View Full Version : 8x10 portrait: Which 2nd lens?

25-Oct-2006, 11:23
Now that I have just a bit of 8x10 experience under my belt, I think Iím beginning to understand why many experts advise using a 360mm or 14Ē lens for portraits. Problem is, my first lens was a 300mm, and 360mm seems too close for a second purchase. So what should I do? The decision would be easier if I hated the 300. Truth is, it works pretty well for me on some portraits, but sometimes it feels just a bit too wide. Iíve thought of buying a 360 and then, if I like it better, selling the 300 (what a hassle!). Iíve also considered buying something like a 16 1/2Ē Artar or Nikkor 450mm M as a second lens. But I might have logistical problems with a 450mm. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Darren Kruger
25-Oct-2006, 11:32
Rent a 360mm lens and see if there is enough of a difference for the photos you shoot to buy one.

Also, there are a lot of older portrait lenses around 360mm/14" that might give you a different look than your current lens that might make it worth to you to buy.

Hugo Zhang
25-Oct-2006, 11:55
For head shots, my favorite lens is 360mm Heliar. 300mm is good for full length body shots. I also use a 42cm Heliar and a 19" Artar now and then.

Frank Petronio
25-Oct-2006, 12:02
I think there is a large difference between using a 300 and 360, inspite of the logic that there shouldn't be... It isn't like 35mm where the jump from a 50mm to an 85mm is huge (~70% longer versus only ~20% longer). You definitely get the "long lens" look from a 360.

FWIW, I liked the mild distortion the 300 gives a tight portrait but I am strange that way.

Christopher Perez
25-Oct-2006, 12:41
For portraits I use 240, 300, and sometimes 360. The challenge, of course, is keeping everything in focus. This is particularly true with the longer lenses.

I agree with others who mentioned that there's a big difference between 360mm and 300mm on 8x10. Counterintuitive, I know. Still, the effect is quite remarkable.

steve simmons
25-Oct-2006, 12:49
I would think about somethjing 420-450mm. An Artar or Dagor would make a nice portrait lens.

steve simmons

Ron Marshall
25-Oct-2006, 13:45
Another possibility, available new, Fuji 450mm f12.5.

Jay DeFehr
25-Oct-2006, 14:00
The studio photographers from the golden age of LF portraiture left behind some beautiful lenses in the 14"-16" range. Verito, Heliar, Pinkham and Smith, Velostigmat, etc., are names to look for. I was lucky enough to pick a few up, and I won't be passing them along until I'm no longer able to operate a shutter release, but they turn up regularly on ebay, and at some of the used equip. shops. Good luck.


John Kasaian
25-Oct-2006, 14:56
If you go for a 14" consider adding a 250mm(10") and a 19". If you stick with the 12" (and why shouldn't you if it is working out for you?) add a 19" or 16-1/2" Alternatively you could get a Wolly 1A (great and inexpensive) or Cooke triple convertible (great and expensive) and cover all your bases with one lens.

Walter Calahan
25-Oct-2006, 16:03
I make 8x10 portraits with a 240, 300 and 360mm. You should have all three. Grin.

Actually I don't find a 300 and 360 too close. They each have their place in my lens bag. Just used the 360 this evening to make a landscape. It puts you into the scene a good number of steps that the 300 won't. Each lens you own will give you different "social" distances from your subject.

Frank Petronio
25-Oct-2006, 16:56
One thing I'd avoid are those slow f/9 or f/12.5 lenses inspite of their appealing small sizes. A long lenses portrait shot at f/5.6 can so f-ing beautiful if you are careful and lucky with the focus.

25-Oct-2006, 20:05
How about a 480 RDA for those times when you "really" want to get waaaaay back? :)


erie patsellis
25-Oct-2006, 23:25
Assuming you're shooting b&w, I'll be a heretic, and say that if you have a convertible (or a symmar/sironar plasmat design) you should try shooting a converted lens, with a yellow or green filter, it adds a touch of softness that the modern hyper-sharp lenses truly lack.


Frank Petronio
26-Oct-2006, 05:09
That would be fine except they become f/12 or slower when you convert them! And I think they focus shift as you stop down if you are a long depth of field type.

steve simmons
26-Oct-2006, 06:57
"And I think they focus shift as you stop down if you are a long depth of field type."

Do you know this for a fact?

steve simmons

26-Oct-2006, 07:19
Wow! Thanks for the remarkable range of thoughtful suggestions. Interesting to see shooters using 300 and 360 without fear of redundancy. I didnít mention that Iím doing studio-style portraits in the field, with an artificial background and natural light Ė very old school. I sometimes shoot at f8 and Iíve done a few at f5.6. I could see using an f9 lens, but not much slower. I travel, and while I can definitely appreciate a 3-pound 6-element lens, I donít want much bigger. I need a reliable shutter, though Iíve been told a well-tuned Ilex can be as good as a Copal (true?).

Frank Petronio
26-Oct-2006, 07:32
Steve/focus shift - that is why I said "I think" versus "I know". I think I read something cautionary about the convertibles shifting focus on this forum.

SK Grimes and Tim Sharkey like Ilexes so that is good enough for me.

Avedon used a 360 Schneider and Fujinon from what I've read. But I don't "know" it for a fact ;)

steve simmons
26-Oct-2006, 07:32
Yes, for available lght a well cleaned and adjusted Ilex is fine. If you decide to use flash you will have to have an adapter made to hook the synch chord to the shutter.

steve simmons

Mark Sawyer
26-Oct-2006, 10:46
A quick note that when doing a "tight" portrait, the bellows extension gives you a slightly longer effective focal length, so a 300 may be more like a 320 or 330...

I'd also agree with those who think the difference between a 300 and 360 is pretty minimal, like 50mm and 60mm lenses on a 35mm, if you think in those terms...

Jay DeFehr
26-Oct-2006, 12:46
Hi Ed.

I work in a very similar way to the one you describe, with the exception of artificial backgrounds. I have lenses ranging in FL from 8 1/4" up to 48", with just about every imaginable FL in-between (I went a little crazy on ebay), but if I had to choose just one, it would definitely be my f4 14Ĺ" Verito, which, incidentally, converts to 24" with a single element. This lens is in a Studio shutter, which is akin to a compact Packard, that used to be practically useless until rebuilt by Carol Miller at Flutot's Camera Repair. With a little practice, I've learned to use this shutter very reliably in available light, due at least in part to the enormous overexposure latitude of 8x10 film. In other words, I err towards overexposure, and get consistently easy-printing negs. When I was experimenting with extremely primitive processes, I would guess at the correct exposure, approximate it as best I could with the Studio shutter (which stuck open as often as not), develop the neg by inspection in ABC Pyro, and print on Azo with a single bare bulb, and a noisy clock as a timer. This was an eye opener for me, since I tend to gravitate towards the technical if left unchecked, and I was, in a very short time, able to use this process very effectively. Since my Studio shutter was repaired, it's like falling of a log by comparison. Most of my other lenses are fitted in reliable shutters, and I do appreciate them, but I've learned that I can do without them quite comfortably, if necessary. I don't have many scans of LF prints, but I have a few that might give you an idea of the differences in the images formed by classic portrait lenses like the Verito, compared to more general purpose lenses like a Turner/Reich Triple Convertible, within the limitations of a monitor image. If you'd like to see some, just email me and I'll send some your way. Good luck, and have fun!


Robert Skeoch
1-Nov-2006, 16:26
I've used the 450C Fujinon the most for portraits... but I'm shooting outside so the slower lens doesn't seem to be an issue.
-Rob Skeoch