FINALLY! A light tight, good quality darkcloth for LF and ULF!

Discussion in 'Ultra Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by User Removed, May 11, 2006.

  1. User Removed

    User Removed Guest

    Messages:
    1,298
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    Shooter:
    Plastic Cameras
    I've been looking for a new large darkcloth for several months now and finally settled on buying one from Photographers Formulary, and when I got it I was quite disapointed. It was very thick fabric that was not light tight, worked well as a sponge when photographing in wet conditions and was just very bulky!

    However, today I recieved a brand new darkcloth made by Kevin Saitta (Saitta bags) here on APUG. He told me that he was putting alot of research into making the best quality darkcloth possible, so I purchased one from him. Well, it showed up today and all I can say is WOW! He seached high and low for a super light weight fabric that is completely light proof. It is black light proof fabric on the inside, and white fabric on the outside to reflect the sun.

    Here is whats great...the white fabric is completely water resistant so I can use it in the rain, snow, ect! The black fabic inside is actually fire resistant (useful if your a smoker?!) The darkcloth also weights a couple pounds lighter then my old one, and folds up smaller in my bag!

    I was having problems also finding a darkcloth in a large size for the 11x14 and 12x20 camera, so I was pleased that Kevin offers them in small to VERY large sizes, not to mention CUSTOM SIZES for someone that shoots panoramic cameras. I got a 5'x6', but you can get larger. (Also works well as a blanket when camping!)

    So anyways, I just wanted to share this with you guys since I am so excited to finally find a good quality darkcloth.I know alot of photographers are still fighting with there little tube jacket hoods, or some photographers still swear by their torn peice of fabric, old sweatshirts or ripped t-shirt...but if you want a 100% light proof, water resistant, fire resistant and light weight darkcloth, take a look at these. I don't believe Kevin has them on his site yet or has even mentioned them here on APUG yet...but he should have them up really soon.

    All the best,

    Ryan McIntosh
    www.RyanMcIntosh.net
     
  2. Markus Albertz

    Markus Albertz Member

    Messages:
    117
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Ryan,

    Is there an elastic end that wraps around the camera or does it attach with velcro? Are the prices comparable to what you would have to put on the table for other brand focusing cloths? I have been looking for a high quality cloth for my 8x10 but still prefer the cheapskate solution: an old black hooded sweater...

    Best, Markus
     
  3. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,865
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Ryan
    you may have just sold me on getting one. Kevin made a pouch for my two 7x17 holders and its amazingly well made. the darkcloth seems tempting :smile:
    Thanks for the info ryan
     
  4. User Removed

    User Removed Guest

    Messages:
    1,298
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    Shooter:
    Plastic Cameras
    Markus,

    Its a traditional darkcloth, square. All edges of the darkcloth have a border material, probably just added for durablity and look nice. I believe Kevin is including "bulldog clips" with all darkcloths, as they are small clips that you can stick anywhere on your camera. They are smooth on the inside and will not scratch your camera or cause any problem. Actually, I been using these clips to hold my darkcloths for many years and I think they are better then velcro, and elastic because they hold better in the wind and you can hook them wherever you want. Personally, I think the elastic is a pain in the butt and does not work that well, and velcro does not always hold well and you always have to match it up perfectly everytime.

    As far as prices goes... they are priced the same as any other darkcloth on the market (abit cheeper then Photographers Formulary), but they are ALOT better in quality and are all handmade. I cannot give you prices because Im not sure Kevin has set exact prices yet, and they are all different depending on what size you need for whatever format you shoot.

    Regards,

    Ryan McIntosh
    www.RyanMcIntosh.net
     
  5. Michael Meacham

    Michael Meacham Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    May 10, 2006
    Shooter:
    Large Format Pan
    The Blackjacket, also a sponsor, is quite interesting. They offer many sizes and two models, one of which is breathable and preferred by most of their customers. Water proof means that sweat vapor stays inside too, so breathability is important. ULF models coming soon.

