View Full Version : Set of Lenses for 8"x10" comments please!

Anselm Gademann
1-Feb-2004, 09:15
Hi there!

I am looking into buying some new lenses and acessories for my 8"x10" camera. To date I have a 305mm Repro Claron which worked ok until the last time I took the camera out for a spin. My shutter broke and it wouldn't work anymore. I was trying to fix it, but it only works in timer mode. Getting it properly fixed is most likely more expensive then buying a used one of the same quality.

Additionally to that I also wanted to expand my lens capabilities towards the wide angle and the telephoto area. Therefore I am looking into buying 3 lenses. At the moment I consider two option which I intend to buy over the next year or two.

Option one would consist of the Nikkor SW120mm/8, the Fujinon A240mm and the Fujinon C450mm. The other option would be the Schneider SSXL 150mm, Fujinon C300mm and the Fujinon C600mm.

Taking into account that the first option is cheaper it is the more likely choice. I have read a lot of good things about the Fuji lenses, but haven't heared too much about the Nikkor SW120. I also intend to use them on my 4"x5" camera, therefore I don't want them to be too heavy.

I also read a lot about the Schneider SSXL 110mm and people quoting that this would cover 8x10 as well?! Taking the quoted image circles by either Nikkor or Schneider, the Nikkor just so covers 8x10 (312mm), while the Schneider wouldn't be able to do that at all (288mm)? Does anyone have any information on how the two companies determine the coverage?

Additionally to the lenses I am also looking into getting a tripod (Maybe the gitzo 1548(GT)) and a backpack (Super Trekker)? Any suggestions?

Thanks for all the help in advance.

John Kasaian
1-Feb-2004, 09:38

What kind of shutter is your Repo Claron in? If you like that lens, consult SK Grimes' shop, or another reputable repair shop for an estimate or possible new shutter before giving up on it. It might not be as expensive as you fear. If not you could replace it with a G-Claron. I really like my 240 G Claron ---extremely reasonable for such an excellent lightwieght lens. If you're lucky, Robert White might even have a brand new one left in stock for you. I think he still has the 305mm.

For a long lens, you might want to take a look at the Nikkor 450mm M. An excellent lens and usually reasonably priced on the used market.

I was looking for a new backpack for my 8x10. Through this forum, I was informed that Freestyle has the super trekker on sale(any color you want as long as its green) so I went that route. It is very nice(and big) but I haven't gotten around to a serious test yet. On sale, it was about $100 more than the f.64, but since I'm paranoid about equiptment failure while sking I opted for the "heavy duty" Lowe. It might be worth checking Freestyle out. I think the best price I found for the f.64 was at B and H.



Michael Mutmansky
1-Feb-2004, 10:26

Do you like to have room for movements in your lenses (to correct perspective, and to tilt the focus plane)? If so, the 120 Nikkor and the 110 SSXL are not suitable lenses to have as your primary wide angle lens. I consider their use to be more for special circumstances. (That is, unless you have a strong very-wide angle preference.)

The jump in angle of coverage from 120 to 240 is quite large, in the first option. Are you going to get another 300 mm lens? If so, I would suggest that you get a 210mm lens instead of the 240mm. If you aren't going to get a 300, then the 240 would work, but the jump to 450 from there is also a reasonably large jump.

The same goes for the second set of options.

If you specifically want a three lens set, then I think you might want to either reduce the spread of focal lengths you want to cover, or shift it toward either the wide end, or the long end, depending on your shooting preference.

The 150SSXL is a fantastic wide angle lens for 8x10, but I haven't purchased one myself yet. I have used a friend's over the years, but I find that I don't shoot as wide with the 8x10 as I do with the 4x5. Not really sure why. I have occasionally used the 110SSXL on the 8x10, but that is really only under special circumstances.

I use a 210mm lens a lot on the 8x10, and 305 G Claron, 450 and 600 Fuji C lenses. I tend to shoot detail photos more than general landscape, so I use the longer lenses more than the average person would. However, sometimes even shooting detail work in close quarters requires a wide angle lens, so I never go into the field without the 210. That's the set of lenses I use regularly, and if I had to not take one with me, I'd leave the 600 at home, rather than skip one in the midle, unless I know I needed the longer focal length for the subject I plan to shoot.

My ideal three lens setup would probably be 210-305-450 if it were centered around normal, 150-210(or 240)-360 if weighted to wide angle, and 305-450-600 if weighted toward the long end.

However, 360 is a difficult focal length, because there was only one lens made in a Copal #1 (Fuji 360A). That lens is very difficult to find, and can be very expensive. It's a great lens, though. Otherwise, you are into Copal #3 lenses, with their added bulk and weight.

For that reason, I will adjust my three lens recommendations from 'ideal' to a more easily travelled set of 210-305-450, 150-210-305, and 305-450-600. In these cases, the only lens in a Copal #3 is the Fuji 600C. The rest can all be Copal #1 lenses.

