View Full Version : Lustful Lenses?

Bobby Sandstrom
10-Jan-2005, 23:57
OK Guys, and Girls.... I'm ready to take the beautiful and much anticipated plunge into 8x10. :-) Man am I excited!!!
I'm going to start with a less expensive Ansco in order to spend the dough on lenses. Any input would be GREATLY appreciated... especially from all you old pros out there. I don't want to have to say, "I shoulda got XYZ instead." Unfortunately, that's what happened with my 4x5 setup. I want to by the right lenses first time around. I most always shoot B&W with occational color. With that in mind, with what you know now, if you had your choice of any brand of any 5 lenses in different focal lengths, what would they be? ... And if you don't mind elaborating... WHY would you choose them? I thank you all kindly in advance for your help.

Eric Leppanen
11-Jan-2005, 01:02
Hi Bob, Welcome to the world of 8x10! I'm the odd 8x10 bird that shoots primarily color, so I've gone the multi-coated lens route. I've also replicated as closely as possible my 4x5 focal lengths, as I am comfortable composing with them and rarely need to try multiple lenses to set up a shot. While I primarily shoot landscapes, I target at least 400mm (preferably 450mm) of coverage, as I tend to use extreme movements fairly often. All of my lenses fit onto 4x5 Technika-sized lensboards, which makes packing much easier. Limiting bulk and weight is important since I take the 8x10 kit on short hikes fairly often.

150 Super Symmar XL: Relatively lightweight, excellent coverage, extremely sharp. Does often need a center filter when using extreme movements or chrome film.

240 APO Sironar-S: Largest coverage available in the 240mm focal length. When traveling light, I use my Fuji 240A from my 4x5 kit. Very sharp and bright lens. I sometimes run out of coverage with the Sironar, and 240mm is a bit close to 300mm (see below); but I have not convinced myself to deal with the expense and bulk of a 210 Super Symmar XL.

300 Fuji-A. Sharp, lightweight, excellent coverage. A unique lens for 8x10, small enough to use with 4x5.

450 Fuji-C. Ditto my comments for the 300 Fuji-A.

800/1200 Nikon-T. I know you said five lenses but I figure adding a 1200mm rear element isn't cheating too badly! I use a stabilizing arm and second tripod to support the front and rear standards, respectively, when using this lens. The 1200mm is a unique focal length in a modern, multi-coated 8x10 lens.

This set closely replicates my 80-110-150-240-450-600 lens setup with my 4x5.

Ben Calwell
11-Jan-2005, 06:08

I had a brief affair with an old Calumet 8x10 view camera. I ended it because of its weight, which caused me to be more inclined to nap than to take it out and make pictures. You are wise to be more concerned with lenses. On my 8x10, I made the mistake of using an old lens (a Carl Meyer 300mm I think it was). I was never really bowled over by the contact prints I produced. I never had a "Gee whiz, wow, look at that" moment, and I attribute that to the older lens (not my many shortcomings as a photographer), which just wasn't very contrasty.
If I had a lighter-weight 8x10 and a decent lens, I make the plunge again. Right now, I'm happy with my 5x7.

Jim Galli
11-Jan-2005, 07:46
Here are some favorites of mine. 270mm G-Claron is a little hard to find but such a nice length for the 810, and the hubbub about the Gold Dot 355 Schneider / Kern Dagor is real. It's worth the $1200 bucks or so. A consistent producer. 450 Fuji C is a no brainer. For wide and really wide, your budget will have to kick in. 210 G-Claron's will get the job done inexpensively within their limitations. 210 F9 Computar is better. Or if you're adventurous, the 7 7/8" Protar VII is an excellent producer for me. Two 13 3/4" single protar's combine to make it. In the 165mm world, coated f8 wide angle Dagor's are available, and better than the 6.8 165 Angulon's. 165 Super Angulon is a player but I've never had one because of the size. If $ is not an object the first poster's list is a good one. Although I'd pick any of the f9 240's (Fuji F9A, or G-Claron) over the Sironar for the increased coverage. If you've used a 120 Symmar on the 4X5 you know what to expect from the 240 on 8X10.

N Dhananjay
11-Jan-2005, 08:10
Any lens that will look sharp enough on a contact print - which basically means any anastigmat. This includes old lenses such as Dagors, Protars and Artars. Seriously, at 8x10, you need to be using a really bad piece of glass to detract from the vision end of things. Ben's unfortunate experience with the Carl Meyer lens needs to be explained - Carl Meyer were very bad lenses. These were a Burke and James house brand and in an egregious example of marketing, the name was probably chosen because CARL Zeiss and Hugo MEYER did make very good lenses. The Carl Meyer lenses were pretty bad though, and the problem is likey to be sloppy quality control rather than the actual design itself.

At the risk of over-generalizing, folks who shoot B&W seem to gravitate towards the older lenses such as Dagors, Protars and process lenses such as Artars, Ronars and Apo-Nikkors. Folks doing color seem to prefer newer lenses. You may well find yourself trying different things over different times. So my suggestion is to initially stay away from super-expensive stuff and see what kind of look works for your vision. I'm partial to old lenses but that's more a budget/romance kind of thing really. One good strategy to save some money is to look at Dagors and Artars in barrel, find a nice, big shutter to front mount them on.

Cheers, DJ

Ole Tjugen
11-Jan-2005, 08:49
So far I've used exactly 3 lenses on 8x10" (well - 18x24cm really): 121/8 Super Angulon, 165/6.8 Angulon, and 240/5.6 / 420/12 Symmar convertible.

Guess what: They are all excellent! I think Jim Galli must have been unlucky with the 165 Angulon, because mine is very, very good. I don't think it's possible that a Dagor could be sharper.

