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John Kasaian
22-Jun-2010, 23:38
your "prime" lens?
I bought my LF equiptment on an extremely tight budget and I got pretty lucky when it came to buying lenses, but when I got my 8x10 I had come to realize that I'd probably only have one lens to cover the format for quite awhile and that a lot was riding on my selection. Still on a tight budget (hey a box of 8x10 Arista Pro was pushing $40!) I looked at what was available that I could afford. It would have to be used of course but I never had any qualms about used LF gear---if it hadn't been for pros going digital I'd never even have a LF kit.
I wanted a "normal" lens and my options came down to a 12" Dagor, 14" Commercial Ektar, 375mm Ilex, Wollensak 1A, or Schnieder double convertible.
The much respected Dagor and Schnieder were "pushing it" at the top of the price range (well "over the top" of my budget) The price for the Wolly was very attractive but the idea of a triple convertable seemed for me a bit overwhealming--I wanted something simple and while having the option of different focal lengths was very attractive the thought of swapping elements while out in the field was a wee bit intimidating. That left the Ilex and the Commmercial Ektar. Shortly after I had a talk with a local commercial photographer who raved about Commercial Ektars he'd used in the 40's and 50's and that sealed the deal.
Of course Commercial Ektars back then were all over the board when it came to pricing--anywhere from $325 to $675 and with the added cost of film, holders, heavier tripod, larger filters, more chemistry and a lens board thrown into the pot I was a little reluctant about the prospect of adding an obligatory cla to the bill. I opted for a $400(or was it $450) lens from Midwest Photo because I trusted Jim there. I figured it was worth paying a little extra to get a good lens than paying a lot of $$ on a gamble (I have to point out that no 8x10 LF gear was available locally---nearly all my 8x10 equipment came off the internet without me actually being able to physically inspected the stuff first.)
It was a good call. After over 10 years I still have and use that 14" Commercial Ektar and the old No.5 Universal it came with has yet to indicate that it needs a cla.
I've got a few more 8x10 lenses these days (including a 10" Wide Field, that much envied 12" Dagor, a beaut of a 19" Artar, 240mm G Claron and a nifty little 159mmWA Wolly (although I never did get around to using one of those convertibles)
If anything the 14" Commercial Ektar remains one of my "prime" lenses and in hindsight is worth to me far more than what I paid for it.
What are your "prime" lenses? Do you feel like you've received your money's worth? Are you happy with it or do your feel the urge to chase "magic bullets? Or if you bought it cheap, did you eventually have to replace it with a more costly lens?

Donald Miller
22-Jun-2010, 23:50
I bought my first three LF lenses over twenty years ago and they were new. These were the 210 Symmar S, 90 SA, and 120 Apo Symmar. I later added used lenses. These included a 305 Repro Claron, 375 Caltar, 2 ea. 450 Nikkor M, 210 convertible symmar, and later still the a 305 G Claron and 180 Nikkor W. I have sold the 120 Apo Symmar since I no longer use 4X5, the 375 Caltar and one of the 450 M Nikkor lenses. To be honest I don't recall what I paid for any of these lenses.

The reason for some of these focal lengths is for the time that I shot 8X10 and 12X20.

Ash
23-Jun-2010, 00:16
I'm so lucky that 180/6,8 Dagor was given to me by my grandfather... and the shutter came cheap elsewhere. Maybe my botching the two together isn't quite the S K Grimes quality, and purists will moan, but it's done the job when I've used it.

The Fuji 150/5,6 lens on the Razzle was pot luck from Dean. Again, excellent performer.


Although I never use it, the huge Ross Xpres 8 1/2" f/4.5 barrel lens was amazing to find at 30, new in its box. Just pulled it out for the first time in a couple years and it's looking a little sad... I'd attached a guillotine shutter to it, but if that lens was in a proper shutter I'd have made it my prime lens.

rdenney
23-Jun-2010, 06:37
My most-used lens on 4x5 is probably my 121/8 Super Angulon. I paid between $500 and $600 for it about 20 years ago; it would cost a bit less now. I have never regretted buying it, though I baby that old Compur 0 with the custom oversized cell-mounting threads.

