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Author Topic: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system  (Read 11148 times)

kevs

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Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« on: January 16, 2012, 09:26:04 pm »

I'm going to do a people fine art project with 8x10. Any recommendations on what to buy? I'd want the best bang for buck and great quality.... thanks!

Any recommendations of film appreciated too.  thanks!
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theguywitha645d

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2012, 10:03:35 pm »

Is this a studio project or an outdoor project?

The camera is basically a black box and so optics are really important. Do you want wide, normal, long?

Black and white? Color negs? Transparencies?

I think you are going to have to give a little more information if you want help...
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uaiomex

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2012, 11:10:34 pm »

I think that at this level and category, there's not much difference in quality unless you go for cheap used old lenses. It mainly depends on technique. As for best bang for the buck, it clearly means buying used equipment.
Eduardo
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marcmccalmont

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2012, 11:34:23 pm »

Try the Large Format Photography Forum  http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/
Marc
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kevs

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2012, 01:01:01 pm »

Thanks guys;
this is studio and locations like hotels.
Shooting people -- small group and individuals.
Probably chrome. Any tips suggestions? I thinking ebay but am open to other ideas.

I will check out that forum thanks.

BTW, this forum, couple problems: seem to have to log in every post & email notification not working, problem with Verizon? this happened on another forum.
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Codger

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2012, 05:41:13 pm »

Be sure to include KEH.com in your shopping.  They grade their products fairly and the pricing is good.  The inventory changes every few days.  If you're in the USA, this is a good source.
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gubaguba

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2012, 08:28:12 pm »

Well a good monorail would be nice.  Toyo or Cambo were work horses back in the day. Probably can find a good deal on either.  Deardorff travels nicely as a folding camera.  Sinar is nice but won't really provide much of an advantage based on your usage.  Sinar will demand more money.  I agree a camera is just a box to hold a lens. As long as you can find a solid camera that locks in place. Spend you money on lenses and film holders.
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2012, 10:57:49 pm »

Keith Canham makes three terrific ones. An all metal : http://www.canhamcameras.com/8x10metal.htm 

and two wooden ones: http://www.canhamcameras.com/8x10standard.htm and http://www.canhamcameras.com/8x10lightweight.htm

And of course it is hard to go wrong with a Deardorff in good shape. They are real conversation starters. 

All are very suited to your project.

If you want a more technical camera then you want a monorail. I recommend a Sinar p2 but make sure it has the rear standard designed to support 8x10 backs. The Arca-Swiss FB 8x10 is terrific as well.

I never much liked the on axis tilt cameras like the Cambo, Toyo, and Horseman. Never worked with the Linhof L cameras but they are supposed to be great.

For lenses, the Nikon large format lenses are great and highly under appreciated. Rodenstock, Calumet Caltar II N (Rebadged Rodenstocks) and Schneifers are goos as well. The Schneiders always felt a little too "clinical" to me for portraits but they are great lenses.

As for sellers of good repute for large format gear, try Quality Camera Company http://www.qualitycameracompany.com/servlet/StoreFront  JeffWheeler there sells to people like Nicholas Nixon and Richard Misrach. He also has a great selection of lenses. Jeff also happens to be one of my neighbors but that is not why I am recommending him. I dealt with him for at least a decade before I moved to Atlanta and he really, really knows large format gear and sets his prices fairly, I seriously recommend him for large format over KEH.  Lens & Repro in New York City has traditionally been an excellent source as well: http://lensandrepro.com/
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bill t.

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2012, 01:31:27 am »

And of course you must if at all possible obtain a 12" Golden Dagor lens.  Probably no better than a Symmar, but oh such poetic resonance in that name!   :)
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K.C.

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2012, 02:02:50 am »

Shooting headshots and groups with any large format camera won't require much from the camera. You won't need extreme movements or ultra fine control focus so buy what ever you think you can resell without too much of a loss on ebay. If you're going to shoot chrome I guarantee you'll be reselling it sooner than you think.

I shot 4X5, 4X10 and 8X10 for years with SINAR, Arca Swiss and Canham cameras using all the best glass. Today I'd pick up my SONY A850 and CZ lenses over any one of them and with a little time in PS I could make you believe I shot film, it would just look much better.
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bill t.

