Whole-plate camera dimensions needed for a wetplate holder project
I'd like to make an ABS wetplate holder for my whole-plate cameras but have run into a couple design problems. If you have a whole-plate camera (or reducing back), I'd like to compile some measurements of the rear box to aid designing a couple pieces.
I have 3 different whole plate cameras, an Eastman #2, a ROC Universal, and a ROC Carleton. I also have at least 4 different-sized plate or film holders in that format!
I've read several posts on APUG and the Large Format Photography Forum about the lack of standardization for this format, both in the past and present day even with new holders coming from Chamonix, Ebony, Lotus, S&S, and AWB. It sounds like a somewhat standard t-distance has evolved taken from the ANSI 8x10 standard of 0.260" but the modern variance runs between 0.260" to 0.300" from what I can glean from forum posts. I just measured an old Eastman plate holder with film sheath and get about 0.300" to the sheath surface. I have also discovered that not only are the holders different widths with different rib/light baffle designs, but the camera rear box dimensions are not the same between the cameras I own.
I'd like to attempt making a wetplate holder for the whole-plate format but face the dilemma of where to put the focal plane due to the different t-distances and, more importantly, my amateurish machining skills and tools. There's no way I can presently stuff a rigid darkslide and set of plate supporting corners in little over a quarter-inch. Half-inch, maybe. As a result, I've decided the path I'm going to take is to make my own adapter back and set the focal plane distance where I can have a reasonable chance of success constructing the holder by making it asymmetrical compared to normal film holders. I don't need a septum (or plate support corners) exactly in the middle of the holder since these things are going to load from the back, have a door, and only need a single darkslide channel.
It seems the current 2 or 3 wetplate camera manufacturers are so busy that they no longer wish to make adapter backs. Justifiably, they would rather spend their time crafting entire cameras rather than retrofitting those made elsewhere. And to date, In Camera Industries' recently introduced wetplate holders are manufactured only to fit the common modern formats of 4x5 and 8x10 (with 11x14 on the way). Lund Photographics does make whole-plate, half-plate, and 10x12 plate holders, but these are earmarked for older dryplate cameras and as such, have slightly different design considerations than a wetplate or film holder does. As a result, there seems to be a great resurgence in wetplate collodion occurring with more demand for new equipment than there are suppliers, and whole-plate photographers lacking any choice at all other than using a larger format camera with reducing insert.
I wonder if some sort of universal adapter back made out of ABS could be designed to fit different cameras yet still use the same holder? Not only would this help those wanting to do wetplate in historic size cameras, but such a scheme would be a way to keep any camera safe from silver nitrate stains and corrosion. I think I have such an adapter back worked out for my particular cameras, but I wonder if there is a much wider variation considering all whole-plate cameras.
If you are using a whole-plate camera I'm hoping you could measure the rear box and let me know what the dimensions are so I can get some idea of the range adapter backs would need to cover. Here's what I have so far for my cameras:
The rear box of the Eastman #2 camera is 10” square with a rabbeted light baffle 1/8” deep and 1/4” wide (i.e., the 1/4” thickness of the box stock).
The ROC Universal and ROC Carleton cameras have rear boxes 10 3/16” square with similar light baffle to the #2 Eastman.
What size is yours?
Tonight I measured the t-distance (depth from the outer bearing surface of the holder to the septum) on the various holders I have. Here's what I came up with:
Originally Posted by smieglitz
Eastman Portrait Film Holder #2 for Empire State, ROC Universal, Carleton, and Premo cameras - one side averaged about 0.254" and the other 0.245"... call it 0.250" I guess.
Eastman Plate Holder was just under 0.300"
ROC film holder was ~ 0.310"
ROC plate holder w/film sheath was ~0.280"
older Blair plate holder was ~0.290"
Poco film holder was ~0.300"
Anyone? Who else has a whole-plate camera that may have different rear box dimensions?
I didn't reply earlier since it seemed unlikely that anyone who bought an Ebony SV Wholeplate would bring wet plates near it. However, since you're almost pleading now ( ), here are the dimensions.
- Rear "box" 10-5/8 x 10-5/8 inches
- Rabbeted area 10 x 10 inches
- Depth of rabbet 1/8 inch
- Size of reversible back section that protrudes inch into box's rabbet 9-31/32 x 9-31/32 inches
- Depth of reversible back section that protrudes into box's rabbet 1/8 inch
I bet that Zebra dude would.
Originally Posted by Sal Santamaura
Thanks again for the info Sal. (I replied on the LFF first.)
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I have a Sanderson Whole Plate, which was built about 1905. This has a rear box of 11 1/2 inches by 10 inches. It has sides 1/8 inch thick, and the ornate top is 1 inch, and the bottom 3/4 inch. The rabbetted size is 9 3/4 inches square, and is 1/8 inch deep. This mahogany and brass camera was made for book form darkslides using plates, although when I bought it in 1969 it came with film inserts in the darkslides. I have always used film with the darkslides, although plates were available when I bought the camera. The register is slightly different for the film held in an insert, when compared with a plate, and I had to alter the position of the ground glass screen accordingly. With the film insert the distance from film to edge of darkslide is 7·2mm (0·283 inches), and the distance from the emulsion surface of a plate to the edge of the darkslide is 6·5mm (0·256 inches).
I hope this info helps
Yes, it helps. Thanks for the info Graham.
Confirms my suspicions that there isn't much consistency in the boxes: 9 3/4", 10", 10 3/8", and 10 5/8" openings. Looks like a one-size-fits-all adapter isn't feasible.
I am making a wetplate holder for a wholeplate tailboard camera I bought last year. As I'll be using only this camera for wetplates, I just measured the distance on one of the dryplate holders that came with the camera. If you don't have any for yours, then measure the distance from the back of the GG frame to the glass.
Unless you are manufacturing them for sale, you'll only need to make the holder to match your camera.
If you want it to be used on all your cameras, then make it to fit the largest dimention, and use thin packing to move the GG back on the cameras with a shorter dimention.
or just get Richard Ritter to make it for you...a duh?? quick service and not all that much $$