Converting A Magic Lantern...

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by vickersdc, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

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    I've just picked up a 1913 magic lantern ("The Abbeydale" - there's a picture of one here) and I'll post some of the actual one later on.

    This thing is enormous, at full extents it's around 44" / 112cm long, takes a multitude of negative slide sizes and has many movements to counteract keystoning and out-of-level surfaces.

    I've been thinking about making another large format camera (sliding box style and glass plate negatives) when I came across this in a local antique centre. For £45 I thought it was worth it for the bellows alone... so, I'm now thinking that I might convert it to my large format camera.

    However, there's a little bit of me that says I should restore this... but then what? On the other hand, all the basic parts are there for a nice LF camera and I can fashion plate holders easily enough...

    Tell me it's OK to convert a 100-year old magic lantern to a camera :smile:

    David.
     
  2. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    But wouldn't a large format enlarger be even cooler?? :joyful:
     
  3. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    That is so cool. I would be in the same boat, restore or convert, what a quandary. Something like that here in the states in an antique shop would fetch several hundred dollars.
     
  4. X. Phot.

    X. Phot. Guest

  5. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

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    Here's a few pictures of it...

    DSCF0152.JPG

    Complete with it's chain link adjustments...

    DSCF0156.JPG

    Remember, this thing is just short of four feet in length fully extended...

    DSCF0157.JPG

    It still has all the adapter holders for different sized slides...

    DSCF0158.JPG
     
  6. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

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    I should add that I've taken the 'lighting' unit off the back and removed the chains, geared rollers, sleeves and other bits from it. It's all in good working order, albeit rather grimy. The oak woodwork is generally in pretty good condition, but it has seen some abuse, and at some point in the past, it looks like someone else has tried to take various pieces off of it, rounded out the flat head brass screws and then given up. I reckon I'm going to have to drill out three or four brass screws to get the rest of it apart (it needs a really good clean if nothing else, to get the slides working again).

    David.
     
  7. X. Phot.

    X. Phot. Guest

    Yep, that sure looks like an enlarging camera to me. The nested carrier is really nice. The advertisement states it can handle C.D.V., 1/4 plate, 4x5, and 1/2 plate. Different condensers being available. This is much better than having an magic lantern (projector only) in my opinion.
     
  8. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

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    It can certainly cope with 5 different sizes of plate, and I love the amount of adjustment this thing has as it can be tilted backwards and forwards, side-to-side and up / down.

    It did occur to me that I could use it as an enlarger, in the old-fashioned way... i.e. in a darkened room with the 'light' end taking in light from an outside window (or similar). That way, I wouldn't need electric to make positive images. However, with the rear of the unit removed, I'm still seriously thinking that all it needs is a lens panel for the front and a new rear frame / plate holders to create an LF camera.

    This new beast could keep the chain adjustments for the bellows, the rise / fall on the lens panel and I could use the nested carriers in the plate holders that I make. Still, it wouldn't exactly be transportable and I'd like to use it for landscapes! In fact, I think that I could convert this unit into a camera in such a way that would mean I could turn it back into a magic lantern / enlarger at any time.
     
  9. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

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    That link doesn't seem to work for me :sad:
     
  10. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    I say convert. If you restore it, it will no doubt be a wonderfully beautiful doorstop, since you are unlikely to give magic lantern shows. If you convert it, try to do as little as you can that can't be undone. It looks like you would need a back and some sort of lens-board arrangement- neither of which is likely to require you to destroy what you have. The same for using it as an enlarger. Wet plate use will likely stain the wood, but it would be completely in character, I think. Wonderful find!
     
  11. vickersdc

    vickersdc Member

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    Yep, that's what I'm doing :smile: I've started to disassemble it, in order to repair the bits that need repairing, clean up the whole lot and then ascertain exactly how to sympathetically convert it. I've started to keep a blog diary of the transformation at http://creativeimagemaker.blogspot.com and I think it's completely possible to alter this enlarging camera to a large format camera and still be able to return it to original fairly simply.

    The bellows were filthy, some of the frames came apart at the joints and there's a couple of not-so-good cracks that need attending to, but for a 100 year old item, its not too bad...

    David.