User opinions on reducing backs for 8x10

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by luvmydogs, Aug 21, 2005.

  1. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    I am planning on placing my order for a 8x10 tomorrow, but am not sure whether I should order a 4x5 or 5x7 reducing back as well. For all of you who shoot 8x10 and have reducing backs, do you find that you use them much? I'm just not sure whether it would make sense to shoot 4x5 with a 8x10 (whether it's worth the trouble, with lenses not being able to go too wide, etc.). I'd really appreciate some user opinions on this. I am quite smitten by the 6x17 format, but I'm not sure just how bulky and feasible it would be to put a 5x7 back on a 8x10, and then a 6x17 on top of that. If I do decide to go with a back, I would start off with either 4x5 or 5x7, but not both.

    I currently shoot medium format with my 6x6, so I don't need the versatility of the 4x5 back being able to attach the medium format backs.

    I have an enlarger for my medium format stuff, and at this point, am not really considering a LF enlarger. I won't say never, but it is unlikely.

    Thanks for reading!
     
  2. Brook

    Brook Member

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    Think through your end uses. Is it b&w contact prints? Transparincies? Each format is going to have some demands, new film holders, developing trays/ tubes, ect. What do you have now and will it fit into either format or what you plan to do with them.
    If you are planning on contact printing, the 5x7 may be the better choice, larger neg and less square, a nice ratio aspect. If you plan to shoot trannies, the film choices in 4x5 are much better. Also, half a 5x7 is pretty close to 617.
    So, it depends

    Good luck
     
  3. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    I have reducing backs for 5x7, 4x5, and 2x3. I use them all for different photographs. Bear in mind that 5x7 is not the same shape as 8x10, but 4x5 is. If you don't want a longer rectangle, go with the 4x5. I recommend getting both, but not necessarily at the same time. By the way, which camera did you decide to go with?

    -Greg
     
  4. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    If it were my choice, I would buy both the 5x7 and 4x5 backs. Here's why:

    The 4x5 gives the most options; You can use it for contact prints and enlargements, both; several varieties of Polaroid backs and MF rollfilm backs. The 4x5 size has the broadest variety of films available. The longer lenses typically used for 8x10 work also give greater variety to 4x5. And there's nothing to say you can't use 4x5 lenses too. However, the typical minimum bellows length on 8x10 cameras will limit how short the lens focal length can be. The 4x5 gives the most flexibility of all. If I had to limit the choice to one reducing back, it would the 4x5.

    5x7 is a nice size for contact prints, especially portaits and still lifes. A 5x7 enlarger is still a quite feasible piece of equipment for a home darkroom.
     
  5. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    luvmydogs,
    If you decide that you would like to play with polaroid, 4X5 becomes the obvious choice. 5X7 & 8X10 make great contact prints & 4X5 jewel like contacts.
     
  6. RichSBV

    RichSBV Member

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    Okay, first off, I don't shoot that much...

    That being said...

    I had to have 4x5 backs for all my 8x10's, and I shoot 4x5. But I shoot 4x5 with 4x5 cameras. Just love Polaroid Type 55...

    I have yet to use a 4x5 back on an 8x10...

    There are two problems with this...

    First, the lenses. A 'normal' lens for 4x5, from 135 to 150mm, is awfully wide for an 8x10 camera. Many 8x10's out there can't even use a 135. They just get too tight in the bellows... And there are only a few lenses in that range that will cover 8x10 if you wnated dual purpose lenses...

    Second. If you take an 8x10 out, you'll want to take 8x10 film. If you now add the reducing back, 4x5 film holders, plus Polaroids, you've got quite a kit! My combined kit weighs in at about 65 pounds...

    When I go with both 8x10 and 4x5, it's in two completely seperate kits...

    BUt, I still recommend getting the 4x5 back... Why? Probably just because you can ;-) And how else could you shoot a 30" lens on a Type 55 negative??? ;-)
     
  7. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Photography doesn't reward worrying about every possibility. Get the camera and shoot with it until it's second nature, and you're getting the pictures you want.

    If you get all the options and stuff, it's just the evidence that you don't know what you want to do. One camera, one lens, one film, one developer.

    That's enough to occupy yourself day and night for 3 or 4 years... : ]

    Two formats at the same time ? Like riding two bicycles.
     
  8. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    You all give good and valid points.

    df - I totally agree with you there. The only reason I am thinking of ordering one back is that it was recommended to me that I order the back at the same time I order my camera so that the fit will be perfect. Now whether or not that is a valid point perhaps you can enlighten me?

    Alex, I'd love to get both now, but $$ is the limiting factor.

    Greg, I am going with the Ebony SV810U.

    Rich, you make an excellent point about having to cart all those different backs, film etc. That is why I'm wondering whether any of you with reducing backs actually use them, or that they're more like you, where you take your 4x5 camera if you shoot 4x5. If that is the case, then I obviously don't want to spend $900 on a back.

    I do like the 5x7 ratio aspect, but the 4x5 seems much more versatile, since, like some of you have mentioned, it takes polaroid backs, etc.

