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Thread: 8x10 Portrait Lenses

  1. #1
    Foamer
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    8x10 Portrait Lenses

    Rather than hijack the other thread (since I'm after different results,) I'll start my own. I've been shooting a Kodak 2D 8x10 for a month now and feel I have it dialed in reasonably well. One surprise I'm having is how much I enjoy taking portraits of strangers. On the weekends I'll drive hundreds (and hundreds) of miles on the Northern Plains looking for something to photo. I meet a lot of "local" people doing this; most are active outdoorsmen like me of one stripe or another. These are rural people who hunt ducks, ice fish, run farm equipment, work for the railroad, race motorcycles on frozen lakes, etc. I've sometimes taken photos of these folks with my 4x5 in the past, but I have to say the 8x10 has really come into its own here. I'm the sort who can walk up to just about anybody and start a conversation--easy enough on the Great Plains. I've been finding that people are so fascinated by the big 8x10 that they actually want their photo taken! I usually either give them a print later or send an 8x10 to their nearest Walmart to pick up after I've uploaded it there from home. I've met a lot of interesting people over the years. So far I just post the photos on Facebook or Flickr, but some day after I retire I might get ambitious and write articles for South Dakota Magazine, something like, "Faces of South Dakota." I don't know. In the past portraits have not been a high priority for me but I'm finding that the 8x10 (along with wet plate) is pulling me in that direction. (So far only shooting FP4+ but am in the final stage of getting my portable dark lab done.)


    So now I come to my question, for those of you still awake. For wet plate I have a few great lenses 1840s--1860s that cover 8x10 well. My longest 20th C. lens is a 300mm Velostigmat, which I love, and my longest modern lens is a Nikon 300mm f9 M, another great lens. However, I think I want something longer yet. Since I have the wet plate lenses covered, I need something from the 20th C. I'm thinking of 14 to 16 inch and must be in shutter. And, not over $1,000. (I've already spent a lot gearing up for 8x10 collodion!) Some lenses I've been thinking of are: (1) Kodak Commercial 14 inch. These are plentiful and very reasonable. I'm thinking it would be similar to a Velostigmat. Would prefer a coated one I think. (2) 16 inch Velostigmat. Downside is these only seem to come i Studio shutter, which I don't think will work well with FP4+. (3) Ilex Acutar. These are coated and in shutter. I'd really like a 14 inch Heliar in shutter, but those are really big money! Not right now. Also deciding if I want to go with 14 inch or 16. Probably won't be doing head & shoulders shots as I like "environmental" portraits, to show what my subjects are doing. Thinking about it more, the lens I've used the most so far is actually my c.1910 Dagor 240mm in Compound, and one with the Nikon 300mm M. Have to be careful with the Dagor since it's uncoated though.

    Any thoughts?

    Below photos: Open class ice racer Micah Scheilemann, 250cc class racer Jacob, ice fisher Shawn, ice fishers Bob & Kate. (All of these photos taken on frozen lakes. )



    Kent in SD
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails K2DIceShawnM.jpg   K2DIceFishm.jpg   K2DMicahM.jpg   K2Djakem.jpg  
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  2. #2
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Portrait Lenses

    A 420 Fujinon L would be a good choice. I used one a 2D for awhile. Otherwise a Commercial Ektar, or maybe one of the Congo/Osaka clones. I like APO Nikkors in longer lengths, but they don't come in a shutters.
    Please stop feeding the trolls.

  3. #3

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    Re: 8x10 Portrait Lenses

    A 16 inch Heliar is bit too heavy for the front standard of Kodak 2D. A 14 inch one with a Packard shutter will be nice.

  4. #4

    Re: 8x10 Portrait Lenses

    I vote for the 14” Commercial Ektar. They are spectacular for portraits and when used close to (or at) wide open, they isolate the subject from the background in spectacular fashion. The Ektar is almost as good as the Heliar IMO.

  5. #5

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    Re: 8x10 Portrait Lenses

    Speaking from personal experience, you'd have trouble telling the difference between a Commercial Ektar and any of the comparable Ilex lenses (Acutar, Ilex-Caltar, Orbit, etc.) Any of them will produce superb results. The Wollensak Velostigmats are uncoated- post WWII they were coated and labeled Raptars. I've never seen a Raptar in the 14" FL- but that doesn't mean they don't exist. These are all Tessar designs and would be well-suited to your purpose.

  6. #6

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    Re: 8x10 Portrait Lenses

    The Acutar is essentially a Commercial Ektar. Given a choice between the two, buy on price and condition.

  7. #7
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Portrait Lenses

    Pretty much what Dan just said. I have a 14-inch Commercial Ektar and a 14 1/2-inch Ilex Caltar. All things considered, I think the Ilex is 1/2-inch better...
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  8. #8

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    Re: 8x10 Portrait Lenses

    Consider installing a 6" Packard shutter inside the Kodak. It fits perfectly against the front bulkhead wood that frames the bellows. Has to be 6, not smaller. That way you're all set for portraits with non-shutter lenses. A good one is the WWII era combat aerial photography 14" f5.6 that was made by TTH Cooke. It's basically an unmarked Cooke Aviar. Burke and James got a bunch of them post war and coated them. Awesome lenses. Plus old Rapid Rectilinear's just seem to happen, and with a Packard whatever you cobble onto the front is ready to go. I wrote a page about them years back. There's a pic of my 2D with the Packard in the front. The other benefit is it completely seals off all light leaking around the lens board. So well in fact that most of my 2D lens boards would have gotten thrown away long ago for being uselessly damaged. You can put the shaggiest old boards on and no way for light to get in. If you're using something with a leaf shutter like a modern Osaka in Copal 3S you just open the packard blades and the rear group goes right inside like normal. Another favorite that hasn't gotten too pricey yet, is the Dallmeyer Stigmatic series. Great look for portraits.

    My poor old 2D has had lots of too heavy lenses up front. 405 Kodak. 16" series IV Pinkham. 16" Dallmeyer 3A petzval. 15" Voigtlaender Euryscop III. 14 3/4" Eidoscop. The camera police should put me in jail for camera abuse.

  9. #9
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Portrait Lenses

    I have one of the uncoated Royal Air Force Aviars. It's a fine lens. I bought a new 360 Japanese Commercial Ektar off of Ebay not that long ago for $100. There were a bunch of them for sale. It was new, but you'd have to use a Packard or similar.
    Please stop feeding the trolls.

  10. #10

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    Re: 8x10 Portrait Lenses

    Try the Copal #3 Nikkor-W 14"11/64 or 360mm in the rest of the world. F6.5 and 95mm filter. Even smaller is the Fujinon-W with 82 or 86mm filter

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