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Thread: 8x10 Camera mainly for portraits

  1. #11
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Camera mainly for portraits

    Most of what you want IMO would be attainable with a simple Kodak 2D or old Korona, etc. and a ~300mm Tessar lens. My first 8x10 was a Gundlach and 300mm f/4.5 Radar lens and the DOF was plenty short.

    But the "focusing after the sheet is inserted" is a real issue. Two ways around it - first idea, invest in a good stand-alone rangefinder and mount it to the top of the camera. Once you decide roughly on a focus distance, match the camera focus and the RF focus, since they are obviously uncoupled. Then, if your subject moves, the RF will show it and you can move or tell the subject to move slightly. Still quite finicky I would say, but I have seen good results from this from others. Second idea - a head brace of some sort. I have in the past used a simple $25 microphone boom stand to simply poke the subject's head, giving them a reference point. You could also use the top part of a guitar floor stand duct taped to the mic stand to make a simple brace for their neck...but that might be a bit much.

    Really the question I have then is, do you truly need 8x10? Ask yourself why - are you planning on printing larger than 20x24? Are you scanning or darkroom printing? Do you want color or b&w? Will your budget really be enough? IMO, even using my 4x5 Linhof Technikas with RF focusing, focus can be hard at the widest apertures (and you have to move your eye to the viewfinder to frame which can be difficult). A SLR is interesting but I haven't personally gotten a chance to try it. Also, lens choice - do you want headshots? Upper body? Environmental? Each will be different and bring different issues with regard to focus accuracy, DOF, etc. Anyway, since I am primarily printing in my darkroom, 4x5 is more than enough for up to 20x24, which is as large as I can currently print. My larger cameras are exclusively for contact printing, at least for now.
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  2. #12
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Camera mainly for portraits

    I would get a TLR 4x5, a Gowland, Keith Camera, Cambo.... Add a reflect binocular hood if it doesn't have one. Today's films are much finer grained than the old days. Moving up to 8x10 in this case is going to be a huge increase in cost, as in 10K $ or more, if you can find one of the Gowland's for sale.
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  3. #13

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    Re: 8x10 Camera mainly for portraits

    Like you I never liked 4x5. Recently I realised it was because 4x5 was just too small for me, I needed something bigger for portraits and so I concluded that 8x10 was the way to go for me. I can only applaud you going the same way, but you'll need more budget than €1000. A lot more!

    My Sinar P 8x10 cost me €1200 on Ebay, a 360mm €700, a 480mm €1000, and each of these 3 items can be found on Ebay for much more than what I paid. Then you'll need sheet film holders €75 each (if you're lucky like I was), a new focusing loupe €85, dark cloth €50, cable release €25, a very heavy tripod €350 used (again, if you're lucky to find one for that price). Do you already own a light meter? I just bought a (new) Pelicase 1654 for €470 just to store my 8x10 set... It all adds up, I've spent over €4000 already, you can do the math.

    Then there's running costs. Fomapan B&W is €2,50/sheet, but Ilford film will cost you €5 a sheet. If you want to shoot colour, Kodak Porta 400 (colour) is €30- a sheet and the lab will charge you €12-15 to develop, that's €45 per click. Ouch!

  4. #14

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    Re: 8x10 Camera mainly for portraits

    For whatever my experience is worth, I have shot hundreds of wet plate portraits as well as many on 8x10 film, and the only times I have had focus issues have been when I have done wet plate exposures of many seconds rather than use strobe. In other words, it has not been hard for subjects to remain still for the couple of seconds needed to insert the holder, etc., when the exposure is then basically instantaneous (and with film it has been a Packard, so maybe 1/20 sec.). I have 4x5 slrs, and they are indeed great, but any system designed to get beyond focusing on the ground glass at the 8x10 size seems like it would be either very expensive or actually more finicky. I use the 4x5 slr more for children and animals — challenging subjects, in other words — but again, for most people, and even at, say f/4.5 with a 300 or 360mm (sometimes even 420mm) lens, it hasn’t really been a problem. I also use a loupe to focus.

    As for glass plates, any camera with a standard spring back will take normal film holders, but also most plate holders (unless they are made for a particular camera, etc.) In other words, if you were to buy a modern wet plate holder, it should fit in your standard spring back just fine and allow the use of glass plates. Several companies make them, but note that the Chamomix holders, while very nice (and I use one of their smaller sizes) do not, I believe take a full 8x10” plate...they are maybe 1/16” smaller. Others do take the full size, although some of those can range up to the $400 range for 8x10”.

