Good lenses for an 8x10 view camera

November 18, 2016  •  6 Comments

Based on the 4x5 lens suggestions blog post that I made a while ago, I got a request to do the same for 8x10. Pretty much the same considerations play out for 8x10, do you want modern or old lenses, light weight for the field or you don't care for the studio, and the subject matter determining your preferred focal length and maximum aperture requirements. I won't repeat myself again, except to say that with 8x10 you should just double your favorite 4x5 focal lengths to get the equivalent. So a normal lens for 8x10 is somewhere between 300mm and 360mm.

Since I'm a field camera user, typically taking my super light weight Ritter 8x10 in a backpack with a few holders, I'm basically looking for the lightest lenses with the largest coverage that won't put pressure on my front standard and break my back. In that respect one manufacturer shines greater than all the others: Fujinon. For whatever reason, perhaps because Fuji was last to the party, the company produced some of the most unusual lenses that combine light weight, small fast shutters, and huge coverage. But if you are in a studio setting and/or working in really dark places such as interiors, dusk, dawn, dense forests, or night photography you might want to consider heavier, faster and often cheaper lenses. So I've put together two sets of lenses that meet the extremes of what someone might want in an 8x10 lens set. Then at the end I've got a section on unusual lenses to consider at the super-wide and super-long focal lengths.

Lenses for 8x10 Field Camera: Computar 210/9, Fujinon A 300/9, Fujinon A 360/10, Fujinon C 450/12Lenses for 8x10 Field CameraLeft to right: Computar 210/9, Fujinon A 300/9, Fujinon A 360/10, Fujinon C 450/12

 

Set 1: Field Camera / Good Light / More Expensive

Brand / Name Focal Length Max Aperture Image Circle Coating Filter Size Weight
Computar 210mm 9 313mm (actually more) MC 52mm 280g
Fujinon C 300mm 8.5 380mm MC 52mm 250g
Fujinon A 360mm 10 504mm MC 58mm 475g
Fujinon C 450mm 11.5 486mm MC 52mm 270g
Fujinon C 600mm 12 620mm MC 67mm 575g

This is my favorite set of lenses. You could say my Fujinon A 360/10 is practically glued on to the front of my camera I just take so many images with that lens. Unfortunately, its also very hard to find and will cost you somewhere around $1,200. One alternative is the G-Claron 355/9 but it weights 855g and takes a 77mm filter. There is as well the lighter Apo-Ronar 360/9 which is usually a barrel but does sometimes show up in a Copal 3. Also if you want more coverage for the 300mm focal length, then the Fujinon A 300/9 with an image circle of 420mm and a weight of 410g is a nice alternative and a tad bit sharper. Many people also like the G-Claron 305/9 with an image circle of 381mm and a weight of 420g.

To be honest I never take this full complement of lenses out all together. The Computar 210/9 and the Fujinon A 360/10 suffice 90% of the time. I just don't like shooting super wide and things start to wobble in even the lightest breeze when my field camera is racked out beyond 600mm. All of these lenses have large to insane amounts of coverage, its really hard to run out of room, and let's face it who wants to accidentally vignette an image when the film cost and processing is setting you back tens of dollars a sheet. None of them are poor performers in terms of sharpness.

Lenses for 8x10 Studio Camera: Fujinon W 210/5.6, Nikkor W 300/5.6, G-Claron 355/9, Nikkor M 450/9Lenses for 8x10 Studio CameraLeft to right: Fujinon W 210/5.6, Nikkor W 300/5.6, G-Claron 355/9, Nikkor M 450/9

Set 2: Studio Camera / Low Light / Cheaper

Brand / Name Focal Length Max Aperture Image Circle Coating Filter Size Weight
Fujinon W (Inside Lettering) 210mm 5.6 352mm SC 58mm 271g
Fujinon CM-W 300mm 5.6 412mm MC 77mm 965g
Schneider G Claron 355mm 9 444mm MC 77mm 855g
Nikkor M 450mm 9 440mm MC 67mm 640g
Goertz Red Dot Artar 610mm / 24" 11 518mm MC 67mm 1160g*

*Lens in brass without shutter. Can be mounted in an Ilex 5 or a Copal 3 shutter.