I carry my 8x10 around on my back a lot, and away from a vehicle typically, so I consider size and weight important. If you don't then you will want to consider my recommendtaions with that perspective.


Anselm Gademann
1-Feb-2004, 11:16
Hi guys!

Thanks for the replies so far. John, concerning the Shutter on my Repro Claron, it is a Compur Shutter. The thing is that I can actually get the same lens mounted for approximately 300$, which is most likely not very much more then getting it put in another shutter :(. Taking into account that it does release again, just with a time delay is not too bad. I guess I will get it fixed when I need it or I get another one.

Michael, yes I do like some movement if possible. I realised from the specs, that the movements for the Nikkor would be very limited and that was also the reason why I didn't even consider the 110XL before reading up here. I also was thinking about getting something in the 210mm range, but when you look through the specs again, the movements would be very limited except for the very expensive and bulky models (?), at least when going through the specs. Could you recommend something in the 210 region which has a certain amount of movement? Actually I just saw that the new Symmar L is covering 321mm, which wouldn't be too bad, and the price tag is signifficantly less than the 210XL.

Thanks for the help so far Anselm

tim atherton
1-Feb-2004, 11:23

If you can find one, one usally fair priced option is a Kowa/Compur/Kyvyytar 210 f9/6.8 either in barrel and put in a copal 1 shutter, or already moutned in one.

Small, lightweight, very very sharp and covers around 380mm to 400ish at f16/22. (the compur may cover even more)

Main problem is finding one (they seem to be getting rarer) and it doesn't have filter threads (at least not the Kowa). + is it makes a very decent convertable 370mm...

Christopher Condit
1-Feb-2004, 11:26
I have an SSXL 110mm, and yes, it covers 8x10 adequately. With it I have a G-Claron 240mm and a Fuji C 450mm.

I bought the 110 for my 4x5 camera, where it gets a lot of use; it was a pleasant surprise that it works with the 8x10 as well. However, I must say, it is *really* wide, more of a specialty lens than a workhorse. Unless you are an ultrawide freak (and there's nothing wrong with that, I've been there), I would suggest a somewhat longer shortest lens.

Were I to buy more lenses, the next would be the Fuji C 600mm, followed by maybe a SSXL 150mm. I hesitate over the 150mm because it would be my first lens requiring filters >67mm.


Ralph Barker
1-Feb-2004, 11:34
Ah, choices, choices - the joys of large format. ;-)

I think my suggestion, Anselm, would be to distill the choices to a couple of alternatives for each of the focal length ranges you're considering, and then be flexible about responding to the best deals that pop up. I tend to categorize alternatives first into "used classics" and "modern designs". Used classics tend to be less expensive, but may require additional maintenance or repair prior to use.

I have the 110mm SS XL, and it's a fabulous lens on 4x5. It barely covers 8x10, however, with a fair amount of fall-off in the corners, and no room for movements. I also have the 150mm SS XL, which is great on 8x10, although large (95mm filters) and heavy. As others have noted, the Schneider 240mm G-Claron is also an excellent, slightly-wide lens on 8x10, and is very small and light. In the 450mm range, I opted for the Nikkor 450 M, but the Fuji C gets good comments, as well. Whether you need a lens in the 300mm range is really a matter of how you see things. In both 4x5 and 8x10, I tend to either go wide, or slightly long, and seldom use a "normal" focal length on either format. Interestingly, on 4x5 my 110mm seems to get used most, with a 210mm Symmar coming in second, while on 8x10 it's the 150mm SS XL and then the 450mm.

In my case, I've mounted all of the lenses on 110mm Toyo boards, so I can use them on my Toyo 45AX in the field, and then use adapter boards on the 8x10s - either a Tachihara double-extension in the field, or a Toyo 810G in the studio.

tim atherton
1-Feb-2004, 12:01
also, hard to find because they are sought after, is one of the discontinued Rodenstock APO-Sironar W 210's - covers about 352mm

Michael Mutmansky
1-Feb-2004, 12:03

There are a few other items that you may want to clarify for the group before specific recommendations can be made. What is your printing intent with the 8x10 images (chromes for enlargement, contact prints, b+W enlargements). If you want to make enlargements, then how large?

You mention using a backpack, so I presume that you are interested in leaving the car behind at least some of the time, correct?

Where are you located? This can make a big difference in what lenses and services you are able to get your hands on.

If you are doing contact prints primarily, absolute sharpness and the most current coatings are generally not going to be too terribly important, especially if you print with an alternative process.

In that case, the 210 G Claron is a lens that many people use with moderate movements, and it is typically inexpensive and small, so it works as a good field lens. The coverage of this lens is considerably larger than the published coverage, and with proper use, this lens can make nice sharp images all the way into the corners. For contact printing, this lens is equal to the best out there.

The Kowa/Computar/Kyvytar lenses have greater coverage for more movement, and are sharper in the corners, also. I would not hesitate to enlarge an 8x10 from one of these lenses to 20x24 or possibly even larger. I've only gone to 20x24 at this point. Single coated, like the G Claron.

