View Full Version : will my lens work or do I need another?

25-Mar-2012, 14:43
I've had an 8x10 camera a few years and I'm just now getting the courage to try it. It's old and wooden and unmarked (but there is a 25 on the bottom of it) Anyway, I had bought at one time an ilex shutter no. 5 for it and then a 480mm rodenstock lens (says 19in. apo-ronar on it as well). So this is the first time I've put it all together and tried to focus and I can only focus at quite a distance out. I'm more of a portrait girl but I do the occasional landscape type work. I'm wondering if I need another (wider?) lens for portrait work? I do work of hands, faces, full body type portrait. I'm very new to this so I'm researching things online as well - about focusing and things but I'm a bit lost still.
Thanks for any help you can offer.

Kevin Crisp
25-Mar-2012, 15:05
Extend the bellows all the way out, then measure from the back standard to the front and tell us the measurement.

Louis Pacilla
25-Mar-2012, 15:11
If your focusing at Portrait distance w/ a 19" lens you'll need somewhere between 25" to 30" of bellows draw. You'll need less for 3/4 portrait and more for a head and shoulder Portrait. There is a formula to figure this out but this is a approximation.

From the sounds of it your Bellows are to short for your 19" lens at Portrait distance. However It could be that you have a camera with ample bellows (like a Kodak 2d) but your missing the extension rail. This rail is critical if you wish to use all the bellows this type of camera has to offer.

Mark Sawyer
25-Mar-2012, 15:14
Better yet, put the lens on the camera, run the bellows all the way out, and see how close it focuses. It all depends on how far you can extend the bellows; the farther out they go, the closer you can focus.

And yes, you need more lenses. Lots and lots of them! :rolleyes:

25-Mar-2012, 15:14
Hi Jessica,

Some basic lens info...
To focus at infinity the distance from the front of the film to the front of the lensboard must equal the focal length of the lens (19" in this case).

As you focus on closer subjects, the lens moves away from the film, meaning that the camera bellows must get longer.

The maximum length of the bellows (the bellows "draw") determines the closest distance at which you can focus.

Your 19" (483mm) lens is probably too long for what you want to do.

A "normal" lens for an 8x10 camera would be around 300mm (roughly 12").
For portraiture you might want something slightly longer, but it's not terribly critical.

Regarding choice of focal length, using portraiture as an example...
Different focal lengths will make the face look different. Shorter focal lengths will make it look more three-dimensional,
with the nose appearing perhaps larger than life, and the skull receding. Longer focal lengths will flatten the entire visage.

Your APO-Ronar is a very high quality process lens.
That means it was designed for photographic reproduction work using a very large and precise camera.
It's a nice lens, but would not be my first choice for your type of work.

My 8x10 lens kit includes the following Nikkor W lenses:
240mm f/5.6
300mm f/5.6
360mm f/6.5 (yep, not 5.6)
and a Nikkor M 450 f/9.

Of those I would probably use the 360mm for portraiture (which I don't do).

The shortest lens in my database that works well with 8x10 is the Nikkor SW 150mm f/8. There may be shorter ones.

There are/were four major lens makes:
Fujinon (made by Fujifilm I think, no longer in production)
Nikkor (made by Nikon, no longer in production)
I don't think you'll find a "bad" lens from any of them, although some are better than others, and some are "classics".

If you change lenses you may need a new lens board. Your Ilex #5 uses a larger
mounting hole than modern 8x10 lenses in Copal #3 shutters, like those I listed.

Anyhow, you'll get lots of differing opinions on this subject. Hope you find the info you need.

Enjoy the camera.

