View Full Version : Thinking about going to 8x10

13-Jun-2013, 20:15
I've had a Super Graphic for a few months, and with all of the ups and downs that go with going up to a newer format, I've decided I really like it even though I have to steam up my bathroom and put up the darkroom drapes whenever I want to load, unload, or develop film.
Now, I've been checking out Deardorffs and other 8x10 cameras, and really thinking about going up. I've been doing mostly portraiture in the studio, and haven't really explored movements much. The only thing dissuading me is the cost of equipment, as well as film - I know that if I want to go up this time I want to get a quality camera. I've also been justifying it to myself by telling myself I can get a reducing back to keep on shooting 4x5.

Talk me out of ... or into it.
It's either shooting 8x10 or a Hasselblad 500CM.

Daniel Stone
13-Jun-2013, 21:53
do you WANT to contact print, or do you plan on making alternative-process prints(albumen, cyanotype, pt/pd, carbon, etc..?)
what size are you currently enlarging your film too, or are you scanning? Can your scanner(if you're scanning your film) HANDLE 8x10 film?
if you are enlarging 4x5 conventionally, 8x10 enlargers are CONSIDERABLY larger.
Perfect your technique with 4x5, maybe pick up a more capable "portraiture" camera, like a good monorail.

13-Jun-2013, 22:17
Life is very, very, short. And you deserve the best that life has to offer. And, if you want to ride the same train that many of us already have, you're going to have to pay for the ticket. That is, unless you find someone to make the monetary sacrifice for you. ;-)

13-Jun-2013, 22:21
Yes, the equipment is expensive, but if you buy well you're not really taking much of a risk. You will be able to resell for the same price as you paid, +/- a few $.

I'm with the 'life is short' crowd, if it's something you want to do, and you can afford to try it, well what are you waiting for? Yes, film is expensive, but many of us cheapskates are using x-ray film or alternatives to keep the cost down, often substantially lower than brand-name 4x5 film.

14-Jun-2013, 00:49
Thanks for the replies, the other motivations for shooting 8x10 were simply to try the bigger negative, and also alternate processes, as well as trying out Impossible in 8x10. I haven't done any darkroom printing for a long time, I figure contact printing would be a good way to get back into it since I have a huge 120 enlarger that I am too lazy to lug into my bathroom/darkroom.

I have an Epson V700 so scanning should be okay.

JW Dewdney
14-Jun-2013, 02:19
you should TRY IT first - and consider your reasons for doing so. How do you know you can compose on 8x10? it's a really different thing. Different people take to different formats differently. Or - if you go the hasselblad route consider you can probably knock your productivity and QUALITY of your images (not format related quality) WAY UP since you'll have more practice and throughput. I would only go 8x10 unless you have no choice. It sounds to me like you want to do it just because others are - which isn't the best reason to do anything... I would highly recommend maybe sticking with the 4x5 for a few more years at least until you feel you have no choice but to change formats. Don't knock medium format though either - there are some huge advantages to be gained there. just my 2 cents.

14-Jun-2013, 03:06
I've been composing almost exclusively through the ground glass on my Super Graphic so I figure the principle should be similar on a 8x10. It's always been mounted on a tripod and I rather liked the contemplative way of shooting with that I had been doing with my Mamiya RB67 and Super Graphic - on a tripod, interacting with the subject while I made my preparations.

Thanks for your input - it's more gear lust for the Deardorff than anything else, and also the idea of shooting chromes that I can actually frame as prints too that are appealing to me.

14-Jun-2013, 06:18
The selection of lenses that cover 8x10 is severely limited as compared to 4x5, at both ends of the focal length range.

To cover the 8x10 film with no movements requires an image circle diameter of about 325mm.
LF lens ICs are commonly spec'd at f/16 (sometimes f/22), and wide open by some manufacturers.
The IC diameter decreases as you open the lens up, so a lens that barely covers 8x10 at f/16 won't cover at f/5.6.

Whether this is of concern to you or not depends on what you're shooting.

- Leigh

Bruce Barlow
14-Jun-2013, 06:32
Richard Ritter believes that 8x10 is easier to learn and use than 4x5. I would tend to agree.

Yes, lens choices are more limited, but that can work to your advantage by having you really learn what one or two lenses can do.

8x10 contact prints are delicious. 8x10 PT/PD prints are, too, if you can afford them. Michael Smith's Lodima paper will render wonderful contact prints using a light bulb as a source.

Have enough film holders. I always seem to have one too few.

