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  1. #1

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    Whole Plate Film Users - Success!

    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.in...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.

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    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by steven_e007 View Post
    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

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    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

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    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.

  6. #6
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    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.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_5419 View Post


    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

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    colrehogan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post
    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?
    Diane

    Halak 41

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    Quote Originally Posted by colrehogan View Post
    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

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by colrehogan View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Oren Grad; 04-05-2007 at 03:02 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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