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2012, 03:04:06 am »

Let me digress a bit and mention that a large view camera can be a very daunting instrument to use in a person-to-person environment, even for photographers who are very accustomed to using them.

With all those swings and tilts and lock downs, just a minor tug on the focusing cloth or a bump from the film holder or the slightest wind gust can mess you up.  And that's the short list of problems, should also mention light-leaking film holders.  And the horrifically long exposures needed for those f64 shots.  And the obsessive check-every-corner-focusing that simply must be first done and then checked often.  There are probably 37x more ways to mess up a view camera shot than a digital shot.  The camera will constantly be imposing itself over whatever rapport you want to create with your subjects.  They're so big andso  clumsy and just waiting to punish you for the slightest infraction.

I have shot many a sheet of film from 4 x 5 through 8 x 10, and I would never choose those formats again for anything when medium format digital cameras, or scanning cameras, or even high pixel-count DSLR's are available.  I routinely shoot stitched panos using top quality, manual focus primes on a 5D2, and have not the slightest trouble getting better quality than on any 8x10 film I ever shot, sometimes in lighting situations that were formerly impossible.

But if you must, shoot color negative.  It'll give you a few more stops latitude and a rather understated, artsy type of tonality you can not easily get from transparency.  And if needed a scanned negative can be pushed a lot farther than a scanned transparency.  And good luck getting those sheets developed!

And remember that the little notches go in your upper right corner when the holder is facing you!  Let's, see, where's that damned Linhoff?  Or maybe the Anba Wood View...  Oh darn, the 1 second mark on the 65 Angulon is giving me around 5 seconds, I'll just click about 20 times, that'll fix it...
« Last Edit: January 18, 2012, 03:05:39 am by bill t. »
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K.C.

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2012, 03:29:39 am »

Ahh yes, all those memories, you're so right Bill. As I posted earlier, never again. Hand my that 24MP SONY sensor and I'm no my way.
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bill t.

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2012, 04:04:09 am »

Hi K.C., I guess we are of a single mind on this!  Was working on that post for some time while doing something else, I failed to see your earlier post.
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kevs

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2012, 07:49:51 pm »

Ellis, great post. thanks!

couple questions.
why is a monorail more technical?

Axis tilt, cambo, Toyo, I thought all LF is tilt and shift no? Sinar does not do tilt/ shift?

for Sinar, "make sure it has the rear standard designed to support 8x10 backs"
What does that mean?  Don't all back have a place for the holders?

You like Nikon lenses over Schneider? I hear both opinions.   I'm going to dive in and just choose one brand of lens.  Do you see a real differences in the prints?

Bill, thanks! I hear you. I'm a 35 guy my whole life. So in a way, I glad I never soured on LF yet! I've always wanted things quick and easy. For this project, I will hire a helper to do most of the pesky details.
But I really want to get into the art of it all, the craft.
I have a Canon 5D2. For large prints, forget it.  MF iq180, $700 day rental and 50k to buy?  Definitely for commercial work.... with a client paying. Thanks for the tip on negative film. I was leaning to chrome barbecue of the finished look of chrome, but I did not know negative gives an artier look -- interesting.

There have been some remarkable post/test on quality here and 8x10 kills them all. Many claim though 4x5 would do just as good for large prints, let's say life size people prints what all think?
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2012, 08:57:26 pm »

Ellis, great post. thanks!

couple questions.
why is a monorail more technical?

Axis tilt, cambo, Toyo, I thought all LF is tilt and shift no? Sinar does not do tilt/ shift?

for Sinar, "make sure it has the rear standard designed to support 8x10 backs"
What does that mean?  Don't all back have a place for the holders?

You like Nikon lenses over Schneider? I hear both opinions.   I'm going to dive in and just choose one brand of lens.  Do you see a real differences in the prints

A monorail view camera like the Sinar P/P2/P2 or F/F2.  Arca-Swiss M or F /FC, and Horseman, Toyo and Linhof  monorails are considered tthe most complex and abest suited for still life work.  These cameras have rise, fall ,shift, tilt, and swing movements on the both the front (lens)  and rear ( film or digital sensor) standards, along with interchangable bellows and  monorails that that can be lengthened by adding additional rail segments - sometimes to the point of needing intermediate standards and additional bellows along with a second tripod.  My favorite studio only cameras  were the Sinar P and P2  because of  their adaptability and ease of use - the latter a an explanation of I'll get to in a moment.