There's a thread on the 210SSXL from a few days ago, you can see my comments on that lens there.

Personally, I wouldn't get the 450 M Nikkor because I don't believe there is any advantage to that lens over the 450 C Fujinon. When all things are created equal, I will always pick the lighter, smaller lens to use. With 8x10, you will be using the center of the image mostly, and I don't think that the performance of either one will make any difference in your final image.

I have the f64 backpack, and it serves as a good 8x10 pack, with adequate room for 4-5 lenses, meter, and about 4 filmholders. I wish it had room for more holders. It is merely an adequate backpack, however, and really doesn't compare in quality to a good 'real' backpack in term of adjustability and comfort. I haven't tried the Lowe bag, so I can't comment on that.

Anselm Gademann
1-Feb-2004, 12:29

ok here to clarify things. Pictures taken with the 8x10 will be mainly b&w and maybe a chrome from time to time. I did some cyanotype with the pictures I took so far and I am planning to maybe do some other processes in the near future. The b&w I will not enlarge, at least not at the moment, and concerning chromes, just finished my studies and having my first job just doesn't allow it to spend that type of money on film. If I will do chromes I will most likely not go any bigger than 20x24 either.

Concerning the backpack, yes I am planning to leave the car behind, maybe not for a 20 mile hike, but I don't mind walking. I haven't really travelled with my 8x10, but I went to Yellowstone with my 4x5. One of my problems is that either camera is a monorail (both DeVere) and not a field camera. In Yellowstone I just carried it around in my hand with one lens attached, the other lens and the film holders were in a standard backpack and the tripod was on my shoulder. Taking into account that I also had my Nikon gear in the bag shows that a normal backpack won't do anymore. The film holders for 8x10 would just use up too much space. I don't mind carrying the camera around in my hand when it is less then 5 miles and I have stuff to photograph on the way, but else I would prefer a way to have it more comfortable.

I am located in Germany, but I haven't found a dealer which gives me better prices than Badger or B&H. Especially with the exchange rate of the dollar at the moment! I also checked the prices in the UK (Robert White and Grays of Westminster (Nikkor)), but taking into account that I have to pay an additional 17.5%VAT because I am European puts them as high as 50% more expensive than the US shops.

Concerning the shorter lenses I also intended them as an addition for my 4x5 camera. At the moment I have a 90mm Schneider Super Angulon and a 150mm Rodenstock Sironar. Therefore I need them to be sharp enough to do chromes.

I hope that gives you some more insight to what I intend to do with all the things.

Thanks for the help so far


Ed Burlew
2-Feb-2004, 19:43
I find the 155 and the 240 are the most used of my set then a 450 or 480. The 210 is a monster size wise but terriffic I could get by with a 210 and a 300. THe 120 is hard to shoot with and no movement is possible. I like depth of field aso I like wide. The 155 give the wide look the 210 and 240 do not. The 300 is a terriffic focal length. Well just get a few adn keep shooting.

Michael Mutmansky
3-Feb-2004, 07:32

I suspect that the G Claron will be the easiest lens to find in Germany. If you are able to buy used through Ebay or some of the shops in the US, you will be able to find some of the other lenses mentioned, including the Computar and Kowa lenses if you search hard enough.

I think these lenses are suitable for your purposes, but some people don't like the somewhat limited movement of the 210 G Claron, and also the fact that they need to use it stoped down to maintain sharpness into the corners. If you were planning to do a lot of enlarging, I would say that you need to find a different lens, and probably stick to 240mm if you want it to be a small lens.

One problem with using an 8x10 lens on a 4x5 camera is that they are typically much heavier, and may cause some issues to support them properly on a smaller camera. Additionally, the large image circle just about mandates that you use a hood or something else to limit the amount of light that is passsed into the camera but is not part of the image on the film. This will cause a tremendous amount of internal flare, which will result in loss of contrast, color saturation, and may even look like a light leak, if the conditions are bad enough.

For thoes reasons, I generally try to not cross over the lenses too much, especially at the wide end. For example, if I did have the 150SSXL, I wouldn't use it as a nortmal on my 4x5, because of these issues. I'd use a lens that has a much smaller IC, and is smaller and lighter to go along with it. The IC of the 150SSXL is so large that I bet it would be nearly impossible to hit the edges using normal movements on a 4x5. Even if you used indirect rise to increase the movement, you would have a hard time hitting the edge without the bellows interfering.

This is the situation where the 120 Nikkor and the 110SSXL are actually better, because they are not truely 8x10 lenses, and they have a smaller size and IC that become reasonable to use on a 4x5.

I have a 210 G Claron, and the 210 Computar. I use the Computar on the 8x10, and since it has replaced the G Claron, I have been planning to put the G Claron on ebay eventually. (I have trouble parting with camera equipment). If I were to do it again, I would still be using the Computar for the 8x10, as I'm very pleased with the performance so far.