The two wides are marginal in coverage, the 240 Symmar a lot better in that respect. I haven't shot 118x24 in colour, but it is a very fine lens on my 5x7", and BW shots on the 19x24cm are very fine. The convertibilty is sometimes useful, although a dedicated 400-450 would naturally be better.

The Symmar and the Angulon are in unusual #2 shutters, but the good thing is that it's the same size. So one lensboard/mounting flange does double duty.

Donald Brewster
11-Jan-2005, 10:27
What DJ said. I've stayed older and classic for my 8x10, primarily to keep within a budget and also because I like the look. 158mm EWA Wollensak -- very small and light and relatively cheap. 10" WA Ektar and 14" Commercial Ektar -- good enough for St. Ansel. 19" (in shutter) and 24" (n barrel) RD Artar -- extremely sharp. 12" Goerz Dagor -- just because.

11-Jan-2005, 10:40
Another plug for barrel process lenses. I kept bugging the lab I use for color work to let me know if they were ever going to scrap any copy cameras. One day I got a call, and ended up with a very complete set of 8x10 lenses, free!.
The Apo-Nikkors are huge, but I found removing the large aperature dial on the 760 and 610 and replacing them with a small peg and a tape apreture scale lightened the load. They also both fit the same flange, so I only carry one lens board, less bulk.
The Ektar copying lenses are another another choice that will keep your budget in line.

And best of all, no jammed shutters or CLA's on any of these.


George Stewart
11-Jan-2005, 15:47
Since 8x10 is large to begin with and you probably won't be doing too much hiking with the thing, I'd recommend that one go with the high-end lenses: Get the 150XL, 210XL, 360 Symmar, 480 Symmar & 600 Fujinon lenses. Then have SK Grimes make 135mm wide-angle gelatin filter holders and a set of stepup rings for the other lenses.

David Richhart
11-Jan-2005, 16:38
Father Ansel wrote that when he had more than one lens with him it was difficult to decide which one to use. With only one lens, there was no problem deciding.

My choices would be with the guys that favor the older lenses of good quality. If I had to choose just one lens it would be a 10" Wide Field Ektar. It was one of Ansel's favorite lenses, and I didn't have to own one very long to understand why. Tack sharp, great contrast, large coverage, and an affordable price...

John D Gerndt
11-Jan-2005, 16:49
I have an Ansco and I believe you will find it a quite capable camera. I chime in again on choosing barrel lenses and front mounting them to a single reliable shutter. If you pay attention to your dark cloth and GG you can get away with darker(read cheaper) lenses. Don't worry too much about minor flaws in the glass or coatings but stay away from separations or fungus. You probably know how much movement you are going to require. Buy your required wide angle first as they are the most difficult to make and thus cost the most and move up the scale from there. I'd say my best surprise for an 8x10 lens has been an Agfa Repromaster 210mm. I bought it for $40 and it really sings. I have an uncoated 300mm Heliar with a very nice look to it, that was $60. I spent large ($500) on a 240mm Caltar IIN (in a Copal #3) that just barely covers but is stupifyingly sharp with great color. All this is assuming price is an issue. If you can buy new well why not? I have got to agree though that for contact prints or even 2x - 3x enlargements it is easy to overspend on lenses. Film! Buy and shoot film! That will bring you more joy.


Brian Ellis
11-Jan-2005, 18:02
I've geneally bought top-of-the-line lenses (i.e. expensive ones) for 4x5. When I went to 8x10, first exclusively contact printing and later scanning with final prints no larger than about 13x19, I was told that buying the kind of lenses I bought for 4x5 wasn't necessary to produce excellent negatives, that inexpensive lenses would work very well. I found that to be true. Over a period of about three years I owned a Wollensak 159mm F9.5, a 210 G Claron, a 240 G Claron, a 320/500/600 (approximate) Wollensak triple convertible, and a 420 APO Artar. I think the most expensive lens among them was no more than about $400 and several were in the $250 range. All were capable of tack sharp 8x10 negatives that produced technically outstanding contact prints and enlargements from scanned negatives.

Unless you plan to make really huge prints (e.g. in the 30x40 range) I'd suggest starting with a couple inexpensive lenses (G Clarons and APO Artars would be good choices) and see how you like them. How great does a lens have to be for a contact print or a 16x20 print from an 8x10 negative (only a 2x enlargement, much less than a 35mm negative enlarged to 6x).

David Richhart
11-Jan-2005, 18:46
Bob... one other thing to think about. One piece of equipment you will probably want to add is the sliding tripod-mounting block. It allows you to balance the camera over the tripod regardless of how heavy the lens or how extended the bellows is. Makes for a much steadier camera.

Bobby Sandstrom
11-Jan-2005, 23:59
Well I'm just about to read through all of your responses. But before I do, I want to thank you all very very much for the time you took to help me. I look forward to being able to share my knowledge on the forum whenever I can.

Once again, thank you!

tim atherton
12-Jan-2005, 00:33
My choices tend towards wide rather than long - based on what I have and use

Budget wide - 159mm 12.5 Extreme Wide Angle Velostigmat - very nice for B&W and nice for colour too

210mm f9 Kowa Graphic (or Computar) - harder to find, shads of coverage and sharp as a tack

250mm 6.7 Fujinon definately a classic - lovely lens

Also the 12" Commercial Ektar - doesn't get used as much - very nice for colour or B&W - getting a bit big and clunky thouhg.

For a longer lens, one of these days I'm definately ggoing to look for one of the longer Fujis - 450mm C or Nikkor M etc

And 8x10 isn't just for contacts - there are plenty out ther printing bigger colour and B&W