Buying or making ULF film holders

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by SchwinnParamount, Nov 1, 2005.

  1. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Member

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    I am building an 8x10 field camera or two for myself, a son and a friend. Next year I hope to tackle an 8x20. I'll start this next project if I get the right sort of answers to the following questions.
    1. What kind of prices are being charged for these film holder type beasties?
    2. Are there any exceptional technical challenges to be overcome if I decide to make a film holder?
    3. If I figure out how to build a holder and do a good job with it, would there be much of a market for new holders I might produce?
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    If you need to ask. Okay seriously ULF can cost more then the camera it seems.
     
  3. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    1. See http://www.filmholders.com/filmho1.html for prices on ULF hand-made film holders.

    2. Precision is the biggest hurdle. Remember, it's precision over 20", which is a lot more than twice the effort of precision over 10".

    3. Keep in mind that the number of photographers drops significantly once you get beyond 8x10; there just aren't that many ULF photographers out there. If you can't beat the current prices by a significant margin, you'll have a hard time convincing many people to take a chance with your holders...you'll have to build a reputation to build a business. And even if you do, I doubt that you'll get rich off of the holders. Consider that Keith Canham is selling 4x10 holder for $95 and there's never been a problem getting them...even at that price the world isn't beating a path to his door simply because there aren't enough ULF photographers to wear out his grass. So my guess is that if your price was very good and your work was good, you might be able to make some sales...but you won't be selling hundreds of these things every week. (I doubt that hundreds of ULF holders exchange hands every week in the entire world.) 8x10 holders, on the other hand, would probably give you a larger market...but it'll be hard to beat the price of pre-packaged Fidelity holders.

    Regardless, I wish you great luck with your cameras and holders. I'm fascinated by the thought of an 8x20, and if I had a better back I'd probably be building one myself. (If you can make the cameras well and at a reasonable price, that might be a better way to find a market.)

    Be well.
    Dave
     
  4. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Price depends on size and manufacturer. There are holders made by S and S, AWB, and Lotus.

    The information that I have is that a film holder requires a lot more precision then a camera. The film plane (T Dimension) and rib lock dimensions are restrictive. Additionally the light trap is a major consideration. Some sizes have uniform dimensions and some do not. I shot 12X20 for awhile and that format does not have dimensional standards.

    The market would depend on your product and your pricing.
     
  5. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    Go dude Go!

    I would love to buy holders from you. Please go into production ASAP.

    Precision is critical, but if you look at it from a manufacturing point of view, all of the parts that make up the holder except the light traps are straight sticks. I have watched you make precision straight sticks. Now we just have to put some precision grooves in those sticks. If you are making one it would be ridiculously time consuming, but if you are making 100 I don't think it would be nearly as daunting a task.
    You can do it Mr. A.

    Barry Young
    cameramaker.com

    Barry Young
    cameramaker.com
     
  6. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I don't know about AWB or Lotus but Quality Camera lists S&S 8x20 holders for $379 each.
     
  7. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    Who has a copy of the ANSI standard for film holders?

    OK, let's go about this the right way. If you are going to make standardized film holders it is best to start with the standard from the standards organization that standardizes them. I have never typed "standard" so many times in one sentence before. I tried to find the ANSI standard or a MIL Spec for film holders but they all seem to be cancelled. Does anyone posess these standards? I would be happy to pay for them.

    Thank you

    Barry Young
    cameramaker.com
     
  8. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    The problem with ULF holders is that except for 11x14 there are no standards. This is bacause of a wide array of mfg of cameras over the years and lack of consistency or QC. (I'm mostly talking older cameras here) I have found that one can buy three different used film holders in any ULF format off of Ebay and you will find all 3 slightly different in thickness, enough to throw off the critical focus unless one shims under the holders or the gg. Jim Galli and others can attest to this fact.

    You also have the problem that the actual design of holders can be different. One camera mfg used a rib on the holder itself to lock in the holder, another major mfg had the rib on the camera.

    I assume that a ULF Lotus, Canham, Wisner or Ebony all use the same standard. So having the dimensions from one of these cameras would provide the data for those cameras.

    As far as older cameras, your best bet would be have the owner either send you a film holder they use or the camera to ensure a proper fit. other wise you might spend a lot of time replacing ill fitting holders.
     
  9. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    There are also standards for 14x17. Here is link to "known" standards.

    http://home.earthlink.net/~eahoo/filmhold.html

    It does say for a complete list of film holder specs pay the fee and subscribe. I never did that because I have gone by what others have said that no standards exist for banquet formats.

    The advertisement in View Camera Mag for Quality Camera Company says that the S&S holders are built to ANSI standards and lists 10x12, 11x14, 7x17, 8x20, 14x17 and 12x20 sizes. So maybe standards exist or they are stretching the truth a wee bit.
     
  10. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Go for it, make your own standards, you not going to buy any other holders anyway so "standards" are what you say they are.

    BTW, what film are you going to shoot and what are you going to enlarge on?
    Or do you have a supply of Azo which is no longer available?
     
  11. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    This is the simple thing to do if you are just making them for yourself. Just make sure the T-dimension is the same for holder and GG.

    But if you want to make them for others you need the dimensions that are already out there.
     
