View Full Version : 8x10 Advice Needed - Wide-Open 240 at f/5.6 coverage, Chamonix Rationalization

Frank Petronio
19-Jun-2008, 19:32
After a lot of soul searching, I am at the point of getting serious about moving (back) up to 8x10. As many of you know, I do a lot of environmental portraits at large apertures (f/5.6, f/8), some of it handheld with a 4x5 Technika or Graphic. Now that I am more comfortable with my subject matter -- I have more control over the situations, I know what to expect from different kinds of people, I get more "keepers" out of a take -- I want to use 8x10 on a tripod again. The 4x5 was a great learning tool but I've always thought of 8x10 as the ultimate, be-all, end all for film photography.

(I stated my project with 8x10 but I wasted so much film that I needed to drop down to 4x5 because of finances... now I am more confident with my abilities and I think can shoot 8x10 at a more modest clip -- just a few sheets per set-up -- and still get better images.)

My 8x10 experience has mostly been with very solid metal monorails -- my last one was a vintage Arca, which was a really nice camera -- solid but compact and lightweight. But nice older Arcas like that are very scarce and I know I can't afford a F-line 8x10. Sinars are a bargain but a bit too bulky for convenient (no surcharge) air travel. And the other solid monorails are heavier still. My sole Deardorff experience was with a sloppily, unmaintained one the 1980s at the old Kodak HQ studios (they didn't take care of their gear very well). And whilst the Wehman and is nice, I just don't care for its looks. Wisners, Wistas, Tachis, and Toyos are a bit too much of this or not enough of that I suspect... So I've gotten it down to either a used full-featured Phillips or the similar Chamonix (now that I feel OK that Dick Phillips is OK with the design I think they're a nice camera). Or possibly a Shen-Hao or Canham.

Which probably means a Chamonix unless I stumble upon a deal on a Phillips or an Arca. But the last Phillips I saw on eBay went in the $4,400 range!

I'm thinking an 8x10 Chamonix should match a Gitzo 3-series CF tripod OK, correct? And my Linhof 3-way head might be borderline but probably fine too.

I am a one lens kind of guy, wide-normal modern symmetrical f/5.6 lenses, Schneiders or Rodenstocks.... of those, I see a lot of 240/5.6 Rodenstock Sinronar-Ns (or Caltars) on the market for $400-$500, which seems like a deal. But I suspect these 240mm have the smallest image circle and since I like to work wide open, I am worried that I won't get any rise at f/5.6. Most of those charts are assuming f/16, which is quite stopped down for me....

What would be the next step up in image circle for reasonable money, in a modern lens? I know the 240mm Sironar-S would be great but those go for a song, $1400 or so used, and they are rare too. Is there a happy inbetweener or a sleeper Fuji out there?

So those are my questions...

1. help me rationalize that a $2500 Chamonix is better than a $1200 Sinar P or a clean 8x10 Tachi-Wista.

2. And that an 8x10 Chamonix is a good match for my Gitzo 1300-CF and Linhof 3-way head.

3. What modern 240mm lens would be best at f/5.6?

4. And finally a confirmation that I'll be able to fit a Chamonix, five+ holders, and big modern 240mm lens all into a legal airline carry-on with room to spare for smaller essentials.


I posted a "want to trade" ad in the classifieds, saying that I'd give you a portfolio of art prints, a portrait session, photo lessons, etc. in exchange for setting me up with this gear. That was partially in jest but, hellya I'd do it in a heartbeat, lol. Heck I'd even vote for Obama!

Greg Lockrey
19-Jun-2008, 19:42
. Heck I'd even vote for Obama!

What a whore... :D :D :D

David Karp
19-Jun-2008, 19:44
Frank, I never used one, but I have heard lots of good things about the 250mm f/6.7 Fuji W (single coated).

I was thinking about buying one, but got a good deal on a single coated 240A.

Oren Grad
19-Jun-2008, 20:02
Frank, you know which lens is the best. :)

The standard image circle specs are usually for f/22, not f/16. But Schneider quotes image circles for open aperture too - checking just now, I'm surprised to see they put it at 291mm for the 240 Apo-Symmar, which is more than I expected though still not really enough unless you want to be stuck in a close-focus, no-movement box. If you think there's a chance your budget might be able to stretch as far as a 240 Apo-Sironar-S, I can put mine on an 8x10 sometime within the next few days and see how the coverage holds up at f/5.6. Let me know if that would be useful.