Film speed becomes more important, in my mind. Ilford HP5, since you need as much depth of field with the longer lenses as the materials can give you.

My two cents. I agree with Old Fart, being one myself, that life is too short. Do it. You won't regret it.

Alan Gales
14-Jun-2013, 10:45
You will never know what it is like until you try it and if you don't try it you will always wonder.

14-Jun-2013, 10:51
I was making 8x10 contact prints last night and was thinking to myself--it doesn't get any better than this. I prefer composing on the larger 8x10 ground glass compared to 4x5--it's more ergonomic. For portraiture, sitters will always take a big camera seriously and treat you differently--don't underestimate that power. Deardorff and a 14" Commercial Ektar--classic combination.

14-Jun-2013, 14:16
For me, the biggest consideration is how you print. I started out with a Deardorff 4x5 special, and added a Speed Graphic, and had a great time for over 10 years with them, shooting primarily color transparencies but some B&W, too. I wasn't doing much printing then, as I was concentrating on selling usage rights to publishers. As I started to devote more time to B&W, I decided to move up to 8x10 because I thought I would prefer making contact prints. Well, I did that at exactly the time some flatbed scanners became available that could do a good job with film at a reasonable (in comparison to a drum scanner) price. I ended up making most of my prints from 8x10 by scanning instead of contact prints. I used my 8x10 as my primary large format camera for 15 years, but finally decided to move back to 4x5 due to the relative ease of scanning and the essentially equal quality for prints I make (nothing larger than 16x20). I like having a wider range of lenses for use on my 4x5 (80mm to 400mm), but I didn't really feel limited with the 8x10 with a 240mm and 450mm in the beginning (I later sold the 450mm and bought a Cooke Series XVa triple convertible, which was great). But the 240mm offered very little coverage on the 8x10, while my 110mm Schneider (roughly equivalent in angle of coverage to the 240mm on 8x10) has all the coverage I could ever want. That's very important to me, and you'd have to pay a lot more to get equal coverage from a 210mm or 240mm lens for 8x10. So I have a little better range of lenses with the 4x5, and much more coverage at the wide angle end with the 110mm Schneider (the 80mm Schneider has only slightly better range of movements than I had with the 240mm on the 8x10, but that's a much bigger angle of view). So I'm glad that I moved back to 4x5. But if you're mainly interested in contact printing or using the Impossible 8x10 instant film, the 8x10 may work better for you. I like having some choices in print size, and so I prefer scanning.

I should add that I really like loading and unloading 4x5 holders compared to 8x10. I think that they're a lot easier to load and clean. I'm glad I kept all my old holders from my Deardorff days. And the darkroom work is a little easier, too, although not a whole lot.

John Kasaian
14-Jun-2013, 14:32
Go for it!
A 'dorff, a 14" Commercial Ektar and a stack of holders loaded with HP-5+ is good medicine!

Brian Ellis
15-Jun-2013, 09:53
8x10 became my favorite format after using 4x5 and 5x7. Viewing things on that big ground glass and seeing the composition of the exact print you're going to be making (assuming you contact print or scan and print on 8x10 paper) is sheer pleasure. I found that I photographed differently with 8x10 than the smaller formats, generally I used wider angle lenses. I don't know whether that was just because of how far out the bellows extends with 8x10 and a long lens or a difference in the way I was seeing. Like others, I'd suggest going for it. I loved my two Deardorffs. Liked but didn't love my two Kodak 2Ds.

John O'Connell
15-Jun-2013, 11:33
8x10 is definitely easier to learn on, because it's more forgiving to focus (contact printing can hide sins) and much easier to compose with on the bigger GG.

But you've already learned 4x5. If you're going to scan and print, you may as well stick with 4x5. I also think you'll see little advantage from contact printing 8x10 on silver gelatin paper over pro T's from 4x5. (Yes, I've tried Lodima. It's quite different from Azo, and I ended up abandoning gelatin contact printing for alt process. Azo was worth changing formats to work with.)

Alt process is a different kettle of fish now that you can make digital negatives. My in-camera negs are still better than my inkjet negatives, but probably not for much longer.

You're also talking about shooting color and instant in 8x10. I think color in 8x10 is just not worth the effort. I'm not sure what to tell you about Impossible 8x10, having never shot it.

All that said, since you really want a new camera, Deardorffs are very pretty.

15-Jun-2013, 20:38
I dunno..I find my 8x10 much harder to compose with than 4x5. Its a beast. I don't think anything about it is easier except printing and viewing the negatives. But ts certainly worth the trouble.