Eastman 8x10 camera

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by lonnie_bailey, Jun 16, 2002.

  1. I recently picked up for free an old wooden Eastman 8x10 camera
    complete with about 10 film holders (of which at least 5 look useful),
    case, tripod and head. It has a Gundlach lens in a Betax #5 shutter.
    The camera looks in very good shape for as old as it is--the bellows
    doesn't seem to have any pinholes although the top seam has come apart
    ( I assume I can glue that back together?). My question concerns the
    lens and shutter: I know nothing about the lens although I'm sure it's
    probably not a high quality one, but it seems to be very clean and the
    apertures seem okay. The shutter works fine on B and T, but the times
    for the other speeds seem to be almost the same so I assume it will
    need cleaning and some repair (I know about SW Grimes). Is it worth
    getting this shutter repaired with this lens? Or should I not put in
    the money? I should mention I have no experience with 8x10 but some
    with 4x5 and plenty with MF and 35mm. I'm a teacher so I have the time
    to play with it in the summer.

    Any advice I can get will be greatly appreciated, including ideas for
    other lenses I might use for this and anything related to this.
  2. The most commonly found Gundlach lens in a BEtax # 5 shutter is the Radar (which is essentially a TEssar design - it consists of 5 elements, but basically takes the Tessar design and splits one of the elements, probably to get around patents). It will perform like a Tessar, which is to say pretty good.

    The Betax # 5 is a very sturdy and good shutter. Plus it is large which means you can front mount a variety of lenses on to it, which can save quite a bit of money. So, I would suggest you get the shutter fixed by SK Grimes and then look for the 19" or 24" Artars that can be front mounted onto the Betax 5.

    Re lenses for 8x10, if you are contact printing, there are good deals to be had. Older lenses which are very good include the Protars (which are also convertible, and turn up in barrel sometimes and can be front mounted onto the Betax) and Dagors for normal or slightly wide focal lengths. They also work OK converted at longer focal lengths. Long focal length process lenses like Artars, Ronars etc can be had cheaply and are very sharp. WA Protar V's and Wollensak Series III wide angles can be had cheaply to round out the wide end.

    Good luck. Enjoy the world of 8x10. Cheers, DJ
  3. The shutter is definitely worth having and cleaning even if the lens bites (and I'm not saying it does). If you are a DIY'er, check the Google Usenet archives for 2 recent posts (3-4 weeks) by Richard Knoppow in rec.photo.equipment.large-format which details what you need and how to do it. Its supposedly not hard. You will need a shutter tester which is about $80 new, but then you'll be set for life and can test all your shutters. SK GRimes does fine work and will charge $60-80 I think, based on a recent quote for one of mine

    I'm very fond of Wolly shutters. I have 3 No. 4's, one Betax and (my favorites) two Alphax. I like the Alphax better because they have 1 second whereas the most Betax's only go to 1/2 sec. I have an Apo-Nikkor 480 in one of them, the other is waiting to meet its lensmate, the sticky old Betax has an old and sucky Turner-Reich 12/19/25 convertible.

    You can put just about any lens in that #5. Cleaned up and working its probably worth $200, although Wolly's might not sell as fast as say an Ilex. But one that size wont hang aroound too long. If you dont like the Gundlach I'd shop around for a nice big process lens, a front mount by SK is only about $80 I think. You might even be able to have him adapt it so you can interchange different front-mounted process lenses on it, since that shutter is big enuff for anything you're likely to use.
  4. Lonnie,

    I have two Betax #5s. I got one completely dead and a hundred bucks had it working perfectly from one of Steve Grimes' local competitors. They are good shutters if you don't need a flash sync and like the above poster said, they are ideal for front mounting a big process lens. So don't get rid of that shutter without considering it for awhile.

    As for the lens, go test it out. I have an ancient, uncoated Zeiss f4.5 tessar whose performance completely amazes me. It's a huge piece of glass, but you can't beat f4.5 for focussing and stopped a little bit down the lens really sings. Good luck with your camera.
  5. Not bad for a free camera. As the others have said, have the shutter fixed and try out the lens. Mr. Grimes can also tell you anything you need to know about the lens.

    The suggestion to try out barrel lenses front mounted on this shutter is a good one. I use a Goerz 19" Apo-Artar and a Goerz 12" Gold Dot Dagor on my Ilex #5 shutter (which came with a conventionally mounted 10" Wide-Field Ektar--so three lenses on one shutter). While front mounting is less fancy than conventional mounting, it has certain advantages--low cost (you just need to have an adapter ring made), you can carry more lenses more easily this way if you're backpacking, and you get more uniform shutter speeds by using one shutter for several lenses.
  6. Also, be sure that the holders have no light leaks,especially around the light trap. Nothing more aggravating than comung back with a dynamite image...and a light streak!

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