  12. George Losse

    George Losse Member

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    Curt,

    Azo is not the only paper that you can print a ULF negative on.
    SOME (YMYV) don't even think its the best paper to print with, but it does have a cult following.

    Did you every think that maybe he wants to make big print with another printing process?
     
  13. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    I have not seen that advertisement, but if it says exactly that and no more it is misleading. S&S holders are made to ANSI standards if such a standard exists for the format. There is an ANSI standard for 11X14 and 14X17, but not for any of the other ULF sizes. So we make 11X14 and 14X17 to ANSI standards, and all others to some other dimension, which may or may not be the same as Lotus and AWB.

    If you go to the Canham web site you will find a link to ULF film holder specifications. All of our holders, with the exception of 7X17 and 12X20, are made to the Canham dimensions. In 7X17 and 12X20 we actually make two different sizes, one size in cherry that fits most older Korona cameras, and another size in walnut to the Canham dimensions. We may eventually change to the Canham dimensions for the cherry holders as well, but for the time being we plan to continue making both sizes.

    Can you make your own film holders? Sure, but it requires a fairly high level of craftmanship and there are not only important design considerations but you will also have to locate sources for the material, i.e. aged wood of the right type, appropriate material for the septum and dark slides, and then there is the baffle.

    Sandy






     
  14. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Barry has raised an interesting question about the validity of standards.

    The American National Standards Institute doesn't really develop standards. Instead, it is a body that is responsible for a standardization process that is followed by more parochial industry groups that actually develop standards on a concensus basis. Those standards represent the concensus agreement of participants in the respective ndustries of the standard-making groups. ANSI has a rule that requires that standards be either revised or reaffirmed avery five years; a standard that is neither revised or reaffirmed loses its status as an ANSI standard. This rule is intended to keep standards current with evolving technology.

    But recognize that an "ANSI standard" is merely a formalized agreement within an industry that certain things will be done in a uniform manner. The curious thing is that the fact that a standard has lost its official recognition as an ANSI standard does not necessarily mean that the industry concensus no longer exists. In fact, if the industry continues to adhere to the agreements embodied in the, the standard by default remains in effect even though it doesn't have ANSI's imprimatur.

    I wonder if this is one of those situations in which the body that originally formulated the standard on film holder dimensions either no longer exists, or no longer cares about film holder dimensions. I don't believe that there has been a fundamental change in the applicable technology since the point when the industry shifted from plates to film.

    Under Roberts Rules of Order, a quorum must be present before business can be conducted. But there is another rule that says that a quorum is presumed to be present until someone questions whether a quorum is present. Once the question has been asked, then it is necessary to take a count, and if the count determines that there is no quorum, then business cannot be conducte. The lesson is - - - don't ask if there is a quorum.

    So unless and until someone questions the existence of a standard on film holder dimensions, and more importantly, until someone proposes a set of dimensions that differ from those in the standard, the standard really continues to be in effect, even though it may no longer be listed in the ANSI catalog.
     
  15. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    I have a copy of the ANSI standards for film holders. It is ANSI PHE.108-1988 and is a revision of ANSI PH#.26-1951. The formats covered are 2X3, 3X4, 4X5, 5X7, 8X10, 11X14 and 14X17.

    There never were any ANSI standards for formats such as 6.5X8.5, 5X12, 7X11, 7X17, 8X20, 12X20, 16X20 and 20X24. The closest you can come to standards for these formats is that of the manufacturer, say Eastman, Korona or F&S. However, there are no absolutes, and if you were to acquire randomly ten 7X17" Korona holders chances are good that no two of them would have the exact same dimensions.

    Sandy


     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 3, 2005
  16. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Member

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    Schwin,

    Honestly what I would do (if I had the skills to build a respectable large format camera-and I do not!) is purchase a holder from S and S and build my camera back around that...

    The holders, to do correctly IMHO are so much more difficult than the camera itself....there must be 100 or 200 seperate operations to make one, then you split some, chip some etc....

    I feel a well made film holder is definately worth the investment.....film is expensive the set up and the shoot justifies the expense and the elimination of a very important variable....there are many threads bemoaning the fact of soft negs etc. only to find the holder is not correct....

    Just a thought.,,

    Dave in Vegas
     
  17. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    Thanks for the response Jim:

    I have run some rough preliminary numbers. In order to make holders efficiently, I would have to make them in lots of 100 or more. I have no plans to make any holders to fit a specific camera at all. I think I will probably have to buy holders from S&S and AWB to measure them. The problem is that when you try to reverse engineer something like that, you end up not knowing precisely what the guy who made it had in mind. Maybe it would be best to simply bite the bullet and buy holders. The investment in engineering and materials is large. I am just not sure yet. My plate is pretty full considering I am working at a real job at least 12 hours a day 5 days a week.

    Barry Young
    cameramaker.com



     
  18. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    That helps a lot Jim, thank you.

    Barry Young
     
  19. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    I completely agree about variation among film holders, been there done that. Fasteners are about the most standardized things we have, but if you measure enough of them critically, you will find that they are all over the place. I MAY make film holders to fit cameras I produce, but I am never going to produce film holders for other cameras. The slight variations would make me pull out what little hair I have left.

    Thanks for the ANSI Standard Numbers Sandy.

    Barry Young
    cameramaker.com