View Full Version : 8x10 lens with 1/500th shutter speed ??

chris jordan
22-Nov-2004, 15:02
Hi guys, I'm collaborating with a friend on a project involving some aerial color photography with an 8x10 view camera. We would like to use a lens in the 300mm range, and to avoid fuzzy results due to camera vibration, we need a lens with a 1/500th of a second shutter speed, or even faster if there is such a thing. No camera movements would be necessary, but it would need to be a lens that gives a sharp iamge from edge-to-edge even if the aperture is fairly wide open due to the fast shutter speed.

Does anyone know of such a lens?



tim atherton
22-Nov-2004, 15:05
I'm sure you jsut sit at home thinking these weird lens questions up... :-)

tim atherton
22-Nov-2004, 15:05
PS - I hear some galleries have finally taken a bite? Congrats

David A. Goldfarb
22-Nov-2004, 15:58
I think that by nature, a lens with a 1/500 sec. shutter speed will have to fit in a fairly small shutter (unless we're talking about some exotic and expensive shutter), so if it's 300mm, the tradeoff will be that it's too slow to shoot at 1/500 sec.

What do the 9.5" square format arial cameras have? Why not just use such a camera made for the purpose?

Jim Rice
22-Nov-2004, 16:00
Why not the Aero Ektar?

Gem Singer
22-Nov-2004, 16:10
Hi Chris,

The only lens in that focal length, mounted in a Copal 0 shutter with a 500th of a second shutter speed is the Fujinon 300T (tele). However, it won't cover the 8x10 format. On the other hand, a Fuji 300C or a Nikkor 300M, will cover 8x10 at infinity. A copal 1 shutter with a top speed of a 400th of a second should be fast enough for aerial color work. You'll need plenty of light. Their maximum aperatures are f8.5-f9.0. Are you sure you want to use an 8x10 for the project?

George Stewart
22-Nov-2004, 16:56
Checkout http://www.ken-lab.com (http://www.ken-lab.com) .

They sell and rent gyro-stabilizers for cameras to do such things as aerial photography. One should be able to use their large unit and a Copal 3-mounted lens for sharp photos. They brag of up to one second handheld shots being possible.

Dan Fromm
22-Nov-2004, 17:22
Use the right tool. Trying to do a specialized job with general purpose gear that happens to be at hand can be a bad idea. Rent a proper 9x9 aerial camera with a f0cal plane shutter, USCGS certified lens, and image motion control.

Doing a specialized job oneself is also often not a good idea. Why don't you have the job done by an aerial survey service?

tim atherton
22-Nov-2004, 17:24
"Doing a specialized job oneself is also often not a good idea. Why don't you have the job done by an aerial survey service?"

Because I'm betting aerial survey services don't make art... !

Jon Shiu
22-Nov-2004, 17:27
a while back one guy posted about rigging a graphlex focal plane shutter up front near the lens. As you may know these go to 1/1000th sec...

Walter Glover
22-Nov-2004, 18:11

I fear that the Nikkor-M 300mm may be close to your best bet amongst readily available kit.

I would point out also that the wind forces of an aircraft will delight in chewing up any sort of bellows unless you are inside with the windows shut. In that case the window will negate any benefit of shooting 8x10.

Please note that I am not being defeatist in saying this but trying to fore warn some of the possible calamities that may befall you.

David A. Goldfarb
22-Nov-2004, 19:08
Peter Gowland makes an 8x10" aerial camera, so I checked over there, and he recommends a 300/f:9 Nikkor M with a 1/400 s. shutter. Info at:

http://www.petergowland.com/camera/ (http://www.petergowland.com/camera/)

Dan Fromm
22-Nov-2004, 19:16
Chris, look here for vendors: http://www.weblinks.spakka.net/db/15 (http://www.weblinks.spakka.net/db/15) If you've got the money, they've got the goods. Given how much capable 9x9 cameras with modern lenses cost, your best bet if you insist on pushing the button yourself is probably to rent.

Tim, in this case art happens after the exposure has been made. At the very least Chris needs a motorized camera. Remember that focus will be fixed at infinity, aperture/shutter speed really aren't open to much choice, and that all the camera operator can do is, um, point the aircraft. There are reasons why real serious aerial photography isn't done with hand-held or hand fed cameras. Its quite a different activity from the terrestrial photography most of us do. But you know all this and were just giving me a hard time for the joy of it.

Good luck,


tim atherton
22-Nov-2004, 19:33
Hey Dan - I just spent most of Tuesday up in a helicopter at -15c (ground level) with the window wide open doing aerials - but that was all 35mm

tim atherton
22-Nov-2004, 19:39
But I'm guessing Chris has an idea for something a little bit out of the normal going here (remeber those two 450mm lenses he wanted to borrow for stereo night shots....)

chris jordan
22-Nov-2004, 20:21
Dan, your comments seem to presume that all aerial photography has to be done survey style, with the camera pointed straight down. Have you ever heard of a photographer named Bradford Washburn? I imagine he might have been interested by your opinion that with aerial photography, "art happens after the exposure has been made. " Most of the photographs he made were aerials, and many of those were composed as artistically and beautifully as anything done on land by anyone. You should check out his work, and maybe Emmet Gowin's, and David Maisel's, and Robert Glenn Ketchum's also, and see some of the potential that aerial photography offers. No one is giving you a hard time for the joy of it; Tim is just pointing out something that you might not have thought of.

tim atherton
22-Nov-2004, 21:06
"Emmet Gowin's, and David Maisel's, and Robert Glenn Ketchum's also, and see some of the potential that aerial photography offers."

