View Full Version : Hand-Held 8x10

18-May-2005, 07:48
I'm looking for a hand-held 8x10 camera for "street" photography, and Environmental Portraits (people in their environments)...Any suggestions for something that isn't too expensive??

Will Strain
18-May-2005, 07:58
The Hobo - by bostick and sullivan - I think starts around $600... I know you can make something similar for less, if you are mechanicall/woodshop inclined.


Donald Hutton
18-May-2005, 08:03
You'd have to get a "Hobo" - see Bostick and Sullivans website. I think there's one on Ebay at the moment. The biggest issue you will have with doing environmental portraits with a handheld 8X10 is the usable focal lengh issue - due to the shallow depth of field on this format, you are likely to need to use a very short lens which is not very flattering on the average person and you may have great difficulty in placing them "in" their environment as a result. Also, you are going to be waving a pretty substantial piece of gear around at them from quite close. I would have thought that this would be a better application for a smaller format and enlarged digital negatives (I'm presuming that you want to do some alternative process in the printing which is why you are even considering 8X10). For "street" photography (I hate that term - it sure covers a lot of bad ground and worse work), the Hobo would seem to be a very viable solution.

Peter Collins
18-May-2005, 08:29
With all due respect, I think this is just a bad idea that will produce lots of frustration and images that don't please you!

18-May-2005, 08:42
Unless you plan billboard-sized prints, I would have to agree with PeterC.

John Kasaian
18-May-2005, 09:52

In addition to the Hobo, Peter Gowland makes a handholdable 8x10 "aerial" fix focused at infinity. (as I recall Infinity can be a relative kind of thing) as well as a model with helical focusing. If you don't mind downsizing a bit, you can sometimes find 5x7 Speed Grapics and Linhof Technikas. I don't know anything about the Linhofs, the the Speeders are a delight to work with.

While handheld 8x10 is certainly do-able, carrying a supply of 8x10 film holders makes One considerably less mobile than you might imagine (like, what are you going to do with that big honkin' dark slide while you're shooting?? Shade the lens from possible flare probably, but then you'll be holding and shooting your 8x10 with one hand which isn't the steadiest position!)

Good Luck!

David A. Goldfarb
18-May-2005, 10:04
The Hobo is mainly set up to be an ultrawide camera, which may not be exactly what you want for portraits. Granview is another handholdable 8x10" arial camera. These cameras don't tend to focus to portrait distances.

I have a 5x7" Press Graflex, which is a handholdable SLR that's great for portraits of contact-printable size, if that's your goal.

18-May-2005, 10:43
Thanks for all the quick responses! Anyone working with the HOBO out there that I can see some samples online? Also, Any ideas on resources to "build my own?" Thanks

David A. Goldfarb
18-May-2005, 12:13
I took a look at your website as well, and I think Michael makes some good points. You're not going to be able to do the kinds of close in portraits you're currently doing with a Hobo. Here's the website, and you can find some sample images there--


You just can't focus close enough reliably with this kind of camera, and you're stuck with a lens that would be like a 15mm lens on a 35mm camera.

If you want to work with 8x10" in a dynamic way, you might look at the work of Nicholas Nixon, but bear in mind that he's using a large camera on a tripod with a big stack of filmholders. It can work, but it means thinking about what you're doing in a very different way.

I think the suggestion of a Mamiya M7 II is a good one. The lenses are outstanding, and you'll get a lot more film real estate than with 35mm.

If you want to go large, you probably would do best with something like a 4x5" Graflex Super D, which is an SLR with a rotating back, the option of flash sync, and enough bellows to focus close. I love my 5x7" Press Graflex, which is a similar type of camera, but it's not as practical for a photojournalist--too hard to get filmholders, too fragile, no rotating back, no flash sync, etc.

A Linhof Technika or Graphic press camera with a rangefinder is another option (I use a Tech V), but looking at your work, I'm guessing you would find an SLR more natural to work with than a rangefinder.

Gene Crumpler
18-May-2005, 13:35
I agree that people on the street will be put off by such a large camera.

I would also recommend a TLR Rollei or a hasselblad as a great street camera.
I can identify with you on wanting better images that 35mm can get. I stopped
using 35mm altogether about 2 years ago and now shoot with a hasselblad with an eyelevel
prism. It is pretty fast for MF. Also one of the 6x4.5 cameras would be great.

I also use a Pentax 67, but not for street photography. I have gone to 4x5 in search of
a big negative with high quality and the ablility to make masks, selenium intensification and
other darkroom enhancements.

