Using a Century Studio Camera

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by paul ewins, May 1, 2006.

  1. paul ewins

    paul ewins Member

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    Ever since I first saw one I've had a desire to own one of these beasts. Up until last weekend it was just a nice fantasy as I'd never seen one for sale locally and the people on eBay seemed strangely reluctant to post one to Australia :smile:

    Last weekend I went for a drive to pick up a 20" 5.6 aerial lense and popped in to an antiques centre on the way back. One of the dealers specialised in camera equipment and has two Centuries in stock and said he had sold three over the course of the last year. One was on a two post stand and the other on a three legged stand (i.e. a geared stand, not a folding tripod). Both came with big brass lenses and had reasonable price tags (by local standards).

    Now that this has become more than just a vague possibility, I was wondering whether they are in fact usable cameras. I'm most interested in portraits which is what I assume these were designed to do. Would I need a huge studio or can you get by with more modest camera to subject distances?

    I enjoy using old equipment but don't want to be a collector of static objects. Similarly, I could spend the same sort of money to get a modest modern(ish) 8x10 outfit but that doesn't interest me.
     
  2. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    I have one, but I forget exactly with one. A number 6, I think. It has the crank up and down stand. They are very usable cameras. The difficulty is with getting people to stay still and yet look natural. Not only is the depth of field a problem with the longer lenses needed, probably 420mm and up, but focusing takes awhile, and if the people move the composition and focus are gone. I like using F32 with my 600mm Fuji lens, and that means having a lot of light available.
     
  3. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    I use mine all the time. The piece I just posted about bokeh was done with it and many of the blogs with different old portrait lenses at my website have been done with that old camera. No one would call it pretty, but I love working with it. With the big lens aperture holder on the front and the packard inside I test and enjoy any number of weird old gigantic lenses.
     

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  4. JG Motamedi

    JG Motamedi Member

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    I used one for a few years, eventually the bellows fell apart and I never replaced it. If you can live without front movements and portability they are great cameras. For portraiture they work just fine, since movements aren't an issue. As Jim points out, the best thing about them is the massive lensboard and very stable front (and rear) standard.
     
  5. paul ewins

    paul ewins Member

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    Thanks for the responses, it sounds like it might just be worth doing. Hmm, maybe it's time to see what equipment could be moved on to drum up some funds.