View Full Version : Lens for 8x10 barrel or shutter 300 or 450

emo supremo
24-Apr-2009, 03:30
I wish to purchase a lens for my first 8x10. should I buy this in a barrel or shutter? I'm gravitating toward a 450mm bec I don't particularly like a 50m lens on my SLR nor do I use my 150mm on the 4x5. I think I'd prefer a 450mm over the oft-quoted 300mm as the "main lens". Furthermore, if the 240 or 300 Nikkor M aren't on the 4x5 it's usually the 90mm Super Angulon. "In love and war the extreme is the best" i guess. So I think the 300-350 range is not for me. What would you do? (buy the wa and leave the longer lens for later?)

24-Apr-2009, 03:41
longer lenses like what you are after are usually lots more money in shutters.

300mm can be had very cheap in barrels and for an average price. i use 240 and 375 very often on my 8x10. check out the 375mm caltar lenses. great stuff and they go cheap......like less than 250 cheap in a working shutter....i had one a while back and no one wanted it and it finally went at auction for 225! aaarrrrggghh! they are very sharp and cover 11x14.

i have a 480mm nikon apo that is going to close at auction today.....

where are you in NY? i am in kingston NY. come on by and play and we can try some of the lenses i got kicking around....i think i got a few in the 19 inch range.....i was just rolling the dice to see which gets the ax, yesterday.....


24-Apr-2009, 06:03
Ehhh- as a complete beginner I am curious as to how you time your exposure without a shutter on the lens. Egg timer? One mississippi-two mississippi? Remove and replace the lens cap? Hang your hat on it? I'm aware of and interested in barrel (process?) lenses because of their alleged quality and affordability but how are they used in the field? Can they have shutters applied or is this not cost-effective?

MIke Sherck
24-Apr-2009, 06:19
Ehhh- as a complete beginner I am curious as to how you time your exposure without a shutter on the lens. Egg timer? One mississippi-two mississippi? Remove and replace the lens cap? Hang your hat on it? I'm aware of and interested in barrel (process?) lenses because of their alleged quality and affordability but how are they used in the field? Can they have shutters applied or is this not cost-effective?

I usually use the "one-mississippi, two-mississippi" method if the exposure is only a few seconds; longer and I use the stopwatch function on my wristwatch. If I were really high-tech and 'with it' I'd use a stopwatch program on my PDA, which would also factor in reciprocity and bellows extension factors and record all the data on my exposures for subsequent downloading to my SQL database. But I'm not hip, so...

Because lens caps often fit tightly enough to not fall off, I usually hang my hat over the lens and use it as the shutter. I thought about changing to a beret for this purpose but my daughter thought it made me look... challenged, in some way. Then she bought me a new hat. It's an expensive hat, a Tilley from Canada, and I'll be darned but it's a really nice hat. I still think a beret makes a better shutter, though.

Almost anything can be jammed into a shutter thanks to the skills and ingenuity of folks like Mr. Ritter and the guys at Steve Grimes' old shop. But it often costs more than it's worth for anything but a truely exceptional lens. There are a few lenses here and there which just screw into one shutter or another, but there aren't many of them. If you just have to have a shutter but weren't born wealthy, then you need a Packard shutter -- the one with the squeeze bulb. They're fairly common used and the company actually still makes new ones, so it's a reasonable choice. The range of shutter speeds is limited but you don't have to walk around wearing a beret and that's got to be worth something!


emo supremo
24-Apr-2009, 06:59
Hello again, this is Emilio in Queens NY. Can Eddy come out and play? Thank you Eddy in Kingston I would like to take you up on that when the semester winds down...and I get a lens to play with.
Beret or packard shutter. Now that is an apples and oranges choice. I like shooting slower film in BW so I only need to deal with Reciprocity.

My concern was that if get the 300ish mm in a shutter I might not be happy and end up wanting a 450mm. Yes, you are right a long lens in a shutter is about $1000-expensive, well, expensive for an experiment with an idea for a hobby. I'm not sure I will stick with this format yet. So again with the original question, do I need the 450mm? It's SORT of like chicken and the egg (you can't know until you know) but different in that the perspective of the 50mm in an SLR does not 'translate' perfectly as you go up through the formats...if memory serves i think the 8x10 lens are more "WIDEangle" like as opposed to "TELEPHOTlike. DOn't quote me; i know enough to hurt myself. The caltar or gclaron seem to be the starting place but I am real muddled about these barrel lens. Where does someone learn about barrel lenses. It's a rather arcane topic i'd say.

Under the "LENS" heading of the forum main page: it's a shame that there is such a nice set of charts on the forum for 4x5 and even 5x7 but I do not think the spreadsheet specs exists for the 8x10 here in your forum. Is that true? Have I missed it? Could someone point to where a collation of circle diameters and average prices exist?

