View Full Version : 300mm lenses for 8x10

Paul Ewins
16-Feb-2007, 21:40
I'm looking for an "every day" lens for 8x10, i.e. something in a reliable, multi-speed shutter that is sharp and useful for a variety of purposes. I've got a Cambo SC which is mostly studio bound so I don't imagine that the weight of the lens is going to be serious issue.

I already have a Germinar 240W and a G-Claron 210 that should cover, and a Caltar-S 210 and Symmar 210 convertible that might make it stopped down, so I'm looking for a longer focal length. I already have all manner of process lenses, aero lenses and soft focus lenses in barrel that range from 300mm through to 610mm but I want something with a faster speed than I can manage with a Packard.

300mm is the next step up, but should I look at skipping straight to 360mm? Will there be any perspective problems if I use a 300mm for a head and shoulders portrait?

Looking at Ebay, it seems that around $400 would get me a Fuji 300W, various Caltars or a Schneider Symmar-S. For 360mm it looks like I'll be paying over $500 for the same brands. At KEH I could get a "Bargain" grade 300 Symmar-S, 360 Nikkor Q or 420 Fujinon L all around $450.

Is it worth looking at older lenses like the Symmar convertible 300/500 or a 12" or 15" Caltar? Perhaps hope to stumble on a cheap Ektar?

John Kasaian
17-Feb-2007, 01:03
I like the 355-360-14" but they are usually quite a bit larger than thier 300/305/12" little brothers.

The 300/500 Symmar would be a good lens, but so would the Wollensak 1A which gives your not two but three focal lengths.

The 12" Goerz Dagor is always a good bet.

The 305 G Claron is always a good bet too.

I wouldn't turn my nose up at a 12" Wollensak Velostigmat either, especially if portraiture was in my plans

Since you already have a 240mm I think a 355/360/14" or even a 15" or 16-1/2" might give you more bang for your buck. If you happen on one, you might consider a 355 G Claron, 14" Commercial Ektar, 375mm Ilex Acuton or a 16-1/2" Goerz Artar. YMMV but I'd still consider these focal lengths "normal" for an 8x10 (maybe the 16-1/2 is pushing things but proportionally it shouldn't be much different than a 210mm on a 4x5, which is considered by many as a normal lens)

Good luck!

evan clarke
17-Feb-2007, 03:56
Nikon 300M....EC

Gary Smith
17-Feb-2007, 05:09
Personally I like the Fuji 300mm C or its bigger 300mm CMW cousin. The 300A is even better than the 300C in that it has a larger image circle and is I think a little sharper. The downside is it also commands a rather large price premium over the other two.

Hope it helps.


Walter Calahan
17-Feb-2007, 06:02
It's totally out of the price point you want to pay, but it's always nice to dream.

My absolutely favorite 300 for 8x10 is the Cooke XVa convertible. I can't think of a finer 300, but its also a fabulous 476, and 645.


Gary Smith
17-Feb-2007, 06:11
It's totally out of the price point you want to pay, but it's always nice to dream.

My absolutely favorite 300 for 8x10 is the Cooke XVa convertible. I can't think of a finer 300, but its also a fabulous 476, and 645.


I will second that! I have one and will never let it go. Its an awesome lens if you can get one.


Frank Petronio
17-Feb-2007, 07:45
I had a nice 300/5.6 Xenar in a Copal 3 that was my favorite - nice bokeh, not very expensive, not that large. I'd re-buy it, like a lot of things I had!

Hugo Zhang
17-Feb-2007, 08:27
Take a look at a 30cm or 36cm Heliar. It is a fast lens. Of course, the 30cm Lanthar would be the best choice.

Jim Noel
17-Feb-2007, 08:56
Nikon 300M....EC

I second Evan. The Nikkor 300M is small, sharp, and relatively cheap.

Oren Grad
17-Feb-2007, 09:44
For 360mm it looks like I'll be paying over $500 for the same brands.

Not necessarily. I picked up my 360 Caltar II-N (Rodenstock Sironar-N) for $400 on eBay.

I'm not a long focal length fan, so for an "every day" lens, I'd find a 300 more useful than a 360. But even if you currently use longer lenses in small fomats, with experience, you may find that your focal length preferences from small formats don't translate directly into larger formats. In particular, many people find that for a variety of reasons, as the format gets larger they tend to go a bit wider than a strict proportionality from their preferences in the smaller format would suggest. And of course, in any given optical design, a 300 will tend to be smaller and lighter than a 360.

If you like your 210 G-Claron, the 305 G-Claron might be a nice choice. It fits in a Copal 1, so it's very compact and lightweight compared to the big 300/5.6 plasmats, which would help if you ever do decide that you'd like to explore a bit more actively beyond the studio.

Paul Ewins
17-Feb-2007, 17:03
Thanks for all of the suggestions.

