelity/Lisco holders on sale. They are packed two to a box and are priced at just under $110 for the pair.

Finding quality used glass that will cover the 8X10 format is going to be a challenge at your $500 budgetary limit. I suggest that you purchase one good previously owned lens in a modern shutter. Look for a Nikon f9 300M mounted in a Copal 1 shutter. I've seen them listed in 9+ condition, for around $500, at Midwest Photo Exchange (www.mpex.com). Also, check K.E.H. (www.keh.com).

Good luck.

Ted Harris
21-Jun-2004, 15:10
I'll underscore what Eugene said. The lenses that John mentioned are nice lenses but only one of them is modern glass. You may not see any difference between classic and modern lenses if you are shooting exclusively black and whilte; you will see a difference if you are shooting color. Further, it is tough to find pristine copies of oldies thatare goodies.

I am a firm proponent of buying the best optics you can afford and I am not (with the exception of portrait lenses) a fan of classic lenses but each to their own.

As Eugene mentioned the Nikkor 300M is a fine choice and about the only modern lens in that approximate focal length that you will find used in the $500 range. you will not get two modern lenses for 500 and unlikely to even get two classic lenses with perfect glass both in well working shutters for that 500.

300 to 360 is a good range to stay in for starters. 240 mm is nice but starting to get wide. If you like wide then you can also think about the 240 mm Fujinon A, a superbe lens that is very small and light but doesn't have too much movement when used on 8x10. Midwest remains one of your best sources.

Ernest Purdum
21-Jun-2004, 15:54
Lens choice is a very personal matter. Besides your intents regarding subjects to photograph, lenses are expensive and only you can decide how much you want to budget for the purpose.

If you will send me your mailing address, I will send you a booklet intended just for people facing this decision. It won't tell you what lens to buy, ut it will give you the background with which to make an informed choice. I can akso email it, but it runs forty pages.

You've started out with a capable camera. I hope you find the lens(es) thatr will be equally capable.

Regarding lens boards, they show up on eBay fairly often, although many have enormous holes in them. Several people make them, but I don't have anyone's name at the moment. If you got one with your camera, quite possibly someone in your area could copy it. Material for the purpose is available at model shops and weww.micromark.com.

Jim Galli
21-Jun-2004, 16:00
Randy, If someone held a gun to my head and forced me to just keep one of my lenses for the Deardorff (my spouse is considering this tactic) it would likely be my 270mm f9 Schneider G-Claron. Just a pleasing all around lens and rough equivalent of about 40mm on a Nikon. It has a huge image circle, large enough to cover 11X14 film, so I can never run out of movements on the 'dorff with it and it is a light coated modern optic in a Copal 1 shutter. A great place to start. 240 and 305 G-Claron's are more common and also excellent choices. I'll contact you off-line about a 9 1/2" Dagor I have for sale.

Brian Ellis
21-Jun-2004, 16:23
$500 for two lenses that cover 8x10 won't be easy but probably is feasible if you're patient and check e bay frequently. Wollensak 159mm WA F9.5 and f12 lenses are pretty nice wide angle lenses for 8x10, especially if you plan only to contact print. They show up on e bay fairly often. I've bought two of the F9.5 variety, others here have reported good results with the F12. I paid about $300 for the first one a couple years ago but I was the only bidder for the second one and bought it in a Linhof lens board for $210 or so a couple months ago. IIRC Wollensak Raptars are single coated and Wollensak Velostigmats are uncoated. Both of mine were uncoated and were fine. 210mm G Clarons are another possibility as a wide angle lens. They are single coated and likely will be in a newer shutter than the Wollensak. They cover 8x10 with room for movements when stopped down to F16 or smaller. You probably could buy one on e bay for maybe $300.

For a longer lens you might consider one of the older double or triple convertibles. I used to own a Wollensak triple convertible of about 330, 520, 650 focal lengths that cost around $300 from a dealer. At 330 it was an excellent lnes and was o.k. for contact printing at the longer extensions. Turner Reich triple convertibles show up on e bay all the time and some people report good results with them, especially at the shortest of the three focal lengths. The suggeestion with convertibles is to buy for the shortest focal length and consider anything you get with the longer length(s) as a bonus.

Other lenses I've used with my Deardorff are the 410mm APO Artar and a 240mm G Claron but these would cost a good bit more than $500.

I think a lot depends on your printing plans. If you plan to only make contact prints then you can get away with almost any lens that will cover the format, has a good shutter, and doesn't have significant defects so $500 for two may be feasible. If you plan to enlarge by scanning or in a wet lab then the lens quality becomes more important and the price goes up accordingly.

21-Jun-2004, 16:50
hi randy

i have a wollensak triple ( 13 1/2 - 20 - 25 ) - it is a classic lens in a betax shutter, purchased at a dealer and C-L-A'd at a repair shop - total cost was less than $300. it covers 8x10 with ease. if you don't want to do the FEEbay route, places like igors and equinoxphotographic tend to have classic lenses at fair prices.

good luck! - john

Randy Unruh
21-Jun-2004, 17:39
Ok, seems I may have had wishfull thoughts over the costs of the lense I should buy. I am willing to spend as necessarry to obtain a good lense for my purpose, without mortgaging my home!

Jim Rice
21-Jun-2004, 17:51
I paid $420 for a factory shutter mounted 16.5" rd apo-artar on ebay. The seller opened with "this is a very sharp lens", he was right.