Mark Sampson
24-Apr-2009, 07:47
Emilio, choose your lens focal length depending on your intended subject matter. 8x10is big, heavy, expensive and slow. What do you mean to shoot with it? Let the answer to that question dictate your choice.
For example., portraits or table-top still life might suggest a longer lens, architecture a wider one. The fact is, just about any lens you can find for 8x10 will be sharp enough- b/w contact prints are quite forgiving and 100-year old lenses will still do the job. As far as I can tell any lens made to cover 8x10 was made to professional standards- there are really no 'dogs' out there, barring physical damage. Barrel vs. shutter- if you're ok with long exposures a barrel-mount lens will be fine. I started 8x10in 1981 with an uncoated 12" Wollensak in a very wonky shutter- once I learned its quirks I did some nice work. I moved on after a while but I still have a couple prints from those days that I'll put on the wall.

emo supremo
24-Apr-2009, 09:45
Dear Mark,
Looking back on my 35mm work my favorite pictures were of people from the thigh up standing in location or caught in the act of their profession (butcher at his shop, mother washing baby, get my drift?). Do you think that rules out the soft focus lens?

I like people posed in front of odd objects. People on vacation in front of fountains, doorways, statues, rock formations, .... i like the wide angle to incorporate texture as a framing of the person. I like when those backgrounds have textural, repeatitive elements.

I've read all Ektars were good lenses. I'm thinking a 12 but preferably 19 inch artar or dagor (but although i can read about the diff I still come away ignorant of which of the two is better.

With regard to 35mm: my best pictures in my collection were taken on Konica lenses. Less of my favorite pics were on my Nikon (and later cannon) equipment. I attribute this to having the camera around me more and less fear of the Konica getting beat up or stolen.... I bought a less expensive Deardorf and want a moderate lens so I can take it out and (not abuse but) use it. I bid on a Konica barrel lens but it went over $200

In summary, I guess if I choose the shuttered version it will be a g-claron or caltar 300-ish. If 450 it will have to be a barrel lens. Should I get an Artar, Dagor, or some other

David Karp
24-Apr-2009, 10:55
They are both under $1,000 used, so they are not cheap, but you might be interested in the 450mm f/9 Nikkor-M (in a Copal 3) or a 450mm f/12.5 Fujinon-C. I have used both on 4x5, and the Fuji on my WP camera, and they are both very nice lenses. If you don't like whichever one you try, or decide to get out of 8x10, you will likely be able to sell them for very close to what you paid for them.

24-Apr-2009, 11:05
Keh.com has a 450/9 M-Nikkor in "Ex" for $645 right now. If you like your 300 M, you'll probably like the 450 just as much.

emo supremo
25-Apr-2009, 06:52
Thank you all for sharing your experiences with me. I have to go through it to get around it so I will take that last bit of advice and go the KEH route. It is important to start making negatives instead of lamenting over losing ebay auctions on the Super Symmar and I don't think there will be much commercially film available except xray film by the time I migrate up to larger than 8x10 so there's less need now to find an Artar at a decent price. Perfect is the enemy of good they say.

25-Apr-2009, 08:03
DOn't quote me...


Just get a lens. You won't know what's right until you try it for yourself. I never really cared for a 50mm lens on 35mm, either, but found when I moved into large format that it was a different feeling and the old "rules" weren't applicable. For years I resisted using a 150mm on 4x5. But when I did, it worked fine for me and one of my first images with it has remained one of my favorite compositions. My reaction with 8x10 has been just as pronounced, if not more so. I would not hesitate to get a 14" lens for 8x10. Especially if it's the only lens you have, you will learn to see with it as you use it.

Almost any lens between 300mm and 480mm would be fine. If you get one in a good shutter, you'll eliminate a lot of frustration. Using a lens cap or a hat works, but it's another distraction and doesn't enhance the joy of learning. The Nikkor M450 is a great lens in a reliable shutter. It would be a good choice and one which should maintain a resale value should your goals change. Personally, given the choice between a longer lens and a shorter, wide-angle lens, I'd go for the longer focal length. Wide-angle shots can be dramatic and effective, but for me they're much more challenging to compose, with extraneous elements often getting in the way. I think you'd find more compositions with finer brush. Whatever lens you get, just use it and you'll soon know which direction to take.

My $.02,

25-Apr-2009, 08:33
Although 50mm is "standard" for the 35mm format, it is actually a little longish compared to the negative diagonal. If you scale up 50mm by the ratio of format width, you find that the 8x10 equivalent of your 50mm is about 420mm.

On the other hand remember that with larger formats and their longer lenses, you need to rack the lens out a disproportionately greater distance to focus on a nearby subject. That means that the angle of view narrows significantly when you focus close. For tightly cropped portraits this is very significant, a little less so for the 3/4 length portrait you described. I calculate that a 300mm lens would frame a 5 - 6 foot tall subject in the height of an 8x10 neg at about the same distance as your 50mm lens on 35mm (both framed vertically). If you want a lens with a significantly longer perspective than the 50mm, then I would suggest looking in the 450mm to 610mm range.

The only inexpensive way to go is a process lens in a barrel, Goerz Artars, Rodenstock Apo-Ronars and Nikons are most common, but there are also Kodak, Zeiss, Voigtlander and others. Once in a while you will see a Soviet, other eastern block, or some way off-label lens which will go for a very good price. For example I paid something like $35 for a 21.25 inch (540mm) "Ednalite Graphic-Star" in a barrel which turned out to be, coated, wiry sharp and a 6 element plasmat design so that it has coverage for most ULF formats as well.

25-Apr-2009, 08:49
Oh Yeah, and if I may contradict myself one more time:

I also loved extreme lenses on 35mm. I used my 24mm and 100mm lenses more than any others. I will not try to explain why, but most of my LF shots are made with more moderate lenses, say between 135mm and 270mm on 4x5. I rarely use my 90 or 360.