One of my first purchases in large format was a Newton Nue-Vue camera that came with an Ilex Paragon 8-1/2" f/4.5. The camera was dreadful and I got rid of it fairly quickly, but I keep finding ways to keep that lens in service. Currently, it's the "portrait" lens on the Speed Graphic kit I'm putting together. I paid $200 for the camera and the lens in the middle 80's, so I guess I got a good deal.

The question of "how much would I pay" is harder to answer. I rarely consider lenses that cost over $300, and many of my lenses were $200 or less. I have a 47/5.6 (not XL, of course), 65/5.6, 90/5.6, and 121/8 SA's, 180 Symmar, 210 Sinaron, 240 Caltar Type Y, 12" Caltar, and the Paragon, and I spent over $300 for only two of these: the 90 and 121mm Super Angulons, both of which I bought about 20 years ago and both of which are ALWAYS in my bag. I guess that identifies my priorities.

Rick "who has never bought a new lens except for small format, and a few Ukrainian lenses that come used even when new" Denney

Dan Dozer
23-Jun-2010, 07:20
My first lens for my first 8 x 10 was a triple convertable Turner Reich that I got in a "box of lenses" for $100. The second was a 19" red dot artar for about $120. The third (use it quite a lot for portrait work) was 360 mm Heliar that cost me $130. Those were all about 4 years ago. After a while, I started to want more and began to pay more serious money - a 360 G Claron for about $650 and most recently a 360 mm Berthiot Eidoscope for $1200. I don't regret paying the money for the G Claron or the Eidoscope because they are great lenses. However, I do look back on the first three as great buys. My latest purchase was a stereo opticon petzval lens that cost me $30 (that was a great buy).

The only one I don't really use any more is the Turner Reich.

All of my "great buys" have been on Ebay with a lot of searching around. My two expensive lenses were through dealers.

Brian Ellis
23-Jun-2010, 08:01
I've only bought one new LF lens, which was my "prime" lens, a 210mm Schneider APO Symmar. I think it cost about $750 from Calumet about 17 years ago and I probably used it for 70% of all my LF photographs even though I've owned many different focal length lenses since then.

The most expensive LF lens I've ever bought was a new 300mm Schneider f5.6 (I think) in a Copal 3 shutter bought at the same time as the 210. That thing cost about $2,000 IIRC and being new to LF photography, I didn't realize how big and heavy an f5.6 lens in a Copal 3 shutter was going to be. When I took it out of the box I was shocked and immediately realized it was useless to me because I'd never carry it around. Since I returned it the same day I don't count it as a real purchase.

panchro-press
23-Jun-2010, 09:55
I never bought a new 8X10 or 11X14 lens in my life.
Early on, I read Weston's Daybooks. If he could do that with an old (even when he bought it) RR, I'd struggle with what I could find used.

Dave

Photomagica
23-Jun-2010, 12:21
John,
My first 8x10 lens was a Wollensak Apochromatic Raptar that came factory mounted in an Alphax shutter. I got it for $200 roughly 20 years ago. The Apochromatic Raptar's are Wollensak's equivalent of the Apo Artar and as far as I can tell they are equivalent in performance to the Artars. The only design difference is that the Apo Raptar has two cemented elements in each of two groups and the Artar's elements are air spaced. This means the Apo Raptar has a vanishingly small amount of flare.

Before I found the 14" I got a 10 1/4 in Apochromatic Raptar off of a surplus Xerox machine and mounted it in a #1 shutter for my 4x5 camera. This lens taught me that the Apo Raptars are blazingly sharp and very low flare.

A little later I bought the giant mahagony process camera that had been used for decades by the Calgary Albertan newspaper in order to get the lens. It came with an 16.5 inch Apochromatic Artar, uncoated and with a scratch on one element. I sent the elements out for multi-coating and went looking for a shutter. I was amazed when I asked Peter Jeune at the Camera Store in Calgary if he had anything and he handed me a plastic bag with an Alphax #4, completely in pieces.

