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Thread: Lens help needed (8x10 wet plate)

  1. #11
    Foamer
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    Re: Lens help needed (8x10 wet plate)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Salomon View Post
    I’m watching the impeachment coverage on MSNBC. They have a panel discussion with 5 people sitting at a curved table. Michael Steel is on the end, closest to the camera on the left end of the table and boy, does he ends up with a huge left shoulder!

    I'd personally rather watch 12 hours of the Kardashians. As for lens, I now shoot 8x10 wet plate and own several 12 inch lenses: Peerless rapid rectilinear, Wollensak Velostigmat, Nikon 300mm M f9, and an 1862 Voigtlander Petzval. I agree that 12 in. is a bit too short for classic portraits. My favorite lenses for portrait are a Heliar and the Velostigmat. However, for shooting wet plate I'm a bit of a purist and will only use period correct lenses. I'm suggesting something like a 14 to 16 inch rapid rectilinear. These are fairly common to find, don't cost a ton of money like a similar sized Petzval, period correct with classic look, and look pretty cool on the front of a wooden camera. Much cooler than an early 20th C. lens for sure.


    Kent in SD
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    miserere nobis.

  2. #12

    Re: Lens help needed (8x10 wet plate)

    How much do you want to spend? IMO there is nothing quite as beautiful as a wet plate portrait made with a lens designed for the process - IE: a fairly long focal length Petzval, preferably f4 or wider aperture. But we are talking about lenses that currently sell for no less than $1000 for an "average" specimen of the "unbranded" (or rebranded) sort, and closer to $2000 - $3000 for something truly superb. A 12" (300mm) Petzval portrait lens will introduce some foreshortening into portraits that are just head and a bit of shoulders, and serious foreshortening if you crop right in to just the head. If you plan to make intimate (just the head/face) portraits, then you really should look at something in at least 14" focal length or (preferably) longer. I have a Lerebours et Secretan 15" F5 portrait lens and it is satisfactory for portraits as close as head-and-shoulders, but getting closer becomes tricky. However, as others have mentioned, longer focal lengths become more difficult to work with as technical issues creep in. Personally I wouldn't want to attempt portraits with a lens much longer than 15", as it starts to get challenging. Here is an example of a wet plate portrait made with this lens on 8X10 aluminum:

    https://live.staticflickr.com/4597/3...ba5de374_h.jpg

    Regarding budget: if you can't spend $$$$ on a period lens, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with more modern lenses of a similar focal length. If I were to start out with one lens for head-and-shoulders portraits, I think I would choose something like a Kodak Commercial Ektar in the 14" focal length. You can get a lot of mileage from that lens and it will cost you far less to acquire: currently, this lens can be found for about $500-$850 for a very nice specimen. Sure, you can find listings for up to $2000 for this lens, but if you are patient, you will find one under $500 with relative ease. There's no need to pay more than $1000 max for this lens, so shop wisely.

  3. #13
    C. D. Keth's Avatar
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    Re: Lens help needed (8x10 wet plate)

    Personally, I think 14 is the perfect portrait length for 8x10. I appreciate the vintage lenses but I dont particularly think they suit my taste. If I were in your shoes, Id try to find a 14 tessar or a 14 commercial ektar. The commercial ektar Ive a beautiful aesthetic to them that isnt entirely modern yet not 19th century either.


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  4. #14

    Re: Lens help needed (8x10 wet plate)

    Quote Originally Posted by C. D. Keth View Post
    If I were in your shoes, I’d try to find a 14” tessar or a 14” commercial ektar. The commercial ektar I’ve a beautiful aesthetic to them that isn’t entirely modern yet not 19th century either.
    Regarding that last point, I would say that I have made wet plate collodion images using modern optics like a Schneider Symmar-S and found the contrast and sharpness renders as "too sharp" on collodion plates. It has a harshness and "edginess" that is hard on the eyes. Older lenses are better for wet plate work IMO because they have a somewhat softer rendering that suits the contrast of wet plate work. I am specifically referring to lenses like the 14" Commercial Ektar, which is a stunning lens. Of course some folks would disagree, and that's fine - its a matter of personal tastes. But it seems to me that if it's portraits you are producing, contrasty, razor-sharp fine detail is not something you want to include in your recipe. Although of course I am making the assumption that its your goal to flatter the subject.

