Starter 8x10 camera + lens recommendations

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Nicholas W

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I was just gifted a large-ish supply of Polaroid 809, 64T, and 55 film, and a Polaroid 8x10 processor. I am excited as I never thought I’d get to use these. Does anyone have recommendations on what a good first camera and lens would be? I am thinking I should go 8x10 and then just work with a reducing back for the 4x5. I am a college student on a fairly slim budget so I’m hoping not to spend a boatload to be able to shoot this stuff. I’ve been looking at the Intrepid Mk. II but have also read these often come with light leaks and I cannot bear to waste any of this precious film like that!

I don’t know much about large format stuff so advice is appreciated!
 

greg zinselmeier

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It’s tough wanting to make images with silver, because it gets expensive fast. And as a college student money is hard to find. More over you have been gifted some pretty cool stuff. So my advice is buy 8x10 camera and go out and do the thing you gotta do to make this happen. Carpi diem or however you spell that phrase.
 

abruzzi

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the price scales with the size, so there aren't many inexpensive 8x10 systems. An 8x10 Kodak 2D or its variants (Century and a few others) might be one of the cheaper. There is a 8x10 Sinar P on ebay for $750 but it looks like it could use some attention and will weigh a ton. The Calumet C1 is reletively inexpensive. But the Kodak variants start in the vicinity of $5-600, and everything else (except pinhole) goes up from there, so the intrepid may actually be one of your least expensive options (given that a $500 2D will likely require some additional spending to be made functional.)

If your not too picky and prefer a wide lens, you should be able to find a lens with a shutter for a couple hundred. Find a table of LF lenses that shows the image circle and remember that 8x10 needs about 325mm for full coverage. Some lenses with a little less may work, but you'll likely get vignetting if you focus exactly at infinity. Older Fuji lenses are some of the cheapest lenses to cover 8x10--the first gen 210 or 250 are good options. I look at this list sometimes, but there are lots out there:

https://www.graflex.org/lenses/lens-spec.html

Remember that a 300mm is a "normal", 240mm is a nice mild wide, 420mm is a mild long lens. 300mm and longer in a shutter can get very pricey very quick.
 

John Wiegerink

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Don't overlook the Burke & James (Navy gray) 8x10. Probably the cheapest you'll find and a very capable camera. Not as pretty as most, but not ugly either.
You can use non-shutter lenses like the good old days, since you be using small f-stops and pretty long shutter speeds. It will get you started anyway.
 

Alan Gales

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I've seen Burke and James cameras, like John mentioned above, stripped of their gray paint, stained and covered in polyurethane. They looked quite nice if you want to do the work.

I paid less than $300 for my Fuji 250mm f/6.7 lens in Copal shutter. I have seen them go for less than $200. Fantastic lens with plenty of coverage for 8x10. Just make sure you get the 6.7 version. The white lettering will be on the inside of the lens. Later versions with different maximum aperture and lettering on the outside of the lens had less coverage and are not good for 8x10. Pair the Fuji with the Burke and James and you will have a nice low cost outfit. Well, low cost for 8x10. 🙂 Film and film holders are not cheap either so do your research to make sure you can afford it.

Don't forget a sturdy tripod!
 

abruzzi

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Don't forget a sturdy tripod!

and an assistant to carry everything.

the last CMW Fuji 250 will cover, but with very little room for movements, but its a very nice lens for 5x7 or 4x5. I prefer long to wide, and long gets very expensive. I pieced together a 355mm G-Claron for about $450 all told, but most 360s are much more than that in a shutter. (I tried the hat method and didn't have much success, so most of the lenses have shutters.) Barrel lenses aren't nearly as bad, but then you have to use a manual process or get a packard or sinar shutter.
 

Alan Gales

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and an assistant to carry everything.

Here is Clyde Butcher and his lovely assistant (his wife) in the everglades.

Perhaps, the OP needs a wife? 😍


1656107899119.png
 

GregY

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and an assistant to carry everything.

the last CMW Fuji 250 will cover, but with very little room for movements, but its a very nice lens for 5x7 or 4x5. I prefer long to wide, and long gets very expensive. I pieced together a 355mm G-Claron for about $450 all told, but most 360s are much more than that in a shutter. (I tried the hat method and didn't have much success, so most of the lenses have shutters.) Barrel lenses aren't nearly as bad, but then you have to use a manual process or get a packard or sinar shutter.

These days a G Claron 355 in a Copal is $900+. I had a real soft spot for the Commerciall Ektar 14" character, they're generally less but then the shutters likely need servicing.
 

momus

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Your most inexpensive choice, and I use that word cautiously knowing that there is no inexpensive 8x10 anything, would be a store bought or homemade pinhole camera. People make great images w/ those. That's what I would do, and just get a feel for it before you pay a LOT more for something w/ a bellows and a good lens.

LF is not for everyone. I love the look, but it isn't something I can throw over my shoulder on a strap and ride my bike with. Selling LF items can be harder to do vs the smaller formats too, it's a much smaller market. So if you buy an expensive setup and decide it's not for you, you may have to take a hefty hit when you sell it.

Don't forget the tripod if you go LF. And something to carry your film and film holders with. And a focusing cloth or hood. And a light meter. And.....money.
 
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awty

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I've seen Burke and James cameras, like John mentioned above, stripped of their gray paint, stained and covered in polyurethane. They looked quite nice if you want to do the work.

I paid less than $300 for my Fuji 250mm f/6.7 lens in Copal shutter. I have seen them go for less than $200. Fantastic lens with plenty of coverage for 8x10. Just make sure you get the 6.7 version. The white lettering will be on the inside of the lens. Later versions with different maximum aperture and lettering on the outside of the lens had less coverage and are not good for 8x10. Pair the Fuji with the Burke and James and you will have a nice low cost outfit. Well, low cost for 8x10. 🙂 Film and film holders are not cheap either so do your research to make sure you can afford it.

Don't forget a sturdy tripod!

The Fuji f6.7 covers 24x 30 cm with a tiny bit of movement. More if you stop down. The Fuji 420mm is also a great lens, covers 14x17 stopped down. There the only two I have for anything bigger than 5x7, dont really have a great need for anything else.
 

abruzzi

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Your most inexpensive choice, and I use that word cautiously knowing that there is no inexpensive 8x10 anything, would be a store bought or homemade pinhole camera.

Those, or a little more can get you a 3D printed “travel camera”. It’s a newish LF variant that has a hard cone instead of a bellows with a specific lens in the front that may be fixed focus or may have a minimal helicoid. They’re way less flexible, but are cheap. I’d still get a intrepid before one.

 

OrientPoint

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I have an Intrepid 8x10 and I'd say it's a good value for the money. I'm very happy with it.
I got mine last year for 20% off with a coupon code (I don't know if that's still a thing) so it was an even better value, but even at list price I think it's worthwhile. No light leaks and generally it's pretty sturdy save for the brittle, thin (3d printed?) plastic hinges that lock the ground glass in place. One broke within a couple of weeks of my use of the camera, but the camera was still usable and they sent a bunch of replacements quickly. I haven't had one break since.

If you're starting out in 8x10 it might be a good idea to start with some cheap "disposable" film, namely x-ray film. You can find 100 sheet boxes of 8x10 Fuji HR-U online for $50 or less. They're a bit tricky to develop because they scratch _VERY_ easily, but at $.50/sheet you don't have to worry about making mistakes. I'd definitely hold off on the Polaroid until you have the basics down. It would be a shame to ruin a sheet - once it's gone you're never going to see it again.
 
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