- Leigh

Mark Woods
25-Mar-2012, 15:14
Hello Jessica, welcome to LF. I'm sure you'll have fun with it, as we all do. I use a 12" lens most of the time; for people and landscapes and still lifes. That is a 305mm lens. A lens around 300mm seems pretty ideal for me. When you work closer, on your hands for example, you won't have a bellows draw as large as you would with a longer lens. The lens I use most often is a Turner-Reich triple convertible: 12" 21" 28". I don't use the 21" if I can avoid it, but I use the 12" most of the time. I occasionally use the 28". Also, the lens is un-coated and I really like the look I get with it. Don't worry about the courage aspect, you can always expose another neg. ;-)

25-Mar-2012, 15:23
looks like it goes only to 18 1/2" max to the front from the very back.:confused:

25-Mar-2012, 15:26
Thanks for all this great information. I had no idea what I was doing when I bought the lens but I'll now look for a better one for what I need. This place is wonderful so far I'm learning a lot and look forward to updating as my journey continues LOL. Okay, now to search for a better lens.....:o and lens board? gosh....yikes! LOL

25-Mar-2012, 15:35
Given the 18.5" draw of your camera's bellows, my recommendation would be a to get a 300mm (12") focal length lens. You should be able to find a modern one in a good shutter for not too much money. The 300mm should be enough to get you started, and from there you can figure out whether you also need something wider or perhaps something longer. (My own favorite focal length lenses are 240mm for landscape work and 360mm for portraits, but that's my personal preference.)

Tim Meisburger
25-Mar-2012, 15:41
Yes, then your lens is too big. Your 19 inch lens focuses infinity (i.e. far away) at 19 inches. To focus closer than that you, counter-intuitively, need to extend the lens farther from the back. That is a pretty short bellows for an 8x10, so it is likely you are missing an extension rail, if the bellows at full extension look like they could expand further if the rail were longer.

Extension rails can be hard to find, but with the camera you have you can do a lot, you just need a lens with a shorter focal length; like 12" (300mm) or less. Someone here will sell you an appropriate lens (one that hass a big enough image circle to cover 8x10), I think, or at least point you in the right direction on ebay.


25-Mar-2012, 15:42
I agree with Ben. A 300mm (12") lens would be a good choice for that bellows draw.

If I may suggest...
When you find a likely candidate, stop by here for an evaluation before you buy it.
Most 300mm lenses will cover 8x10, but a few will not. I'd hate for you to buy something you can't use.

We have a very active classified section here. I think you must be a member for 30 days before you can access it.
After that, post a WTB (Want To Buy) there, stating what lens you want.
And of course perusing the For Sale ads might turn one up.

These are the lenses in my database that would work:
Fujinon CM-W 300/5.6
Nikkor W 300/5.6
Rodenstock Sironar-N 300/5.6
Rodenstock Apo-Sironar S 300/5.6 (expensive)
Rodenstock Apo-Sironar W 300/5.6 (rare and expensive)
Schneider Apo Symmar 300/5.6 (expensive)
Fujinon C 300/8.5

The Nikkor M 300/9 will barely work due to small image circle (325mm).
The Fujinon T 300/8 will definitely not work due to small image circle (213mm).

- Leigh

Mark Woods
25-Mar-2012, 15:50
I use a 210mm Repro-Clarion for my still lifes and have no trouble with coverage. Good luck.

25-Mar-2012, 15:56
thanks so much! I think I am indeed missing more rail so for now I'll work with it as it is and go for the lens suggestions for portrait work and the 12". I'm searching ebay- I like lenses that aren't perfect either, I like character so I'm not super picky. I haven't been on here long enough to see the for sale part (30 day requirement). I have a fellow apug member that is going to sell me a film holder that can do both wet and dry- I currently have none of those either. Kind of building it as I go I guess. LOL.

25-Mar-2012, 15:59
I would suggest doing some serious research on the wet plate process. It's nothing like film.

Kind of like comparing tennis and soccer. They both use balls, but they're very different sports.

- Leigh

25-Mar-2012, 16:06
thank you! it will be a while before I attempt anything like that- honestly the chemicals scare me at this point. I'm going to work on learning the camera and things first. (obviously I need it) LOL.

25-Mar-2012, 16:48
I'd also suggest that you post a picture (or several pictures) of your camera here. Even if the camera doesn't have any markings I'd bet someone here would be able to identify the make and model in very short order. With that information you'll have an easier time of finding things like lensboards or maybe even an extension rail to give you more bellows draw.

25-Mar-2012, 17:04
would this work for me?
-not sure how this one works, maybe that isn't what I want....