Chris Gittins
21-Jun-2004, 18:26
I picked up a used 300/5.6 Caltar S-II on eBay for under $350. I haven't had it long enough to render a judgment, but I'm pretty confident it's going to work out well. (I have a 150 mm S-II which I'm very happy with.) My understanding is that S-II's are Symmar-S's rebranded for Calumet. The Caltar's seem to sell at a substantial discount relative to those with the manufacterer's label, i.e., Schneider, Rodenstock.


21-Jun-2004, 20:28
Randy, I make lensboards for your Dorff. My ebay name is rooster-2. You can do a search and check the feedback out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . As for lenses I think Eugene was pretty close. I have a Rodenstock Siranor 240, which is a modern lenses. I also have a 420 Claron that I love. I just picked up a Turner-Reich triple in Ilex shutter that covers 300mm, 550mm and 700mm. I shoot only b&w so these lenses should serve me well. Good luck,

John Kasaian
21-Jun-2004, 20:31

Holders should be no problem for your 'dorff. I've used both wood and plastic from "A"(Agfa) to "L"(Lisco). My personal favorites are the Graflex-made for Eastman Kodak ones with the light trap covers that unscrew---but then, I get along nicely with classic lenses in old shutters too;-)

Seriously, two new Liscos for $110 is a deal---a good start---add used ones only when you can find them cheap since you're bound to run into an occassional "stinker." You can return the stinkers to the dealer for replacements or if you bought it from a private party(read "stuck with it") save it for parts. I agree with john nanian that places like Igor's, Equinox and Midwest are good places to look for used film holders as well as lenses.

This might sound cornball, but used 8x10 holders have kind a mystique---8x10 is a small community. When I survey a stack of old film holders I wonder who used them before---a commercial studio in New York or Chicago? Were they used to photograph a Montgomery Wards catalog? new car brochures? An ad that maybe appeared on Life magazine? Did they come from a portrait studio somewhere in the heartland or maybe even, gosh, Hollywood? Were they once the property of Hedrick Blessing or used by Weston, Adams, Karsh, or Hurrell?



tim atherton
21-Jun-2004, 20:51
if you want something in a moderate wide (which I find works very well for 8x10 landscapes) the Fuji 250 6.7 is very nince (NOT the 6.3) - I think I found one for about $425.00 Likewise the G-Claron 240 and I think there is a similar Fuji 240?.

The 159 Wollensak is certainly nice for the price

At 210mm - if you can find a 210mm Kowa Graphic f9 barrell lens on ebay and hunt down a used Copal shutter, you will have a superb 210mm lens - might take a bit of work and you may need to get a repair shop to make up an appropriate scale, but I got mine set up for less than $300.00 (The CG Claron 210mm is a good second choice - and if you find a 210 Kowa after that you can just swap out the elents and sell the G-Calron ones on ebay.... :-)

Alex Hawley
21-Jun-2004, 21:35
Randy, for $500, you will probably be able to get just one lens. I started out with a 12" Commercial Ektar but quickly found myself wanting something a little wider. Came across the 9.5" Dagor just like the one Jim Galli mentioned. Its a great lens and it would be my choice if I were forced to operate with just one lens.

John D Gerndt
21-Jun-2004, 21:51
No one seems to respond to this idea; I have rear mounted several smaller barrel lenses to an Ilex #5 shutter. Just reach through that big ‘ol opening and adjust the diaphragm! I bought the shutter and had it CL&Aed and added a flash sync all for $300 and bought each of the barrel lenses for under $100. The best bargain among those was a Repromaster 210mm f9 for $30. It covers nicely.

Alternately you can front mount the shutter to each lens but I found too much vibration resulted from that arrangement. SK Grimes can do magic for mating barrel lenses to shutters too.

One shutter means one set of numbers (variables) to work with and barrel lenses tend to be in good shape as well as being much cheaper.


Nick Morris
22-Jun-2004, 09:00
Hello, I use 8 1/4" and 9 1/2" Dagors, and a 13-20-25 Wollensak 1A triple like John Nanian described above; and a 16 1/4-25-31 Wollensak 1A triple. I have used the 13" and 20" focal lengths of my smaller Wolly: but only the 16 1/4" focal length of the larger Wolly. I don't have the bellows draw to use the longer focal lengths. I haven't had experience with any other lenses for an 8x10, but I have been really happy with these. The Dagors had a long production run and have a number of designations. The prices can vary significantly, with newer "gold rim" versions being among the more expensive. My 13" Wollensak triple is the older non-coated version, named Series 1A Velostigmat, and is in a Betax #4 shutter. The newer, coated versions are Series 1A Raptars, usually in Alphax shutters. I just bought a 13" 1A Raptar for $205.50 on eBay. They tend to sell for more. I think I got lucky. Several others I tried to get sold in the high $200s, and some I followed have on occasion sold for much more. Shutters can be the big issue. Any shutter you get should be timed (and it wouldn't hurt to have cleaned, lubed and adjusted). Speeds can be off, but that doesn't have to be a problem if you know what the actual speed is and compensate for it. It may sound silly, but different lens types have different personalities - the way they deal with sharpness and contrast, and how they translate the scene to a print. If you have studied the works of different photographers, and have come to identify the look of a particular photographer's work as something you would like to emulate, you may want to learn what lenses that photographer uses. Of course, using the same lens type will not assure that you will achieve the same results, but it would be a start.