Beginner 8x10 Field Camera?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by zrisso, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. zrisso

    zrisso Member

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    I've been lusting after an 8x10 setup for quite some time now, and for all the research I've done, I still cannot for the life of me decide which camera is best. So now I turn to you for some opinions.

    • Field Camera
    • Perferably Metal
    • Good Portrait Lens Available
    • Good Tilt/Swing Capabilities
    • ~$2000

    My list of requirements isn't very long. I shoot any number of things, so I need my camera to be good (or at least acceptable) for anything I can throw at it. I like the idea of metal because it doesn't warp as easily as wood. It needs to have a good portrait lens, as I shoot a lot of portraiture. I love shallow depth of field, so tilt/swing is a must. Finally, I'd prefer it be $2000 or under. Please do not suggest a monorail camera. I need the portability of a field camera.

    Any suggestions would be most appreciated. (If you could suggest a tripod to go along with the camera, that'd be great too!)
     
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  2. coriana6jp

    coriana6jp Member

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    At good conditional like a Toyo metal field camera will likely cost more than 2000 even used. Take a look at a triple extension Tachihara, its a good beginner 8x10 which is fairly portable. For a tripod one of the big Carbon Gitzo Tripods or a Ries would be about as stable as you can get.

    I like my Wehman as well, its about as portable as you can get, but I am not sure that I would recommend it as a entry level 8x10.

    Good Luck with your search.

    Gary
     
  3. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    The Kodak Master 8x10 is a good metal field camera that you can get for usually around $1000 or less. They are all used, so you will need to do some shopping. A good portrait lens is really any focal length from 300mm to 420mm, as long as it covers film. I have used both a Ries tripod and a large medium Bogen tripod with a sturdy head. A metal field camera is going to be slightly heavy, so a sturdy tripod is a must, not a lightweight one.
     
  4. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    You might reconsider your choice of materials. While it might have happened somewhere, I have never heard of the wood of any camera warping with normal use. Allowing wood into you criteria would open up the possibilities, such as the Tachihara mentioned, the Zone VI that I use, as well as many others.

    This is just a guess, but I figure more cameras have been put out of commission due to bent metal than warped wood.

    Vaughn
     
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  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    When I buy an 8x10 it will be one of Richard Ritter's. Weighs 6.4 pounds, costs more than 2K though.

    I agree with Vaughn regarding metal vs wood.
     
  6. coriana6jp

    coriana6jp Member

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    The Ritter would be a great choice. I own a Ritter 12x20 and it is awesome.If the Ritter 8x10 been available when I bought my 8x10 it would have been my first choice.

    Gary
     
  7. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I'd reconsider the material choice. Wood is a fine choice. I've played with a Shen Hao (https://www.badgergraphic.com/store/cart.php?m=product_list&c=98a) 8x10 and I thought it was pretty amazing for under $2000. I just rehabbed a Calumet C1 (great camera for the price, heavy, a bit awkward). If I take to 8x10, I suspect I'll get the Shen Hao or a Canham (Canham is more than $2K, though).
     
  8. Tim Boehm

    Tim Boehm Subscriber

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    I'd suggest getting a camera designed for your anticipated environment. For the field I use a Wehman:
    http://www.wehmancamera.com

    For locations, i.e., a studio, outdoor portraits, or a cathedral, I have a Sinar P2. Metal monorails are a pain to move, but they, especially a Sinar, can't be beat once setup. Good luck.
     
  9. Softie

    Softie Member

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    Well, you say no monorail cameras, so we can throw out the Sinar, the Arca, the Toho, the Gowland, and the B&J Grover.

    You say no wood, so you can pretty much toss 90% of the 8x10 cameras ever made.

    That leaves you with the Kodak Master (ancient, pricey, rare lensboards), the Toyo (heavy, expensive), the metal Canham (expensive, limited movements), and the Calumet C1 (heavy, cheap, no fun with wide angles). Of those options, I say get a C1 and spend your money on glass.

    Speaking of glass, you say you want a "portrait lens." This means a lot of things in 8x10. In general terms, this means a lens 360mm to 500mm with or without soft focus. I can't recommend a lens for you, but if by portrait lens you mean a soft focus lens, that could eat into your camera budget quite severely.
     
  10. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Wood is fine. I'd get the idea that it is not out of your head right now. There is nothing wrong with it unless it has been abused, and the same applies to any material, including metal. I'd look at Calumets, B&Js, and the like. They will get you shooting, they will give you more movements than most cheap 8x10 field cameras, and they will leave you plenty of money to invest in nice glass.