25-Mar-2012, 17:05
thanks benrains, I'll do that!

Jon Shiu
25-Mar-2012, 17:10
There are many older lenses that would also be suitable. The Turner Reich mentioned previously is good and inexpensive. The Kodak Commercial Ektar is a fine lens as is the Ilex Caltar. Other older lenses worth looking at are the Wollensak Velostigmat II and Raptar, and the Ilex Paragon. There are many other older and more modern lenses available in the 12" size, often under $250. Just be sure you can return it, because sometimes the shutters need servicing.


ps that zeiss doesn't have a shutter (lens is mounted in a barrel, so lenses without shutters are sometimes called barrel lenses), so not so good for portrait work.

25-Mar-2012, 17:11
those sound right up my alley....I will look at those too! thanks!

25-Mar-2012, 18:38
would this work for me?
It has no shutter.

Modern 300mm lenses are usually mounted in Copal #3 shutters.
A good older shutter is the Compur, although one of these might require a CLA (Clean Lube and Adjust).

Less common is Seiko. Even older are Alphax, Betax, Ilex, and a whole bunch of others.

- Leigh

25-Mar-2012, 18:57
thanks! My current one is an ilex - I'll see what I can find while I search. I have a few images of the camera too. sorry for the quality, they are phone shots...7084470845

Jim Jones
25-Mar-2012, 19:10
Jessica, the lens you linked to also doesn't seem to have any means of stopping down, which would greatly limit its usefulness in general photography. It might be nice for a few special applications, though. Keep looking and keep asking questions.

25-Mar-2012, 19:19
Jessica, the lens you linked to also doesn't seem to have any means of stopping down...
Aperture control is normally integral with the shutter, which is absent in this instance.

- Leigh

25-Mar-2012, 19:31
Aperture control is normally integral with the shutter, which is absent in this instance.

I don't understand. What's that little lever thingy at the bottom of the shutter with a scale attached?

25-Mar-2012, 19:33
I don't understand. What's that little lever thingy at the bottom of the shutter with a scale attached?
What are you talking about???

- Leigh

25-Mar-2012, 19:36
What are you talking about???

The second image in post #22. I clearly see an aperture indicator and scale on that shutter. I apparently am misunderstanding something. That happens to me all the time these days.

25-Mar-2012, 19:38
so something along the lines of this would make more sense?

25-Mar-2012, 19:40
i think maybe one of you was talking about the link I listed and one of the picture i posted? LOL the lens I have does have stops and things and the shutter has all that as well....

25-Mar-2012, 19:42
so something along the lines of this would make more sense?
That would likely be more suitable.

... You do realize the lens is in Japan, yes?

The shutter is decent, not the latest Copal series but a good usable one.

I don't have specs on the Fujinon L series, so I don't know the image circle diameter.
That's important, since it determines whether or not the lens will cover your 8x10 negative fully.

Perhaps I can find the spec.

The image circle is 343mm, which is adequate to cover 8x10 but will permit only modest movements.
For the work you described you would not likely need large movements, so this should work.

That lens is single-coated, meaning it may be more prone to flare than later multi-coated lenses, but
that's not a show-stopper. If there's light falling on the front of the lens, use a compendium lens hood.

With Fujinon lenses, the later multi-coated ones have the lettering on the outside of the barrel,
rather than on the inner ring as this one has.

Fujinon lenses are generally held in high regard.

- Leigh

25-Mar-2012, 19:49
The second image in post #22.
My comments were in regard to the evilpay lens she referenced, which has no shutter, not to the lens she already has.

- Leigh

25-Mar-2012, 19:55
wow thank you for finding that lens info for me!

25-Mar-2012, 20:00
Hi Jessica,

Did you catch my comment about it being in Japan?

- Leigh

25-Mar-2012, 20:19
thanks yeah, that's holding me back...

25-Mar-2012, 20:45
I have a few images of the camera too. sorry for the quality, they are phone shots...
I just looked at your photos. Neat looking camera. I have no idea what it might be.

One point of concern...
Your front standard is installed upside down. The brass rail should be on the bottom, and the hook latch on the top.
As currently configured the lensboard could quite easily fall out.

