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View Full Version : Would you be interested in a full-size ultralight dark cloth (under 1lb)?



Daniel Stone
18-Apr-2017, 00:30
Hey all,

I've been assessing various lightweight materials for a an addition to the Stone Photo Gear product lineup. That product is an ultra-light focusing cloth, available in different sizes, and the goal is for all STOCK sizes to weigh in under 1lb. The goal is to also have it fit into a stuff sack the size of a 14oz tin can(think a small can of chili).

The material I feel would be best suited for this is not cheap, but it will allow me to create a unique product that packs up very small, very light, and doesn't skimp on size! It is completely opaque, and very thin, yet durable.

I'm asking here because quite a few of you have given me the chance to create custom projects for you over the past few months. I want to continue that, but also start offering a few "click to ship" type items. So I'm here to ask about colors desired for the outer material, since some folks don't want a "horse blanket" black/white cloth, but something jazzy color-size :). Also, sizing, everyone has a different opinion on what size cloth they like to use. Please let me know which format you use, and what size cloth would benefit you best for those particular format(s) you're shooting with.

These will be made here in the USA, by me. This will become a core product in my lineup, and I want to offer something genuinely unique here from the start.

thanks,
Dan

Doremus Scudder
18-Apr-2017, 02:05
Hi Dan,

I've made a few darkcloths over the years. Your idea sounds really intriguing. Here are my opinions and personal preferences.

My latest darkcloth is white GoreTex on the outside, black on the inside, and has Velcro strips around all edges. It's a simple rectangle, but is able to be closed completely on the bottom and sides, so it blocks light from under the camera as well.

I think it is imperative that the darkcloth be multi-purpose. With mine, the white allows it to be comfortable in hot weather under the sun as well as to be used as a fill-light reflector. By being waterproof, it can protect the camera in rainy weather or from sea spray, etc. I've used mine as a rain poncho on occasion, since the Velcro strips on the edges allows it to be fastened into a number of configurations. It is big enough it can be used as an emergency blanket as well. So, combination darkcloth, reflector, rain poncho, emergency blanket (and even water carrier in a pinch).

You are planning a number of sizes, which I think is good. If you're trying to make it stuffable, maybe including a built-in (mesh?) stuff pocket would be a good idea.

Weights in the corners, like many darkcloths have, are not only heavy, but dangerous in a wind. Leave them out of your design. Of course, it goes without saying that it should be pretty much lightproof, so opaque material is a must.


So, to summarize, my suggestions:

1. White outside, black inside
2. Waterproof
3. Velcro on the edges (loops on one side, hooks on the other)
4. Stuff pocket included
5. No weights in the corners (or elastic or whatever - keep it simple).
6. As lightproof as possible

Hope this helps and good luck with your project.

Doremus

Peter Collins
18-Apr-2017, 05:05
+1 for Doremus' recommendation about leaving weights out....

Peter Collins
18-Apr-2017, 05:07
This is not Mayor Daley's Chicago ("Vote early; vote often.") Just once, okay??

Luis-F-S
18-Apr-2017, 05:28
This is not Mayor Daley's Chicago ("Vote early; vote often.") Just once, okay??

Why? Some of us vote from Louisiana!

Willie
18-Apr-2017, 10:46
If in Utah, one for each guy and one each for all 27 wives?

Jim Noel
18-Apr-2017, 11:14
What do you mean by "full size"?
My favorite is 5x8 feet,and I wouldn't use one smaller than 4x7 feet.

Jim Graves
18-Apr-2017, 21:18
Dan ... I'm one of the diehard "I'm not carrying a 3 lb dark cloth" guys.

I've always used an article of clothing ... jacket, rain jacket, sweatshirt.

But it would be great to have a full-size, light weight, multipurpose dark cloth ... you might just convert me.

I agree with Doremus ... has to be water proof and useful for something other than blocking light.

Daniel Stone
18-Apr-2017, 21:55
Doremus,

Seems we are on the same page :)

As of right now, the sizes would be as follows(dimensions in inches):

36x48 - (mostly for digital guys who need a laptop/tablet shade)
48x48
57x57
57x72 (this size and larger custom sizes would most likely be more that 1lb)

*No weights in corners
*Open to velcro on one side as an option, as to wrap/affix around the camera so no clips would be necessary(or to lose!)

Inner material would be a opaque nylon material, almost like a taffeta. Outer material would be similar to gore tex, lightweight and water resistant(anything sewn is automatically discounted from being "waterproof", so to speak. Even with waxed/moisture barrier thread.

Open to hearing other opinions if you have one :)

thanks,
Dan

Doremus Scudder
19-Apr-2017, 01:59
Doremus,

Seems we are on the same page :)

As of right now, the sizes would be as follows(dimensions in inches):

36x48 - (mostly for digital guys who need a laptop/tablet shade)
48x48
57x57
57x72 (this size and larger custom sizes would most likely be more that 1lb)

*No weights in corners
*Open to velcro on one side as an option, as to wrap/affix around the camera so no clips would be necessary(or to lose!)

Inner material would be a opaque nylon material, almost like a taffeta. Outer material would be similar to gore tex, lightweight and water resistant(anything sewn is automatically discounted from being "waterproof", so to speak. Even with waxed/moisture barrier thread.

