View Full Version : a leap in the dark

28-May-2008, 06:29
Hi there - new to this forum and this type of photography - having been using MF for a long time, I have moved up - I have purchased 10 x 8 camera and need a couple of bits of advice...

1) lense - I am going with 240mm which seems "normal" wide angle from everything I have read in the last few months. Was thinking of a Schneider I found used here in the UK, but have it has a couple of marks on the shutter coating which despite the shops claim that it won't affect the performance - i feel it will...any thoughts?

Also - how would this compare with a similar size Sinaron/Sinar? - found in another shop, but in very good condition (but almost twice the price).

Any other types / manus at the Schneider type of level would be appreciated.

I am shooting landscapes predominantly, don't need loads of movement (maybe a few degrees of tilt) during daylight hours (early monings mostly).

2) Mounting - I have a Really Right Stuff ballhead set up on Bitzo Carbon Tripod. I have gone with a traditional wooden field camera for my 10 x 8. Will it be too heavy with an arca plate into the clamp on my ball head - in theory the ball head says it can take quite a lot of weight (can't remember the exact rating), but i wondered how it would work in the field...?


28-May-2008, 06:56
Welcome to the board and congratulations on the 8x10.

1) 240mm is a nice slightly wide focal length on an 8x10. Do you mean there's a few flaws in the lens coating? They probably won't affect the image, but any marks on the glass should lower the price. I have a 240mm Symmar-S MC lens for my 8x10--it's a good lens. I think the Sinaron is a rebadged Rodenstock Sironar lens. I'm sure it's also excellent, but the Schneider sounds like a better deal.

2) What camera have you got and which model of Gitzo tripod? Almost any tripod will work fine on a windless day, but when it's windy--no tripod can be too heavy. I love ballheads, but prefer a pan/tilt head with a large camera like an 8x10.

Dave Parker
28-May-2008, 06:59
If you talking about a couple of scuff marks on the shutter blades, then no they won't affect performance, just about all of my shutters have scuff marks on the blades from years of use, now if bent, yes, it would affect things, but marks I have never found to be bothersome. If lens marks, it takes a bunch to really affect lens performance, I have several lenses that have scuffs, polishing marks and scratches, and not had any problems with the performance.

I have a large kirk ball head and have shot my 8x10 off it with no problems, your best bet is to give it a try and see how it works for you.


Brian Ellis
28-May-2008, 07:34
(1) Do you mean marks on the lens glass coating? Marks on the shutter "coating" sounds kind of strange. But assuming the marks are in fact on the shutter, they shouldn't affect its performance unless they're a severe gouge or oil residue or something like that. However, without knowing more about them (location, size, cause, etc.) it's hard to say.

Sinar didn't make its own lenses, they're made by another company, Rodenstock perhaps. Someone else here will know for sure, I don't use Sinar stuff.

There's a general consensus I think that lenses of the same design from any of the four major manufacturers (Schneider, Rodenstock, Fuji, and Nikon) will provide essentially the same technical performance. Buying decisions are usually based on things other than their ability to produce technically outstanding photographs since lenses from any of these four manufacturers are capable of doing that. As among these four manufacturers (Nikon no longer makes LF lenses but they're plentiful on the used market) cost, condition if used, weight, size, coverage, etc. are generally more important than brand once you've decided on a focal length and type. In other words, Rodenstock, Nikon and Fuji are all at "the Schneider type of level."

(2) Some ball heads on Arca plates can support some 8x10 cameras, obviously depending on the particular head and camera. However, the weight and size of the camera can make it cumbersome and a general PITA to accurately position an 8x10 camera with a ball head. While I'm sure there are people who use a ball head with 8x10, I'd guess that most people don't and instead use either a geared head or the traditional three-way pan/tilt head.

As a suggestion for the future, when you're asking questions like these you'll usually get more useful answers if you're a little more specific - exactly which camera are you using, which lenses are you considering, which tripod, head, etc. are you talking about. But good luck with your foray into large format photography, 8x10 is a great format.

Frank Petronio
28-May-2008, 07:49
I'd suspect that the 240 might be one of the older versions, which are fine lenses but note that the #2 shutters that come with them are hard to get parts for and are an odd size mount. However at that price it is still good deal provided the shutter is running well, no oil on the aperture blades or stickiness. A clean and adjust will cost US $75-$125 usually.

The serial numbers and cosmetics of the lenses will tell you the relative age and you get what you pay for -- a newer lens from the 80s or 90s will have a better coating and handle flare better than an older lens from the 60s and 70s. But resolution is about the same and varies with individual samples -- but most all should be within acceptable levels unless the lens has been dropped or fooled around with...

Most of the larger ballheads out there will be near their limit with an 8x10 not because of weight but simply because the leverage seems to make them harder to use. If you use an Arca style plate get the longest one that will mount on your camera's base so that you can center it for balance.

29-May-2008, 06:06
The Schneider is a 240mm F5.6 Symmar S MC / Copal 3. Upon further investigation the mark is a scuff in the multi coating on the glass - they claim that it will not affect the performance. I invisage using this camera wide open at infinity quite a lot of the time, so thoughts as to whether it would matter would be welcome.

My Gitzo Tripod is a 3540 6x Carbon model, and the camera is a Gandolfi 8x10.

I should probably be asking this question in the lense forum - most of what i have read there would say my choice of lense for what i want seems good... I find the choice of different versions of the schneider quite confusing - can anyone point me to a "near as perfect" version?


John Kasaian
29-May-2008, 11:13
Welcome to 8x10/10x8!
240mm is a fine lens for landscape. Small imperfections on the front element usually don't do any harm but the only way to know for sure is to test fly it. If you are going to shoot B&W I think a MC lens isn't neccessary and in some situations not even desireable, though I suspect some would disagree. I don't own a Symmar but
I do have two lenses in that range that I use on my 8x10:

240mm Schneider G Claron.
A wonderfully sharp. lightweight little lens---probaly one of my most used 8x10 lenses.

250mm Wide Field Ektar.
Large, heavy and fast at f6.3. The results are sharp but somehow "creamy" if that makes any sense. It lives in a Universal #5 shutter which is guaranteed to humble the anal photographer and contribute mightily to the development of the sense of humor in the rest. There are examples of landscapes taken with this lens in Ansel Adam's book The Making of 40 Photographs if you want to take a look. It also makes for a darn fine portrait lens as well.

Either of these lenses would be great on an 8x10.
If I were in the market for a Symmar, I think I'd go with one of the convertable ones---more bang for the buck (or euro) :)

29-May-2008, 12:15
I invisage using this camera wide open


I'm not even sure what the wide open image circle is for the Symar-s.

Drew Bedo
29-May-2008, 18:18
Welcom to LF. There is a lot of good advice here and this board is a great resource. Which ever lense you do decide on...it qon't be your last. If I still owned every lense I ever had, I would be able to build a greenhouse and grow flowers! Put together a usable kit and use it. Modify your shooting outfit as your creative process evolvesto accomodate your style. No one thing is "IT" .The most important thing, in my opinion, is that you get out and shoot. Best wishes...please share your images.

29-May-2008, 19:07
Ballheads for heavy cameras are somewhat chancy. One failure to lock it could be enough to ruin your day. That said, people do use them. Not me.

I'd urge you go with a beefy two way head.


John Kasaian
30-May-2008, 21:06
Ballheads for heavy cameras are somewhat chancy. One failure to lock it could be enough to ruin your day. That said, people do use them. Not me.

I'd urge you go with a beefy two way head.


So true!