There are three ways of designing movements for a view camera. The most prevalent in a monorail camera is the on axis tilt design. This means that the lens and film plane tilt around  horizontal line running across the middle of the standards. Most Axis tilt cameras alos have the rise/fall movement i nthe fiilm and lens plane.  this happened because once you start doing complex movements - ones involving tilt, with rise or fall and possibly swing on both the front and rear standards you end up often needing to go through multiple iterations of "correcting  your corrections " to achieve the effect you want. of yaw where the front and rear standard planes can get can form a geometry where the two planes intersect in a point and not a line.

For cameras designed to be used on location the  popular designs - wooden folders  and the Canham metal cameras, the Japanese made Ebonys, the Linhof TK45s (not available in 8x10), and the Arca-Swiss F/FC monorail cameras   are base tilt movements. Almost  as the name implies filed cameras are meant primarily for use on location but do excellent work as portrait as well as landscape cameras. With base tilts the tilt axis is at or just below the bottom of the film holder and lens holder. This has certain advantages over on-axis tilts but if you have learned view camera movements on an on axis tilt camera the process can be a bit strange.

A "technical camera would be like the "lunchbox" Horseman, Toyo and Linhof designs where the rail bed is the "lid' of the lunch box and folds down allowing the front standard to move forward to focus. Movements and bellows length on these cameras tend to be limited.

My favorite cameras for both studio and  field work are the Canham metal cameras and the Arca-Swiss FC series. As they have the precision and range of movement required for still life work and the portability needed for field work. 

The Sinar P series of cameras use neither an on-axis or base tilt design. instead they used a patented off axis tilt and swing design where the tilt and swing movements rotate around lines in the film and lens planes but  closer to to the edges than  the center. One of the things this allowed Sinar to do was to build in a calculator based on the actual degree of movements to help you determine what was the best (i.e., most wide open aperture) you cold use to achieve the depth of focus you wanted for a photo if you were using. The Sinar and the Arca-Swiss M and FC cameras were also yaw-free designs which really speeds up the process of determining how to best set the tilt, swing rise and fall movements.

As to my preference of Nikon lenses. one of the beauties of working with a view camera is that you are not limited to a single maker of really terrific, very  sharp, high resolution lenses  lenses. I did most of my LF work with a mix of Rodenstock Sironars (normal focal lengths) and Grandagons (wide angle designs) and Nikkor SW, W, M and T lenses  for both wide angle, normal and telephoto work. there was just something in the way these lenses  made my chromes look that appealed to me a little more than the look of Schneider glass.

I apologize for any typos. This has been a very long post and I'm tired.
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langier

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2012, 10:07:42 pm »

If you are shooting inside and portraits, you may need a lot of light to make things work well. The larger the format, the more power you generally need.

When I shot 4x5 in the studio, with still life, it was a matter of taking 2000 to 4000 ws and popping it multiple times with the shutter open to get the look we needed. With people, you'll need to have enough lighting to do it in one pop of the flash.

With digital, I can do the same lighting as I did shooting 4x5 with battery portable TTL lighting, for the most part, though I sometimes need and use the power of the big lights for some shoots.
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bill t.

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2012, 11:55:17 pm »

The Craft is in the print, nowhere else.  Do you what you gotta do to get it, and judge only the product.

For subtlety take a look at  Crewdson's 8x10 color neg work.  He probably uses color neg with greater subtlety than anybody ever and it is a major element in his distinctive look, which only really comes through on original exhibition prints.  But you can get an idea on the link.  But seriously, except for a very limited range of subjects chromes are miles behind good digital now, and just a damned nuisance in general.

Also, I have been hearing from some friends that most film labs are in serious decline.  If your budget allows you need to hook up with a zealot lab technician to do it right.
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K.C.

