View Full Version : Newbie needs a hand choosing.

Marc Andrew
7-Dec-2009, 09:39

I've been a photographer for almost 15 years and would like to slow things down. I would like to find an 8x10 or larger camera for the purpose of making portraits. Contact prints only.

I'm looking for a few suggestions for cameras/lenses to be looking at. Budget is low to medium.


MIke Sherck
7-Dec-2009, 11:53
Monorails seem to sell for less than folding field cameras although older folding cameras like the Kodak 2D don't seem to sell for much sometimes, too. The Calumet C1 folding metal field camera is a weighty beast and so sometimes you can find one for less than if it were lighter. Of course, they are quite heavy...

Personally, were money no object I'd have a Wehman folding metal 8x10 field camera in nothing flat but, alas, money is an object. My 8x10 camera is an old Burke & James "Grover" monorail that I got for $150 and it's almost showroom new -- you don't often see them that well kept, however. But it works all right for me, even as a field camera. What I don't have in money I make up for with effort. :)

Some of the least expensive lenses aren't in shutters: look for Nikkor or similar, 300mm, 360--ish mm, 420mm, 450mm, etc. Use a hat or loose-fitting lens cap as a shutter. Ought to be less than $100. If you want a shutter, lenses 240mm-300mm seem to be less expensive than longer lenses or even shorter lenses that cover 8x10. $300 for a 300mm seems to be possible on Ebay, if you are patient, and I've seen modern 240mm lenses go in that range too, lately. Older lenses such as Kodak Ektars are still appreciated and they don't often sell for less than newer ones but there were brands not seen as top of the line which may work for you: I think well of Ilex Paragon lenses, which were copies of Kodak Ektars without the quality control. Going back further you might find some uncoated lenses; Carl Meyer, Wollensak, etc. which might be had for a bit less. January-February can be a good time to go shopping on auction sites, if you can save a bit from Christmas shopping.

Don't forget film holders! Call Jim at Midwest Photo Exchange (www.mpex.com) and ask him whether he has any usable wooden 8x10 holders available: you'd be surprised how little you might be able to find them for. If not there then keep an eye on Ebay. Most of my 8x10 holders are wooden: I like them better than the plastic as they're lighter to carry and easier to repair when needed. Be aware, though, that you need to test used film holders before you use them (get a pack of the cheapest RC 8x10 paper you can find, cut it down to fit, and use that to test with.)

Good luck!

Steve Hamley
7-Dec-2009, 12:10

Jim Galli uses a Kodak 2D with a 6" Packard shutter (4" "aperture")) mounted behind the first fold of the bellows. This is a portable low-budget solution and is hard to beat for versatility.

Cheers, Steve

Marc Andrew
8-Dec-2009, 08:14
Mike and Steve,

Thank you very much for your replies! Off to go look up your suggestions.