View Full Version : Am I boring? (deciding 8x10 or larger)

Janko Belaj
13-Jul-2005, 16:34
After I have found that I won't be able to buy Deardorff, and after some search over the used equipment market, I have decided to ask again. Once again to start the thread about what to buy and later to use.
I was wondering what might be the appropriate topic (headline:-)) of this thread|; "Is Kodak 2- the right one for me?", or "Is 8-by-10 large enough?", or "to wait for some lottery jack-pot and to order 12x20?"... Yes, there are so many questions I would like to ask, or better to say - I would like to be answered. And no, I'm not looking for your recommendations, just wondering what are your opinions. I believe that most of us here have asked themself such questions, I did at least every time I switched (jumped) to a different format - from cheap Prakticas to Nikons, from 35mm to medium format. From cheap Mamiya Universal set to Bronica set, latter to Hass. You probably might remember or can recall my bunch of questions when I decided to enter LF.
And now, I'm aware that I'm the only one to answer on most of questions about my future (larger) format, but I just have to ask for "the second opinion".

What I would really like to have is 12x20. In inches, 30x50 in centimeters. I do like that wider, more panoramic format (but not true panoramic), but at this very moment I'm aware that it will be tooooo costly. Either buying used or building one by my two clumsy hands. And will be "too late". I want it now! But I don't need it now.
One friend of one friend of mine who have neighbor who knows the man who have some old Deardorff... yea, something like that, give me a call and asked if I would like to buy that camera with 2 holders for 900 German Marks (yes, there are still some people counting their old valuables in DMs). That isn't expensive. But in time I have contacted the owner the price rise to 900 USD. And today I have heard from him that if I would like to have Deardorff with holders the price is 900 Euros...
O.K... I'm not that surprised with the final price, I'm just irritated because he have wake my hunger for larger than 4x5 (I'm not counting that hardly useful full-plate Shen-Hao). Because I had serious fight with myself, my wife, our car, our older household equipment... and finally I have found the way to "steal" some 500 USD. And now, when I "have" that money, the price is doubled but I still have that picture of myself making 8x10 contact prints... (pt/pd? :-))

Lurking on the internet market, I have found that Kodak 2-D camera with Goerz 300mm f4.5 Dogmar lens (ebay item # 7530003037)... I placed a bid but haven't reach the reserve price and have no idea what is the real value of such camera.
And, question more, will my spoiled way of working be satisfied with limited movements of that camera? On the other hand - when in the field (in the land, taking landscapes) I rarely use more than some front raise/fall, and front or back tilt, the other movements are much more used in the studio and for now, I'm planing to use any 8x10 (or larger) camera only on my trips with efke 25.
Working this days with efke on my Tachihara, I'm on exposure times between 1/8 of second up to 2 seconds. On my Shen-Hao is pneumatic shutter (is any such shutter "Packard" or "Packard type" shutter?) and I haven't find yet a way to get relatively sure exposure time faster than 2 seconds. So, I'm afraid that my type of work will require a shutter with at least speeds from 1/8 of second to 1 second.

O.K. (allow me to end this waves of thoughts), I would like to shoot landscapes end eventually some "small" close-ups, I will do it in black & white with hope that I will one day print some platinum prints. I'm spoiled. I'm not rich. I do like Tachihara 8x10 but $ 1300 is way to much for me right now for the camera without lens and without holders. (oh... where is in this story part about lenses? maybe later...) I want 12x20... this will be left in the dream area for next 5 years, I'm afraid.

Wonderful Mediterranean (east Adriatic coast) cheese, wine and olives... I have lost myself a little bit. Now I'm ready to write a book about what I would like to have but have no money for it yet, but I'm curious did anyone had enough patience to fight with my english to this point...

sorry for bothering you so much,

P.S. How about Agfa Ansco 8x10 (...although the camera can be utilized with present bellows, a replacement would be better...) for $ 200, or Burke & James 8x10 with Triple Convertible Velostigmat Series 1 lens (have no idea what kind of lens that is) for $350..?

