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Rob_5419
04-04-2007, 11:56 AM
This is a cross-posting from the www.largeformatphotography.info website to enlighten any luddites interested in whole plate film [6 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch or 165 x216mm] format.

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=23909&page=2

Looks like Fotoman have a blueprint on producing whole plate holders this side of 2007 for anyone who is interested in whole-plate film. I'm thankful for Paul of Fotoman and Oren Grad from the LF Photography forum for pushing along with its development. With the Ilford whole plate film availability too, we have a whole plate film format in revival ;)

Happy Easter.

steven_e007
04-04-2007, 12:51 PM
Exellent news! I am a big fan of whole plate and never understood why it went out of use when we had so many format around half-plate sort of size that were almost the same...

Whole plate just seems, the right size for a picture, somehow :)

Steve

sanking
04-04-2007, 10:17 PM
Exellent news! I am a big fan of whole plate and never understood why it went out of use when we had so many format around half-plate sort of size that were almost the same...

Whole plate just seems, the right size for a picture, somehow :)

Steve

Whole plate, 6 1/2 X 8 1/2, is a really nice format. I have been using it for several years and really love it. Much more presence than 5X7 for contact prints, and far more compact than 8X10. Really to bad that it fell out of use, since it was one of the great formats of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

I have at present a couple of whole plate cameras, an English tailboard type camera of late 19th century, and a more modern Seneca, with rear-track extension. Both are very light and good users, though without some of the movements of contemporary cameras. Seneca and Eastman cameras that I have seen accept a standard size holder. The English tailboard type accepts holders of different size, as do many other whole plate cameras built prior to about 1920.

There was some discussion of whole plate film holders in this size on the LF forum recently, with a few messages about S&S. We made a batch of these holders many years ago, as Oren noted on the LF forum. This was even before we started producing S&S holders as a business. We eventually sold all of the batch, though it took some time. I plan to produce another batch in the near future, in part for my own needs. They will be to the Eastman standard in terms of width, T-dimension and rib-lock position, the intention being to provide a reasonably priced alternative for Eastman standard vintage cameras.

Sandy King

Rob_5419
04-05-2007, 09:01 AM
Exellent news! I am a big fan of whole plate and never understood why it went out of use when we had so many format around half-plate sort of size that were almost the same...

That's true Stephen.....I don't think whole plate went out of use - it just went underground rather than remaining a popular bling thing.

Although I haven't used it in decades, I visit museums in England where whole plate collections are on exhibition - most of us don't realise that most of the vintage images we recollect were done on whole plates or its derivations.

Maybe it hasn't been popular for photographers due to film availability? The monster ergonomics of the 10x8" is too overwhelming as you say. By far the most memorable quote about the whole plate format that rings in my ears is that it is a "personal format" with the size and handling appropriate for agony free contact printing.

The half-plate remains popular due to its convenience and presence as a contact print (Eastern Europe & Far East Asia). The quarter plate seems to be fading fast (world-wide) although 3"x4" enthusiasts will correct me and state that this film was produced only as recently as a year or two ago by Agfa (and still is by other companies).

Once it gets down to 1/6th plates and 1/16th plates I tend to lose track: the plate terminology gets abandoned for ' 2"x3" format ' or ' 6x6cm ' square format which both thrive happily in another reincarnation on 120 roll format instead of plates.




I have at present a couple of whole plate cameras, an English tailboard type camera of late 19th century, and a more modern Seneca, with rear-track extension. Both are very light and good users, though without some of the movements of contemporary cameras. Seneca and Eastman cameras that I have seen accept a standard size holder. The English tailboard type accepts holders of different size, as do many other whole plate cameras built prior to about 1920.

There was some discussion of whole plate film holders in this size on the LF forum recently, with a few messages about S&S. We made a batch of these holders many years ago, as Oren noted on the LF forum. This was even before we started producing S&S holders as a business. We eventually sold all of the batch, though it took some time. I plan to produce another batch in the near future, in part for my own needs. They will be to the Eastman standard in terms of width, T-dimension and rib-lock position, the intention being to provide a reasonably priced alternative for Eastman standard vintage cameras.

Hi Sandy,

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm familiar with LP Forum but not so much Apug.

The Seneca & Eastman wholeplate cameras: if these are an 'American standard', I wonder how they differ from British whole plate cameras, such as Sandersons, Thorntons, Gandolfis. Really what I'm asking is, is there any overlap in compatibility between the (varying) British plate camera backs and those of Seneca & Eastman (USA). There seems to be very little cross-over between British standards (Gandolfi/Sanderson/Thornton/Coronet/ Camelots/Lancasters) & Japanese field cameras (Nagoka, Charten). To say nothing of the European variations...

One of the problems facing a whole-plate camera revival is indeed the non-standardisation of the plate backs amongst manufacturers and country of manufacture. The only consistency I have seen is from within manufacturer to manufacturer, yet many manufacturers did not manufacture their own whole plates.

Too many of these beautiful plate-cameras are butchered and warped into 5x7" format or even mutated into 8x10" Frankenstein type hybrids. No doubt these decisions were made after frustration with:

1. lack of fitting rear plate/film holders
2. lack of film choices and/or the need to cut down one's own film from 8x10"

Scouring the internet, references and details on the standard widths of:

1. book form plate holders (dry)
2. book form plate holders (wet)
3. double dark slide film holders
4. single plate holders [sheath style] (rarer)

for whole plate cameras are hard to come by. I've realised that only the internet savvy user who knows how to search for an item is likely to yield success.

It would be great to have a repository where plate users could reference sizes of plate holders, or at least use the measurements and refer to a reference table, and work out which whole plate camera the plate holder is likely to work with and/or how much modification work would be required to render it usable.

Unfortunately the main problem is that the plate photography user is generally isolated with a distinctly solitary tendency and also has little collaborative input from others without the internet forum as a resource. Looking at this forum, I also recognise many of the names from the LF forum from those who post on plate photography: at best, it looks like around 10-15 active posters, 10-20 curious posters and a lot of views, probably from within the same groups wondering where everyone else is: looks like the numbers of those interested in plates is a small fraction of the population of APUG. The responses to Paul's venture for whole plates suggests that whole plate users are viable to think about as an economic venture. However if the number of whole plate users doesn't grow, then this set of users is going to shrink and remain underground as it has done for the past 30-40 years.

Onto your plans for a future batch of plate holders: one aspect I appreciate with plate photography users is that they are clearly not doing it for economic reasons - clearly they are doing it for the love of whole plates and film photography. For this reason, I think people like Paul Droluk, Oren Grad & Sal Santamaura deserve a lot more respect than the internet can offer. Thanks guys :)

The Eastman standard holder project which you are proposing is unlikely to overlap with Paul's whole-plate film holder availability (since both cover different eras and different whole plate standards).

is it possible to compile a list of cameras which this will work with? I presume that this is for a specific era of camera (i.e. geographical and specific manufacturer niche). For instance, with respect to half-plate cameras, the Kodak Specialist of the 1930's is very different in format from the Kodak Specialist II/III of the 1950's, even if both use half-plates.

Not sure why I'm rambling on this forum. Guess I'm working it out ;)


http://plate_camera.livejournal.com

Rob_5419
04-05-2007, 09:14 AM
the Kodak Specialist of the 1930's is very different in format from the Kodak Specialist II/III of the 1950's, even if both use half-plates.

Sorry - that should read: the Kodak Specialist of the 1930's is very different in its plate back dimensions from the Kodak Specialist II/III of the 1950's even if both use half-plates.

TheFlyingCamera
04-05-2007, 11:00 AM
My understanding of the difference between the Kodak/Rochester holder and the other contemporaneous holders is first and foremost a difference of width - the Kodak holders had a slightly smaller external dimension, so if you have a mismatch of camera to holders, you will need to either shim the smaller holders or trim down the larger set. Both can be done - it is just a matter of careful application of technique.

sanking
04-05-2007, 01:03 PM
Hi Sandy,

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm familiar with LP Forum but not so much Apug.

The Seneca & Eastman wholeplate cameras: if these are an 'American standard', I wonder how they differ from British whole plate cameras, such as Sandersons, Thorntons, Gandolfis. Really what I'm asking is, is there any overlap in compatibility between the (varying) British plate camera backs and those of Seneca & Eastman (USA). There seems to be very little cross-over between British standards (Gandolfi/Sanderson/Thornton/Coronet/ Camelots/Lancasters) & Japanese field cameras (Nagoka, Charten). To say nothing of the European variations...

One of the problems facing a whole-plate camera revival is indeed the non-standardisation of the plate backs amongst manufacturers and country of manufacture. The only consistency I have seen is from within manufacturer to manufacturer, yet many manufacturers did not manufacture their own whole plates.



I don't know if there was even a British whole plate standard. The only standard I have come across is the Eastman standard that I know works with Eastman, Seneca and Korona cameras, and there are quite a number of these old whole plate cameras around.

Other than the Eastman holders I have examined some 8-10 other whole plate holders, some of them made in England, and every one of them was diffferent. So until someone shows me otherwise the only standard that appears to exist is the Eastman.

I am speaking here only of double sided holders, either for film or glass plate. The plate holders seem to be more common, and sometimes come with septums that allow the use of film.

Sandy

colrehogan
04-05-2007, 02:03 PM
I don't know if there was even a British whole plate standard. The only standard I have come across is the Eastman standard that I know works with Eastman, Seneca and Korona cameras, and there are quite a number of these old whole plate cameras around.

Other than the Eastman holders I have examined some 8-10 other whole plate holders, some of them made in England, and every one of them was diffferent. So until someone shows me otherwise the only standard that appears to exist is the Eastman.

I am speaking here only of double sided holders, either for film or glass plate. The plate holders seem to be more common, and sometimes come with septums that allow the use of film.

Sandy

Sandy,
Does the Eastman standard compare to the Century camera too?

sanking
04-05-2007, 02:43 PM
Sandy,
Does the Eastman standard compare to the Century camera too?

I have never had a Century 6 1/2 X 8 1/2 camera in my hands so can not say for sure. However, I would bet that the Eastman standard would also have been standard to the Century since Century was for almost two decades a division of the Eastman Kodak Company.

If you have a Century and want to check measurements, Eastman style holders are 7 11/16" wide, the distance from the end of the holder to rib-lock is 9 1/8, and the T-dimension is about 0.28".

Sandy

Oren Grad
04-05-2007, 03:30 PM
Does the Eastman standard compare to the Century camera too?

Diane -

My Eastman holders fit my Century No. 1 with no trouble.

BUT: "fit" means that the width and the riblock position are compatible. Having just measured a pile of different holders and camera backs both antique and recent, I conclude that except by sheer luck, the T-dimension will not be an exact match between holder and camera back, even if the holder and camera are of the same brand.

Don't lose sleep over it - if you're using the camera for typical outdoor scenic stuff at small apertures, you'll never notice. But if your intended use demands an exact match, you need to have a back custom built to match a specific set of holders, or vice versa.

Note that the Eastman "standard" is itself somewhat squishy; there was some variation in all of the key dimensions among the various Eastman-labeled items that I measured. FWIW, the Eastman film holders I measured have a distance from bearing surface to septum of around 0.254". Don't take that last digit too seriously - when attacking a film holder with a machinist-grade depth micrometer one quickly discovers all sorts of ways in which the different parts of a film holder can flex under pressure. It takes a fair amount of finesse to get a reading that (A) is repeatable and (B) is likely to be an accurate reflection of what's happening when the holder sits in the camera.