In "another movie" as they say I'd been an instrument technician and machinist working on Zeiss planetaria and astronomical telescopes, so I looked at the shutter as an interesting challenge and had it running in a couple of hours. After machining the cells and mounting the lens in the shutter, its performance was terrible. It turns out that the lens came to me assembled wrong and I had to go through several combinations of turning elements around. When I got the combination right it performed brilliantly. BTW - the process camera became a 12x20 enlarger.

Interestingly the Apochromatic Raptars still don't have the cachet of Artars and can often be had for bargain prices. These are a great option if you are on a really tight budget, as I was when I put my first larger format kits together.

Right now I have a photographic project in mind that needs a fairly long lens on 8x10 and a high shutter speed - a 60th minimum, so I have a Copal #3 on my workbench awaiting cleaning and timing and a 480mm Apo Nikkor ready for me to machine barrels for it as soon as I get the cells to mount a friend's 12" Dagor out of the lathe.
Cheers,
Photomagica

John Kasaian
23-Jun-2010, 12:41
I have enjoyed reading all your responses!
Not to wobble too far OT but they reminded me of a post I read on another forum dealing with Olympic shooting sports (having just been trained as a shotgun instructor for the Boy Scouts, I was checking it out as a possible resource)
The thread was started, lamenting the discontinuation of a very expensive Italian air pistol. The OP made a remark warning not to bring up Izzys (IZH-46) which is a much lower priced Russian target pistol, which the OP referred to as an "agricultural impliment."
Of course someone had to bring it up!;)
A friendly-ish arguement erupted until an old time target shooter, struggling with english posted something to the effect that all this talk about models of air pistols was a silly waste of time, because it is not the gun which shoots "10s"(a perfect score) but the shooter.
It made me think back to this thread about LF lenses.
It isn't the equipment, but how we use it that makes a photograph a "10":)

Mark Sawyer
23-Jun-2010, 13:23
It isn't the equipment, but how we use it that makes a photograph a "10"

I'm of two minds on this... one is in complete agreement, firm in the belief that the best photographer in the world would be the one who could live up to 1% of the potential of a so-so lens. As Dave noted, Weston worked wonders with a cheap ($5?) Rapid Rectilinear.

But my other mind thinks you need to be "in harmony" with your lens. If you do big enlargements and are critical about detail, aberrations, etc., and need an accurate shutter, yeah, you'll need to spend a bit. If you're doing something that in your heart calls for a certain vintage lens, be it a Petzval, Pinkham, or Heliar, that's gonna cost you too. But if you simply contact print black-and-white and can work without a shutter, you can buy $50 lenses that will sing beautifully.

For my first ten years with an 8x10, my only lens was a 9.5" Velostigmat in a studio shutter. I think it was $35. I did landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and architecture, and it never held me back. I have around a hundred lenses now, but I still go back to that Velostigmat. I was using it yesterday, and if it became my only lens again, I'd be okay with it.

Robert Hughes
24-Jun-2010, 19:09
I'm using a Wollensak 10 1/4" Apo Raptar in barrel (cost? about $75 from the Dreaded) for my home-built 8x10 camera. Of all the problems with that format, image sharpness is the least of my worries.

shadowleaves
27-Jun-2010, 15:59
I have 6 LF lense. the purchase cost varies between $200 and $600, and the average cost is around $350.