I usually put my 8x10 Phillips on a metal 3-series Gitzo with the Gitzo 3-way low-profile head. I'd be comfortable with a CF leg set in the studio, but a bit nervous about the rig being top-heavy if I were working rapidly under uncontrolled conditions on squishy grass or foliage, uneven terrain, etc.

I'm really happy with the Phillips design. But if your style depends on really quick setup from scratch, be aware that the free-floating front standard takes a few seconds extra and more careful attention to position and screw into place compared to the classic folding design where you flip up the front standard from the bed. I can imagine that it might drive some people crazy.

Frank Petronio
19-Jun-2008, 20:15
Thanks Oren -- Ehh I might rather go to 300mm before I could justify a 240mm Sironar-S, as nice as those lenses are. I used to use a 300/5.6 Xenar in a Copal 3 and had no complaints, although another inch of coverage would have made a few shots better...

David - yes I thought about the Fuji 250mm lenses but there seem to be a range of them from over the years... one has a huge IC and the other just does 5x7... I think. So figuring out which one is the key! I could give up half a stop I suppose.

Afterall, as Greg says I am a whore ;-)

Oren Grad
19-Jun-2008, 20:30
Ehh I might rather go to 300mm before I could justify a 240mm Sironar-S, as nice as those lenses are.

For sure, that extra $1000 will buy you lots of film.

Another thought - for what you have in mind, would it be catastrophic if the corners go out sometimes? Maybe you could get away with a Symmar-S / Sironar-N-class 240 after all. It's not as if your style is ultra-correct to begin with... ;)

Don Hutton
19-Jun-2008, 20:37
I use a Chamonix 8x10 on a Gitzo 1348 - it's a great set of legs for this sort of set-up - perfect IMO. I'm sure you'll be fine with the Linhof 3-way head - personally, I use an Arca B2 for 8x10 - which is really a 3-way head in disguise anyway. The Chamonix seems very well put together - I have no complaints. Value for money for a field camera, it cannot be beaten. I don't have enough experience with 8x10 monorails to comment, but the few have I have owned (a Sinar F2 and a Cambo Fugginheavy), have been so physically cumbersome to use on location that I am a field camera convert.

I think you will find a 240mm tough on image circle especially wide open. The 300mm plasmats are cheap and plentiful on the used market and have a lot more coverage. Because you are going to be using longer lenses on 8x10, you may find that you actually end up stopping down a little from wide open anyway - obviously you know the answers to your vision, but don't underestimate the rapidly reducing depth of field as lenses get longer. I frequently use a Fujinon A 360 at F10 (max aperture) where previously I used to use a 360 Sironar at f6.8 - and I usually end up with a better image because the DOF at f10 is a little bigger than a sliver, although not by much...

My 8x10 gets lugged around in a Lightware backpack - I think it's backpack case with a 1420 hardcase in the backpack - I have carried it on airlines as well as checked it several times. I can squeeze in my camera, 6 small lenses, filters, meter etc and 6 holders - bascially everything you may need.

David Karp
19-Jun-2008, 20:38

This will help you sort them out: http://members.aol.com/subgallery/byfl.htm

19-Jun-2008, 20:39
I have a 240 symmar-s in the for sale section. I listed it a few weeks ago.

Frank Petronio
19-Jun-2008, 20:42
Yeah actually I find myself darkening the corners quite often anyway... I could be like Atget and just start clipping all of the tops to black!

Kirk Fry
19-Jun-2008, 21:10
What about a 250 mm Wide Field Commercial Ektra? F 6.3 wide open. Certainly would cover.


19-Jun-2008, 21:16
Frank, I never used one, but I have heard lots of good things about the 250mm f/6.7 Fuji W (single coated).
Frank...FYI, this is the one with 8x10 coverage. The newer design for the Fuji W 250 that is a f/6.3 has reduced coverage.