Doug Dolde
13-Jul-2005, 16:47
What about the Deardorff V8 with 8x20" back that's on Ebay now? Item number: 7530690359

13-Jul-2005, 16:50
I'm not sure what your question is -) I bought a late model Ansco [Post war after the US government took it over] With 3 8x10 holders an adapter board to take Linhof lensboards a darkcloth and a real Linhof lensboard the whole thing cost around $250. I don't think the deal I got was too unusual. Plenty of Agfa-Ansco and Anscos were selling for around that price when I got mine. Unless prices have soared I'd expect to pay less then $300 for a good condition camera.

I wouldn't buy an 8x10 with bad bellows unless the price was REAL cheap. Replacement bellows will add a fair bit to the cost.

Janko Belaj
13-Jul-2005, 17:00
Well Nick, to be honest, there where "hidden" 3 questions and one "call" - experienced users opinions about those 3 mentioned cameras (Kodak, Ansco, B&J) and everyones thoughts about my dilemmas...
Tnx for the link Doug, but this type of camera is right now out of question - it is too wide and what might the lens cost? I'm afraid too much.
btw, when I'm considering to by something on ebay I have to ad 22% of taxes and some amount for shipment, so $350 camera can end as $600-$700 investment :-((

13-Jul-2005, 17:16
Kind of hard to go wrong with the Ansco's. The only movement missing is front swing. Somebody over the last 50 years added it to the camera I bought. Plenty of bellows length. Not overly heavy. Not light either. Stable.

John Kasaian
13-Jul-2005, 17:34
The Agfa Ansco "Universal" is a very nice camera indeed. I've got a 5x7 version. FWIW, Ansel Adams had an 8x10 and in his writings preferred it to the 'dorff. The 2D is certainly a usable camera as well. As long as the bellows are good and the movements lock down nice and tight I think either camera will serve you well. While I've never had one, I think a 300mm Dogmar won't give you much coverage. There are plenty of other european lenses that offer great performance on an 8x10. Look for a 240 G Claron enlarger lens and use it in the barrel until an affordable copal or prontor shows up. A 14" APO Artar can really be a nice lens on a 8x10 too. You might also find an old convertible symmar within your budget as well. Some american lenses are too undervalued to ignore. The Wollensak triple convertibles might not be common in europe (I don't know) but they go for such ridiculously low prices it might be economically feasible for you to import one. The same goes for the 375 mm Ilex. Both are IMHO really nice pieces of glass. Good Luck!

Dave Moeller
13-Jul-2005, 18:03
There are plenty of 8x10 cameras that should satisfy your needs and be within your budget. Older Agfa/Ansco and Korona cameras should be availble with serviceable bellows for around half of your US$500. Another possibility is a Calumet C1, especially if you can find a magnesium model (to save a few pounds/kilograms).

I have both a Korona Pictorial View and a Calumet C1; the first I got for very little because it needed new bellows and the second I got for very little because the eBay seller was a lousy photographer. With patience you should be able to put together a system that includes a usable 8x10 camera, a few film holders, and a serviceable lens (though probably without a shutter) within your budget. (I was very fortunate in that I found a set of "new old stock" bellows that I could adapt to my Korona for a very reasonable price, but unless you already know where you can find a good set of bellows cheap then I'd recommend avoiding cameras that require bellows repair. New bellows are usually very expensive.)

The key is patience. If you need it now, you'll pay for that need. If, on the other hand, you can wait for the right camera to come along, you'll be able to get what you want at the right price. I put together the C1, four film holders, and two process lenses for under US$400 while I was restoring the Korona.

As to larger cameras: You'd be hard pressed to find a couple of film holders and a box of film for a 12x20 camera with the money you have. ULF is expensive. Even if you can find a camera cheap, film holders, lenses, and film will all set you back significant amounts of money. I've been considering building myself either an 8x20 or a 7x17 camera, but the cost of film holders, lenses, and film is holding me back at this time. If I do decide to go this route, I'll probably end up making the bellows myself as having someone else make the bellows would cost too much for me to justify. (Since I enjoy building things, I'd probably enjoy the learning experience.) I've also collected a number of wooden 8x10 film holders that require repair; I'm looking into combining two of these into one 8x20 holder...it might be a fun experience.

I was sorry to read of your negative experience with the Deardorff camera. It sounds like the seller found out what he had, and the price went up accordingly. Sometimes that happens...it sucks, but it does happen.

Be well.

Brian C. Miller
13-Jul-2005, 18:41
How are you with building something from a kit?