your "prime" lens?
I bought my LF equiptment on an extremely tight budget and I got pretty lucky when it came to buying lenses, but when I got my 8x10 I had come to realize that I'd probably only have one lens to cover the format for quite awhile and that a lot was riding on my selection. Still on a tight budget (hey a box of 8x10 Arista Pro was pushing $40!) I looked at what was available that I could afford. It would have to be used of course but I never had any qualms about used LF gear---if it hadn't been for pros going digital I'd never even have a LF kit.
I wanted a "normal" lens and my options came down to a 12" Dagor, 14" Commercial Ektar, 375mm Ilex, Wollensak 1A, or Schnieder double convertible.
The much respected Dagor and Schnieder were "pushing it" at the top of the price range (well "over the top" of my budget) The price for the Wolly was very attractive but the idea of a triple convertable seemed for me a bit overwhealming--I wanted something simple and while having the option of different focal lengths was very attractive the thought of swapping elements while out in the field was a wee bit intimidating. That left the Ilex and the Commmercial Ektar. Shortly after I had a talk with a local commercial photographer who raved about Commercial Ektars he'd used in the 40's and 50's and that sealed the deal.
Of course Commercial Ektars back then were all over the board when it came to pricing--anywhere from $325 to $675 and with the added cost of film, holders, heavier tripod, larger filters, more chemistry and a lens board thrown into the pot I was a little reluctant about the prospect of adding an obligatory cla to the bill. I opted for a $400(or was it $450) lens from Midwest Photo because I trusted Jim there. I figured it was worth paying a little extra to get a good lens than paying a lot of $$ on a gamble (I have to point out that no 8x10 LF gear was available locally---nearly all my 8x10 equipment came off the internet without me actually being able to physically inspected the stuff first.)
It was a good call. After over 10 years I still have and use that 14" Commercial Ektar and the old No.5 Universal it came with has yet to indicate that it needs a cla.
I've got a few more 8x10 lenses these days (including a 10" Wide Field, that much envied 12" Dagor, a beaut of a 19" Artar, 240mm G Claron and a nifty little 159mmWA Wolly (although I never did get around to using one of those convertibles)
If anything the 14" Commercial Ektar remains one of my "prime" lenses and in hindsight is worth to me far more than what I paid for it.
What are your "prime" lenses? Do you feel like you've received your money's worth? Are you happy with it or do your feel the urge to chase "magic bullets? Or if you bought it cheap, did you eventually have to replace it with a more costly lens?

Michael Graves
27-Jun-2010, 16:38
As much hardware as I've burned through over the past 25 years, the one lens that has stayed with me since I worked at PhotoMark in Phoenix in 1986 is a 210mm Fujinon 5.6. I don't remember how much I paid for it, but I know it was less than $150.00. For me, at that time, that was a lot of money to burn on a toy. It is still my most heavily used lens, because it sees action on 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10.

jnantz
27-Jun-2010, 18:10
hi john

i don't know if i have a "prime lens"
everything i have ever purchased has been
used .. second hand, or even third hand.
some grabbed off of the front standard of a folder
or a box camera. i have some pricy lenses that i got
inexpensive, before they turned into expensive lenses, ( THANKS JIM! )

if i were to buy something again, that i use al the time ...
i probably couldn't afford to buy anything that i currently own ...

john

Ben Syverson
27-Jun-2010, 20:41
One of the best things about LF is that good lenses are so cheap. LF does not lend itself to "magic bullets," because even the lowly 135mm that came with your Crown Graphic will make an image that positively mops the floor with anything made by Hasselblad or Leica.

I have a sentimental attachment to my tiny collection of LF lenses, but if I lost them all tomorrow, it would cost me less than replacing my Canon 24mm.

Robert Hughes
28-Jun-2010, 10:04
I have a sentimental attachment to my tiny collection of LF lenses...
My partner's 13 year old son suffered serious brain damage as a baby, so has developmental delay issues including autism. One of his interesting peculiarities is his attachment to toys, stuffed animals, little plastic soldiers, etc... He assigns personalities to them. He doesn't feel good about letting go of his toys, because he's afraid their feelings will be hurt.

It makes me wonder if some people that have greater than normal devotion to their hobby may in fact have a degree of undiagnosed autism?

goamules
28-Jun-2010, 10:08
My partner's 13 year old son suffered serious brain damage as a baby, so has developmental delay issues including autism. One of his interesting peculiarities is his attachment to his toys, stuffed animals, little plastic soldiers, etc... He assigns personalities to them. He doesn't feel good about letting go of his toys, because he's afraid their feelings will be hurt.

It makes me wonder if some people that have greater than normal devotion to their hobby may in fact have a degree of undiagnosed autism?

No. Most collectors, or at least a lot of them, are devoted to their hobby. Be it electric trains, depression glass, coins. It's part of our hunter-gatherer makeup, I think.

Ash
28-Jun-2010, 10:49
Robert, you might need to reverse the argument.

It's a hording mentality. It follows the same pattern as psychologies like superstition or inductive reasoning.