Darryl Baird
19-Jun-2008, 21:35
Frank, I have a Tenba large Gen-3 bag (http://www.tenba.com/images/PRODUCT/large/638-432.jpg)that holds my 8x10 Chamonix, with four holders (maybe six if I don't carry the thicker, heavy darkcloth) meter, loupe, etc with two lenses. It's definitely carry-on size; I bought it at a trade show booth in Denver and flew home to Michigan with all my new stuff packed inside. It's meant to carry a laptop, but that space I use for the holders. Lenses are G-Clarons - 240 and 305 on boards. It's a tight fit, but nice and compact. I can sling it over my shoulder and walk a little distance with a tripod on my other shoulder. Might be the ticket for your shooting.

19-Jun-2008, 22:15
Frank, I look forward to your results!

Jim Galli
19-Jun-2008, 22:47
What you really want is a mint Kodak Masterview with an equally mint 250mm WF Ektar. Fold it up, put it on the airplane.

Greg Lockrey
19-Jun-2008, 22:51
What you really want is a mint Kodak Masterview with an equally mint 250mm WF Ektar. Fold it up, put it on the airplane.

Frank Petronio
19-Jun-2008, 22:51
hmmm those KMVs are nice... even Jock Sturges uses an Ektar I think...

Seriously I am not that fast and sloppy all the time, I do have time to open up the camera and focus properly, lol. I might even use movements!

20-Jun-2008, 01:12
The Master View looks very slick and is an obvious camera that was a take off by Phillips/Chamonix/etc. though with the latter being much lighter.

I think a question to consider, also, is how much transparency film you will be shooting vs. b/w and also how much you intend to enlarge or contact the out of camera neg? If mostly b/w and even mostly contacts, the older glass would be just perfect with cost consciousness taken into consideration. They actually even do ok with transparency film and you can always alter the color in post processing to pump up the saturation if you find the color is not rich enough...at least I would assume you can get more color from non-single coated lenses.

I've seen used Tach/Wista/etc. go for $800 and they are a bit lighter than the Master View, but don't quite look to be in the same league if you want to be doing movements that the Master View looks much more capable of.

I'd go with something lighter for $1500 or so on the used market that will get you the feature set of the Chamonix if movements and weight will be considerations.

20-Jun-2008, 01:30
Maybe I missed the obvious, but why does it have to be 240mm? Wouldn't you get far more coverage from a 300mm lens for your money? I picked up a Schneider 300/5.6, perhaps it would be a worthwhile option for you too?

By the way, I think the Chamonix is the right choice, carting my P2 around is quite a chore -- I certainly wouldn't attempt flying with it.

20-Jun-2008, 01:39
Ben, a 300mm lens on a 10x8 is equivalent to a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera, while a 240mm is more like a 35mm lens on a 35mm camera, that's a bit of a rough analogy.

Coverage can mean two things, first the angle of view, and secondly the size of the usable image circle.


Walter Calahan
20-Jun-2008, 04:07
I accidentally shot a portrait (full length of two people) at f/5.6 on my Nikkor 240 mm using 8x10 Fuji 160S. Loved the results.

The lens fully covered the film. The area of focus was sharp, with a wonderful fall off.

Can't speak to all the other lenses mentioned here. The Nikon works for me.

Walter Calahan
20-Jun-2008, 04:10
If you need to know, the images was made on a light-weight KB Canham using a bag bellows, on a Ries tripod. Not that any of that matters. What matters is the Nikkor 240 mm f/5.6 performed very very well.

20-Jun-2008, 04:18
Ben, a 300mm lens on a 10x8 is equivalent to a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera, while a 240mm is more like a 35mm lens on a 35mm camera, that's a bit of a rough analogy.

Coverage can mean two things, first the angle of view, and secondly the size of the usable image circle.


I understand this Ian, my question was more why the insistence on a 240mm angle of view when a 300mm lens will typically provide a greater image circle. ie. why not compromise on the focal length.

Frank Petronio
20-Jun-2008, 04:19
Thanks guys. It's not like you can saddle up to the neighborhood bar and get the same discussion.

I like the 135mm lens in 4x5 so I figure the 240 is the closest in 8x10, although I think lenses feel a bit "longer" the larger you go. But using a 300 is probably a better price/performance ratio.

I will mostly shoot Tri-X for as long as they make it. Maybe a little 400NC.

20-Jun-2008, 04:24
If you go back to the original post Frank mentions he shoots environmental portraits at full aperture, it's more usual to use a slight wide angle lens for images like this, shooting with a 300mm would give a different perspective and be a little more difficult.


20-Jun-2008, 05:48
Yeah I guess so, obviously the limiting factor will be working distance.

Jim Galli
20-Jun-2008, 08:06
I have never found any of the 5.6 240 lenses usable on 8X10. That 1 inch to move in just gets used up too quick and too often. That was why I threw the Ektar out there. Now if you got even luckier and found a 270mm Computar, but now we're playing the sacrificial max aperture game again. Probably why Dagor's were so well loved. One of the better cake and eat it too compromises. 5.6 240's cover 336 mm of 310 needed.

Just thought of your dream lens Frank! 9 inch Pinkham & Smith in Copal 3. Hey dreams are free.

20-Jun-2008, 09:07
I like the 135mm lens in 4x5 so I figure the 240 is the closest in 8x10, although I think lenses feel a bit "longer" the larger you go. But using a 300 is probably a better price/performance ratio.


I have a spreadsheet that takes into account the way that the lens appears to lengthen as the magnification goes up, as you alluded to. Looking at just a couple of portraits that you have posted recently and estimating the magnifications you use, I concur that the 8x10 equivalent of your 135mm is 240-254mm.

Also, for the larger format, you should find that an 240/f9 lens like the Fuji A or a G-Claron will give depth of field very close to that of your 135mm/f5.6 - in a 16x20 print.

Along that line, I am a bit surprised that there has been no mention of the 240mm/9.5 inch Dagor in the discussion above. (Did I miss it?) It has coverage galore, is fast enough to limit depth of field, famous bokeh or jen es sai qua, and offers investment potential. What more could you want? Affordability - pshaw.

Good Luck - Alan

Joel Brown
20-Jun-2008, 09:15
Frank, I hope you will reconsider the 8x10 Deardorff. Yes they feel a little sloppy especially the rear standard, but the one you used was probably worn out. I fell in love with the 250 Fujinon-W 6.7 and shoot it wide open often.


Frank Petronio
20-Jun-2008, 09:37
Oh the Kodak Deardorffs were beaters, I am sure that a properly taken care of Deardorff is quite nice -- so many great photos have been made with them.

kev curry
20-Jun-2008, 10:52
Frank, as you well know the Linhof head is rock solid with a heavy Technika but Ive found that 4me it wasn't up to the job of holding a heavy 10X8 Shen/300mm sironar n. Maybe it could handle the lighter Chamonix.......who knows????
[[Editied for inappropriate language-moderator]]


Frank Petronio
20-Jun-2008, 11:11
Haha yeah I love that little Linhof 3-way head but it is small and a big camera introduces more torque when you insert holders and such, I would maybe compare it to one of the Arca B-1s for similar capability and those are borderline not because of the camera's weight but just the leverage...

Ehh I am starting my own country as soon as I sell enough prints...

20-Jun-2008, 11:47
I got a steal of a deal on 2 lenses awhile ago. A Fuji 360 and a 300 Sironar N both in mint, $500-for both. Either one of these lenses work well wide open for portraits. In fact I use the 300 Sironar N on 7x17 at portrait distances and it is really wonderful wide open on the contact print. You might want to look at the Dallmeyers as well. I have one that works well on the 8x10 Deardorff, well actually it's a bit heavy for it...but I think it is 340mm or so and has a fast aperature of 3.5 or f4 I forget at the moment. It is stunning in it's effects, it is the 4b model. Just fits on the 6" Deardorff board. Good luck.

Darryl Baird
20-Jun-2008, 12:42
Frank, I got out today to do some architectural shooting in a downtown environment. I took along both the 8x10 Chamonix and my trusty 4x5 Wista technical camera. I shot with the 8x10 first, because I need the practice and it'll make for a nicer end result (I plan on it being a "large" series ;-}). It handled nicely, but I really had to tighten the knobs well to get the camera to stay rigid with some extreme shifts. I used a 240 G-Claron, always stopped down, but it was slow focusing on a bright downtown sidewalk. It was on a good, sturdy Davis and Stanford tripod. After several shots I ran out of film holders and returned to the car for more. Instead, I grabbed the Wista and three film holders that fit in my cargo pocket and started to walk to another area. I shot very quickly with the smaller, bulkier camera. I think it was way easier to focus with just a pop up hood than the darkcloth (I had a lightweight nylon scarf version I made for the camera, but it is too small... need bigger area). Plus the lens was a 90mm /f5.6 versus the earlier 9 of the 240mm.