  5. #15
    C. D. Keth's Avatar
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    Re: Lens help needed (8x10 wet plate)

    Quote Originally Posted by paulbarden View Post
    Although of course I am making the assumption that its your goal to flatter the subject.
    That has often not even been on the table in my portraiture.


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  6. #16

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    Re: Lens help needed (8x10 wet plate)

    Are you shooting indoors with strobe/continuous light or outside? You can get away with slower lenses outside but if you are indoors the faster the better. Expect to need 4800 WS of light or more with strobes. Don't disqualify modern lens options. Why does your work have to look like everyone else? The depth of field is so shallow in wet plate that concerns over lenses being "too sharp" are not valid.

  7. #17

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    Re: Lens help needed (8x10 wet plate)

    I plan to make full 8x10 portraits using glass plates. My goal is to be able to shoot anything from a 3/4 portrait to a head & shoulders shot.

  8. #18

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    Re: Lens help needed (8x10 wet plate)

    Quote Originally Posted by cuypers1807 View Post
    Are you shooting indoors with strobe/continuous light or outside? You can get away with slower lenses outside but if you are indoors the faster the better. Expect to need 4800 WS of light or more with strobes. Don't disqualify modern lens options. Why does your work have to look like everyone else? The depth of field is so shallow in wet plate that concerns over lenses being "too sharp" are not valid.
    I am shooting indoors with strobes. I am more concerned with getting a fast lens at a reasonable price than I am with any specific brand, or even a super sharp lens. I am considering getting a Industar 37 just to get started, knowing that I'll likely replace it.

  9. #19

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    Re: Lens help needed (8x10 wet plate)

    Quote Originally Posted by paulbarden View Post
    How much do you want to spend? IMO there is nothing quite as beautiful as a wet plate portrait made with a lens designed for the process - IE: a fairly long focal length Petzval, preferably f4 or wider aperture. But we are talking about lenses that currently sell for no less than $1000 for an "average" specimen of the "unbranded" (or rebranded) sort, and closer to $2000 - $3000 for something truly superb. A 12" (300mm) Petzval portrait lens will introduce some foreshortening into portraits that are just head and a bit of shoulders, and serious foreshortening if you crop right in to just the head. If you plan to make intimate (just the head/face) portraits, then you really should look at something in at least 14" focal length or (preferably) longer. I have a Lerebours et Secretan 15" F5 portrait lens and it is satisfactory for portraits as close as head-and-shoulders, but getting closer becomes tricky. However, as others have mentioned, longer focal lengths become more difficult to work with as technical issues creep in. Personally I wouldn't want to attempt portraits with a lens much longer than 15", as it starts to get challenging. Here is an example of a wet plate portrait made with this lens on 8X10 aluminum:

    https://live.staticflickr.com/4597/3...ba5de374_h.jpg

    Regarding budget: if you can't spend $$$$ on a period lens, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with more modern lenses of a similar focal length. If I were to start out with one lens for head-and-shoulders portraits, I think I would choose something like a Kodak Commercial Ektar in the 14" focal length. You can get a lot of mileage from that lens and it will cost you far less to acquire: currently, this lens can be found for about $500-$850 for a very nice specimen. Sure, you can find listings for up to $2000 for this lens, but if you are patient, you will find one under $500 with relative ease. There's no need to pay more than $1000 max for this lens, so shop wisely.
    Thank you for the detailed info, I'll definitely look into the Commerical Ektar. By the way, that is a wonderful portrait!

  10. #20

    Re: Lens help needed (8x10 wet plate)

    Quote Originally Posted by jpheneger View Post
    Thank you for the detailed info, I'll definitely look into the Commerical Ektar. By the way, that is a wonderful portrait!
    I hope my advice was useful. Glad you like that portrait, thanks very much. :-)

    Paul

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