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Butcher Carbine 4a film-pack


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Hi I just bought on Ebay this Butcher Carbine 4a (3 1/4 4 1/4 film sheets) thinking it was like the model 4 (film roll 120. 6x9cm).

I'm seriously Interested to use it, but this is my first attempt with these old cameras. I searched the web, this forum but I cannot find yet any film-pack info.

Any suggestion? Some friends Photographer, told me to check fidelity back.

Please share your knowledge or Experience.

Thanks for Your kind attention.

Best regards


Luca | Venice | Italy | flickr.com/photos/lv62/


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The fact that the back comes off and has a red window immediately tells you that this was designed for rollfilm. What size rollfilm? Pick one from this list.


Short answer: You ain't gonna find any film to fit it these days.


You could adapt the back to take quarter-plate film sheaths, but that would ruin a nice antique..... unless you make a complete new back for it.

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I once got some 35mm panoramic pictures out of one of these big old folding cameras by wedging a 35mm cartridge in to the feed spool cavity using Blu Tak. I'm not sure if yours would be big enough though. I improvised film rails with two strips of balsa wood across the film gate.


You have to tape over the red window, and film advance is by guesstimate. I practised with a scrap film to estimate the number of turns.

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thanks Rodeo_joe|1, actually on the back there is a screw that open like a Windows where to install the film-pack. If I find one ti buy I'd like ti test some 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 film sheet I see available in eBay (Shanghai Name) or on German sites, maybe Aldo Ilford available.

I'm also considering 120 to 118 roll adapter from camerhack.it, as the are best me I Hope I coul try It. No way I damage such a piece of history, Will update with news.

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OK. If that flap in the back opens, it looks like it might actually take a sheet of 9x12 film. You'd have to load and unload it in the dark, one sheet at a time, but it might be doable.


Originally, there would have been an optional glass plate-holder and ground-glass attachment available. The plate holders would fit a bit further away from the lens and need to be focussed by a ground-glass screen. The same applies to using sheet film in sheaths.

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I have an Ensign Carbine (the same thing only later) in the same size. The idea of quarter-plate roll film seems utterly daft. On my camera, the panel with the red window slides out, and single dark slides go in the same 'rails' (if that's the right word). What you show of the red-window panel, and how it fits on the camera, looks very like my camera.


I knew what I was getting; I already had a quarter-plate Ensign Reflex with several dark slides, and I guessed they would fit the new camera; they do. I can also fit the rear-fitting ground-glass screen from my Reflex to the Carbine. Using plate-holders shifts the focal plane back a couple of mm; on my camera, the little focus scale can be shifted forward for roll film or back for plates; the hook that engages the lens carriage points at either F for film or P for plates. To shift from one to the other you twist the scale sideways, then slide it.


Finally, my Reflex came with a roll-film back for 120 film, which also fits either camera. This is the real gold dust item, I think, because it liberates me from all the quarter-plate stuff that I may not be able to get forever. An alternative (again, if you don't mind a bit of making) might be to make 'spool extenders' to let you fit 120 spools in the back, and a board to reduce the width of the film gate (to support the edges of 120 film so it stays flat).


To use your camera with quarter-plate sheet film, you still have several hurdles to clear. I was very lucky to buy the collection of stuff the previous owner of the Reflex had assembled for me.

  • First, you need to find some dark-slides of the right type: there are several designs, which differ in the shape and dimensions of the flange, and the ones that fit Ensign ( I guess that is the same as your Butcher) are a minority of what's out there.
  • If you manage to find dark slides, you need a film sheath for each one. You can make sheaths if you're reasonably practical. I bought some for quarter-plate, but I have made some for a different camera (9x12cm). My home-made ones are pretty poor really, but they just about work.
  • If you have all that, you need a developing tank that will take this size.
  • Quarter-plate film itself is not that hard to get: I get mine mail-order from Fotoimpex in Berlin. You only have one emulsion, I think, but if you want HP5 you can get it in the Ilford ULF scheme (pretty expensive though).

Good luck, whatever you decide to do!

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If you manage to find dark slides, you need a film sheath for each one.

That's the same with my Thornton-Pickard Junior Special 1/4 plt reflex.

The film sheaths also move the image plane back a little from where a plate emulsion would sit. This doesn't seem to matter much, since my T-P gives surprisingly sharp results. Some might say disappointingly sharp results because they don't look as if they came from an antique camera at all!

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