8x10 Lens question

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Zan

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I have been doing tons of research on lenses for 8x10 cameras. Ive been shooting 4x5 exclusively since I started about 3 years ago. Also, Ive never had access to an enlarger so I have been contact printing from the beginning. Well Im finally moving to 8x10 and the most complicated part for me is lenses.. I want a decent Normal lens that is sharp and doesnt cost the earth. I shoot outdoors pretty much exclusively and Im trying to get my hands on an old Deardorff 8x10. Any thoughts on normal lenses (good or bad) would help me out alot! Thanks
 

Ole

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There are no bad lenses.

There can be poor individual lenses, but no LF lens is inherently bad.

For contact prints, ALL normal lenses produced the last century are decently sharp.

I have no 8x10", but I use a 240/420 Symmar convertible on my 18x24cm camera. It is reputed to be soft (just like my other lens - a 165mm Angulon), has a "non-standard" shutter (same Compur #2 as the 165!), have marginal coverage (ditto), and be "expensive German Glass" (ditto).

I have found it to be a very good performer, very sharp, in a very reliable shutter, and cheap. Just like the 165 Angulon, in fact...

The (single) coating is very good, flare is practiclly nonexistent even when shooting into the sun. Most lenses for SLRs are worse in that respect!
 

John Kasaian

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A 12" or 14" Commercial Ektar. Midwest Photo usually has good examples for under $500. A 10" Wide Field Ektar will run you a lot more, but a great lens!

Ilex made some nice copies of the Commercial Ektar that would be worth looking at, they usually go for less than the Kodaks.

The 12" Goerz Dagor of course! Also the 16-1/2" and 19" Artars are super.

Wollensaks made some really neat old lenses. The classic portrait ones will cost you, but the Raptars and Velostigmats run considerably less. The triple convertible Wolly is the one to look for.

Any of the G-Clarons from the 240mm on up are truly great examples. There used to be a bunch of Symmar double convertibles out there at good prices. I haven't used one, but I would certainly consider a good example if one were made available

If you can find a Caltar in a "normal" 8x10 focal length that would be a fine lens as well. They might still list a new caltar in 300mm or so, I don't know.

Of course any of the new lenses by Rodenstock, Nikkor, Schneider, Fuji will be excellent performers---its a small market and bad stuff dosen't last long. Also the cost of new lenses can is IMHO brutal.

YMMV.
 

Peter Schrager

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8x10 Lens

I second the emotion for the Fuji 300-c. Besides it's light and that's what starts to count for 8x10 if you really start to use it!
Peter
 

rbarker

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Zan, an excellent resource for comparing the various alternative lenses is the Large Format Photography Info site at http://www.largeformatphotography.info/. Scroll down the main page and you'll see several articles discussing both new and older lenses, along with links to charts that compare features of specific lenses. As others have mentioned, almost any of the 8x10-suitable lenses available will do an adequate job - especially for contact prints. Thus, you may find that your selection will boil down to a balance between features, availability and price.

You may also find that the focal length ratios you prefer on 4x5 will change with 8x10. For example, on 4x5 my most-used lenses are 210mm and 110mm. I seldom use a 150mm on 4x5. But, when I added 8x10 to my mix, I found that I preferred a 240mm G-Claron as my "normal" lens, along with the much wider (ratio-wise) 150mm Super Symmar XL. The 300mm APO Symmar I have sees only sporadic use.

Be aware, too, that certain lenses tend to develop an almost cult-like following from time to time. The 305mm G-Claron, for example, often tends to fetch premium prices on the used market, whereas the 240mm G-Claron usually can be found at more reasonable prices.
 

JackRosa

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Suggestion = 240 G-Claron

I second Ralph Barker;s suggestion .... the 240mm G-Claron is excellent value ... I fnd myself using this lens more than my 360mm Schneider Symmar. Only concern would be ampleness of movements due to smaller image circle.
 

jimgalli

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Check seller tpahjim on Ebay. (me) I've got a 240 f9A Fujinon and a 210 G-Claron going this week. The Fuji is awesome but the bidders are sort of in agreement. I 3rd and 4rth the 240 G-Claron and 305 G-Claron. If your budget is really tight I see 305 Dagor's in barrel from time to time that go pretty cheap, and the perfect normal lens is the old Convertible 330mm Wollensak. (Looks like a 165mm on a 4X5) It's a Protar VII type. The front is 25" alone and the back is 20" alone. Combined they are 13" or 330 mm. Very nice contrast for contacts. And you're in luck, I've got an extra that's ready to rock. Figure a buck a mm. Shutter is working perfect. Fun to use and has that brushed satin stainless steel classic look of the mid to late 1950's. Pix if interested. jimgalli@lnett.com
 

Deckled Edge

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For years I campaigned with a 14" Commercial Ektar and a 10" Wide Field Ektar on my Deardorff. Both came with big clunky #5 Universal Synchro shutters. Both are fabulously sharp, and Series 9 filters drop right in. Look for lenses with serial numbers about "RE" (that's 1954. C A M E R O S I T Y)
You can spend a lot of money futzing with all the lenses out there, but you can't go wrong with those two.
 

removed account4

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hey there

i have one of those wollensak triple convertibles that john kasaian & jim galli mentioned. it might be the an earlier vintage than jim has though (mine is olde darkbrass, not shiny aluminium ... ) - just the same, it is a 25-20-13" in a big old betax#5 shutter and it is pretty sweet. i don't have an enlarger and have shot some film with it, but for the most part, i am film-poor, and shoot a lot of paper negatives with it, with no complaints.

oh, the dial shutters like the betax, where there are *no click-stops* (just runs smooth) between the shutter speeds, you may see markings that look like intermediary speeds, don't be afraid to use'em, they are, as ian dury says "inbetweenies."

-john
 
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