18-May-2005, 23:02
Thanks for all the nice comments and replies. Question: How is the Hobo different then shooting any other 8x10 field camera with a 120mm lens - with the shortest distance from the lens to the film plane (In other words, bellows compressed) at f16 and keeping distance from subject enough to keep it sharp? Is it?

Sorry if this is a silly question. Last time I did large format was with a 4x5 in school some 15 years ago, but I do have a Speed Graphic 4x5 on my display on my bookcase...Rangefinder on it is broken, but it has a Zeiss lens on it...Guess I should take that out for a spin...


David A. Goldfarb
19-May-2005, 05:58
The Hobo is a fixed focus camera, but I guess you could have the focus fixed wherever you want it. I think they normally set it at infinity, so the hyperfocal distance at f:16 with a 120mm lens would be about 16 feet.

I've made a handheld setup like this with my ultralight Gowland 8x10" Pocket View (go to www.petergowland.com and click on "Their Cameras") to use with a 120mm lens and a pistol grip like the Sinar Handy, and it has two focus positions--infinity and 8 feet. I haven't used it much yet, because I still need to make an ultrawide viewfinder for it.

Maybe you could add a focusing helical with a scale to a Hobo and have what you are looking for. S. K. Grimes could make the custom helical (www.skgrimes.com), and Bostick and Sullivan could probably work collaboratively with them and design the camera around it, since normally, you would send them your lens, and they would adjust the infinity focus on the camera for it.

gang zhao
19-May-2005, 06:30
Why don't you try a Cambo Wide/Wide DS or a Sinar Handy, David? I use Cambo Wide to do the work similar with yours. If you slide some 4x5 inch fine-grain film in DDS, the images are outstanding and easily been enlarged to quite large size photos.

19-May-2005, 07:36
Why not look at the Gowlandflex, http://www.petergowland.com/camera/
Its a twinlens 4x5 that can be hand held weighs 5 lbs and take lenses from 180mm to 300 mm.

19-May-2005, 14:46
did you find out what nick nixon uses?
he's gotten beautiful, natural results doing this with 8x10. seems like he's been doing it for decades.

Oren Grad
19-May-2005, 15:02
Paul - Nick Nixon is a "serial monogamist" when it comes to cameras. Periodically he switches cameras, but so far as I know, at any given time uses only one in any given format. I believe that at various points he's used 8x10 cameras made by Gowland, Phillips, Wisner and Canham, at the very least. I'm sure there have been others.

19-May-2005, 15:47
Yes. Nick Nixon has always been one of my heroes as far as documentary photographers-I saw him speak once, in person, at photo school when he was on a Kodak tour - I remember him talking about how he uses the "lightest 8x10 cameras and lenses...I thought he shoots 8x10 only and does contact prints...His work is truly inspiring - how he captures these spontaneous moment whilst shlepping around this big-ass camera! Would love to hear what he actually shoots with...


Roger Richards
19-May-2005, 19:02
Hi David, these folks here have been a big help to me in my LF travels of late. The advice you have received is sound. I have a 4x5 camera and just got a Mamiya 7 to compliment it. Big difference from 35mm, and from the EOS 1ds. Drop me a line, hope the doc is going well. I just got another DVX100A.

Matt Powell
19-May-2005, 21:14
It might be worth looking into David Burnett, who covered the 2004 American Presidential campaign with a Speed Graphic (I know nothing about the lens he used, I think I read it was a super-fast Kodak design?), though his closest subject distances aren't as close as your previous work.

John Z.
19-May-2005, 21:51
Another option is the hand-held Littman camera, which was recently reviewed elsewhere on the forum. I have not used one personally though-and they are expensive. I have used the Gowland 5x7, which actually creates an image of about 4x6. It is not that easy to hand hold though. I keep going back to my medium format Rollei, although on the other hand the beauty of a contact print keeps bringing me back to the larger camera. There is always a trade off between negative size and the ability to take pictures spontaneously.

adrian tyler
20-May-2005, 00:34
i'm getting good results from a tecnica 4x5 with a camed 150 and an 80 which is not cammed but i put a couple of infinity stops in for it and focus on the gg, with the 80 i've been using speeds down to 8th of a second no sweat...

the 4x5 is enough though, i can't see any advantages to using an 8x10 hand held, on a tripod yes but hand held... with the 4x5 you have the entire history of press photography as a reference, wegees prints are fantastic for example and there are a couple of threads here worth looking for on hand held 4x5.