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2012, 01:32:06 am »

In the best controlled studio environment, with a lab that could tweak film for you in 1/4 stops, producing an image within the dynamic range of chrome and then translating it to the max of a Cibachrome print, took years of experience. Color negs give you a LOT of latitude and still produce good images. A talented photographer, which if you're just starting now, it's debatable you'll have time to become before the demise of film, can create vastly better images from a neg.

And with all due respect, given the questions you're asking, and Ellis was so indulgent to answer, your pursuit is a fools folly. Call it fine art, yeah, that'll cover you for while, but hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in, you'll wish you'd spent your time and money another way.

Film is gone for a reason, it's look can be re-created and better images can be made without it. Large format cameras sell on ebay for 15 on the dollar for what they cost new and they're plentiful. That speaks to the reality of photography today.

And if you can't let go of the idea, consider this. Good images aren't about the gear used, nor the format. You could hand a Kodak brownie or an Arca Swiss 8X10 to a good shooter and he'd come back with great images from each. Getting past the gear infatuation is the first step to shooting anything you can call fine art.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 01:33:46 am by K.C. »
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bill t.

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2012, 02:48:42 am »

OK, in the days before LCD's on the backs of cameras there was this thing called TESTING.  We used to test the heck out lighting, exposures, equipment, film, composition, you name it.  And each test took many hours to view if there was a good lab down the block, and a day or two if there wasn't.  It's like you took a picture with your DSLR, but it took 24 hours for image to appear on the LCD.  Unless you had a Polaroid holder and some expensive film, which is a form of stinky, finger-staining, gooey punishment no longer available in these times.

So here's what I suggest.  Go get some film, borrow and old 4x5 kit, and shoot some TESTS!  It's the right thing to do and an integral part of the View Camera Craft.  Girlfriends are indispensable in these matters.  Make some scans or even optical prints.  See what you think.  While you're at it take a few shots with the 5D2 using a prime, manual focus lens.  This exercise will be enormously informative, I promise!

*end of meaningful post*

All of which reminds me of when I had a shop a short walk from the Kodak Las Palmas plant in Hollywood.  3 hour turnarounds on Kodachrome, 2 or 3 times a day.  It was an almost unimaginable, privileged, decadent luxury.
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Reccomendations for buying an 8x10 system
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2012, 10:34:22 am »

For subtlety take a look at  Crewdson's 8x10 color neg work.

My understanding is that of as last year Gregory Crewdson has switched to a Phase One back, probably  an IQ 180 system.

So here's what I suggest.  Go get some film, borrow and old 4x5 kit, and shoot some TESTS!  It's the right thing to do and an integral part of the View Camera Craft.

I fully agree.

Insert Quote
Let me digress a bit and mention that a large view camera can be a very daunting instrument to use in a person-to-person environment, even for photographers who are very accustomed to using them.


There were a couple of aspects of shooting portraits with a view camera (and I mostly shot with 4x5 not 8x10) that I liked.  My large format portrait work was generally assigned work (editorial work for Newsweek, Forbes, MTV/VH-1 and others as well as corporate, industrial and advertising work).

1) The way the bulk of the camera and the LF shooting process told the client this is not a quick snap - that changed the psychological aspect of the session and made them take it  and me a little more seriously.

2) The difference in the way the larger image and longer lenses ( a 90mm on a 4x5 is roughly the equivalent of a 28mm lens on a 5D MArk II or similar 24x36mm format cameras, and similarly a 300mm has the same vertical angle of view on a 4x5 as a 100-105mm lens on a 24x36mm camera) "drew" the iamge.

3) the use of movements on either the front or rear standard , lateral shift and rise/fall primarily, to compose the photograph exactly how I wanted to, and if needed
left me plenty of high quality image area to crop.

What stops me from shooting large format today is quite simply the dearth of good labs.

There is also  the expense,  While  I do charge a fee for digital processing and services it is  nowhere near the expense I'd rack up if I bracketed my ideas as much as digital allows me to do.   The freedom to experiment and make both mistakes and discoveries relatively inexpensively is for me the real photographic benefit of shooting with high quality digital cameras.

Kevs, if  you haven't seen it already take a look at http://wayneford.posterous.com/arnold-newman-and-the-development-of-the-envi and also http://www.arnoldnewmanarchive.com/
 
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 10:59:07 am by Ellis Vener »
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