    Mike
     
  6. User Removed

    User Removed Guest

    Messages:
    1,298
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    Shooter:
    Plastic Cameras
    With shooting Ultra Large Format, Matt...I would highly suggest it! Its amazing how much of a differences a 100% light tight darkcloth makes when trying to view such a large ground glass! I have used many different brands of darkcloths and even the darkhoods, and none of them were as light tight as Kevin's. I can hold the cloth up to the sun and not even see any light!

    Mike,
    I think the BlackJacket is a great idea and I know many people who are pleased with them, however I found it was a pain to have to always stick your head inside and have it hooked to the camera. The other problem I found was when using older ULF cameras, its best to leave the darkcloth wrapped around the film back when putting the holder in and pulling the darkslide. This is not very simple when using the BlackJacket, but is easy when using a traditional darkcloth.

    Breathable material is important, yes! Kevin's new darkcloths are made out of this very soft, lightweight thin material, which I believe is quite breathable when under the cloth. However, I was standing out in Tucson, AZ heat and it was nearly 100 degrees outside, so I did not want to stay under there for TOO long!

    Regards,

    Ryan McIntosh
    www.RyanMcIntosh.net
     
  7. Markus Albertz

    Markus Albertz Member

    Messages:
    117
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Sounds tempting... Thanks for posting this, Ryan.

    Best,

    Markus

    PS: I agree it is often critical to wrap something around the camera back when you pull the dark slide. I do this routinely now after learning the consequences the hard way.
     
  8. Russ Young

    Russ Young Member

    Messages:
    209
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2006
    Location:
    Blue Ridge o
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The View Camera Store makes and sells the tubular type. I find that with the glare from below, a standard dark cloth is almost useless in the desert. The tube closes lengthwise with velcro so that you can (1) vent it a little in hot weather (2) get the loupe on the groundglass. It has elastic at the camera end and has never blown off; it also catches WAY less wind than a traditional dark cloth. Last, but not least, it compacts into a very small area... have been using them about 8 years now...
    Russ
     
  9. User Removed

    User Removed Guest

    Messages:
    1,298
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    Shooter:
    Plastic Cameras
  10. Donsta

    Donsta Member

    Messages:
    145
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm with Russ - I started using the BTZS cloths which the View Camera store sells and far prefer them to the traditional style darkcloth - more compact, no clips etc and compact. being snug around the rear standard is the key though. I couldn't imagine going back to a regular kind.
     
  11. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

    Messages:
    2,144
    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I would like to recommend the Black Jacket.

    I have one for my 8x10 and it is great. Light weight, comfortable to work with and it blocks the light from below as well as top and sides.

    Since I purchased mine it has been improved so that on a field camera the light does not come through the space between the bed and the back.

    For smaller cameras I use and have my students use black T-shirts which also work well, although somewhat porous.

    Jim
     
  12. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,450
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2003
    Location:
    Sacramento,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I dont know if i will ever trade in my black "GUNS n ROSES" t-shirt.

    maybee I should market something similar... I can see the commercial now..
    A handsome young man setting up a tachihara. A hot girl walks by and stops to see what he is doing. He motions her to pose for him. And to her surprise he strips off his black t-shirt and stretches the collar around the back of the camera. Then cut to the final print and you can see the the desire in her face.

    ... sorry was I daydreaming?
     
  13. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

    Messages:
    1,897
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Location:
    Saint Paul, MN
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    All the while, "Welcome to the Jungle" plays...
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. frednewman

    frednewman Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    159
    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Scottsdale,
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Thanks for the compliments all. Just a note to say that we've found a new source for the fabric for our focus hoods (the old supplier closed down several months ago), so we're building up our stock in all sizes and we can do custom sizes, too.

    The new fabric is white on the outside and black on the inside and is, at least, water resistant just don't try photographing during flash flood season here in the Southwest!

    Fred Newman
     
  16. mark

    mark Member

    Messages:
    5,264
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    Nah, Sweet child O Mine.

