My first plate camera
ok, so it arrived and well as far as I can see the bellows are light tight. Its made by lancaster & Son, Birmingham. Lens says Lancaster Patent and has an aperture (10-30 - labelled in time as 1-8 - what does that mean in modern apertures?). Seems to be (guess) a 9 inch - will check.
The half plate ground glass has been bodged into a quarter plate one recently (MDF edging). - where is the best place to get a new one or should I just make one? Whats the best thickness for gg?
Another odd thing - lens looks like its missing its front elements - could be I have half a lens I suppose...
From the (penny red) stamp on the original packaging it looks like it is from between 1841-1864 - if I check the perforations might get a better date.
Satin snow makes lovely ground glass. As for the lens, a lot of older lenses are convertible, with removal elements to get three focal lengths. And a lot of the early cameras had the lens behind the shutter. My Mckeown's doesn't list any Lancaster cameras before the 1880s so it is hard to guess what yours looks like. Can you post some pics?
The Lancaster Patent was a "landscape lens", a meniscus. So the shouldn't be a front element.
The Lancaster Patent Rectigraphic was a Rapid Rectilinear...
In fact they labelled most lenses with "Patent", since they held a patent for the iris aperture mechanism!
The aperture "system" seems to be an "own system", where you'll have to work it out yourself.
The Landscape lens is likely to be f/10 to f/12 at full opening, so take it from there.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
There is a picture at
It was posted to a Mr Cranfield in the Royal Marines, from John Jones, military tailors in Bruton Street, Mayfair, London. The stamp is the only thing to date it from.
The plate holders and camera also have small JL&S shield shaped plates on. The writing on the bottom nameplate seems to have come off - too faint to read.
Very nice camera. To follow up on Ole, this is what Im finding:
"The iris graduations can be individual on early items, such as a series marked 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, with the f on themoving ring, and there is often another scale showing the relative time as 1, 2, 4, 8, 16x in separate positions."
What I believe this means is that once you have found the correct exposure for #1 - say 1s - if you moved the aperture to #8, the correct exposure would be 8s.
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Yes that makes sense. Just requires knowing what the first aperture is. It looks quite bright to me, guess I can do an approximate calibration against another camera, though with different ground glass its not going to be quite accurate.
Originally Posted by SteveH
There is a little dust inside the lens, but its not immediately obvious how it unscrews. The focal length is 10".
It should be more accurate to measure the diameter of the iris at each setting and divide into the 10" focal length to get the f/ number. A conversion chart could then be made, or perhaps a f/ number scale taped to the lens barrel.
Originally Posted by Justin Cormack
Ah yes of course, forgot that. Looks like its f12 then.
Well, having been away and needing film, I finally got to shoot my first (film, not plate) shot on it. Also my first large format shot.
I had to use the Ole jam technique, as I discovered that the spraymount I had been sold had no nozzle. Cherry jam it was.
Slightly underexposed, ah well, not a film I have used before. And a couple of marks on the film - my fault. But lovely. Just drying now, but no light leaks at all from what I can see now, focus looks ok (surprising, seeing as bodged ground glass is not in the right plane - my satin snow is due shortly, should be better). Mmmmmmm, lovely.
[QUOTE=Ole;337292]The Lancaster Patent was a "landscape lens", a meniscus.
Ole, I have just been playing with my Lancaster Patent lens and it appears to be of Chevalier's "French Landscape" type, ie., a cemented achromat but somewhat meniscus shaped. From measurements, the number scale from 10 on apparently is the f/stop (mine is a 135mm f/10). I just mounted it into a Speed Graphic board so I will give it a go and see what comes out.