In October, I sold my Toyo 45A to purchase a very used 8×10 1935 Eastman View Camera No. 2D. It had a few issues including missing knobs, bellows that leaked at the front and rear standards, and it needed a general deep clean including a new ground glass. A kind person from the Large Format Photography forum sent me a couple of spare knobs that he had from a previous restoration. That was what I needed to get started and verify that both standards locked down tightly. Next I cleaned and waxed the wood. I thought about a complete restoration, but I want this camera to be an everyday tool, not a museum piece. It’s going to get banged up with heavy use. I found a very reasonable source on Ebay for ground glass and replaced the worn glass on the camera.
The last step was to seal the bellows to the front and rear standards in a light-tight fashion. The bellows themselves were solid, and have definitely been replaced at some point, but they leaked light like crazy since they were not joined tightly to the standards. A first run of using FabTac glue and clamps didn’t really work as well as I had wanted, so I found a roll of this dark black putty that people use to weatherstrip windows. The strips of putty are thin and very sticky, so I lined them up at the seams inside of the bellows and they’ve proven to be totally light-tight.
Lastly, I purchased a used Schneider 300mm f5.6 lens to replace the busted lens the camera came with. A 300mm lens is a standard length for 8×10 (similar to a 50mm on an SLR or 80mm on a MF camera). The f5.6 aperture means the lens is HUGE and heavy, but it’s nice to have the bright aperture in odd lighting outside.
One of my first 8×10 negatives shot on Kodak Tri-X 320 Sheet Film.
I’m developing the negatives in trays (in our bathtub) using Kodak HC 110 Solution H. It’s an easy process and much more fun than developing film in tubes, tanks, or processors. The trays use less solution (although tubes use even less) and you can give each negative TLC. While doing research on tray developing, I ran across “brush developing.” To brush develop, I put the negative emulsion-side up in a 8×10 tray and use a soft 4 inch brush to agitate the developer as I move up and down the negative. It’s a constant agitation that supposedly gives you a smoother development. It is very soothing. Feeling the brush glide across the wet negative is weird at first, but I’ve yet to notice any scratches.
Shooting the Schneider 300mm f5.6 wide open results in insanely shallow depth of field.
Even shooting at f16 gives you very little depth of field up close. For this type of shot, f22 or 32 would be much better.
An aperture of f22 works okay for this type of subject.
After a few test sessions, I’ve got a good sense of the apertures and distances that I need to work with, so I’m excited to get out in the hood with it next.