I've known a number of people with disorders of one sort or another, but I've also met people (mostly those involved in private education or homeschooling) that force a diagnosis on anyone with any tiny symptom.

For the most part people have called it imagination when someone displays what might be symptoms of brain dysfunction.

I've assigned personalities to objects, anthropomorphizing things, and I'm terrible for collecting & not letting go. There's no doubt that I am a bit off-kilter, but I'm not autistic.

Please don't be offended nor think I'm questioning the autism in your partner's child, but if what you described was undiagnosed in someone else, people would consider that overactive imagination & emotive behaviour.

Scott Davis
28-Jun-2010, 11:50
If I had to pick just one lens and just one camera, it would be the Wollensak Vesta (or in my case, labeled Seneca Portrait Whole Plate f5) on my Century Master studio camera. In the field, my 240 Apo-Germinar f9 would be the go-to lens for whole plate. When I was shooting 8x10, the 14" Commercial Ektar was the go-to lens. My latest fixation is a 14x17, which I only have two lenses for at the moment - a Nikkor 450M and a 355 G-Claron. Well, not entirely true- I've got several other lenses that will fit it, but none are mounted on boards that will go on the camera.

Ben Syverson
28-Jun-2010, 14:32
It makes me wonder if some people that have greater than normal devotion to their hobby may in fact have a degree of undiagnosed autism?
Great. I have 5 lenses that I like, and now I'm autistic.

Acheron Photography
29-Jun-2010, 14:19
Great. I have 5 lenses that I like, and now I'm autistic.

Agreed. My first lens was a 90mm Super Angulon XL. That clearly makes me a bad person. My next was a 150 SS HM. OK, if it had been an XL too I would clearly have had to join the peace corps for five years to deal with the negative karma...

Robert Hughes
30-Jun-2010, 09:01
Buncha retards here! :p

William Barnett-Lewis
2-Oct-2010, 18:38
My primary 4x5 lens is a 1924 135/4.5 CZJ Tessar in a dial set Compur. I paid ~$30 for it at a camera show. I'd like to get a Wollensak 7" triple convertible in a functioning shutter someday, but my budget is such that isn't likely to happen anytime soon.

desertrat
2-Oct-2010, 19:39
When I recently bought an 8X10 Turner Reich triple, it was only my third LF lens and the first one that wasn't beat up and ugly looking. I started using it right away, and then started feeling guilty because I wasn't using my 12" Dagor anymore. For a while, I went back and forth between the Triple and the Dagor, trying to get a feel for which one I was most comfortable with. Now, I'm mostly using the Triple. I guess I must be really autistic!

eddie
3-Oct-2010, 04:12
my best/favorite lens is my Voigtlander 7B 14 inch f3 petzval lens. i saved it form the trash one day....really! got it for basically free (there was a box heading to the dumpster when i arrived...!)

it is hard to shoot with any other lens......but not impossible....:)

MIke Sherck
3-Oct-2010, 07:53
I have two lenses for 8x10; a 210mm Fujinon and a 16 1/2" RD Artar. My favorite lens was the 420mm (16 1/2") Fujinon L but in a quest to Make Things Lighter I sold it in favor of the Artar. I regret that; not that the Artar is not a good lens, I just prefer the "look" of the Fuji. I don't regret it enough to actually spend money fixing it, so it must not be that big of a deal.

For years my "other" 8x10 lens was the 210mm Fujinon which was my most-used 4x5 lens. It barely covered 8x10 with no room for movements but I liked the way it looked so when I got the chance I bought one of the older Fuji 210's which cover 8x10. I've used it a <i>lot</i> since, to the point where I can't really say which is my favorite.

Thanks to the miracle (!) of digital, I paid $330 for the Artar and about $260 for the Fuji. As another amateur for whom a box of 8x10 film is a significant expense, I'm really really grateful that the exodus to digital has made it possible for me to experience large format, which I otherwise would likely not have been able to afford.

Mike

Sirius Glass
3-Oct-2010, 07:59
I'm really really grateful that the exodus to digital has made it possible for me to experience large format, which I otherwise would likely not have been able to afford.

*2 and also medium format for me.

Steve