View Full Version : LF Newbie - Gear Questions

6-Jan-2012, 15:55
I just purchased an 8x10 Calumet view camera on a monorail. I don't believe it's going to arrive with any film slides so I'm wondering what exactly I need to buy. Will any 8x10 film holder work? I also believe it's coming with a single lens and lens board. I have searched on Calumet's web site and they don't seem to sell 8x10 cut film holders or lenses for 8x10 cameras. I'm hoping to find someone experienced to answer some basic questions like this. In the meantime, I have ordered a Large Format book that was highly recommended...so I hope to keep my newbie questions to a minimum.


John Koehrer
6-Jan-2012, 16:02
8X10 DDS/double dark slide/film holder. One sheet per side.
Sources Here when you can get into the classifieds, KEH, some other photo dealers and of course, Epay. Someone posted recently a NEW pair of 8X10 holders are $100.00 pr
You're also going to need a focusing cloth(black t-shirt), tripod, light meter and cable release.

John NYC
6-Jan-2012, 18:00

Robert Jonathan
6-Jan-2012, 18:15
Yes they do sell them:
http://www.calumetphoto.com/eng/product/fidelity_8x10_film_holder/fi8100 - one holder
http://www.calumetphoto.com/eng/product/fidelity_8x10_double_sheet_film_holder_two_pack/ls8100k - two pack

Toyo also sells 8x10 film holders: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/61078-REG/Toyo_View_180_908_8x10_Sheet_Film_Holder.html

BTW, Calumet does sell large format lenses, but I wouldn't buy NEW lenses, even though I can afford them. Look for them used.

Go to KEH.com, click on large format, click fixed focal length lenses, and you'll see a whole bunch of nice lenses for decent prices. Look for Caltar, Schneider, Rodenstock, Fuji, or Nikon LF lenses. They'll all be fine for getting started.

A 300mm lens is considered to be a "Normal" lens on 8x10, like a 50mm on a 35mm SLR.

Mounting a lens on a lens board isn't all that difficult. If you need help, I'm sure you'll get answers here on this forum.

Good luck.

MIke Sherck
6-Jan-2012, 18:20
There are lots of resources for those new to large format; this site is one of the best in the world, if not the best.

You'll need a lens which covers 8x10. A lens with a focal length of 300mm or so is considered "normal" by most folks but in practice anything from 240mm to 360mm can be considered "normal", depending on how you feel about it. Lenses for large format come either mounted in a shutter or not ("in barrel", so to speak.) Since in many cases large format exposures are 1 second or longer, a shutter sometimes isn't an absolute necessity but they sure are handy. Also, since large format gear never seems to actually wear out, you can find lenses from the 1880s (or earlier) to those made yesterday. Sometimes the older ones even cost more, depending on fads and fashions of the moment. Generally, however, any lens made in the last 40 years or so is considered "modern" and will be at least single-coated if not multi-coated (helps increase contrast, reduce reflections, etc.) Older lenses will be uncoated, which isn't necessarily bad. It's just a different look. You don't necessarily need a collection of lenses: I have two for 8x10, 210mm and 420mm. I know people who are satisfied with one lens. Others who need half a dozen. We're all a little different. Some of us are way, way different...

Lenses are mounted onto lens boards, which are a specific size for each make of camera and may have other features as well. Most lens boards, though, are wooden and generally square. They're easy to find used and even easier to make, even if you're all thumbs (or like me, all toes.) You want one per lens: swapping lenses between lensboards is a false economy and will drive you nuts quickly, causing you to drop your favorite $300 lens for want of a $30 lensboard, you cheapskate! Lensboards have holes in them, roughly in the center, sized to fit particular shutters. Modern shutters are the Copal 0, 1, and 3, smallest to largest. Older shutters are all over the place, size-wise. I usually wait until I have the lens, measure how big a hole it needs, and then make my own lens board. But I'm just crazy like that. Others just look on the web: Hey, I need a 6" square lensboard with a hole for an Ilex #4 shutter!

You'll need film holders; they hold two sheets of film, one on each side. 8x10 film holders have been standardized for many years now; only really, really old plate holders should be avoided. The major manufacturer stopped making them a few years ago; sales had declined to the point where it didn't pay to keep the factory open, I guess. Not a problem: new film holders are still available, although expensive, and older holders are plentiful. Film holders come in two styles: newer plastic ones and older wooden ones. Most folks like the newer plastic ones; personally, I go for the older wooden ones. They're lighter, usually, and I'm lazy. There's a flap of tape or fabric over one end of the film holder; it sometimes wears out and has to be replaced. That's easy to fix. Watch out for warped (no longer flat) film holders, particularly wooden ones. I've never seen one but I'm sure they're out there. Nor do you want film holders with missing slides, cracked or with holes in them; sometimes it's tough getting a slide from a different holder to fit right as a replacement. You'll want at least three film holders (giving you six photographs before you have to go back to a darkroom to reload.) Six is better, a dozen is hog heaven. I've never paid more than $20 for a used wooden film holder but maybe I've been lucky. Newer plastic ones go for $50 or more each; brand new ones I've seen for $100 each. They come up here on occasion but Ebay usually has a number for sale. KEH and Midwest Photo (mpex.com, tell Jim 'Hi!') are also possibilities.