The Bender Photographic (http://www.benderphoto.com/) offers a kit for an 8x10 wooden monorail camera. Can you afford $430 for a new 8x10?

Doug Dolde
13-Jul-2005, 19:40
The lens would likely be less than for a 12x20 !!

Mark Sawyer
13-Jul-2005, 20:20
Doug's right about the lens costing more, and a 12x20 filmholder will probably cost more than the 2D body, maybe with several holders. Film, about three times as much. Try just finding film or film holders for 12x20. Not impossible, but not as easy as 8x10 (which ain't that easy either anymore...)

The 2D is a nice camera, and there are many around at good prices. Be sure you get one with the rear rail and sliding tripod block. (And a good bellows.)

Doug Dolde
13-Jul-2005, 20:37
A Fujinon Compact 600mm would be just a tad longer than normal for 8x20. Has a 620mm image circle and Badger sells em for $1425. Not bad considering the coverage.

Ole Tjugen
14-Jul-2005, 00:17
As many have pointed out, anything larger than 8x10" will have expensive film holders. And anything larger than 11x14" will have "non-standard" film holders, since there simply is no standard.

I recently paid about $500 for a Russian 30x40cm plate camera - I don't expect it to be used as much as my 5x7" (or my 8x10" when I finish restoring it), but I bought it for those "special occasions" when size counts. I wouldn't start out in LF with a ULF camera...

Lenses can be expensive too - the bigger they are, the more expensive they are. I may decide to go for a 360mm Symmar, which should be one of the cheapest shuttered lenses to cover 30x40cm.

jonathan smith
14-Jul-2005, 02:28
What I would really like to have is 12x20. In inches, 30x50 in centimeters. I do like that wider, more panoramic format (but not true panoramic), but at this very moment I'm aware that it will be tooooo costly.

I would say, if this is the format you want, do it. Don't worry about getting 8x10 and moving up. If you stick to 8x10, you will feel compromised.

I got into 8x10 because that's the format I wanted, and I have gotten used to the challenges and am happy because I don't feel like I compromised like if I had gotten into 4x5 first. If it's 12x20 you want, do it, build your own camera and holders, sell your car and buy a lens. You only live once.

Brian Ellis
14-Jul-2005, 06:39
I saw the $200 Agfa Ansco you're referring to on ebay. The price is o.k. but not great given the need for a new bellows. He says the bellows has lots of tape so forget about using it as is for any length of time. There's a reason why it has lots of tape and that reason will cause holes to keep developing. Some people solve bellows hole problems by draping the dark cloth over the bellows, that isn't something I care to do since I use the darkcloth to cover the top of the film holder.

But apart from the bellows problem, I wouldn't buy that particular Agfa Ansco for any price. The seller didn't include any pictures of it when I saw the listing and that should tell you something. However, an 8x10 Agfa Ansco in good condition is an excellent camera and would be a good choice for you. I owned a 5x7 for a while. The only problem I found is that it's not only heavy, it's very bulky because the camera bed extension is permanently attached. Otherwise it's an excellent camera, well built, long bellows, more than adequate movements,etc. and can often be bought for $500 or less on ebay.

Nick Morris
14-Jul-2005, 09:14
Hello Janko. I started with a 8x10 Kodak 2D. I bought it with two holders and Series IV Wollensak Velostigmat f6.8 9 1/2" lens. I paid $300 for it. It was not a bad camera, did what I wanted, and I learned alot with it. However, it has limited movements, which was not a problem for me; and not so good bellows, which was a problem.

I had, and took the chance to buy an 8x10 Ansco (the grey one), with 3 holders, 8x10, 5x7, & 8x10 backs; 8 1/4" Dagor lens, case, and tripod, and paid $300 for it. The base of the camera had been broken, and repaired, but still the better deal by far. Bellows are in excellent condition (immediately noticed improved contrast in my negatives) and levels had been added to the front and rear standards. Its not pretty, but it does the job. There have been several Anscos like mine on eb*y recently that sold in the range of $200-$300. I have really loved the Deardorffs I've seen and handled, but I just can't justify the extra money for one. I just bought a 5x7 grey Ansco with 5x7 back, 4x5 reduction back, some 4x5 holders, and case included for $200. A Deardorff, either 8x10 or 5x7 would likely be in the $700 to $1,500 range.

