Seneca 4x5 - how should I use it?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by choppastyle, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. choppastyle

    choppastyle Member

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    My friend's dad bought a Seneca 4x5 from around 1900-1910 at a barn sale in the 70s. It is in excellent condition, including the bellows and lens. The image appears perfectly on the ground glass. The thing is, I have no idea how to use it. It's meant to expose glass plates, so something thin like film wouldn't be focused properly unless it was mounted on something thick in the film holder. Should I use cardboard and film or just bite the bullet and make some glass plates?
     
  2. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    Ole Tjugen has a trick with jam to stick the film down to the plate. I have used roll-on post-it glue. There are film sheaths that get inserted into plate holders to replace the glass and hold the film in the correct position if sticking things down seems too... basic. The best solution would be to buy, borrow or trade some film holders. You will probably like 4x5 and want them anyway.

    Good luck with the Seneca. It's a nice camera. You don't say what the lens is, but if it's the same vintage as the camera you may need to spruce up the shutter before getting too serious.
     
  3. choppastyle

    choppastyle Member

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    I have I believe 3 or 4 double-sided (are all film holders double-sided? haha) wooden film holders. I forgot to mention that. And now that I think about it, I think the camera is actually 5x7 but the holders are modified to hold something 5x4 shaped. I've never seen 5x7 film so that's probably a good thing.
     
  4. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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  5. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    5x7 black-and-white film still is available, as are modern 5x7 film holders. There are a couple of easy "tricks" for modifying the film plane to ground-glass distance. The simplest is to flip the ground glass around so that the textured side faces outward. This moves the plane of focus about the same distance as the plate-to-film-thickness difference. Not perfect, but it works for and old Seneca Black Beauty I own. Another method is to buy a sheet of aluminum the same thickness as a glass plate, and the same dimensions as a plate holder. Cut a 5x7" hole in it, focus the camera with the sheet in place, and then remove it to insert the film holder.

    If you want to shoot 4x5" film, it may be simplest to convert a modern 4x5 back to fit the 5x7 camera. There are a lot of beat-up old graflexes and crown graphics out there for donor backs. A little help from a woodworker will put you in business.

    Good luck, using old cameras is a lot of fun, and once you've learned their particular eccentricities, you can produce images as sharp as any new camera will make.

    Peter Gomena
     
  6. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    This camera may have some value to someone doing wetplate on glass. For example, myself. If I were to do wetplate, I'd do it on glass so I can enlarge it.
     
  7. choppastyle

    choppastyle Member

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    Thanks for the help everyone. I'll try flipping the ground glass around first. The holders were already modified to hold a 5x4 plate and there's a 5x4 box drawn on the ground glass.

    EDIT: or maybe this has already been done considering the other modifications?