To be honest I hadn't considered any of the slower lenses as I wasn't worried about weight and didn't need a lot of extra coverage (e.g. G Claron). The Copal 1 is a faster shutter although most of my lenses are in press shutters anyway so the speed is the same.

Looking at the Nikon 300M it's coverage is rated at 325mm which is fairly tight. Is that just the area of acceptable sharpness or are you losing illumination past there too?

The Fujinon 300C looks like a good candidate although I haven't seen any second hand yet. Badger has it listed at $695 new, so I may even end up buying it new.

A Heliar in shutter is probably well out of the price range although I may pick up one in barrel to use on the Kodak 1A with the Packard.

I haven't seen any late Xenars, but I guess that could be a possibility too.

John Kasaian
17-Feb-2007, 17:16
Nikkor M seems to vary in coverage. Mine just covers 8x10 but others here claim more useful coverage. 12" Wollensak Velostigmats and 375mm Ilex Acugons seem to me to be way undervalued going by the prices they fetch on ebay.

17-Feb-2007, 19:32
I recently bought a Schneider 300/500 convertible Symmar. Fantastic lens. CAn't go wrong with this. I used to have a 300mm Fuji W--great lens, but I prefer the micro-contrast of the Schneider. Either lens is a winner. Oh...and the scheider delivers 2 focal lenths in one lens, but you will need a LOT of bellows to accomodate the 500mm mode.

Dave Wooten
23-Feb-2007, 18:11
I bought the little Nikkor M from Fred Newman, at his suggestion for a lens for my 7 x 17!!! It covers 7 x 17. I really love this little lens. I use it on 8 x 10 and 4 x 5 also. So as stated above they must certainly vary.

Kirk Fry
23-Feb-2007, 21:37
300 mm Symmars

24-Feb-2007, 13:40
Many people have had good results with the Nikkor 300M. I didn't. I found the results a soft near the edges. I liked the Fuji 300C much better. OTOH I liked the Nikon 450M better than the Fuji 450C. The 305 G claron is xlnt, and the latest Rodenstocks and Schneider F5.6 are superb (but heavy and expensive).

If contact prints or small enlargements like 16x20 are all that's needed, then it probably won't matter at all however.

John Kasaian
24-Feb-2007, 15:51
Personally I'd take a 305 G Claron over a 300 M, but that is because I think the G-Claron has a larger useful image circle (affords more movements) but niether lens is what I'd call inexpensive. Look for Kodaks, Ilex, Wollensaks or the older Schneiders for "deals." My 2-cents anyway ;)

24-Feb-2007, 20:57
I don't know why no one has mentioned the 12" Kodak Commercial Ektar.

Ole Tjugen
25-Feb-2007, 05:31
I had a Xenar 300mm f:4.5 for a long time, a big heavy beast in a #5 Compound shutter. I sold it with the Technika 5x7", since my new 5x7" Gandolfi had too small lens boards to use it.

I have since aquired a 300mm f:5.6 Symmar convertible. That's also a nice lens, but I sometimes miss the extra spees (and reduced DoF) of the Xenar. But the Symmar has more coverage, enough that I can use it on the 24x30cm camera...

Mark Sawyer
25-Feb-2007, 13:15
Even in the "budget" range, you have a lot of really good choices for a 300mm lens. For contrast and color, I'd recommend a Caltar II-N, for b/w, a nice coated Tessar (I have a Fujinon-L I like), and for a vintage look, the old Velostigmat with the adjustable diffuser. Dagors and Cookes are wonderful, but over-appreciated and over-priced...

BTW, I have more than a dozen 300mm lenses, and have somehow convinced myself I need them all... :)

Sheldon N
25-Feb-2007, 14:24
If you're thinking about a 360mm lens, this would be a good deal... Buy-it-Now for $405 for a Fuji 360mm f/6.3.

Auction number: 260090553165

Paul Ewins
25-Feb-2007, 22:30
I had a look at the Fuji but he only ships to the US, UK & Canada so no point in me using the BIN. I know some sellers will ship elsewhere if asked, but that is a fairly precise combination of destinations so I assume he knows what he wants.
There are quite a few Symmars around at the moment that I am tracking and a few other bits and pieces. At least I don't have to worry about missing a once-a-year rarity. I'll just take my time and keep trying.

Paul Ewins
15-Mar-2007, 22:45
OK, just to wrap this thread up, I eventually got a 360 Symmar-S. For a couple of weeks there was a deluge of 300 and 360mm lenses and this was one of four auctions that ended within an hour. It is in great condition excpet for a dent in the filter ring which probably saved me $50. I paid $280 plus another $50 for airmail, so all in all I feel that I have done well.

Thanks to all that offered advice, it really helped.


John Kasaian
15-Mar-2007, 22:48

It sounds like a great deal! Congratulations!

Turner Reich
15-Mar-2007, 23:38
Grab one of those Goerz Dagors on the eBay.