Quote Originally Posted by zrisso View Post
Oh, I know. Weight has never been an issue for me when it came to cameras; I was just curious.
Well, wetplate may be a bit different in that respect. You must remember that not only will you be hauling around the camera, tripod, and lens, but also the darkroom, chemicals and plates.

I have an 11x14 Burke and James view camera that I've used to take plates up to 10x12. I'm into portraiture and figure work so I'm using large, fast lenses. To cover that size plate I'm either going to pick my Dallmeyer 3A Patent Portrait lens to get the swirls, or something like a 20" Vitax for more normal renditions. Both these lenses are around f/4 and are huge with a lot of glass. For landscapes or other subjects you could get away with slower smaller lenses.

Plates that size (and larger) are impressive but also require some room to manipulate and process. At a home or studio darkroom, that isn't much of a problem, but in the field it means you need a large, portable darkroom. I started with a 4'x4'x6' custom tent but after awhile grew tired of the hassle in setting it up. (New lightproof "grow tents" may be easier to setup and tear down.) I eventually bought a Class-C motorhome that I converted to a mobile wetplate darkroom to get around that hassle. Kerik has a camper truck, Robb Kendrick has a trailer, David Prifti has a rowboat with a darkroom built in, etc.

After working with wetplate awhile, I decided that whole-plate was a great format for me and most of the plates I shoot with the 11x14 are that size rather than the maximum the camera could give. I've also decided that I would prefer to lug around a robust whole-plate, dedicated, wetplate camera rather than the 11x14, so I'm building one to do that smaller size. I'm pretty sure that will get me shooting more plates. Another aspect of whole-plate format that I like is that it is the largest plate I can hold edge to edge and so it is easier to physically manipulate than 8x10 or larger.

I also found the smaller, traditional plate sizes to have a special charm - something to hold in your hand in a case rather than display on the wall in a frame. I find myself moving towards sixth-plates. So, I shoot a lot more with a smaller 5x7 Deardorff than the 11x14 B&J.

You didn't say what your intended subject matter was for the plates or whether you'll be working out of an existing darkroom and I think those are important considerations relative to the equipment you should acquire.

Joe