On edit:
I may be wrong about the standard being upside down.
I just encountered an avatar image from one of our members with what appears to be the same camera,
and it has the brass rail at the top of the standard. I can't see the bottom.
If it's correct, it's a poor design, or else there's some aspect of the assembly that's not visible.

- Leigh

Oren Grad
25-Mar-2012, 21:42
thanks yeah, that's holding me back...

Actually, I've had good experience with that seller, and items usually arrive from reputable sellers in Japan pretty quickly. However, I'd recommend holding out for a lens with larger coverage than the Fujinon L. 300's with ample coverage for 8x10 are abundant - it shouldn't be very difficult to find one.

Jim Galli
25-Mar-2012, 22:13
Jessica, I think your camera is probably a Conley. That was a brand marketed by Montgomery Wards in the teens which was probably made by and shared many features with the Gundlach Korona cameras.

You might get lucky and find a rear rail for it somewhere, sometime, but I wouldn't drive myself crazy trying. You can work within the constraints of what you currently have well enough.

I'm going to contact you off line about a possible lens.

Frank Petronio
25-Mar-2012, 22:21
I bet you could swap that lens for a shorter one and be square.

As far as helpful advice, remember to filter it. Or tally up the different opinions and be democratic about it.

Tim Meisburger
26-Mar-2012, 00:34
I just want to note that I have bought a camera from Astrosmith in Japan four or five years ago and was very pleased, and he has a good reputation on this forum, so I would not be concerned about buying from him. Whether that is the best choice in lenses for your situation I'm not sure.

26-Mar-2012, 05:44
thanks everyone! I agree about the design issue of the camera, yesterday I had it sitting flat on the deck laying on my belly to try focusing around the yard and it went way out there and I realized it would keep going. YIKES! I will have to be careful. Maybe hubby can make some kind of safety catch for it. messaged you back Jim, thanks! thanks for the feedback on the ebay too.

Mark Woods
26-Mar-2012, 12:27
Also, measure your lens board. You may be able to find an older lens (or newer) already mounted on a board that will fit your camera. I've been shooting a lot lately with pre-teen lenses and really like them. (Last century)

26-Mar-2012, 12:46
I have a 6x6 looks like by measuring for lens board. That should be an easy one to find I think for size.

Mark Woods
26-Mar-2012, 13:27
One of the people here can tell you the cameras that use that size.

Leonard Robertson
26-Mar-2012, 16:14
If you know an amateur woodworker, you could probably have a functional front extension track made. Keep in mind you don't absolutely need the gear racks for focusing on the front extension. You just need a place to "park" the front lens standard at close to the lens focus point, then fine focus with the rear geared focus. When using a 19" lens focused close, it will be awkward reaching the front focus knobs anyway.

If you can't find a stray woodworker who will work for beer, a real camera hackers approach would be to clamp your camera bed to a 36 inch or so length of board. Pull the front standard off the camera bed and clamp it to the board on top of a spacer block equal to the thickness of the camera bed. Then use your rear focus. The setup will be clunky and heavy, but you will let you play with your 19" lens around the house and in the backyard.

But I agree you do need to be looking for a shorter FL lens. I would hang onto the 19" though, until you are sure you are happy with the perspective and working distance of the shorter FL.


26-Mar-2012, 17:23
thanks! I was finding it a reach toward the end for sure. I think there is a lens from another member here that will work and I'll keep the other for now too. Hubby can probably make me something if I need, he's pretty good with that stuff. My grandpa would have made it in no time = he was a master woodworker and lapidary man but alas he's no longer with me. I'm getting the lens worked out, film holders and then I will get to play.... I'll be sure to post my experiments LOL

Jim Jones
26-Mar-2012, 18:30
One of the people here can tell you the cameras that use that size.

Others probably have more information, but some cameras using 6x6 boards were B&J 8x10 view, Grover 8x10 view, and Eastman 8x10 view. These boards are 1/2" thick. The rabbet can be cut well enough on a table saw with a fence. The boards can also be built up from 1/4" plywood, MDF, or many other materials. For temporary testing, even foamcore might work OK.