Making an 11x14 from an Argyle 18 process camera
OK, I know I've lost my mind, but I can blame my wife. Iím thinking of building a ULF from a carcass.
I just picked up an old Argyle 18 process camera for going to get it. I wanted the Rodenstock lens for my monorail, which seemed to be well worth spending an hour to go pick up the camera. (OK, it's a process lens designed for flat field; I know. But for the gas money, it's worth it. I am never going to have the money to buy a 'new' any kind of lens. And besides that, what good is owning a pickup truck if you don't haul 'stuff' in the back of it.)
Well, now I'm thinking about this pretty hard. The camera itself seems to be in about 8.5 of 10 shape. Looks a little ragged on the frame, but it's solid and clearly still works fine despite the fact that it's been sitting in a corner for several years.
Over the years I've accumulated a host of stuff that begins to make this look feasible.
I've got a bellows and a decent front standard from the Argyle. The bellows is light tight and in good shape. The draw seems a little short since it's designed to use the wide angle lens for camera ready artwork, not a long lens. (This may be the deal breaker.)
I do note that the front standard on the Argyle clearly isn't designed to provide movements. It's for taking flat pictures, and that's it.
The Argyle ground glass and vacuum are fine, but it seems to me that if one wanted to make an 11x14 I need to fabricate a real 11x14 back and find film holders. Coincidentally, I have Kodak 11x14 ground glass that I got for the taking some years ago. (Another long drive, but worth the haul of various treasures there.)
I also have a large pneumatic Packard Shutter in excellent shape from another treasure to trash find a few years ago.
How do I blame my wife for this? Well, she's determined to make 11x14 platinum contact prints. So far, my largest film format is 4x5, and I have thought about trying to snag a 5x7 on the large auction site. But both of those would require a mixed process flow. I would have to scan the negative, print an 11x14 transparency, and let her print from that. I know that works, but she has no objection to using a real 11x14 negative. So she's encouraging this. (Buying a Deardorf is out of the question, however. Some cockamamie nonsense about needing to eat regularly gets in the way.)
Now, is this insane? Is the old Argyle a reasonable platform to start converting? Or should I abandon that idea and convert it into a horizontal enlarger instead?
Anyone have any advice other than speak to my therapist soon?
Making your own 11x14 Film Holder
Get a copy of Alan Greene's "Primitive Photography". It has a detailed section on making film holders that is very good. Another idea is Otto Dippold's manuals - he wrote them on both camera making and film holder constuction. Otto used to sell them on eBay- but I haven't seen them there in a while.
Another take on the xray film thing- use lith film and develop it in exhausted dektol. Freestle has a bunch of 11x14 lith films that won't break the bank and yield a very nice continuous tone negative- but exposure times will be long.