And Marilyn Bridges (didn't she get married to Don McCullin?), and Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

Mind you, didn't Washburnuse an Aero Ektar etc? (an 8x10 Hobo would probably do the same job?)

Dan Fromm
23-Nov-2004, 05:07
Chris, I can spell oblique too.



Mark Sampson
23-Nov-2004, 05:35
Having spent some time printing 9x9 aerial color negatives for display purposes (usually to 30x30"), I'll say you can get beautiful photographs using a real aerial camera mounted in the floor of a plane. But I think out-the-window would be an easier and more effective option. I've never photographed out of the Cessna window with anything above 35mm. .. Marilyn Bridges used to endorse the Pentax 6x7. And for the record- when there was a Bradford Washburn retrospective at the George Eastman House (what a show that was), they displayed one of his cameras- and the lens was a prewar, uncoated 300mm/4.5 Schneider Xenar.

tor kviljo
23-Nov-2004, 07:02
If money is not too limeting, You can use the Rollei PQS shutters running the shutter remotely from the X-act control box. This will give You up to 1/1000 sek for a No 0 lens shutter. The less expensive approach is possibly to butcher an old speed graphic - removing everything except rear portion of camera-frame w/FP-shutter. The Speed graphic FP-shutter went to at least 1/1250 sek and is large enough to mount behind any big lens . Customizing a stiff 8"x10" camera using aero-ektar and this shutter should be within reach for anyone not too hopeless in the toolshed. The speed-graphic shutter is a no-nonsen design where you have to shut the filmholder (=no trouble with sheet film holders) before winding shutter as the exposing aperture is still open when shutter is recharged. See speed-graphic.org or something for more info.

chris jordan
23-Nov-2004, 08:26
Hi guys, thanks for all your helpful thoughts. I think we're going to use a Nikkor 300M f/9 on my friend's Dick Phillips 8x10. We'll mount a 35mm camera on top to use as the viewfinder (!), and shoot out the open door of a Cessna. It has a specially-made wind deflector on it so it's pretty windless even with the door taken off. For film we'll probably use Astia 100F, push processed if necessary (1/400th at f/9 is pretty slow for anything but bright sunlight).

Now as for the subject we're shooting: dang, I can't say it yet! But next summer the photos will be done and we can talk about it then.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all,


Terence McDonagh
23-Nov-2004, 10:54
Hopefully you've considered how to isolate the camera from the vibrations of the plane, which can cause more havoc than the relative speed of the scenery. A bag of scrap foam blocks, etc may be enough at those shutter speeds. The above mentioned gyro-stabilizers are definitely the way to go and seem to be used by all the aerial photogs we use for site photos in NYC. However, they're typically used with rigid MF cameras, although I did see one modified military Speed Graphic (the ones with the bellows enclosed in a rigid housing).

Armin Seeholzer
23-Nov-2004, 16:17
Hi Chris

I have on my 155mm Grandagon a Compur electric no. 1 shutter wich times up to 1/500 sec. So you could have a look for one on febay! And as film I recomend the Portra 400 NC a neg film or any other neg film with 400 ASA.
I would never do it with a slide film and I worked 3 years as an aerophotog.
Just my opinion and good luck!

John Kasaian
26-Nov-2004, 16:22

I have one of Peter Gowland's 8x10 aerial cameras. If you can live with f/9 and a 1/400 shutter its a good camera. The other alternatives(as I see it) would be something like a K-17 which uses 9-1/2" roll film and isn't all that much fun to use unless you've got a B-25 for your aerial platform, or make a box camera focused at infinity and sandwhich the guts of a speed graphic somewhere between a real aerial lens and the film holder. Good luck!

Bob Salomon
26-Nov-2004, 16:45
" The other alternatives(as I see it) would be something like a K-17 which uses 9-1/2" roll film and isn't all that much fun to use unless you've got a B-25 for your aerial platform"

A Linhof Aero Technika EL would be much more convenient. Depending on the back it takes 5" or 70mm roll film, 45 sheet film or roll film backs from 6x6cm to 6x12cm.

The shutter is electronically drived so fast shutter speeds are no problem

Frank Petronio
26-Nov-2004, 17:06
Neil Selkirk used a KenLab Gyro to hand hold his Rollei TLR for sharp one-second exposures. Talk to Bob Watkins at Precision Camera Works - he has crewed for the Segals, movies, etc. and has been around the world building aerial photography rigs.