    I made my own dark cloth, and if I forget it I use my jacket, and if I forget that there are always baby blankets in the car. I am sure people have their reasons for buying these expensive darkcloths but I just don't see the need.

    Of course there are lots of little accesories I just don't see the need for.
     
  17. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,720
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Location:
    Vegas/myster
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    OK Fred!

    Just checked Fred's site Viewcamera Store....14 x 17 for 84.95....gonna call Fred right now!
     
  18. lee

    lee Member

    Messages:
    2,913
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Location:
    Fort Worth T
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    bump for the Blackjacket. I had a darkcloth from the Viewcamera Store and I liked it until the gray stuff started peeling and flaking off and getting all over everything. It is a very old and I liked the idea but I think the Blackjacket is a better design.

    just my opinion,

    lee\c
     
  19. sanking

    sanking Member

    Messages:
    4,813
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    Greenville,
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I really like the BlackJacket for 5X7 work and the one I have allows me to remove and re-insert the dark slides in the holder with the holders completely covered. I can not stress how important this is when working with wooden holdes and ULF equipment. All holders are subject to flashing when removing and re-inserting the dark slide, even if the baffle itself is absolutly light tight. The problem is made even worse by re-inserting the holders at an angle. A double baffle helps a lot to reduce the possibility of flashing but good shooting practice demands that you create as much dark around the holder as possible when removing and re-inserting the slide.

    Recently I had a chance to inspect a larger prototype BlackJacket designed for use with 7X17" cameras. I found it a bit small and am fairly certain that it would not be possible to keep the holder covered while removing the dark slide. Hopefully Kevin will address this issue before marketing the big cloth.

    Sandy
     
  20. frednewman

    frednewman Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    159
    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Scottsdale,
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Lee,

    We had a run with defective cloth. Please return it to us and I'll replace it. The current cloth is much better.

    Fred
     
  21. lee

    lee Member

    Messages:
    2,913
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Location:
    Fort Worth T
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Fred,

    thank you very much. that is very generous and I will take you up on your nice offer.

    lee\c
     
  22. colivet

    colivet Member

    Messages:
    236
    Joined:
    May 28, 2004
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Ryan, thanks for bringing this up. I too have the Formulary dark cloth. It is OK. I like it but I did notice two things. Too heavy to use with an old Korona 12x20, and like you said, not 100% light proof.

    I am buying one right now!
     
  23. Campbell

    Campbell Member

    Messages:
    100
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Me too. I've been using the BTZS "dark cloths" sold by The View Camera Store for about 12 years now. I've used them for 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10. I've never found anything else that matches it for a combination of light-tightness (?), light weight, compact, and ease of use. I just wish they used the original materials, which were somehwat lighter than the present material and had a nicer "feel." OTOH, that material tended to flake after four or five years of use.
     
  24. roteague

    roteague Member

    Messages:
    6,671
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Location:
    Kaneohe, Haw
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I guess I am funny, I don't want a dark cloth that is light tight, I want one that shields the ground glass, but allows me to see what is going on around me. An old fashioned horseblanket works perfectly for me. Not to diminish what Kev has produced.
     
  25. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,720
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Location:
    Vegas/myster
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Just got my BTZ dark cloth from Fred at ViewCamera store, it is the 12 x 20 model to fit the 14 x 17, I have to say I was very suprised upon opening it at how compact and light it is! Also the velcro is placed just right to give options on how "enclosed" I want to be...I dont like feeling trapped or claustrophobic (sp?) under the cloth...it is white on the outside and waterproof on the outside and black on the inside....easily foldable into a quite small pkg or in my case easily wadded and stuffed...quite supple...I recommend
     
  26. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,865
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    WELL DONE Mr Saitta.

    I received my wonderfully huge dark cloth this morning. So given the way the week has been going I used it's arrival as an excuse to go outside during lunch time. Shot two sheets of 7x17 film at a nearby building and have to say the dark cloth is VERY well made and wonderfully lightweight, yet heavy enough to just leave draped over the camera.

    Ill report more after I shoot some with it this weekend. But, really nice job Kev.