I have both the Wollensak Series 1A Velostigmat (uncoated, older) and the 1A Raptar (newer, coated) triple convertibles, and would recommend both. The Velostigmat is sharp, and produces a more old fashioned (lower contrast) look that I like. The newer Raptar is very shap and contrasty, almost too much for my taste. I have only contact printed, so can not say how the lenses perform when negs are enlarged. Prices can vary significantly for these lenses. The last Ratar 1A I saw sell on eb*y went for over $600. I paid $160 for mine. I have seen 1A Velostigmats sell for over $300, but I paid $34 for mine. Bought both of mine on eb*y.

Based on my limited experience, I would recommend the Ansco over the Eastman Kodak, or B&J, if a choice is available to you. As others have said, you want one with good bellows. The Wollensak Series 1A is, in my opinion, a very good lens.

Nick Morris
14-Jul-2005, 10:44
Janko...two additional comments on my previous post. The two 8x10 outfits I bought, I bought locally. I sold the Eastman through internet auction. The 5x7 I mentioned, I bought on the internet - ebay.

The Wollensak Series 1A lens I refered to are true triple convertibles, but I have very rarely used the single elements, only the combined, prime configuration, and can't really comment on the performance of the single elements.

I found moving up to 8x10 and contact printing to be very rewarding. I would highly recommend making the move to 8x10 and experiencing the contact print. There is a very noticable difference between an 8x10 contact print and a 4x5 neg enlarged to 8x10. It will feed your desire for ULF, but is still satisfying. I have almost made the move to 11x14, but I do not think I ever will. Costs are an issue for me. Unless one were to stumble upon an outfit - camera with good bellows, holders , and lens - at a very good price, the cost would be significantly higher than even 8x10, which can be high enough in itself.

Nick Morris
14-Jul-2005, 12:56
Janko, still more comments on my previous post.

I ran across the B&J 8x10 camera with the Series 1 Velostigmat lens. My first 8x10, the Eastman Kodak, came with a Wollensak lens in an Optimo shutter. That shutter can be difficult to service, an early and primitive design. I believe the Series 1 is different, a different design, then the 1A, and may not be as good a performer as the Series 1A. Still it should be sharp enough for B&W contact printing. Also the lack of an extention rail will limit the use of long lenses and close-up use. Extension rails do come up for sale on ebay from time to time. I had to buy an extension rail for the Kodak at a later date on ebay. The Ansco has a built in extension rail, which is a nice feature.

Gregory Gomez
14-Jul-2005, 13:57

You're not boring, but you are a bit of a romantic perhaps.

To answer your first question about the 8 x 10 being large enough, the answer is "Yes!" You can make wonderful contact prints with this camera size, and in time you can also make very good 16 x 20 enlargements.

Should you wait for the lottery jackpot to buy a 12 x 20? No. You'll be waiting the rest of your life.

If you can afford a Bronica or Hasselblad camera, then you can afford an 8 x 10, or even a 12 x 20, if you are willing to save your money and to stay focused on your ultimate goal. Switching cameras every other year can get expensive.

As a previous poster stated, if you like the 12 x 20, then go for it. There's no need to "settle" for an 8 x 10, although that will be the camera I will be using.

It seems that your main objection to larger format cameras is equipment cost. If you can find a used 12 x 20 in great shape, that would be one avenue, but you will have to be very persistent and patient. Several models will present themselves over time, but choose the one that has the features you really need, and preferably one that's in good shape. A battered camera is no deal in the long run.

Also keep in mind that you will need a very good tripod. Ries and Gitzo make fine units, but they can be costly. To keep the price down, you might consider a surveyor's tripod:


If you go with a new 12 x 20, here's three recommendations:

1. K.B Canham 12 x 20. 16.8 pounds (7.6 kg). $6,000.

2. Wisner P 12 x 20. 17.0 pounds (7.72 kg). Price ?

3. Lotus View 12 x 20. 25.3 pounds (11.5 kg) 6,550 Euros.

Wisner sells 12 x 20 film holders at $475 each. Maybe you will be able to find some used?

Keep in mind that your camera equipment may not be the most expensive item. With film, paper, processing, and mounting costs, you may be looking at spending about $25 per image, assuming of course you will be shooting a more reasonably priced film like Efke PL 100 at about $7 per shot. So if you make 200 images per year, expect to pay about $5,000 annually.

