Tuesday, January 31, 2012

8x10 Camera

Everyone who knows me knows I'm always on the lookout for a good deal, and I found one last week. An unexpected one though. I ended up purchasing an ancient 8x10 field camera complete with lens, boards, holders, film, and other goodies for so cheap I could easily resell it at a profit. However, I wanted to give it a whirl and also try contact printing. So today I took the camera out for a trial run.

First, the camera. It is a Gundlach made around 1897. It folds up nicely for portability. The lens it came with is a Radar 300mm f/4.5. Luckily I had just bought a Nikon 300mm f/9 which works wonderfully for a standard lens on this camera and it's 1/4th the weight of the massive Radar. I also am able to use my 11 1/2 inch Verito lens on it. Here is a photo of the camera:

It's heavy but not as heavy as a massive monorail. I took a walk around Drexel Park to shoot a couple of test sheets and to figure out a general development strategy. Because 8x10 film is so expensive, I bought some medical x-ray film for experimentation after reading about it online. It turns out the x-ray film is really good! It comes in two flavors: blue or green sensitive. I bought green because I think it will work better for landscapes.

Here is the best shot from the experiment. This is the bridge that I shot on 4x5 way back on the first post of this blog! I used the x-ray film (Fuji Super HR-T) rated at ISO 50 and developed in Rodinal 1:100 for 6 minutes in a BTZS tube. The rear emulsion was stripped with bleach. For more info consult this link on the Large Format Photography Forum.

I also tried my hand at contact printing this photo but the prints are still wet. They came out well though!


  1. Nice. I got an old Agfa/Ansco 8x10 a couple months back before winter hit here in Minnesota. I like the 4.5 tessar lens, heavy as it is, for the bright image it gives me on the GG. I also got some xray film to experiment with and compare to the Ilford Delta 100. Your green xray definitely emulates a bit of infrared with the enhanced green sensitivity, much more so than the blue I purchased. Nice image.

  2. Thanks! Yeah I really didn't want the blue stuff because it would destroy my sky. I took a few shots to try out development times and while it wasn't quite right the shot I took with a large expanse of sky worked really well. It was fairly dark after adding a CPL.

    I haven't shot much with the Radar 300/4.5 because of how light the Nikkor is but I will probably shoot a portrait tomorrow with it to test the short DOF with it close to wide-open.