11x14" vs. 8x10"

Discussion in 'Plate Cameras and Accessories' started by zrisso, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. zrisso

    zrisso Member

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    Well, I am in a bit of a bind. I am looking into buying a camera to be used for wet plate photography, but I'm not sure which size I want to purchase.

    I suppose, essentially, I am asking if 11"x14" is too much of a hassle and if I should settle for 8"x10". By "hassle," I mean the price of lenses for full 11"x14" coverage and availability (cameras, lenses, plate holders).

    I would love to have a larger, 11"x14" plate, but I think I could settle for 8"x10" if 11"x14" equipment is A. really expensive and B. harder to come by, especially since I could purchase cheaper film for the 8"x10" camera if I wanted to use film.

    I've looked around on Google, and it seems (theoretically) that they are about the same, just different sizes.

    If you have any suggestions of cameras/lenses I should look into, I'd appreciate it.
     
  2. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Assuming that one who does wet plate will not be transporting the camera too far from studio or vehicle, size/weight is not a major make-or-break factor.

    Seems like a 11x14 studio camera with an 8x10 back would be a fine way to go -- start of with 8x10 then slowly gather the equipment you need to move up to 11x14. Perhaps looking for lenses that might serve both formats.

    Vaughn
     
  3. zrisso

    zrisso Member

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    I feel like an idiot... I did not even think about getting an 11x14 with a reducing back. That might be what I'll do.

    How much do 11x14s normally weigh?
     
  4. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    The thing here is, most vintage 11x14 cameras, even a light one like a Kodak 2d style are heavy in comparison to an 8x10. There are many more lightweight choices in 8x10, both vintage and modern construction.
     
  5. zrisso

    zrisso Member

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    Oh, I know. Weight has never been an issue for me when it came to cameras; I was just curious.
     
  6. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Does this help? This is Andreas Emmel, a good friend of mine and a great photographer. He built his own 11x14 camera is is using it for pinhole and lens-based photography. He is always complaining about the weight but loves his camera. he even built his own holders! You find his images at:

    http://www.andreas-emmel.de
     

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  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    For film shooters, the biggest hurdle, I think, when moving from 8x10" to 11x14" is the cost of the filmholders, but if you're shooting wetplate, that may not be so different. I would think that with wetplate the biggest issue would be the ability to pour a larger plate, but I'm not a wetplate photographer myself, so I would be interested to hear from the wetplate shooters on that.

    My 1890's American Optical 11x14" field camera is an ultralight by 11x14" standards--about 15 lbs. I know someone with an 11x14" Wisner (Technical Field, if I remember correctly) that weighs 35 lbs.
     
  8. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    the wollensak triple - 13/20/25 covers 11x14 without a problem ...
     
  9. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    Honestly, I found it was easier to pour the larger plates once you had some practice. 11x14 was easier than 8x10 which was easier than 4x5. Now I don't know about Zebra and his 20x24's though!
     
  10. nick mulder

    nick mulder Member

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    Decide what you want to shoot in wet plate then see how much if any movement or enlargement you need - if none and say 1:1 (nice in 11x14") then the camera can be ridiculously simple indeed - a black box...

    Yes, you'll need a fast lens to cope with bellows draw (if any). But if you avoid popular 'branded'/Petzval lenses there are a multitude of cheaper lenses that will cover 11x14" and be fast enough for sub 10sec exposures.
     
  11. zrisso

    zrisso Member

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    Do you have any lens suggestions?
     
  12. nick mulder

    nick mulder Member

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    I'm new to this stuff myself - but I'm personally going on the logic that pretty much anything longish in focal length say 14"+ that is around f4.5 should cover easily, especially when focused closer ...

    I expect to be corrected however by someone more knowledgeable in due course :wink:

    Avoiding Aero-Ektars is something I've noted from reading up - although fast and apparently cheap the glass due to its composition soaks up your precious UV...
     
  13. Zebra

    Zebra Member

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    I shoot large plates for wet plate collodion. As Jeremy mentioned all the way up to 20 x 24. When the big plates are done well they really shine beautifully. For much of my wet plate work I settled on 10 x 12 as my size of choice. I like the bridge that it gaps between what I found for my eyes to be the too small format (8 x 10) and the 11 x 14 which just didn't work for me for whatever reason. 10 x 12 can still be handheld (fun with your wet plate ambrotypes) or have a nice weight to them on the wall. If you buy the 11 x 14 you might want to make a plexi insert and play around with the 10 x 12 size. Remember if you are buying a camera that you plan to use a conventional holder that is modified you will not be able to use the 'full' size of the film holder for wet plate as you will have downsize some. Of course none of that will come into play if you buy a wet plate camera with a wet plate back on it. Pouring the plates won't make that much of a difference between the two. Once you get to practicing with whatever camera you choose you will figure that part out relatively quickly. Wasted collodion is expensive you'll either adapt or get out of the game!

    Good luck--wet plate can be addictive. Don't forget to check out Quinn's wet plate forum and of course you can contact me if you wish for any further thoughts or guestions. There are many wonderful wet plate artists on APUG that will have much to offer--Kerik, Bill, Matt, Jersey Vic, Joe so don't be shy about getting started and rolling with it.

    Zebra
     
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  15. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    Well, wetplate may be a bit different in that respect. You must remember that not only will you be hauling around the camera, tripod, and lens, but also the darkroom, chemicals and plates.

    I have an 11x14 Burke and James view camera that I've used to take plates up to 10x12. I'm into portraiture and figure work so I'm using large, fast lenses. To cover that size plate I'm either going to pick my Dallmeyer 3A Patent Portrait lens to get the swirls, or something like a 20" Vitax for more normal renditions. Both these lenses are around f/4 and are huge with a lot of glass. For landscapes or other subjects you could get away with slower smaller lenses.