Unless you have all the shop tools and are a very good wood craftsman, forget about trying to make a decent working field camera.

As for an 8 x 10 Deardorff, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,200 to $1,800, or more, for a really good mint copy. If you pay less than that, you may need to replace the bellows and/or have the camera refinished. I owned an 8 x 10 Deardorff once. It was a great camera, but I did not like the small wing nuts that secured the front standard. They were hard to use in cold weather, and they kept falling off the camera. Other than that, the Deardorff is a real beauty.

I don't know anything about the Kodak 2-D. Try contacting the seller to see what he really wants for the item. My take is that the camera for sale has some limitations: it has no front swings or tilts from what I can tell, and the lens looks rather beat up to me. But then what do I know? If you were to use it as a portrait camera, it would work fine, but you are seeking a camera for landscape work, right? So maybe you will need something with more camera movements, especially front tilts, which are useful in controlling depth of field in subject matter with near-to-far relationships.

I have never tried to shoot close-ups or small aspects of nature with a camera as big as 12 x 20. I think an 8 x 10 would be as big as I would ever want to go with that type of subject matter. The bulk of the camera, the limited depth of field of the lens, and the small apertures required (resulting in long exposure times) might be somewhat of a deterrent for me. But, hey, if you're persistent, who knows? But it wouldn't be something I would try.

Incidentally, waiting fives years is not so bad if you can continue shooting with what you already have. Maybe it would be better to wait for what you really want than to buy an 8 x 10 now only to discard it later for a more costly apparatus.

"Wonderful Mediterranean (east Adriatic coast) cheese, wine and olives... I have lost myself a little bit."

The lost part is accurate. You need to find yourself before committing your money. You really need to know what you want to accomplish before buying yet another camera.

"Now I'm ready to write a book about what I would like to have but have no money for it yet, but I'm curious did anyone had enough patience to fight with my english to this point..."

Your English is more than fine.

"P.S. How about Agfa Ansco 8x10 (...although the camera can be utilized with present bellows, a replacement would be better...) for $ 200, or Burke & James 8x10 with Triple Convertible Velostigmat Series 1 lens (have no idea what kind of lens that is) for $350..?"

I had an 8 x 10 Agfa Ansco in my hands about 20 years ago, and I didn't think much of it at the time. Morley Baer used that camera nearly all of his career, and I didn't think much of his camera either despite the numerous modifications he had to make to it in order to get the flexibility he needed. On the other hand, Morley's camera was stable in light wind.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,


Janko Belaj
19-Jul-2005, 06:18
tnx for all your responses... Greg was really close to my thoughts and I will follow (not only his) recommendation: patience...

Well, I'm back home from the first part of my vacation, haven't done so many 4x5 shots as I planed, specially not the coast from the sea - water was either to "flat", either the waves where too strong. The only day with sea condition which I wanted to shot was a rainy day. But there are several cool clouds taken with my Tachihara and plenty of shots with Rolleicord. Anyway, I have decided first to try to find some 18x24 cm camera in my neighborhood (european 8x10 version, most of them might take 8x10 holders and, after all, I will order from Fotokemika to cut film to the size of holders/camera which I will get one day) - there were many photographers using them and I know only one person having one of them right now... couldn't be that all others have burned theirs "antiques"...

One question for the lens - I have 210mm G-Claron, it has a 260mm coverage (according to classic LF lens list compiled by Michael Gudzinowicz) and I'm afraid it won't cover 18x24/8x10... anyone with different experience?

I'm aware of huge prices for ULF equipment and that is reason why I will keep that as a long-term plan, in meantime I will get "medium sized LF" ;-)) The named budget of $500 was only the budget I could manage this days, I have already signed contract for a project which will give me chance to triple that budget in several months. Question is will my wife continue to insist on big redecoration of our flat or just on small one...

Gregory Gomez
19-Jul-2005, 13:40
I have the 210mm G-Claron. When used wide open and focused at infinity, it covers my 8 x 10 with movements. At F22, the image circle is even larger, and it grows still bigger as I focus on subjects closer to the camera. I would judge its image circle to be about 410mm. The 210 G-Claron will give you about the same angle of view as a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera.