ULF Holder Film Channel Tolerances--Expert Opinions Needed
Background: After years of shooting 4X5 and 8X10 I've been in the process of moving up to 12X20. Recently I bought a restored Korona camera on eBay and, then (from a different seller) three film holders listed as "original Korona," holders that had been converted from glass-plate holders to film, with new darkslides and light traps by AWB. (I thought it would be nice to have holders made by the original manufacturer to insure compatibility with the camera.) The description and pictures were minimal, but the holders were said to be in "good working order."
The problem: After inspecting them, I have several objections to the way these were described, but the main problem for me is the provision for holding the film. Sheet metal was nailed onto the septum and bent, at the edges, into a film loading channel (groove, slot--whatever you want to call it) that is almost 2mm wide--hardly sufficient to keep the film in place or flat. One of them has been updated with new septum material and a film channel of a more typical width, but, in all three, the film is not secured at either end--there's no slot to accept the film at the top, nor the usual hinged light trap that folds over the film at the bottom.
The seller is like a broken record and refuses to discuss it, maintaining that they are in "good working order" and "light tight." For him apparently it is a one-issue matter, but, to my mind, there are other criteria by which filmholders must be judged, namely, can they hold film and hold it flat, without scratching it on the way in? (Additionally, there are protruding nail heads, roughness, and unevenness of the sheet metal.)
I have a couple of questions for any of you who use, or even manufacture, ULF sheef film holders. Is there a given/accepted dimension for the gap in the channel the film loads into, and is it reasonable to claim that such a wide gap in the channel is acceptable? In these it's easy to insert up to nine sheets of film in the inconsistently wide channels. The gap is so wide that it couldn't arrest the natural curve of the film, let alone keep it from sagging or bowing when vertical for exposure. I have to think it would affect sharpness across the whole image, especially at the edges.
To me listing and selling filmholders that are (supposedly) light tight, but can't properly hold the film, is like buying a car, said to be in good working order--with new tires--and then, on taking possession, finding out the engine doesn't run.
After years of using 4X5 and 8X10 filmholders that accomodate the width of one film, am I supposed to accept the kind of slop these holders assure? Or can I call it what it is: a defect that makes the holders unusable--and that should have been disclosed? Sorry for the length of this post, but I'd appreciate your expertise and experience in the matter.
I shot a 12X20 Korona for a while. It had Korona holders and I checked the T dimension between a couple of holders and the dimension was not consistant. So what I observed and what I have heard over the last several years is that the world of ULF back when the Koronas were made is that there was no standard.
My Korona holders did not have a means to hold the film at either end other then the light trap on each end. There was certainly some film slop inside the holder. I had the same questions and concerns about film flatness when I started using the camera and others indicated to me that it really wasn't an issue for them, in their experience so long as the camera was not pointed downward.
I find it interesting that you would have problems from what was quoted "rebuilt by AWB". The holders Alan made me was as tight as any 8x10 holder I have. If you have pieces Nailed to the back it sounds like trouble as well. However, to address the idea as to what to expect, if these are converted from plate holders, perhaps this is the best that could have been done. If they were always junk, then how good can one expect junk to perform. (Sorry for the strong words there)
That is one of the issues with buying off of Ebay. If you dont have a standard to go by from specs or experience, it's hard to say what is "good" condition or not.
Personally, my holders were made (from scratch) by AWB and they are fantastic, albiet they were quite pricy.
I did this at Keith Canham's reccomendation because he told me that only Alan had asked for specs from Keith's Cameras. I've not been dissapointed.
If you would like to bring them by so I could take a look at them, I would be happy to check them out.
Best of luck,
Just to clarify. The wording of the listing was that AWB had made the new darkslides and light traps--the seller later said, in response to a question, that AWB had "checked them over" at the time. It seems probable to me that the interior attention to one of the holders with the new film loading channels was from AWB. I'm not quibbling with that. But the other two holders with the nails pounded in and the wide gap in the channels didn't get similar treatment and are of no value. If the interior of one was upgraded, which might constitute the standard for "good working order," shouldn't they all be the same? In other words, it can be done better, because it was done better in one of the three. The best evidence against these holders being in good condition and marketable as such is the inconsistency between them. It would probably be helpful to have you look at these, Robert. Thanks.
Last edited by John Snyder; 04-03-2006 at 06:02 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Originally Posted by John Snyder
I am one of the persons involved in the production of S&S film holders. It is hard to address some of your questions without actually seing the holders. However, a few comments.
1. There is no standard in terms of a "given/accepted dimension for the gap in the channel the film loads." Reasonably, it should be as tight as possible while still allowing the film to load. On our holders this gap is approximately 1mm. I would consider a gap of 2mm too large, but whether such a gap would affect sharpness depends on what type of photograhy you do. If close up using wide apertures, it might. At normal landscape distances using f/32 and smaller apertures it would not. Sagging will not normally be a problem unless you tilt the back backward away from vertical.
2. Since you are not satisfied with the holders, I belive you have a right to return them. As a seller I would definitely refund your money rather than risk negative feedback. This would be especially true if the original advertisement in ebay advertised the holders as" film holders" rather thann plate holders converted for use with film. Or for that matter, if it only stated holders without specifiying plate holders converted for film. Some, and I am one of them, would consider that wording "deceptive advertising."
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