    Plates that size (and larger) are impressive but also require some room to manipulate and process. At a home or studio darkroom, that isn't much of a problem, but in the field it means you need a large, portable darkroom. I started with a 4'x4'x6' custom tent but after awhile grew tired of the hassle in setting it up. (New lightproof "grow tents" may be easier to setup and tear down.) I eventually bought a Class-C motorhome that I converted to a mobile wetplate darkroom to get around that hassle. Kerik has a camper truck, Robb Kendrick has a trailer, David Prifti has a rowboat with a darkroom built in, etc.

    After working with wetplate awhile, I decided that whole-plate was a great format for me and most of the plates I shoot with the 11x14 are that size rather than the maximum the camera could give. I've also decided that I would prefer to lug around a robust whole-plate, dedicated, wetplate camera rather than the 11x14, so I'm building one to do that smaller size. I'm pretty sure that will get me shooting more plates. Another aspect of whole-plate format that I like is that it is the largest plate I can hold edge to edge and so it is easier to physically manipulate than 8x10 or larger.

    I also found the smaller, traditional plate sizes to have a special charm - something to hold in your hand in a case rather than display on the wall in a frame. I find myself moving towards sixth-plates. So, I shoot a lot more with a smaller 5x7 Deardorff than the 11x14 B&J.

    You didn't say what your intended subject matter was for the plates or whether you'll be working out of an existing darkroom and I think those are important considerations relative to the equipment you should acquire.

    Joe
     
  16. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Wet Plate Guru's

    Do any of you shoot glass negs, or is this a silly question. I have a 11x14 mint enlarger and always wanted to put a 11x14 glass plate neg and project to 30x40 silver. I think it would look incredible.
    also
    I am having a Contact Show in May at the Dylan Ellis Gallery and I have asked Bill S to gather a few of you alternative knobs together to show current work in your particular styles.
    A photo historian in town is going to put up Vintage Prints , 80+ years old and we want to put current work by current knobs showing how modern printmakers have been influenced by past processes.

    I am probably looking for 2 images per knob.
    any takers.





    .
     
  17. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I am only kidding about Knobs... but come to think of it , one has to be one to carry around 1000lb of equipment to take a pretty pic.
     
  18. dwross

    dwross Subscriber

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    Bob,

    From the thread's context, I'm assuming by glass negs, you mean wet plate negatives (?) But, I would love to see an 11x14 dry plate neg enlarged. I have to admit, the idea hadn't even occurred to me. I'm currently working on restoring an 11x14 camera, and asap after the Holidays I'm hoping to shoot with it. Maybe I could send you a plate this coming early Spring and see what it looks like enlarged. Just a thought.

    d
    www.thelightfarm.com
     
  19. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I would like to see this happen , send me the neg anytime and we will make a print.
     
  20. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Actually folks , I consider Monty a knob so he is the exception
     
  21. Zebra

    Zebra Member

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    There for a moment I thought i was going to go unscathed! When you quote yourself for your slams I can't compete--so I will claim I am speechless to retort. A rare victory for yourself so the next beers on me, or whatever it is that you hobbits drink.

    monty
     
  22. verney

    verney Member

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    I like his camera bag! Nice pictures on that site.
     
  23. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    What is the meaning of a knob as applied to a person? Is it more like a sainted person who sacrifices self for the greater good of humanity, or an up-tight anal retentive a*$ h*#e only interested in the adancement of self?

    Sandy King
     
  24. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Sandy

    Knob could refer to someone that collects equipment but never uses
    Knob could , like in Monty's case , be just quirkyness in behavior,
    Or a Knob could be someone who measures everything in


    linnnnnesss peeerrr mmmillllimmmetterr
     
  25. goamules

    goamules Member

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    Back to the Newb (as apposed to Knob), I agree with what Joe says, smaller is often better with wetplate. By smaller I mean about half or whole plate. Keep in mind there is a lot of learning in this process, it's cheaper to shoot 50 half or quarter plates to learn your chemicals and lens, and then shoot some large ones. But if money is no object do any size you want. Keep in mind the aluminum or glass costs too, as do the chemicals, lenses, everything is more when you get above 8x10. If you want a halfplate petzval figure on $200. For a 11x14 petzval, figure on $500-$1500.

    I've been shooting halfplate for two years, with inserts in my 5x7 and 8x10 cameras. For learning you may shoot at least once a week, 4-6 plates a session. If you have different size inserts for your wetplate back you have flexibility. When everything is going right, put in a large insert and shoot that 8x10! When you have an off day, save your chemicals by shooting small stuff.

    Garrett
     
  26. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I am getting into wet plate myself and although my ultimate goal is to be able to shoot 11x14, I agree with the idea of starting small. I am building a custom holder to work with an 8x10 camera that will allow me to shoot 4x5, 1/2 plate and whole plate. I have a couple of more modern lenses that are fast enough to shoot with and for the time being I will make ambro negatives in 4x5 that will allow me to do enlargements up to 11x14. With whole plate images I will experiment printing with plt/pld, albumen and Azo.

    Eventually I hope to fnd an appropriate lens to cover 11x14, then I will build a camera around that. I have a 355 G Claron but it is probably a little slow for portraits.

    And as others have pointed out if you plan on shooting in the field you need a darkbox. I figure that once I get a workflow established working with smaller plates I can scale up a darkbox and silver bath for 11x14.

    But initially I will stick with 4x5 plates as I learn more about exposure, and the in and outs of the chemistry. Much less expensive making mistakes with smaller plates unitll I get the feel for everything.