View Full Version : Felt/Foam in Light Trap on Back of 5x7 Rittreck View Camera?

Paul Kinzer
30-Jul-2017, 09:39
I got a Rittreck View 5x7 a couple of months ago, and I'm finally just about ready to put film onto it. But something came up, and I have a question that I hope someone who is familiar with these cameras can answer.

A friend recently bought the smaller sibling of my camera, a Rittreck half plate camera. His came with felt strips glued into the light tap channel around the back edge of the camera. It did not look to have been done professionally. Mine does not have this felt. My questions is: was there originally felt or some other material in this channel, or is the indentation, along with the raised edge on the various backs (I have a 4x5 and a 5x7), enough to block any light? Maybe both of our cameras had it, and his was replaced but mine just deteriorated to the point that someone removed it. Maybe neither did, but an owner of my friend's camera thought there ought to be.

I'm leaving on an extended trip in a few days, and plan to practice with the camera as soon as possible beforehand. But I'd rather not take a series of photos and then find them all ruined because there was no felt in the channel. On the other hand, if it is not meant to be there, I don't want to take the time and effort to put something in there that is not needed. I think I have something that will work, but it's a couple of hours work I'd rather avoid putting in.

As usual, I hope that any information put here will help others, not just me.

Thanks in advance!


30-Jul-2017, 12:48
If there is no gaps and at least 3 bends, other cameras would not have filler in the light traps, but you have to test if your camera will seal in the darkness...

Often after sealing, the parts will not seat well unless even pressure is applied, so check if a thin felt will do, or the low density grey foam tapes will seal once compressed (if these will fit in the gap), so do a light test first to see if needed, or use your focusing cloth over the back when film is in (for good luck)...

Start there...

Steve K

Paul Kinzer
31-Jul-2017, 00:59
Okay, I have some of the thin foam (1mm thick), and tried dry-fitting it onto the channel. The two backs would go on, but not well. The locks were very tight, and the metal of the 5x7 back seemed a tiny bit bowed. I made the 5x7 back, but the 4x5 was made professionally, and neither seem to like the foam. Really thin felt might be a safe option, but I live in a tiny town, and would have to order it somehow, and it's too late for that before my trip.

While thinking about what to do, I remembered that I recently bought an LED lantern for our trip, with adjustable brightness. At it's brightest setting, it's really just stupidly bright. It hurts to look at it, even in daylit skies. It makes no useful sense to have made it get this bright -- unless one wants to check a LF camera for light leaks! It fit into the front of the camera easily, and shone out blindingly in every direction except backwards, which was perfect. Not the tiniest bit of light escaped around the back channel, and I checked it in a very dark room with dark-adapted eyes.

So I'm confident that the light trap works fine without any more help. The physics said it was true, but now, so do my eyes and a crazy lantern.

Steven Tribe
31-Jul-2017, 04:26
Foam of any kind doesn't seem to me like a good idea for either plush fit items or the moving dark slide. The standard solution was velvet strips, bought in reels at standard widths - not cut velvet strips.

Paul Kinzer
31-Jul-2017, 11:38
Yes, velvet would be ideal. It's not easy to find, though, when looking for something very thin, and in strips of the right width, and -- importantly -- in quantities that are not huge. I don't need enough for 40 cameras, or even four, but the only felt I found some time ago was in very long reels, relative to what I needed. But I probably didn't search long enough.

Steven Tribe
31-Jul-2017, 12:25
Please contact female friends or relatives. They will know which shops/sites have velvet ribbons on small reels! There is a large range of colours, widths and thickness available.

Paul Kinzer
31-Jul-2017, 15:21
Well, I actually know those places myself, and no luck around here. It's all too thick.

Steven Tribe
12-Aug-2017, 08:40
The velvet tapes I found were 0.8mm and they compress easily to around 0.5mm. These strips were used as bearings/light seals on many vintage brass lenses (between lens barrels and brass sleeves) as well as camera backs. They were usually fit into a recessed track so the glue was not stressed!

12-Aug-2017, 15:56
I'm chiming in late.

A few minor corrections:

1. The Rittreck doesn't have a "smaller" sibling. The camera simply takes different size formats. Backs larger than 5x7/half-plate have an extension box. These backs are available in 6x10, 8x10, whole plate formats. Half-plate and whole plate backs are available for film and plates.
2. The camera body does not have any foam, felt or velvet in the channel. The backs use a 1mm thick closed cell foam.


Paul Kinzer
29-Aug-2017, 17:51
Thanks, Kumar, for the corrections. I could swear I once owned a smaller Rittreck! But it's been a long time. Either I'm growing larger, or my memory is failing. I wonder which it could be?

I just got back from a long trip out to the western US. The main event was the solar eclipse, but I also took some 5x7 and 120 images of some national parks along the way. I tested the Rittreck before leaving, using the 4x5 back that looks custom made (it has a Graflex Graflock back that is exactly the same as one taken from a Pacemaker Speed or Crown Graphic camera). There were no light leaks, even though the metal back has no foam or felt of any kind. So the Velvia 120 I used with that back should be fine. And I think the 5x7 Ilford film should be fine, too. I used it in the 5x7 back I made for the camera, again without foam or felt. The light trap is a thin layer of plywood that fits snugly in the 'trough' on the camera's back.

I guess I'll find out for sure when I get around to developing the film!