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Greg Liscio
1-Mar-2008, 09:45
Well, after swearing I'd never use one, I'm now looking for a focusing cloth for my Canham 4X5. Any suggestions from the ever helpful group?

Badger Graphic makes an interesting looking cloth that appears to fit around the back of your head and close at the bottom (optional), more like a sock. This is supposed to keep the cloth over your head on windy days.

I look forward to the input. Thanks Gents/ladies.
Grego

SamReeves
1-Mar-2008, 09:59
I picked up a Delta Deluxe focusing cloth from Adorama when I purchased the LF setup. It's a back/white combo so it stays dark underneath and cool on top. It also has some velcro for those windy days. Pick one up! :)

BrianShaw
1-Mar-2008, 10:25
I don't quite know how you've avoided them so far, Grego! I have one, a two-sided black-and-white with drapery weights all around the edges, that my Mom made for me about 25 years ago. It works good but I've been using my current favorite for about 5 years now - a "hunk" of dark velvet-like material I picked up for a couple of bucks in the discards bin of the local fabric store. Dark cloths don't have to be fancy or expensive to work well :D

p.s. Even in the So Cal summers I've never spent enough time under the dark velvet cloth to work up a sweat ;)

Michael Graves
1-Mar-2008, 13:51
I've got one of those 'tube types' that have an elastic band that keeps it tight around the camera and velcro strips that hold it together along the length. There's no name on it, but having used it, I'll never go back to a horse blanket. Except for 8x10. It's too small for my Toyo 810M.

Capocheny
1-Mar-2008, 14:07
Greg,

I think the version Michael is referring to comes from BZTS... I use one of those with my 4x5.

Calumet also has one that is white on one side and black on the other. It has a nice weight to it so that it doesn't blow away as easily as the lightweight versions.

Ebony also has one that's waterproof... it's quite expensive but, theoretically, beautiful to use.

Lots of choices out there. :)

Cheers

Brian Ellis
1-Mar-2008, 17:39
Greg,

I think the version Michael is referring to comes from BZTS... I use one of those with my 4x5.Cheers

BZTS? That would be the Beyond Zone The System hood? : - )

Seriously, I've used the BTZS hood available from The View Camera Store for many years now. Much lighter, compact, easier to carry and use IMHO than the standard horse blanket. I highly recommend it. Mine cost about $50 and I've had it for at least 10 years. There were some problems with an earlier version where the exterior material would flake off over time but that was fixed a long time ago.

John Z.
1-Mar-2008, 17:56
I have tried the BTZS, and many others, but now prefer the Blackjacket. See my lengthy review over on APUG if you are interested.

Capocheny
1-Mar-2008, 18:06
BZTS? That would be the Beyond Zone The System hood? : - )

Seriously, I've used the BTZS hood available from The View Camera Store for many years now. Much lighter, compact, easier to carry and use IMHO than the standard horse blanket. I highly recommend it. Mine cost about $50 and I've had it for at least 10 years. There were some problems with an earlier version where the exterior material would flake off over time but that was fixed a long time ago.

Hi Brian,

:) Oops... quite right! :)

Cheers

vijaylff
1-Mar-2008, 18:24
When I looked to purchase my first focusing cloth, I found the comparative review in issue 1.3 of magnachrom helpful: http://magnachrom.com/Issues.php

I chose the hood/cloth from tedsphotogear.com and have been very happy with it so far. It's lightweight, and I'm able to leave it permanently attached to my Nagaoka 4x5 (no need to remove it in order to insert or take out the film holder).

-Vijay

Doug Dolde
1-Mar-2008, 18:31
I mostly use a reflex viewer on my Arca Swiss but sometimes use a black sweater with the neck hole around the back. Never found a dark cloth I liked.

BarryS
1-Mar-2008, 18:35
Dark cloths are still the fly in my large format ointment. I bought a Blackjacket, but man--is that thing big. I feel like I should be inviting friends to come under with me and making arrangements for catering. Maybe I'll rent it out for weddings. I'd like to find something at half the weight and size of the Blackjacket--but still breathable. I got the hybrid version, but it still heats up in a hurry under there.

Alan Davenport
1-Mar-2008, 19:26
I can't even imagine using a large format camera without a darkcloth. Anyone who would do so, would probably fly a Nieuport 17 without a white scarf and goggles.

Robert Fisher
1-Mar-2008, 19:46
I love my huge black bath towel purchased from the "Mart" (WalMart) for $4.

Works fabulously on my 810 Arca.

Easy to wash too.

