View Full Version : How big did dry plate cameras get?

09-15-2009, 01:07 PM
My largest plate camera is a 12 x 15 inch Vageeswari with book plate holders. That is as large as I have been able to buy. A '12x20 Century' on Ebay didn't sell for 800. Was it a plate camera? I don't know.
How big did plate cameras for dry plates get?
There is a photograph called "Kinsey and his Cameras" circa 1910 of which I purchased a hand printed copy. It shows him standing in front of his old car and many cameras all set up. One is looking like a book plate holder about 20 x 24. The holder is almost as tall as the tire on the car! The camera above it doesn't look to be large enough to hold it but is still very large - so large that it requires two tripods to hold it.
If there was a larger plate camera on the market I'd need to add a room to my house let alone the darkroom in order to house and use it. Just curious.

Ian Grant
09-15-2009, 01:20 PM
Very look up the Mammoth camera :D


09-15-2009, 06:36 PM
1871 American Optical Catalogue advertises a 20x24 inch View camera - see http://antiquecameras.net/1871cameracatalog.html


09-15-2009, 10:40 PM
How about 4.5 x 8 feet (http://robroy.dyndns.info/lawrence/mammoth.html) ?

09-16-2009, 05:56 AM
I think normal production cameras (excluding solar cameras and copying cameras) topped out at about 20x24 inch. There are many one-offs, but in terms of normally produced models, 20x24 seems to be the outer limit, if that is the original question. Even at that, I bet 20x24 was a special order, and 14x17 the largest "regular" size....

09-18-2009, 12:13 PM
in terms of normally produced models, 20x24 seems to be the outer limit, if that is the original question.
Basically. Not that any ever come onto the E-Bay market. I've been able to collect well up to 12x15 plate cameras and accessories, that seems to be the current outer limit. Not being a museaum and having used up my space, that is my limit. It is nice to know that my gear is in the middle of the range of sizes. Always something to look forward to. That undiscovered long lost huge camera outfit may yet exist in some lonely barn or old attic waiting to be discovered.

Ty G
09-19-2009, 02:54 PM
In the vaults of the George E House Museum I saw cameras that were about four feet tall and took plates of 36" x 36" I also saw a couple lenses with the diameter of the front element well over two feet, another over 3 foot diameter. The Railroad commissioned a HUGE camera in the late 1800's to take a picture of the train; if you google it, I'm sure the image of the two guys trying to lift a plateholder 6 feet in the air may come up.

02-04-2010, 09:26 AM
Give a thought to Carlton Watkins photographing the Yosemite Valley in the 1870s, with a wet plate camera 18"x22" in size, and using a number of mules to carry his portable darkroom, chemicals, glass plates, etc.


02-07-2010, 06:52 AM
George R Lawrence 4.5 feet x 8 feet for the Altone Railway Company, im sure there was some discussion on him here not so long ago re the kite photos of San Francisco 1906

John Shriver
03-21-2010, 09:05 PM
In a photography exhibit at Tufts (http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gallery/shows/amazingandimmutable.html), there was a 20x24 vintage albumen print which was (of course) a contact print from a glass plate of the same size. Western town in the pioneer era. Quite impressive.

Stephen Frizza
03-21-2010, 10:28 PM
How about 4.5 x 8 feet (http://robroy.dyndns.info/lawrence/mammoth.html) ?

is there any where the image this camera took can be viewed?

largeformat pat
03-22-2010, 06:25 AM
In the Kodak book "Photography with Large Format Cameras" there is a photograph of the Mammoth camera, It weighted 7 tons, 20 feet long and used a glass plate 8 x 4 1/2 feet ( as stated) I was used to photograph and train for publicity purposes. (Chicago & Alton RR)

Stephen Frizza
03-22-2010, 06:56 AM
do any of the photographs this camera made still exist in archives?

03-22-2010, 07:46 AM
do any of the photographs this camera made still exist in archives?

A google search for alton limited and photograph turned up this: