View Full Version : Recommendation for a new 8x10 lens

Lenny Eiger
23-Jun-2008, 18:26
I just purchased a new 8x10 Canham lightweight. I can't wait. It's in the mail, apparently. I'm looking for a lens that will do what I need....

I am using Efke in D-23, so far the best, but still having trouble separating the midtones the way the old, delicious film used to do (Tri-X, FP4). I am scanning it and then printing with wide format - with my own custom mix of b&w ink. My image printing style is close to a platinum print. I don't care about heavy (or deep) blacks and I'm scanning, so I don't have to worry about blowing out the highlights. I do care very much about the midtones.

I have been using a Century Universal that has seen its day - after about 100 years, I think its time she got retired. My lens of choice was always the 12 inch Dagor - altho' this last one I am using hasn't been as good as the first few....

However, in the interest of getting the most out of today's film (and stopping all this whining), I am looking at swapping out to a more modern lens. It seems that when things fall apart in the film today, they really go. Tones appear to fall together - an area where there ought to be a lot of tones, plenty of more detail, etc., morphs into a single tone. I am thinking I should eliminate all forms of flare/fog, diffraction and any other aberrations effects that may be accentuated by my process. I think I will also use the polarizer a bit more often...

In that interest, I am looking for a new lens. I am more interested in sharpness overall (good depth of field) rather than critical sharpness. Any thoughts on what would be the cleanest, sharpest lens when closed down all the way? Is there a lens that would be optimal for greatest depth of field?

In the 12 inch, ought I be looking at the Rodagon or Schneider? Apo Sironar S vs Apo Symmar L? Something else? Weight is also a concern, as I am hiking with this thing.

2nd question: I have a 300mm Fujinon f9 lens that someone left here. Is this any good?



P.S. Just out of curiosity, is the answer to all this in that 3 disk set of "Everything you ever wanted to know about any lens ever made in this universe or the next" by Steve Simmons, that I got a few years ago?

John Kasaian
23-Jun-2008, 19:23
APO Artars rock IMHO. The RD might interest you as they are coated. A 14" will cover 8x10 with some wiggle room but a 16-1/2" or 19" offers generous movements.

G-Clarons are plenty sharp and the 305mm fits into a neat little Copal #1---very light and compact if you're hiking.

Fuji owners seems to be passionate about their Fuji lenses so maybe thats all you need! :)

BTW which Efke film are you using? PL25 exhibits very fine tonality IMHO.

David A. Goldfarb
23-Jun-2008, 19:31
If you like Tri-X and FP4, why not use the current versions of those films, which are still available as stock items in 8x10"? Of the Efke films in that ballpark, I'd recommend PL100 over the 25 or 50, which are more orthochromatic.

Walter Calahan
23-Jun-2008, 19:39
Fujinon lenses are wonderful.

I, too, show with a Canham light-weight 8x10. I shoot with a Cooke XVa. Good luck finding one. I am damn lucky to have mine.

Don't know Efke films. I shoot color negative film on my 8x10.

Here's my web page featuring my 8x10 work: http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Cheers/Projects/Pages/Carroll_County.html#grid

Congratulations on the new camera.

Lenny Eiger
23-Jun-2008, 19:43
If you like Tri-X and FP4, why not use the current versions of those films, which are still available as stock items in 8x10"? Of the Efke films in that ballpark, I'd recommend PL100 over the 25 or 50, which are more orthochromatic.

I use Efke 25. It's interesting - some of the effect I am experiencing could be the slightly ortho nature of the 25. When I am interested in separating the many tones in green leaves I don't think a red-sensitive film would be the answer. But maybe I am wrong about this. Adox has their Ortho - which I haven't tested. I am curious, but haven't gotten there yet.

I use the 25 to get tight grain and most tonal separation. I am scanning and tight grains makes a big difference.

I have been entirely unimpressed with FP4 Plus and Tri-X in their new forms. I won't rule out the possibility that I can't make this better with some of my later changes, but they are both shadows of their former selves. I would rather use them, as they are much more consistent in their manufacture, but they have both fallen quite short of the Efke in richness.

However, I really don't want to make this thread about the film - I really need the info about lenses. After that, I am happy to chat about anything else...


Sheldon N
23-Jun-2008, 20:06
If you have a Fuji 300mm f/9 lens, then that means it is likely the Fujinon A 300mm f/9 lens. The Fujinon C lens is an f/8.5 and I am not aware of any other 300mm f/9 lens that Fuji made besides the A series lens. I suspect that it is in a black Copal 1 shutter with a silver shutter speed ring?

If the lens has the writing on the outside of lens barrel, that means that it is the multicoated version of the lens. If the writing is on the inside of the lens barrel then it is single coated. Either would be good, and I am not even sure that they made a single coated version of the 300mm A.

Anyhow, if this is the lens you have, then you have probably the BEST lens you can get for an 8x10 camera when weight is of concern. It has ample coverage for movements on 8x10 (420mm image circle) and has an excellent reputation for sharpness, on par with any of the best modern lenses. I've owned the Fuji 180A, 240A, and 360A and found them to be extremely excellent lenses. The other 300mm lenses you mentioned are in large copal 3 shutters and are much bigger and heavier. There are two other small 300mm lenses that are good on 8x10, the Fuji C and Nikkor M but they have less coverage than the Fuji A.

The Fuji 300A is no longer made, but is probably worth $800 on the used market. I wish I had friends that would leave lenses like that at my house!

Brad Rippe
23-Jun-2008, 20:12
The Apo-Symmar and Apo-Sironar-S are fairly big lenses, I would guess the Fuji you have would be perfect, also the Nikkor 300m (I have it and love it). I used to have a G-Claron 305 that I sold 2 years ago, and I've cursed my stupidity ever since for letting it go. They are available in the $650? range though.

Good Luck. If I already didn't have an 8 by 10, I would get the Canham lightweight, excellent choice.


Eric Leppanen
23-Jun-2008, 21:50
I also assume that the Fuji f/9 you already own is a Fuji A, either single or multi-coated.

If money is no object and you don't need much coverage, I think a Cooke XVa would be the state-of-the-art among 300mm lenses. It has a rich, vivid, contrasty look similar to the Sironar-S, albeit with more flare resistance (the Cooke coatings are the best I've seen). However, the Cooke is out of production indefinitely, and rarely pops up on the resale market (and would cost well over $3K if it did).

The Sironar-S has a dramatic, high contrast look to it, giving photographs added punch. The Schneider provides a slightly less dramatic, smoother look, although in my tests it resolves similarly. The Fuji A comes in between these two, although it is closer to the Sironar in personality than the Schneider. I am not much of a bokeh person, but I think there is some consensus that the Rodenstock and Schneider have better bokeh than the Fuji A. I have not done any tests specific to mid-tone separation, so I can't help you there.

I currently own a 300mm Sironar-S and multi-coated 300mm Fuji A. I use the Sironar whenever I can, because it has more coverage and is sharper (and has less CA) at the edge of the image circle, plus focusing at f/5.6 is more enjoyable. However, it is a heavy/bulky lens, so for longer hikes I replace it with the Fuji. If you don't need much image circle then you may be hard pressed to see any difference between these lenses in terms of prints produced.

Mark Sawyer
24-Jun-2008, 00:11
2nd question: I have a 300mm Fujinon f9 lens that someone left here. Is this any good?

The Fujinon is a nice modern 300mm lens, and I doubt you'd see much difference in performance between modern 300mm lenses, other than coverage, which you may or may not need.

If you're interested in a second lens, I'd say your big choice is between:

a.) Another modern lens in a longer focal length

b.) Another modern lens in a shorterer focal length

c.) An older style lens with a different personality, regardless of focal length.

Any of the three choices is an indicator of future direction. And if you're to make good use of whichever of the three choices, or decide to stay with the one lens you have, you're definitely at a crossroad.

24-Jun-2008, 04:39
What's wrong with a Dagor? Sounds like you're chasing a magic bullet.

Ralph Barker
24-Jun-2008, 07:12
If I were in your shoes, Lenny, I'd work a bit with the Fuji lens you already have, and see if you like it. I don't have any Fuji lenses, but those who do, as noted above, seem to rave about them. As to alternatives on 8x10, I use a 240mm f/9 G-Claron, a 300mm f/9 Docter Optics Germinar (coverage on 8x10 is a little tight), a 16.5" Red Dot Artar (occasionally), and a 450mm f/9 Nikkor M. I also have a 300mm f/5.6 APO Symmar, but mostly limit its use to near-vehicle shots, since it's big (105mm filter size) and a bit heavy for field use.

You might also consider tinkering with FP4+ developed in Ilford DD-X. I like the balance between tonality and sharpness that combo provides, but your tastes may vary.

Ole Tjugen
24-Jun-2008, 09:57
"sharpest lens when closed all the way down"???

Forget it. At f:32 all lenses are equal, or so close to it that it makes no difference at all.

The only way a lens can give more depth of field than another of the same focal length and at the same aperture is if one has lots of uncorrected spherical aberrations. That was one of the selling points of the Heliar way back before WWII - softer focus, with an apparent increase in DoF at wide apertures.

If you find the midtones unsatisfactory with your current film/developer combination, change one of the pair. Efke films are even "older" than FP4+ and Tri-X, so don't blame the film. Don't blame the lens either - I get great tonality with anything from 19th century Aplanats to superduper late double-coated lenses by adjusting the process to fit the negative.