Finally, a general note for everybody: there is so much variation among vintage and modern whole plate cameras that it's not possible for any new holder aimed at the overall market to promise an exact match in all dimensions to any particular existing camera. The design goal is to have external dimensions that fit without excessive slop as well as a T-distance that's a reasonable match to as wide a range of both old and new cameras as possible. In particular, we believe that it will be possible to produce a holder that's usable in many - perhaps most - Eastman, Century, Gundlach and Tachihara/Rittreck backs as well as any other backs that fall within that range of variation, as well as in the new Ebony. I hedge the quantifier because I saw enough variation in the modest range of vintage equipment I had on hand that it is prudent to assume that there may be some exceptions even within brands for which I had a sample to test.

ADDED: I should add that although the Eastman holders I have on hand measure around 0.254" for the depth from bearing surface to septum, the Century, Eastman, Gundlach and Rittreck backs I have on hand fall between 0.254" and 0.257" for the distance between bearing surface and ground glass (with the exception of one outlier). The new Ebony cameras assume a holder that borrows the 0.260" specification from the ANSI standard for 8"x10". One must take into account the thickness of the film as well, typically 0.007". At present, we believe that a depth-to-septum in the holders of 0.260", together with external dimensions very similar to those observed in the Eastman film holders, is likely to be a reasonable compromise, both accommodating older cameras and providing a good basis for the manufacture of additional new cameras to a consistent standard should the current activity arouse wider interest in this wonderful format.

I welcome comments/questions on any of the above.

Oren Grad
04-05-2007, 04:48 PM
one aspect I appreciate with plate photography users is that they are clearly not doing it for economic reasons - clearly they are doing it for the love of whole plates and film photography

Not to mention the sheer perversity of it... ;)

ReallyBigCameras
04-05-2007, 07:55 PM
The new Ebony cameras assume a holder that borrows the 0.260" specification from the ANSI standard for 8"x10". One must take into account the thickness of the film as well, typically 0.007". At present, we believe that a depth-to-septum in the holders of 0.260", together with external dimensions very similar to those observed in the Eastman film holders, is likely to be a reasonable compromise, both accommodating older cameras and providing a good basis for the manufacture of additional new cameras to a consistent standard should the current activity arouse wider interest in this wonderful format.

I welcome comments/questions on any of the above.

Oren,

Now if we could only get someone to perform similar due diligence on another underappreciated format - 7x11. I've owned a couple whole plate cameras - including a beautiful Gandolphi that I regret selling. I found the format perfect of portraits, but for landscapes, I prefer the longer rectangle of the 7x11 format.

It might actually be easier in this case as there were far fewer makers of 7x11 cameras - and I think all (both?) of them were in the US. The only ones I've ever seen were made by either Eastman/Kodak or Gundlach/Korona. I see from Alan Brubaker's web site that he makes his 7x11 holders with the same 8x10 ANSI 0.260 T-distance you settled on for the new whole plate holders.

Kerry

Oren Grad
04-05-2007, 08:08 PM
Kerry -

In my preferred alternate universe, the formats that survived in commercial use wouldn't have been 4x5/5x7/8x10, they would have been 3.25x4.25/6.5x8.5/7x11.

I too can't recall seeing anything commercially produced in 7x11 other than Eastman and Korona (but am I recalling correctly that Butch Welch included 7x11 in one of his multi-format home brew cameras?).

I'm baffled as to where Alan Brubaker got that way-out T-distance (for those who haven't checked his site, he's showing 0.300") for whole plate - looks almost like a plate holder spec to me. Maybe I should do something radical, like asking him...

sanking
04-05-2007, 09:02 PM
[QUOTE=Oren Grad;451565]
I too can't recall seeing anything commercially produced in 7x11 other than Eastman and Korona (but am I recalling correctly that Butch Welch included 7x11 in one of his multi-format home brew cameras?).

QUOTE]

My friend Sam (the other S of S&S) has a 7X11 Eastman. He had our woodworker make a small batch of 7X11 holders some years ago, and I believe he sold some of these to Butch Welch. The model was an original Eastman holder. I think he sold the rest of them to a photographer in Canada.

Sandy King

Oren Grad
04-05-2007, 09:48 PM
My friend Sam (the other S of S&S) has a 7X11 Eastman.

