Getting to know how to use a folding glass plate camera circa 1900

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by christopherkilroy, Mar 4, 2018.

  1. Hello,

    I have a vintage wood and brass Watson Premier camera and always thought that it would be good to be able to get a decent photograph out of it. Well being locked down due to the recent snowfall I have been pottering and have decided that the time has come.

    It is a full plate camera with a Dallmeyer 2D F6 lens said to have a focal length of 9" (230 mm).

    There is a nice ground glass focusing screen and a wooden double-sided plate holder.

    I could do with being directed to a source where I can find 'step by step' style guidance anticipating the questions that only those of us who know almost nothing can come up with.

    A work-shop would be a good option.

    Any recommendations will be appreciated.

    Chris Kilroy
  2. Likely the biggest pitfall will be focusing. Vintage glass plate cameras presume a glass plate with the emulsion coat will be used. The position of the ground glass is pre-adjusted with an offset. Additionally the lens might not be highly color corrected and this too will require a offset to take into account the differences between visual and chemical focus.

    What I am saying is, some experimentation might be required to discover an offset, especially true if you are going to use a modern sheet film that has a different thickness as compared to a glass plate.
  3. I saw those mentioned in the manual of my pre-WW2 Balda Rollbox. In my humble attempt to understand that issue, I assume it to be obsolete, since (photographic) film tends to be panchromatic these days. - Chemical focus might be an issue with a just UV & blue sensitive emulsion? OTOH the old camera could be adjusted to such a chemical focus and won't play too well on modern film, if it ends in the same place as the old plates. - Chemical focus should be almost as far of from visual focus than the IR marking on a lens but into the other direction.

    How about putting / adapting a film sheath into your venerable plate holder? Why not make an entirely new back with ground glass to accept contemporary film holders?
    How about coating your own glass plates?
  4. There are a number of books on "how to do" from the late 19th and early 20th c.
    some of these are available in pdf files for free download from outfits like
    [for example P H Emerson's books as Link, although I don't recall how far that goes into techniques]

    some of these do have detailed descriptions of camera use and methods

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