John Kasaian
1-Mar-2008, 19:59
I can't even imagine using a large format camera without a darkcloth. Anyone who would do so, would probably fly a Nieuport 17 without a white scarf and goggles.

A scarf and goggles are quite beneficial for flying an open cockpit aeroplane just as a dark cloth is beneficial when trying to focus a large format camera, or boots and a stetson when riding a horse.

The Nieuport 17 was quite a plane in it's day. Long ago my Dad introduced me to Charlie McCarthy---an old time press photographer who had retired from the local paper---who IIRC flew one with the Lafayette Escadrille.

An ideal dark cloth IMHO is one that doesn't "bleed" light and is big enough to gather under your chin to block reflected light from below. Find something at the fabric store and have your bride make one for you---or use a good quality black sweatshirt inside out.

Stephen Willard
1-Mar-2008, 22:29
I have both the BTZS and the Ebony AW focus cloth and clamp. I use the BTZS for most of my shooting in normal weather, but when the storms arrive or extremely hot weather prevails I use the Ebony system. The BTZS holds up well to windy weather and makes a tight seal around the camera to avoid glare. The Ebony system cost around $250 with the clamp and is the only rain jacket focusing cloth that really works. I have tried everything for shooting in hostile weather, but the Ebony is the only one that gets the job done. Most of my best work is now shot in bad weather and the Ebony AW hostile weather system has payed for itself 100s of times over in increased sales.

timparkin
2-Mar-2008, 01:52
I'd agree that the BlackJacket is particularly big but it's extremely good at giving total darkness (and I mean total - although with a little addition http://), enough space to bring your head back and take in the whole picture, excellent material that doesn't bunch but gives you enough grip so it won't slide off your head and easy access for loupe and to access the rear controls (on an Ebony 45SU here).

I would like the Ebony all weather and have also thought about a 'polite' focusing cloth that isn't the size of a sumo wrestlers smock. It's a credit to BlackJacket that even though it's so big I wouldn't be without it.

Sooo.. not one for the introvert but definitely fit for purpose.

Tim

Dave Moeller
2-Mar-2008, 14:13
I bought two 2XLXT, v-neck t-shirts. I put a black one inside of a white one and sewed the together into a 2-layer shirt. The v-neck is perfect, as it fits over the back of my various 4x5 cameras with a little stretch...enough to hold it in place without anything else.

I eventually turned up the bottom of the shirts and sewed in a space to run through a piece of leather cord. Now I can put the big end of the shirts over the back of my 8x10, tighten it up with the leather, and stick my head through the v-neck opening. I can put my arms in through the arms of the shirt when I work this way.

The whole thing folds up nicely, and is as dark as anything else I've tried. I probably have an hour into it, and about $8 for the supplies.

Keith S. Walklet
2-Mar-2008, 14:50
Barry,

LOL! True, the BlackJacket is bigger than most cloths. That's because I found that most LF photographers (myself included) have big heads. ;-)

In all seriousness, I believe you own the 8x10 version, which by its very nature has to be bigger (56" neck, 36" girth/length). The additional length is designed to accommodate another characteristic common among LFers, farsightedness.

And if I can find a better combination of truly breathable fabrics with the same light-blocking capability as my current offerings, I'm all over it.

Thanks, also Tim. I appreciated your idea to improve the performance with the Ebony. It looks like a great idea.

Brian Ellis
2-Mar-2008, 18:06
Dark cloths are still the fly in my large format ointment. I bought a Blackjacket, but man--is that thing big. I feel like I should be inviting friends to come under with me and making arrangements for catering. Maybe I'll rent it out for weddings. I'd like to find something at half the weight and size of the Blackjacket--but still breathable. I got the hybrid version, but it still heats up in a hurry under there.

You should try the BTZS hood. I don't have a Blackjacket to compare but the BTZS hood is very small and very light. I get double use out of it by using it as a wrap for my camera when the camera is in the pack so it takes up almost no extra space at all.

BarryS
2-Mar-2008, 18:45
My Blackjacket is the 4x5 model--but perhaps it's the Clyde Butcher limited edition. :) I've thought about cutting it down and making a sawed-off version, but maybe I'll check out the BTZS hood. If that doesn't work, I might try buying some fabric and making my own. The Blackjacket just seems huge and it flaps around in the wind, and takes too much time to continually pack and unpack. My Chamonix is a little wisp of a camera and it just seems mismatched to the Blackjacket.

scott_6029
2-Mar-2008, 21:06
I prefer one that is very tight around the camera such as the BTZS - not a loose blanket type. I find it lighter and much easier to use. I would start there?