    But as it stands now, from most of your feedback here, I'm not sure whether I should bother with a back!
     
  9. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    That's a handsome camera. Whew !

    What are doing for a lens, tripod, and holders ?

    [ I can't imagine why you can't get good fit if you order the second back later. Craftsmanship is one thing, sales pressure is another. I can't imagine being able to add accessories as you need them, unless view camera work has become too much of a boutique pastime. ] But I have no experience with Ebony cameras. No enlightenment from me, I'm afraid !

    Will you be able to get it scratched up ? I was lucky: my 8x10 was a wreck when I got it, and I shot with it for 25 years before it was EVER pretty.

    Watcha want to shoot with it ?
     
  10. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Macy,

    I think there is nothing wrong with going the whole hog in one go. I will only say that if you dont intend to do colour or polaroid, I would not bother with a 5x4 reducer. If you want smaller contacts, you can easily crop 5x7 surely?

    I am jealous enough about the 810 Ebony....please don't tell me if you get a 150 XL as well, that would be too much!

    Think hard on the head you are going to put on the Berleback! Sadly Gitzo have discontinued the 1570M head, which I think is great.

    Tom
     
  11. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Just to re-enforce what others have said, I would go for the 5x8 back for several reasons. A beginning 8x10 user has already has a lot on their mind,
    bellows factors can be confusing. The 4x5 allows a polaroid check of the center of the 8x frame to confirm exposure. The cost of the polaroid is far less than a guess exposure on 8x color in my mind. If your do not plan to shoot color, the 4x back is still very useful for confirmation of the little things you may be unsure of! Just my opinion!
     
  12. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    I guess I'm going against the grain on this one. When I bought my 8x10 Wisner I also bought a wide angle bellows and a 4x5 reducing back. I never use either. Total waste of money for me. I thought I would shoot polaroids with the 4x5 back before shooting with 8x10 film but I never do. And it's way to much work to carry around an 8x10 and just shoot a 4x5 film so I only shoot 8x10.

    If you plan to take the camera out of the house the reducing back is just another thing to lug around. (as is the wide angle bellows).

    The camera you plan to buy is a work of art... if you buy the reducing back down the road it should fit fine.

    However, if I was purchasing a 4x5 I would instead buy a 5x7 with a reducing back. This leaves room for future expansion without adding too much cost and weight.

    -Rob Skeoch
     
  13. Steve Hamley

    Steve Hamley Member

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    Macy,

    I have both a 5x7 and a 4x5 back for my 8x10 - they came with the camera. I rarely use the 4x5 and have never used the 5x7.

    There are only 2 real uses for a 4x5 reducing back; to be able to use longer lenses than a 4x5 will normally accomodate and to use Polaroids for exposure/composition tests. Otherwise, it's just easier to use a 4x5. As far as 5x7 goes, if you're going to carry the camera, why not just shoot 8x10? You can crop if you want and there are more film choices. I'd only use the 5x7 if I wanted that format ratio for some reason.

    I can also confirm that reducing backs are hard to carry; they're big and off the camera the GG is somewhat vulnerable especially in a backpack.

    Also keep in mind that if you put a reducing back on an asymmetric camera, your movements are no longer asymmetric because the swing/tilt points are no longer in the same place relative to the GG. The swing/tilt points for an 8x10 would probably be outside a 4x5 GG.

    Steve
     
  14. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    Wow, for a change, APUG is actually saving me money! Though there are compelling reasons both ways, I think for now, I'm going to leave the backs. The bulk and the weight of the equipment is a big deterent for me. Steve, you make an excellent point with respect to the asymmetrical tilt. Thanks for the tip.

    Thanks for everyone's opinions! I appreciate the time you guys took to help me out.

    Df, I am going with the Fujinon 300 C/8.5 or the 450 C/12.5 to begin with. So no, Tom, I am not starting out with the 150 XL!! That will have to be a future purchase. I was actually going to PM you for some tripod head recommendations. I will be going with the Berleback tripods.

    Df, I am going to do mainly landscapes with the camera. I really like hiking and exploring Southern Ontario. Of course, I may not hike too far with this setup. I'll have to build up some strength first!
     
  15. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    IMHO, unless you've got a real reason for a reducing back, you don't have a need. I bought a 4x5 back "just because" it was cheap (and seldom is anything "'dorff" ever cheap,) Do I use it? Nope! A waste of time and $$. I had thought it might be useful in shooting LF color(color 8x10 film is dreadfully expensive) and confirming my set up with polaroid proofs, but B&W is pretty much all I shoot and I've gotten pretty good at exposure(a couple of times I've even gone out without a meter and results were astounding!) Realistically, if I really needed to shoot 4x5 color I'd use one of the Agfas or the Crown Graphic anyway.

    Perhaps if I ever had to part with the ol' Gal I'll get a few extra $$ for having one "in the kit." Thats my only reason for hanging on to it (unless some philanthropic soul wants to offer me lots of $$$ for it!)

