View Full Version : ULF Beginner and Century 11x14 Field Camera

05-16-2013, 07:35 PM
ULF forum has been pretty quiet lately so I'll ask a question. ;) Have any of you used a Century (nameplate simply says 'Century') 11x14? After reading as much as I could about ULF, asking a few questions to various forum members, and getting a brief introduction to shooting with 12x20, I recently picked up the Century. Unfortunately, it came without the rear extension (price was right) and considering my options, including having Richard Ritter make the extension (I've been in touch with him). It has an 18" front extension and 4" base, for 22" in total. Research shows these typically had around 36/37" of extension. It came with a single combination plate/film holder (has a metal insert for film). Does anyone know if it takes modern 11x14 holders? I will do some basic measuring but curious for any first-hand reports. Ergonomically-speaking, weight is about 16 lbs. without holder, and the layout of the camera is very straightforward although lacks any front tilt, shift, or swing (does have geared front rise, rear tilt and swing).

My short-term plan is to just shoot with it before deciding what to do about the lack of a rear extension (I'm guessing it's pretty tough to find an existing one that will match?). I've had a couple of lens boards made by a colleague at work and have mounted a borrowed 15" Ilex Paragon process lens (thanks, Whitey!), but also have a 375mm Caltar in Ilex Synchro #5 and 480mm APO Nikkor barrel lenses to try. I also have a Packard shutter which I was planning to eventually use front-mounted on the barrel lenses. Subject matter would be urban and country 'scape although I'd like to be able to do some portraiture with it as well. Clearly anything fairly close-up would require more extension but for now I'm happy to try it 'as is'.

Tripod is an aluminum Induro rated for 44lbs and head is a Gitzo 1570 pan-tilt which while perhaps not as rigid as one might like (especially since I can't really balance the camera without the rear extension), but, again, figured I'll just try using what I have first. Will most likely use a cart to move it around since it's too wide for my MEI backpack.

I'm planning to shoot x-ray film (have had some encouraging results in 8x10, although I'm not used to using the double-sided stuff but I'll adapt), regular panchromatic film (I know the Ilford ULF ordering period has begun but also looking for alternative sources of possibly expired film), and maybe direct positive paper.

For now just want to expose some film and try to put together a reasonable workflow (16x20 trays and/or tubes, get the hang of loading the holder, make sure the film is properly aligned with the ground glass, etc., etc.). I know this may be a tough time for shooting ULF with ever-rising film costs but, on the other hand, better to jump in now while I still can. Any hints, recommendations, advice -- besides the obvious fact that I'm a little bit crazy(!) -- would be welcome. :)


Tim Boehm
05-16-2013, 11:56 PM
A Century Universal maybe? I once had a Century Universal 8x10 but I'm not sure they made an 11x14.

05-17-2013, 12:31 AM
Tim, I've periodically checked the piercevaubel.com site and it looks to me like the Century View (http://www.piercevaubel.com/cam/century/centview.htm). While scarce on details the camera in the engraving at the top of the page does look like what I've got (although I lack the rear extension). I believe the Century Universal, a lightweight 8x10, had pretty full movements (for a field camera) whereas the 11x14, aside from rise, has a rigid front standard.

05-18-2013, 02:31 AM
that looks similar to the 2d 11x14 model and the empire state ones. Those take regular holders.

There's only one way to find out, get a holder and see if she works. If it don't, you're better off modding the back or getting a different back to take regular holders anyways. You donn't want to be looking for ancient holders--they are likely in bad shape if you can find them at all.

Yes, good suggestion. That's what I was thinking.