Keith S. Walklet
3-Mar-2008, 15:00
Barry,
Heck, now you really have me confused. The Clyde Butcher-sized model is still in development. Did you buy the cloth used or directly from me? I rarely get complaints about it being too big, and in fact developed a second line of cloths that were even longer than the original pattern to accommodate the over 50 crowd's shifting vision.

As for stowing the cloth, I don't bother to put mine in the sack each time if I working steadily. I either leave it attached to the camera or simply roll it up and stuff it in my camera bag. The BLACKBAG is intended to be a light skirt first. Its use as a storage sack simply serves the secondary purpose of keeping things tidy.

So, I'm curious what you have there. It doesn't sound right. Why don't you PM with details of your purchase and we'll get you squared away. If you indeed have the proper model for that camera, and its not working for you, send it back for a refund.

I don't want any product I produce to be the source of irritation. I am the first to lose patience when things don't work properly since the majority of my work is done in windy, inclement weather. After all, that was my motivation for developing BlackJacket in the first place.

thetooth
3-Mar-2008, 15:43
i justed purchased a btzs hood from http://viewcamerastore.com/ and am looking forward to it . it will be much better than using my changing bag .

Greg Liscio
3-Mar-2008, 16:23
Gents,

I just bought the BTZS hood from Badger Graphic. Thanks for the valuable input. I also subscribed to MagnaChrome Journal after reading the review of the dark cloths there.

Also attached a Nieuport 17 - the pilot apparently uses a dark cloth.

What a site !!!

http://www.proctor-enterprises.com/photo_gallery/nieuport17/N17C-1_prowlings-w.jpg

Mike Castles
3-Mar-2008, 16:54
Well, I use one of the newer model BlackJackets and really like it. Keith was really great working with me on getting the right 'fit' for the various formats I shoot. It fits perfect on the old Eastman No. 2 7x11, which is a LARGE camera vs most 8x10's.

The really cool thing with the BlackJacket I have is it has the ability to be sized down by using clips that allow me to use it with my B&J 5x7. The bag fits inside the to block light from the bottom of the camera, and the best feature of all is the ability to place the film holder in the camera and pull the darkslide without having to worry about light leaks - the back on the Eastman needs some serious work (but that is another story).

Looking forward to using the BlackJacket with Ritter camera when it arrives.

BarryS
3-Mar-2008, 20:50
Keith-- Thanks for your generous offer. I don't mean to imply any implicit problems with the Blackjacket--I bought it on the strong recommendations of many LFers. I'm not a big guy--5'6" and I'm also nearsighted, so I don't need to be very far from the groundglass; for me, there's an excess of material. I bought a like new hybrid tweener from a forum member, so I didn't get it from you directly. The BJ has no problem staying attached to my Chamonix, but I feel like I'm wrestling with all that material. This being the swamplands of Washington, D.C--I felt the hybrid version was the best choice even though it weighs a bit more. I like the design except for the size. That's why I'm thinking about finding someone to shorten it and take in the seams a bit.

timparkin
4-Mar-2008, 01:03
Keith-- Thanks for your generous offer. ---snip--- I like the design except for the size. That's why I'm thinking about finding someone to shorten it and take in the seams a bit.

I should add that I think the size is an essential component in my enjoyment of the Black jacket. I have normal vision and if it were any smaller, I would have to hold the top of the cloth if I wanted to draw my head away from the ground glass. For those thinking about the black jacket, it's the size of an extra large T shirt and packs down to the size of a Dykinga book (but with less pretty pictures in it).

Tim

Keith S. Walklet
4-Mar-2008, 07:19
Barry,

Thanks for the clarification. Your explanation makes perfect sense. I'd be happy to do the modifications for you, but I think you'll find it is much easier to deal with a seamstress or tailor in person to get exactly the fit you are looking for with the trunk. I'd love to see what you end up with.

As for the heat, I grew up down the street from you in Williamsburg, Virginia and am all to familiar with the humidity. I fear that the only thing that will ease your pain is a portable fan or a move to the Sierra. ;-)

Actually, wearing a well ventilated high-crowned hat to keep the fabric off your scalp helps, too (which is something to keep in mind when you decide how much to shrink the opening of the trunk). And if it is any comfort, a test by one of my customers found that the interior temperature of the HYBRID (breathable fabric) was ten degrees cooler on a hot day than the lightweight version favored by backpackers, which is constructed of entirely of coated fabric.

Thanks again Tim, Mike, John, et al. Good to hear from you all.