Quite a few years back, when I first heard of the 7x11 Eastman and was trying to learn more about it, Sam kindly shared some observations from his own experience with the camera.

wfwhitaker
04-05-2007, 09:53 PM
Sam sold me six S&S 7x11 holders which I still have. As a matter of fact, they're in the classifieds as we speak...

sanking
04-05-2007, 11:19 PM
Oren,

Now if we could only get someone to perform similar due diligence on another underappreciated format - 7x11. I've owned a couple whole plate cameras - including a beautiful Gandolphi that I regret selling. I found the format perfect of portraits, but for landscapes, I prefer the longer rectangle of the 7x11 format.


Kerry


I sure wish you had sold me that Gandolfi! Or maybe someone can point me to a Thornton Pickard triple extension with red leather bellows in great condition?

I find the whole plate format particulary nice for portraits and for vertical orientation still lives. For landscapes I much prefer the 5X7. 7X11 is also very nice.

Sandy

Rob_5419
04-11-2007, 08:03 AM
I don't know if there was even a British whole plate standard. The only standard I have come across is the Eastman standard that I know works with Eastman, Seneca and Korona cameras, and there are quite a number of these old whole plate cameras around.


I guess since you live in the States, this would make sense.

Perhaps no one in the UK has shown the amount of interest in whole plate as the American contributors in this forum - I'm amazed that anyone can measure 0.007 of an inch. My Fisherprice ruler just doesn't give me that kind of accuracy.



Other than the Eastman holders I have examined some 8-10 other whole plate holders, some of them made in England, and every one of them was diffferent. So until someone shows me otherwise the only standard that appears to exist is the Eastman.

Might be in for a long wait - sorry I'm just not technically minded enough to use a depth micrometer. Also, the era of the double dark slide is way too modern for my own bookform plate camera knowledge. Given that the British DDS plates that I use are also manufactured by Kodak Eastman, it is possible that there was some kind of blueprint for an Eastman standard, although Oren's point about the variability within manufacturer and era of manufacture is what I have been finding.

It's useful having the above information to consider - I'm not sure how to use it yet, but when I get my whole plate working, I'll revisit the data above.

Thanks.

Perhaps I take the view that the lack of knowledge of standardisation of British whole-plate film backs is not a reflection of a lack of order in its original design; merely the fact that this knowledge is now becoming lost to a different generation.

With regards to half-plate film holders, the furthest I have got to recognising any British standard goes this far:

http://plate_camera.livejournal.com

The Gandolfi/Sanderson/Lancaster axis vs the Thornton Pickard half-plate sizes is one distinction which comes about from measuring flange to flange fittings (to say nothing of the T dimensions).

The double sided holders, for film or plate do have some evidence of being standardised. I can take down the measurements and see how they compare to the Eastman standard that you describe, however Oren's data is much more accurate than I am ever going to be able to record.

PS - Thornton Pickard Triple Extension Imperial cameras abound often in England in the half-plate variation....usually around 300 for mint era condition at antique sellers in the UK.

sanking
04-11-2007, 05:42 PM
PS - Thornton Pickard Triple Extension Imperial cameras abound often in England in the half-plate variation....usually around 300 for mint era condition at antique sellers in the UK.

Half-plate is 4 1/2 X 6 1/2, right? If so, I have a Thornton Pickard triple extension half-plate camera in pretty nice condition. I don't have any holders, however. I understand there is a special ebay for the UK? I guess that might be the place to look.

As for precision in measurment, there may be a little optimism in the kind of accuracy some of us are throwing out. But I measure as best I can and without further gnashing of teeth, accept what I appear to read. In any event, small differences in T-dimension are not all that important because they can be readily addressed by shims. The more important issues is width of the holder, and distance from the end to the rib-lock, because if a holder won't fit the camera the T-dimension is of no importance anyway.

Sandy King

Terence
04-11-2007, 05:57 PM
Strangely, I just picked up a Ansco whole plate, but it has NO notch for a riblock. Came with to beautiful, but badly made Premo plate holders, which of course have ribs.