These lenses are faster, heavier and have pretty large image circles. On the plus side most of them are fairly easy to find and on the cheaper side. The one exception is the Goertz RDA 24"/11 which is easy to find in a barrel but not so easy to find in a shutter. The Red Dot Artars were produced for a long time, first in brass and then in aluminium. The brass ones are very heavy. If you are going to the trouble of having a barrel mounted I'd go for a later aluminium one. An Ilex 5 will allow the maximum aperture for the lens, but a Copal 3 will shave off 1/3 of a stop. The Copal 3 is newer, has a faster max shutter speed, and is about the same weight as the Ilex 5 plus it is much easier to find. Just make sure you get the black or silver "wide tooth" versions of the Copal 3 and not a Copal 3S which has a narrower maximum aperture. See my 14x17 lens post for an explanation of the differences. The Fujinon W 210/5.6 has to be the older version with the lettering inside the front element, not a later one with the lettering outside. The newer versions mechanically vignette the lens elements maximum performance so they don't cover 8x10. As it is the old version don't have much extra coverage on 8x10 so you need to be careful. Besides the Fujinon CM-W 300/5.6 there is also the similar and easier to find Nikkor W 300/5.6 but it takes 95mm filters and is another 300g heavier.

The Extras: Super-Wides and Super-Tele
Brand / Name Focal Length Max Aperture Image Circle Coating Filter Size Weight
Nikkor SW 120mm 8 312mm MC 77mm 610g
Nikkor SW 150mm 8 400mm MC 95mm 1050g
Schneider Super-Symmar XL 150mm 5.6 386mm MC 95mm 740g
Nikkor T ED 600mm 9 310mm MC 95mm 1650g
Nikkor T ED 800mm 12 310mm MC 95mm 1600g
Nikkor T ED 1200mm 18 310mm MC 95mm 1480g

At the wider end you can use the Nikkor SW 120/8 which just will cover 8x10 head on with no movements. Many 8x10 cameras simply can't handle such compressed bellows. The Nikkor SW 150/8 and Schneider Super-Symmar XL 150/5.6 are beautiful optics and also very wide on 8x10. The Nikkor makes a tele lens with ED glass and several different lens elements that take you from 600mm to 800mm to 1200mm. They cover 8x10 with a very little room for movements. 


Comments

Angus Parker Photography
@Brian: I used to use the Nikkor SW 120/8 on my Ritter 8x10 which is quite doable if a little bit of a pain - you have to reverse the front standard and title the camera frame downward to compress the bellows enough and keep the camera bed out of the frame! I find it just too wide and ended up selling it back to the Australian that I bought it from almost a year to the day. But what a great lens given the price to optic ratio.
Brian Wiese(non-registered)
I was able to get the Nikkor SW 120/8 to focus on my Deardorff 8x10 only after getting a recessed lens board off of ebay. I have yet to shoot with it, but love that it is 77mm filter threads and covers 8x10.
Angus Parker Photography
Recent thread on LFPF gave some good ideas for 210mm focal length lenses for 8x10. Worth a read: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?135924-Another-210mm-lens-for-8x10-thread
Rene P(non-registered)
Hello Angus - fantastic blog, and thank you for the great LF and ULF info. I forgot how much I missed shooting LF until I picked up my 4x5 again after too many years of not using it. Regarding 8x10 lenses, there seem to be very few lenses in the 180mm - 210mm focal length (my favorite w.a. is the 90mm for 4x5). Besides a couple of older and hard-to-find lenses are there really no modern lenses with 8x10 coverage?
Angus Parker Photography
Thanks for the info. Looked up the details on this page, you were right about the IC and the filter is 58mm: http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/byfl.htm
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