In short, you will miss your Linhof, but the lightweight 8x10 can handle the task, but it requires some getting used to... I ain't there yet.:D

20-Jun-2008, 13:06

I would suggest there is little difference between the performance of the Nikon, Schneider & Rodenstock 240mm f5.6 lenses. If money were no object I would choose the Sironar S which is supposed to have great sharpness wide open & creamy bokeh. I use a Fuji 250 f6.7, which is smaller than the previously mentioned lenses. Its only single coated but has a larger image circle than its multicoated f6.3 replacement. Take a look at the link below for more info


Iíve been using a 10x8 Wista for a couple of decades now & it does the job but it doesnít have shift which I miss. Iíve just bought a 10x8 Horseman monorail off eBay & I have been enjoying using the geared movements. Itís not as heavy as it looks but itís not practical for travelling. I expect it may well be priced similarly to a Sinar P.

If you need a more compact camera for your travels then take a look at a Wisner Expedition, Phillips, Ebony, Zone IV, Canham (wooden or metal) or the new Ritter. If you donít want to spend too much then look at a Wista, Deardorff, or Phillips lookee likee the Chamonix.

Whatever you choose I look forward to seeing the results on your blog


Amund BLix Aaeng
20-Jun-2008, 16:17
hmmm those KMVs are nice... even Jock Sturges uses an Ektar I think...

Yeah, back in the 70`s he used an Ektar :) A lot of Jocks work is done with the 250mm f/6.7 Fujinon, and he now use a 240mm Sironar-S....

Ben Calwell
20-Jun-2008, 18:29
Frank -- I second the Fuji 250 6.7. I use one on a Kodak 2D, and it's great.

21-Jun-2008, 06:53
A big camera for the big man. Sounds good to me Frank. Remember where to send your 4x5 equipment!

John Kasaian
21-Jun-2008, 08:59
I can't comment on the Fuji, but the 10" WF Ektar Jim Galli mentioned is certainly a fine lens. Quality & price being equal, consider the shutter---if you dig copals then the Fuji would come out on top. If you think Universals are coolest mechanical device since the 1940 Packard, then the WF Ektar is likely going to be your 'cup of tea.'

Mark Sawyer
21-Jun-2008, 13:28
Frank, you ultimately just need to play with a few of these cameras yourself and see what you like. There are good recommendations here, but the designs are all different, all good, and you just have to see which one feels comfortably your own. Then just break down and spend the money to get what you want. It will make you happier and more at home every time you photograph.

I think a 300mm plasmat or modern coated tessar would fit your work well. Only slightly longer than what you have now, but still shorter than the "conventional" 8x10 portrait lens. You might want a wider one for interior work, maybe a 240mm, or a 215mm f/4.8 Ilex Acuton/Caltar-S (same lens). Bright, sharp, covers well, and goes for cheap in a good #3 Ilex shutter. They're one of the great under-appreciated lenses.

I think it will be a good move for you, and I'm curious to see how it affects your work.

Lenny Eiger
21-Jun-2008, 14:12
I just ordered a Canham lightweight 8x10. I also just got a new Gitzo with Carbon fiber legs. And a wind stabilizing kit from filmholders.com. Tired of lugging around the old battleship - especially the old steel Gitzo tripod. (Feel free to make me an offer, anyone, probably needs a rebuild kit to work really well). My Century Universal has seen its day - after about 100 years of shooting, not all by me, of course..

I had a chance to compare the Canham and the Chamonix at Foto3. They are both beautiful, but the Canham won out just a bit.

I shoot outside, so I have to carry it around... It's going to make a huge difference.


Dominique Cesari
23-Jun-2008, 06:14
I was really happy with my Tachihara 8x10 as long as I used lenses in the 240/360 mm range. It's a double draw, with something like 550 mm maximum extension. This goes short with the 450 mm I baught, not for the bellows in themselves, but because the extension is nearly completely thrown out, and in that position the camera isn't as rigid as I would want. Plus, with a newcommer 210 mm, the bellows are compressed and cut the light path when the front pannel is shifted more than 50/60 mm.

As you stated, the Tachi/Wista would be a choice with the 240 mm that you have in mind, but they have some limitation for the future. I wonder to switch to another camera, and I'm also considering the Chamonix 8x10.