You'll need a good tripod, one easily able to carry the weight of your camera. Do not scrimp here! A wobbly camera on a lightweight tripod is a blasphemy to be cursed in triplicate. Wooden tripods are easier on your hands and fingers, if you live or photograph in freezing weather but I prefer aluminum personally. I have hot water pipe insulating foam wrapped around the legs, to keep from freezing my tongue to them (that's a joke, son!) (I didn't say it was a good one...) :)

You need a focusing cloth (also called a 'dark cloth',) to make it darker so you can see the image on the ground glass easier. Some people use black t-shirts or sweatshirts, some people buy them, others like me go to the fabric store and whine at our significant others until the sew them into a focusing cloth for us. Or we sit in front of the idiot box and watch something stupid while we sew it together ourselves. I did that, 15 years ago, and it still works fine and I only poked half a million holes in my fingers! And a few in my leg. And a couple... never mind. On second thought, it might be a good idea to turn the TV off... In addition to the focusing cloth you may want a magnifier, to help with critical focusing. These are often called 'loupes', mostly I think so manufacturers can charge more for them.

You'll want some way of measuring exposure. Most of us have a dedicated exposure meter but if you have a smaller format camera (for example, 35mm,) which can do the metering for you, they work fine. Look through it as though you were going to take a picture and note the aperture and shutter settings, then transfer them to your view camera shutter. If you're really hard-core, you just look at the sky with your hard glinty eyes, screw up your mouth, spit downwind, and set the exposure. If you use this methodology you are not required to change your underwear every morning BUT you are required to be downwind of all other bystanders at all times. Your nickname will be 'Crunchy' or 'Crusty', depending.

You need film. Kodak is great film but really, really expensive (like, $5 per sheet expensive. Ouch!) Ilford is also great film, not quite so expensive. Little eastern European film manufacturers sell for even less; the downside is that they don't have the same level of quality control and their film formulas may be quite old. Sometimes that's an advantage, so don't rush to judgment. The Chinese also make film but the only place I know of to get it is Ebay. I've never used it. They make some darn nice cameras, though. Personally, I like Ilford more than anyone else right now. Your mileage may vary.

This stuff, by the way, is the easy part and fairly non-partisan Wait until we get to talking about developing your film... heh-heh-heh.

Have fun!


6-Jan-2012, 18:44
The single most important parameter of a lens for 8x10 is the diameter of the Image Circle (IC).
That value is given on the datasheets for all modern lenses. It may be more difficult to find for older glass.

The IC is the diameter of the light cone at the film plane when the lens is focused at infinity, that being its closest approach to the film.
Any shorter focus distance requires the lens to move away from the film, thus increasing the diameter of the IC.

The IC is usually given at a lens aperture of f/22, although for some faster lenses it may be at f/16. It gets smaller as the aperture is opened up.

The diagonal of an 8x10 film is ~325mm (actually a bit less), so that's the minimum IC you should look for. Many modern lenses will not cover 8x10.

A larger IC will enable you to use the rise/fall, tilt, and shift movements that are available on your camera.
These movements give you a level of control over the image that can't be achieved by simpler cameras.

I suggest you look over the available lenses at KEH (www.keh.com).
Click on Large Format at the left, then on Large Format again, then on Fixed Focal Length Lenses.
One nice thing about the KEH listings is that they tell you the largest format with which a particular lens can be used, like (4x5) or (8x10).
Looking through their selection will give you an idea of what's available.

If you decide to buy any lens(es) from KEH, be sure the description includes the word 'CAPS'. This indicates that the lens caps are included.
The caps are important because they afford the only protection for the glass.

- Leigh

John Koehrer
7-Jan-2012, 13:27
Apparently X-ray film can be used, for starting out it's less $$/sheet.
I believe there are a thread or two right here.

John NYC
7-Jan-2012, 13:42
Will any 8x10 film holder work? I also believe it's coming with a single lens and lens board. I have searched on Calumet's web site and they don't seem to sell 8x10 cut film holders or lenses for 8x10 cameras.


Or you can buy used here on the forum. I prefer to buy my holders new since dust and light leaks are things that are very important to avoid. I keep my holders pristine. The only time they are not in large ziplock bags are the few moments they are being loaded, unloaded or on the back of the camera for a shot.

Well cared-for holders will last a long time. Think about how many you need. 2-3 is probably enough to start with. That is 4-6 shots.

John Kasaian
7-Jan-2012, 19:21
For used holders call Midwest Photo. The wooden Graflex "made for Eastman Kodak" are good. Plastic Lisco Regals are good too. Always check used holders with photo paper for leaks first. I think 3 holders minimum is a good start (add more as needed, or oportunity presents)
Film---Freestyle Arista.edu Ultra 100 is a good place to start. Funky reciprocity characteristics but nearly half the price of FP-4+ and an overall excellent film if you don't push it to the limits.
Lens--does your camera come with a lens board? You'll llikely want a lens that fits, but if not you'll find older single coated lenses quite good and far more economical than new. I like my 14" Commercial Ektar, 240mm G Claron, 10" Wide Field Ektar and 19" Artar. I think Wollensak Ia triple convertibles are good deals as are 15" Ilex Acutons. If you're camera dosen't come with a lensboard, you;ll have to find one that will fit the lens/shutter of your choice.
Good luck & welcome to 8x10! Have fun!

7-Jan-2012, 19:23
There is a calumet photo store in Escondido. They may still stock large format supplies...or, they may not.

Keep an eye on the classifieds here. Many good items trade at fair prices every day.