    I think keeping things simple as possible when starting out is a better course to sail. Put your resources into making photographs. My 2-cents.

    Cheers!
     
  16. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    I have a 4x5 reducing back for one of my 8x10's, and I do use it. If I'm only shooting 4x5 then I usually take a 4x5 camera, but sometimes I want to shoot with really long lenses and it's hard to beat 30" of bellows with a 4x5 back for a long lens for 4x5, or even with a 6x7 roll film back. I have one 8x10 that will allow me to shoot comfortably with a 150mm lens; extreme movements aren't possible but the movements I can get are sufficient. (This is when I'm using a 150mm lens that covers 8x10 on a flat lensboard; a recessed lensboard would make this a much more useful combination.)

    I can't comment on 5x7, because I don't own anything in 5x7 and I don't have any interest in owning anything in that size. I find the more squat aspect ratio of 4x5/8x10 fits my "normal" vision better, and I shoot 6x12 when I want something that's wide. I struggle with 35mm these days because the aspect ratio just doesn't feel right to me, so I generally shoot with the idea that I'll be cropping to an 8x10 print. But this is all based on what I like...what you like might be completely different.

    You mentioned 6x17. I believe that all of the 6x17 backs that I've seen are actually made for a 4x5 Graflok back. I'm unaware of a 6x17 solution that's made for a 5x7 back, although one might exist that I'm unaware of.

    I wouldn't worry about ordering a back at the same time as you order the camera for "an exact fit"...I'd be shocked if a back ordered at a later date from a manufacturer like Ebony didn't fit perfectly. I've never heard of anyone ordering a reducing back for a 50+ year old camera and getting one that didn't fit if it was made for the same model (and sometimes when the back was made for a different camera completely)...Ebony should certainly be able to produce a back that fits their camera quite well in the future.

    Best of luck.
    Dave
     
  17. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Wow - great stuff. The Fujinons are fabulous lenses. I'd be concerned, though, the 300 might not have quit enough coverage for all around landscape work. If you're doing B&W, you've got a world of fine lenses out there. For 50 years, the classic 2 lens outfit has been a 10" WF Ektar and 19" Artar. VERY hard to beat, even today.

    The Berlebachs are really fine. In the bad old days, we left the tripod heads in the studio when we went into the field. I still do, unless it is some persnickety architectural job. With all the movements you have on the Ebony, there isn't any need for a tripod head. Save weight, save money, save... complexity.

    You'll come in with a kit under 25 pounds... not bad ! A well fitting backpack and you're set.
     
  18. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    Thanks for your tips, Df. Would I go to the auction site for those lenses you mentioned? I just checked the image circle for the 300 and 450 again, and I think I might just go with the 450 to begin with. The 300 C has an image circle of 380, it does seem it could be a bit tight for landscapes.

    And regarding backpack...yes, that could be interesting. Not sure what I would use, but I was going to wait until I get the camera. It's an 8 week wait! Brutal.
     
  19. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    My 2 cents worth - my 8x10" Sinar Norma came with a 4x5" reducing back. I have therefore used it quite a bit, for studio work it can be handy to have the full 600 mm draw of the 8x10" bellows available, otherwise I would need to break off work and fit a central support and second 4x5" bellows (450 mm), on the downside I find I need to be very careful when pulling out the sheath from a 4x5" filmholder on the reducing back to make sure I don't pull the holder back and fog the film. My 8x10" Norma AND the back cost a shattering £99 from a DEALER - I still haven't gotten over it - if I had seen the reducing back for the regular price of £150 or so, I probably wouldn't have bothered - using a 4x5" back standard and 4x5" bellows would be just as easy. Only good reason for a reducing back is if you don't already have a 4x5" camera and need this size only occasionally.
     
  20. James Bleifus

    James Bleifus Member

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    When I bought my 8X10 KMV I also bought a 5X7 back (I was a 5X7 user before getting the KMV). I find that I shoot about twice as much 5X7 film as 8X10. That ration seems to fit well with me. There's no way to know what size will fit best for you until you try it. Personally, I'd play with 8X10 for a while and see if the shape of the image feels too square. If so, then you might want to consider getting another back.

    Cheers, James
     
  21. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    For a 300 is lens I would consider nothing other than the 305 G claron. Unlike the Fuji spec for the 300 8.8 which is perhaps the very most you can expect coverage-wise, the Schneider is conservative and it has enormous coverage reserves on 10x8 as well as being V sharp and small. Outstanding lens in modern shutter.

    Tom
     
  22. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Another vote for the 305 G-Claron!
     
  23. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    How would you put a reducing back(6x17) on another reducing back (5x7?) Maybe Ebonys attach differently, but you might want to make sure you could do that before worrying about it(or are you refferring to a 6x17 insert?) If Ebony has sliders, that would be an efficient way of getting two 4x10s on a single sheet of 8x0 film for the wieght, bulk and cost of a simple piece of small wood shingle.

    I think you'd be happy with a 305mm G-claron too.
     
  24. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I'm now trying to locate a 305 Claron. Not easy!