  5. #15
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Camera mainly for portraits

    If you're only planning on studio portraits, buy a proper studio 8x10 camera with a studio stand. Other cameras will work, but studio cameras were purpose-built for studio portraiture.

    If you plan to use soft lenses, plan to contact print. The soft effect loses a bit in enlarging.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  6. #16

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    Re: 8x10 Camera mainly for portraits

    It may be that the whole plate format might suit your purposes 8.5in x 6.5in negatives, this was my entry into large format. I got a beautiful Kodak wooden view camera complete with original back and 4x5 back and adapter, and also a bunch of dark slides. If you don't need much movement then 5x7 lenses cover whole plate if you can accept a bit of blur in the corners. I contacted printed. Here in the USA there is an annual Ilford special format film purchase program that includes whole plate I think, there may be something similar in Europe.

  7. #17

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    Re: 8x10 Camera mainly for portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    If you're only planning on studio portraits, buy a proper studio 8x10 camera with a studio stand. Other cameras will work, but studio cameras were purpose-built for studio portraiture.

    If you plan to use soft lenses, plan to contact print. The soft effect loses a bit in enlarging.
    What Mark said. The generation 80 years ago that did this for a living and never thought twice that they were accomplishing anything unusual all used Studio cameras on rolling stands. Very easy to use, Very forgiving. A fun old book (can be expensive, long out of print) is Charles Abel's Professional Portrait Lightings because it's a window into the golden age of large format portraiture with example pictures and the lens and lights they used. As for movements, with portraits, many old timers will tell you, less is more.

  8. #18

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    Re: 8x10 Camera mainly for portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Galli View Post
    As for movements, with portraits, many old timers will tell you, less is more.
    Yes... if abusing IMHO there is apoint where the tilt/swing is the main subject a bit replacing the real subject. I like those shots where a tilt-swing does an important job but it's not much noticed like (remarkably) here https://karsh.org/american-portraits...y-bogart-1946/ . I'd guess that sinergy illumination vs tilt-swing is a difficult matter. Something for masters...


    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    If you plan to use soft lenses, plan to contact print. The soft effect loses a bit in enlarging.
    Mark, perhaps this has a solution, at least in part: an adjustable soft focus glass. Imagon, Fuji SF or Universal Heliar allows to adjust the right softness for the print size. Also, not the same, but a share of the softness can be adjusted in the printing, we can defocus a bit the image for a share of the paper exposure, and if using split grade we may defocus it more or less for the lights or for the shadows.

    ___

    A problem in a protrait is when the head size in the print is larger than the natural size, if the head has to be too big then better framing wider. To me the most impressive portrait is the one that prints to the real size, but this is only a thought...
    Last edited by Pere Casals; 25-Apr-2019 at 03:05. Reason: spelling

  9. #19
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Camera mainly for portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    Mark, perhaps this has a solution, at least in part: an adjustable soft focus glass. Imagon, Fuji SF or Universal Heliar allows to adjust the right softness for the print size. Also, not the same, but a share of the softness can be adjusted in the printing, we can defocus a bit the image for a share of the paper exposure, and if using split grade we may defocus it more or less for the lights or for the shadows...
    This is where we devolve into our personal preferences, so there's no definitive "right" answer except for what we rationalize to ourselves. My rationalizations:

    The subtleties of soft lenses depend on both a rich tonality of contact prints, and in keeping the effect in the proper scale, (ie, the halation and diffusion that look wonderful in 8x10 may look excessive in 16x20). Doubly so printed on the air-dried-glossy-fiber silver gelatin paper most of us use, as it betrays every bit of detail. But as said, that's just me...

    More objectively, softness induced in the printing stage is a completely different beast. With soft lenses, (or other methods like defocusing for part of the exposure), it's the bright highlights that show the most diffusion. Softening a negative image under the enlarger, the bright areas that diffuse most are the shadows, and that diffused light prints reverses into darkness on the final print. Instead of a glowing halo around the highlights, you get a gloom around the dark areas. It can be a nice effect, but nothing like what a conventional soft lens gives.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  10. #20

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    Re: 8x10 Camera mainly for portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    It can be a nice effect, but nothing like what a conventional soft lens gives.
    Mark, of course it's a different beast, as with some lenses softening depends on the focus, I completely agree that the most refined softening has to be done by the taking lens...


    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    Softening a negative image under the enlarger, the bright areas that diffuse most are the shadows, and the diffused light prints as darkness on the final print. Instead of a glowing halo around the highlights, you get a gloom around the dark areas.
    but if we use split grade we may diffuse with the filter 00 or with filter 5 exposure, this allows for an additional degree or control...

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