Open to hearing other opinions if you have one :)

thanks,
Dan

Hi Dan,

Sounds great! But since you asked for opinions, here are a few:

I might offer an intermediate rectangular size too, say 48x57.

Sure, sewing a waterproof fabric will put holes in it where water can leak through, but with a darkcloth, that'll only be on the edges. My GoreTex fabric was really light. Breathable fabric would definitely be best, especially for hot, humid environments where the ground glass can steam up easily, not too mention for comfort.

It is important that the material for the lining be not too slippery; it needs a bit of friction to stay on the camera well. If it is too smooth, the darkcloth will have a tendency to slide off, which is pretty irritating (don't ask me how I know...). I'd do some testing before choosing a material for production.

Velcro strips along the sides and one end of the cloth might add a bit of weight, but really help to close the holes around the camera where light can leak in and disturb viewing. Being able to close the cloth on the bottom is really helpful in low-light situations, when there's wind, etc.

And don't forget the stuff pocket!

Lightweight is great, but an ounce or two more for really usable features (like the Velcro and the stuff pocket) is well-spent and won't make a significant difference in the overall weight of the kit.

Keep us posted,

Doremus

Fred L
19-Apr-2017, 04:40
most features I'd want are mentioned already but I'd like a larger one for 7x17 as well (I like to move back from gg to see things sometimes). and just to add or clarify to the stuff pocket idea, I'd like to see this attached to the dark cloth so the cloth can be folded up and jammed in the pocket, similar to how jackets stuff into a hand pocket. I also like the elasticized corners of my Harrison cloth so that might also be a feature ?

look forward to hearing more about this product !

ah693973
19-Apr-2017, 07:04
A flying car is good at neither and this suggestion might be similar, but what the heck. Any way to reasonably make it work as a changing tent as well?

Andy

Sal Santamaura
19-Apr-2017, 08:38
As usual, I'm probably an outlier, but here goes anyway.

Most textiles today come from Asia, predominantly China. In general, they exude strong smells, likely toxic, especially (but not exclusively) darker colored fabrics. Even products made in USA are hard-pressed to avoid incorporating such textiles. If there's any way you can ensure the fabrics used in this dark cloth are odor-free, even if that means higher prices as a result of non-Asian materials, it would be a great selling point. The same comment applies to your other products, none of which I have experience with.

Vaughn
19-Apr-2017, 15:43
My darkcloth I got for the 4x5, but have been using for 8x10 for years is a Calument white/black, relatively thick, 3'x4', and weighs 1 lb 3.5 oz dry. I used it for a couple weeks in Death Valley last month...some winds, lots of sun. Normally I keep a couple clothes pins in my pack, but not in there for some reason this trip. A lighter darkcloth (say 1/2 to 3/4 pound) would have flapped around and been harder to manage.

A 4'x6' of the same qualities in blocking light and durability, and weighing about the same (about 20oz to 24oz), would be sweet for my 8x10. I like a heavier darkcloth as I can wrap the camera up in for padding, wearing it and dancing to keep warm while photographing a lunar eclispe (forgetting how cold it gets in Dec in the AZ desert!)

Rainproof not a deal-breaker for me. Mine is not, but heavy enough to keep light rain off for awhile. When Bridalvail Falls shifted in the wind and came down on top of me, it keep the 8x10 relatively dry -- water did not get into the body or lens. Goretex still restricts some air flow, so I'd just as well skip waterproofness altogether.

Might be worth it to do a two-model thing: one with slightly heavier durable material, and one super-light version with Gore-Tex that can be used as a 4-season changing tent. Sorry -- just having some fun...

Not being slippery is a good point someone brought up!

Alan Gales
19-Apr-2017, 22:45
I think Drew probably uses his sleeping bag.

Alan Gales
19-Apr-2017, 22:51
I'm happy with my BlackJacket but you could put velcro along the bottom edges so you can close it up to make it darker.

neil poulsen
20-Apr-2017, 07:24
I think, Dark Grey. :cool:

I really dislike white as an outer color, to the point where I will turn a BTZS inside out. I understand the "practical" consideration that white reflects the sun. And, that might be important the the South West. But elsewhere, I'm not so sure.

If not Dark Grey, then Medium Grey.

Luis-F-S
20-Apr-2017, 08:08
You mean lighter than the 5' by 7' one I just got from you? Great Job! BTW. L

rfesk
20-Apr-2017, 17:11
I use an XXL black tee shirt. Yes, a super light darkcloth with adequate Velcro on the edges would be great. "photo-gray" on the outside would be nice.

Peter Collins
14-Jun-2017, 19:28
For me, fabric quality is very important, and I agree with Sal's point above. Especially desire fabrics not treated with formaldehyde or similar. Or tris (flame retardant).

Willie
14-Jun-2017, 19:49
Agree on the No Odor front.
Another that concerns me, especially in winter is No Static Electricity. Cloth material that generates a static charge is not a good thing for working with film holders. Not to mention getting zapped with a shock when it is 20 below zero does get to be painful.

cp_photo
14-Jun-2017, 20:55
I ordered a dark cloth from Mr. Stone (in GREEN by the way) and it is basically ideal for my purposes with a monorail. If I was to be setting up a lightweight field setup a lighter weight one would be cool.