    Also, $2,000 is a ton of money to spend on a "beginner" kit. I really would be leery of spending that much at first. I'd make a smaller investment, and wait until you have used 8x10 for a while and determined if it is something that is doing your "work" any good. If it is, then some day you might sell off your camera and find a better one. If not, you can sell off the kit at no big loss.

    The term "portrait lens" is usually used to describe medium-long lenses. Is this what you mean? After all, every lens can be used for portraits...just depends on what you want the portrait to be like. If you really want a long lens for 8x10, you may end up spending lots of money on that. 360mm is normal, so a 720mm lens would be double that...about like a 105mm on 35mm. I would just start with a normal lens and do what you can with it. If you really can't do what you need to do using a normal lens, and all else fails finding something longer and affordable, you can "resort" to a graphic arts lens, like my Kodak Copying Ektanon 21-1/4 in. (approx. 540mm) f/11. They are cheap, long, and generally have tons of coverage. People may say that they are not suited for portraits, but I say phooey to that, especially as a stop-gap lens. They will be fine...perhaps too small a max. aperture for you, though.

    For tripods, I suggest a Bogen 3051 based on my own experience with them. I am sure that other brands have similar offerings, but I am not familiar with them. I can say nothing but good about my 3051, though.
     
  11. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    Kodak Master Views are nice cameras. Getting lensboards for them is kind of a hassle. You should be able to find a beater 'dorff in your price range f you look hard enough. If everything locks down good and the darkness dosen't leak out of the bellows, that would be my choice (actually that was my choice and 10 years later I don't regret it! :smile: )

    For a tripod---Ries! If you need to scrimp, find an old surveyor's tripod that you can adapt to a 1/4-20.

    While nothing like a Verito (which imho would be too heavy for a 'dorff) a 14" Commercial Ektar is a fine portraite lens--Yousef Karsh used one!

    Film holders---I like plastic Lisco Regals and the black wood Graflex ones marked "made for Eastman Kodak." Agfa/anscos work nicely too.
     
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  12. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    Well, I just bought the Shen Hao as my first 8x10, and I think the build quality is awesome and it has all the movemnts you will need. I bought it in China and had it for for under $2000. If you are looking for a lens and some film holders your $2000 will come up short, unless you go second hand. I preffered the wood to metal. Better in the cold, and warping is definitely not an issue. I think you need to consider that these cameras are not for throwing around...and including wood will open up your options.

    Rgds, kal
     
  13. zrisso

    zrisso Member

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    Hmm... maybe I need to consider wood after you have all mentioned it was a good choice. Maybe I was misinformed and thinking the wood cameras warp when it is the wooden holders that can warp.
     
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  15. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    wooden cameras and wooden holders can warp if they are mistreated or not made well. However, I have wooden holders that that are probably 70+ years old that are just fine.
    Fortunately, most makers of these items know/knew how to use the material correctly. If you buy an antique wooden holder that is straight when you buy it, it's likely to remain that way.
     
  16. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    With wood in the mix Deardorff can be considered Not especially light but a kit is in your budget. Just be patient while you're shopping around.
     
  17. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    I have an Eastmant 2D in good shape if there's any interest. It's not a lightweight though.
     
  18. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    I don't understand the obsession with lightness. In my opinion it is a red herring. In all cases you will need a very sturdy tripod, and that will weigh more than your camera by several kilos. With a lens that will weigh a couple of kilos on top of that, the difference in the main body weight of 1kg or so between brands/models is irrelevant. Wherever you take it..it will be an effort...K
     
  19. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    Kal,

    Some of us aren't in the best of shape anymore. :smile: I can no longer hike but for those who do it's a matter of how far they're going to travel on foot. On a 20 mile hike 25 pounds makes a big back-saving difference. If I can cut down my system weight from 50 pounds to 25 or 30 it's worth it to me. I bought smaller/lighter lenses, a CF tripod (1.4 kilos plus head), and am looking for the lightest camera that still has all the features I want... I'm giving the Korona 5x12 serious consdieration. There are much greater weight differences between LF cameras than 1K. The lightest 8x10s are approxinately 14K and the heavier ones are twice that or a difference of 14K plus.
     
