I'm new to this stuff myself - but I'm personally going on the logic that pretty much anything longish in focal length say 14"+ that is around f4.5 should cover easily, especially when focused closer ...
I expect to be corrected however by someone more knowledgeable in due course ;)
Avoiding Aero-Ektars is something I've noted from reading up - although fast and apparently cheap the glass due to its composition soaks up your precious UV...
I shoot large plates for wet plate collodion. As Jeremy mentioned all the way up to 20 x 24. When the big plates are done well they really shine beautifully. For much of my wet plate work I settled on 10 x 12 as my size of choice. I like the bridge that it gaps between what I found for my eyes to be the too small format (8 x 10) and the 11 x 14 which just didn't work for me for whatever reason. 10 x 12 can still be handheld (fun with your wet plate ambrotypes) or have a nice weight to them on the wall. If you buy the 11 x 14 you might want to make a plexi insert and play around with the 10 x 12 size. Remember if you are buying a camera that you plan to use a conventional holder that is modified you will not be able to use the 'full' size of the film holder for wet plate as you will have downsize some. Of course none of that will come into play if you buy a wet plate camera with a wet plate back on it. Pouring the plates won't make that much of a difference between the two. Once you get to practicing with whatever camera you choose you will figure that part out relatively quickly. Wasted collodion is expensive you'll either adapt or get out of the game!
Good luck--wet plate can be addictive. Don't forget to check out Quinn's wet plate forum and of course you can contact me if you wish for any further thoughts or guestions. There are many wonderful wet plate artists on APUG that will have much to offer--Kerik, Bill, Matt, Jersey Vic, Joe so don't be shy about getting started and rolling with it.
I have an 11x14 Burke and James view camera that I've used to take plates up to 10x12. I'm into portraiture and figure work so I'm using large, fast lenses. To cover that size plate I'm either going to pick my Dallmeyer 3A Patent Portrait lens to get the swirls, or something like a 20" Vitax for more normal renditions. Both these lenses are around f/4 and are huge with a lot of glass. For landscapes or other subjects you could get away with slower smaller lenses.
Plates that size (and larger) are impressive but also require some room to manipulate and process. At a home or studio darkroom, that isn't much of a problem, but in the field it means you need a large, portable darkroom. I started with a 4'x4'x6' custom tent but after awhile grew tired of the hassle in setting it up. (New lightproof "grow tents" may be easier to setup and tear down.) I eventually bought a Class-C motorhome that I converted to a mobile wetplate darkroom to get around that hassle. Kerik has a camper truck, Robb Kendrick has a trailer, David Prifti has a rowboat with a darkroom built in, etc.
After working with wetplate awhile, I decided that whole-plate was a great format for me and most of the plates I shoot with the 11x14 are that size rather than the maximum the camera could give. I've also decided that I would prefer to lug around a robust whole-plate, dedicated, wetplate camera rather than the 11x14, so I'm building one to do that smaller size. I'm pretty sure that will get me shooting more plates. Another aspect of whole-plate format that I like is that it is the largest plate I can hold edge to edge and so it is easier to physically manipulate than 8x10 or larger.
I also found the smaller, traditional plate sizes to have a special charm - something to hold in your hand in a case rather than display on the wall in a frame. I find myself moving towards sixth-plates. So, I shoot a lot more with a smaller 5x7 Deardorff than the 11x14 B&J.
You didn't say what your intended subject matter was for the plates or whether you'll be working out of an existing darkroom and I think those are important considerations relative to the equipment you should acquire.
Wet Plate Guru's
Do any of you shoot glass negs, or is this a silly question. I have a 11x14 mint enlarger and always wanted to put a 11x14 glass plate neg and project to 30x40 silver. I think it would look incredible.
I am having a Contact Show in May at the Dylan Ellis Gallery and I have asked Bill S to gather a few of you alternative knobs together to show current work in your particular styles.
A photo historian in town is going to put up Vintage Prints , 80+ years old and we want to put current work by current knobs showing how modern printmakers have been influenced by past processes.
I am probably looking for 2 images per knob.
I am only kidding about Knobs... but come to think of it , one has to be one to carry around 1000lb of equipment to take a pretty pic.
From the thread's context, I'm assuming by glass negs, you mean wet plate negatives (?) But, I would love to see an 11x14 dry plate neg enlarged. I have to admit, the idea hadn't even occurred to me. I'm currently working on restoring an 11x14 camera, and asap after the Holidays I'm hoping to shoot with it. Maybe I could send you a plate this coming early Spring and see what it looks like enlarged. Just a thought.