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  1. #1
    Steve S's Avatar
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    Van Neck Press Camera

    I have just acquired a nice 9x12 Van Neck press outfit with 6 inch Ross f4.5 Ross Xpres, 4 inch f4 wide angle Ross Expres and 11.5 inch f5.5 Teleros lenses. While I am waiting for film to arrive ( I thought I would give Adox 50 a go) I wonder if anyone has any experience of using this camera and or/lenses. From the little documentation I have found it would appear that no two cameras were exactly the same as the company made customisation a selling point. However the design is based on the Goerz Anschutz with extra refinements. I would be particularly interested to know how the press man of the 1940s managed to focus his telephoto lens other than by having a damn good eye for distance. Although the camera has a glass focusing screen this needs to be removed prior to insertion of the plate so it would have been highly impractical for reportage.

  2. #2
    Steve S's Avatar
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    Picture of Van Neck Press Camera

    Just a picture that might jog a memory or two
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails van_neck_main.jpg  

  3. #3

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    Steve, very NICE camera! Never seen one before... I've used Maximar-type 9x12cm plate cameras with 13.5cm lenses, and was able to guess-focus most of the time, but a telephoto would be challenging. Regarding the ease of use for reportage, there were 9x12cm film packs available that held ten or so sheets, which would have been much faster than single-plate holders.

    Does your FP shutter still work? I've read that the German-style LF focal plane shutters don't seem to hold up as well as the Graflex. There are at least four or five slightly different types of 9x12cm plate holders: wonder which one yours takes? Hopefully it's the most common type which fits the Maximar/Avus/Reccomar models.

  4. #4
    Steve S's Avatar
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    Yes, the focal plane shutter seems to be working well. It took me a while to work out how to set it though. Essentially the slit width is set first and this is the difficult bit as it involves depressing the shutter cocking knob during winding until you feel it disengage. It can then be set into one of several notches which adjust the slit width. Once this is done you continue to wind until the shutter is cocked. There is a separate small knob at the base of the camera which adjusts the shutter tension. By combining the tension settings with a particular slit width, a number of speeds are available to the user.
    The camera came with three single plate holders also marked Van Neck which were obviously made for the camera as they are a very nice snug fit. You could well be right about the film packs as both the focusing hood and the back are removable. Indeed the way the back attaches is very similar to the universal back seen on the Graphics and MPP cameras alhough it does not have the brackets to hold a roll film back. I think as long as any film holder will fit physically, then there is every chance that it will be held in place securely by the spring tension on the back. I would need to check this though.

  5. #5
    Steve S's Avatar
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    Just another point about the plate holders. They do not slide in on rails like other plate holders I have seen. They just fit into the space in the same way as a modern Fidelity 5x4 holder would and are held in place under spring tension like a modern back. They are however of about the same thickness as traditional metal single plate holders.

  6. #6

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    Steve, a fascinating camera, and great that the FP shutter still works. So the ground glass slides off, but there are leaf springs that hold the plate holder in place? Are the edges of the plate holder grooved or plain? Should you want to find more holders, you might want to check the APUG Plate Camera forum, as there is a "sticky" there on the many variants of 9x12cm holders.

  7. #7
    Steve S's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link Leigh on the 9x12 plate holders. I need to read this closely to check for possible alternatives. The edges of the VN plate holder are plain as in the pic attached. I also have an old Soviet grooved plate holder which appears to fit although my double plate holders are too thick for the back to close properly. I have also attached a picture of the back which shows the latch arrangement along the top edge. Unlatching allows the back to drop open, the GG to be removed and the plate holder to be dropped in. Closing the back causes to springs to clamp the plate holder in tightly and the latch stops the back springing open.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails VN Plates.jpg   Russian Plate.jpg   VN_Back.jpg  

  8. #8

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    Steve, is the latch the shiny rectangle in the bottom-center? Or is that just the release for the GG hood? The latch and springs sound like quite an improvement over the basic Maximar slide-off system so many plate cameras used. Using my 9x12cm plate cameras I've run into occasional light leaks from the felt light trip, but I think the springs on yours might lessen the chance of that problem. Great if they'll accomodate several of the other variant 9x12cm holders.

    --Leigh.

  9. #9
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Fomafoto sell 9x12 film and postage to the UK is quite reasonable & fast, not sure if Matt at AgPhotographic has 9x12 in stock.

    You need film inserts for the plate holders ideally, I have been trying to get some new ones made (in the UK) but my usually source for metal parts doesn't work with steel thin enough. There's nothing complex.

    Your plate holders appear to be reasonably standard but there are rather a number of variations. It's rather hit & miss buying them as usually sellers don't show the dimensions etc very well.

    Great camera, looks very nice & fairly unusual.

    Ian

  10. #10
    Steve S's Avatar
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    Hi Leigh,The shiny rectangle is as you say just the release for the viewing hood. The latches are on the top edge and are not too obvious. Once released they allow the back to drop down on a hinge. I have attached another picture showing the back open and the GG partially removed, so that the plate can be inserted. This should make the whole operation clearer.
    Ian, I have ordered from AG Photographic and there is a slight delay at present on 9x12 size film. These VN holders seem to most resemble the Linhof type but are slightly longer being 100mm x 150mm. I was thinking that I would use some thin rigid plastic, slightly thinner than the original glass plates to line the holders and ensure flatness.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails VN_OpenBack.jpg  

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