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  20. rwboyer

    rwboyer Member

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    If wood is in the mix and you want to stay really cheap I cannot say enough about the wood Ansco/Agfa Universal cameras. Really really simple - not too heavy, durable, good extension with a built in non PIA extension bed. Decent movements, etc, etc. The really funny thing is that the grey painted ones with the nickel hardware were the higher priced deluxe models vs. the dark stained wood with brass hardware. Today the grey ones go for much less money because they are not as decorative but the wood is the exact same wood under the grey paint.

    Check them out they go for a song on ebay and usually are sold with holders/lens/shutter all for way under $1000.

    RB
     
  21. Doc W

    Doc W Subscriber

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    I also think you are shooting yourself in the foot by insisting on metal for the reasons you give. I like metal simply because I often shoot in really foul weather conditions and I feel bad exposing a nice cherry or mahogany box with leather bellows to the wet. But it is not because of warping. I have used quite a few wooden field cameras and that has never been a problem.

    If you want a good metal 8x10 for under 2K, then the Kodak Master 8x10 is the camera for you. They are not easy to find but they do pop up from time to time. You may have to wait a little while. I use one and find it very sturdy and easy to use. They weigh about 12 lbs which is about average for a field camera of that quality. You can certainly get lighter for $$$

    As for a "portrait" lens, don't make the mistake I did. I figured that since a portrait lens in 35mm format is about 100mm, I would want a 600mm for 8x10. Dumb idea, since I also need a huge bellows to focus the damn thing any closer than the end of my street. I use a 14 inch Commercial Ektar, which is considered about normal for 8x10, and I do a lot of people photography (although not traditional head and shoulders portraits). Since you want to stay under $2000, the Commercial Ektars are a good buy.

    If I were you, I would definitely not get the Calumet unless you are in training for the Iron Man competition or do not plan to shoot anything more than 20 ft from the car. Yosuf Karsh used one but it never left the studio.
     
  22. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Wood will work fine, as it has for the last 150 years.
     
  23. vintagepics

    vintagepics Member

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    I have gotten much good information from all of your posts. Im in the same position but I would like to upgrade from my Eastman 2D (great starter) to a new 8x10 field camera. I already have lens and film holders, and looking to spend no more then about 5k. Im open to any material. I will be doing some portrait work, but mostly work in the field during travel, so would prefer something sturdy. Size and weight is not much of an issue since I have a 5th wheel with a darkroom set up to carry it. My eye is drawn towards the Deardorff, and Ebony, but im open for suggestion. Please don't bash me, but I prefer that my camera is not made in some communist country such as China. I like the Chamonix, but its out. Something with the option for film, and glass plate would be great since I shoot a lot of calotype images. It’s great to have that glass holding the paper down. I would love any of your thoughts.
     
  24. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    I bought a used Wehman for $1,500.00. It's both light weight and sturdy. I paid $600.00 for my 14" Kodak Commercial Ektar which puts the total at $2,100.00 to give you an idea on cost.

    For the price range you are looking at I would recommend a used Wehman, Kodak Master or a wooden Deardorff.

    Like someone said earlier, Karsh used a 14" Commercial Ektar for his portraits but if you look at his work he always included some of the subject's environment. A 14" is really a normal focal length on 8x10.

    Long lenses in shutter for 8x10 get quite expensive.
     
  25. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    I use a Ries J100 with double tilt head with my Wehman. I bought it used for a fair price on Ebay. I can't remember what I paid now. Buy used and save yourself some cash for film.

    Ries, Berlebach and Gitzo all make fine tripods for 8x10 cameras. Feisol and Majestic also have great reputations but I have no experience with them.
     
  26. Mike Bates

    Mike Bates Subscriber

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    Shooting portraits with an 8x10 is a mixed bag. I use a 14" Commercial Ektar lens (360mm) and it's great for families, groups or full length portraits. It's just OK for 3/4 length portraits and not so great for head and shoulder shots.

    The problems are the lens speed and the amount of bellows draw required for close focusing. At f6.3, the Ektar begins dark enough on a big groundglass, but move it 18-20 inches from the groundglass and it gets quite dark when indoors. A head shot would require more than 25" of bellows draw and placement less than 3 feet from the subject's head. With such a big camera, that's a pretty intimidating setup for anyone but an experienced model. You also face a vanishingly small depth of field at apertures wider than about f22 or so. Think huge camera in your face, bellows racked out, strobes blasting f22 light, and you get the picture.

    So, you can go to a longer lens with even greater depth of field limitations along with a darker image on the groundglass, but then it begins to really bust your budget.