View Full Version : Rittreck View, Whole Plate & Holders

4-Jan-2010, 17:40
I recently bought off ebay a Rittreck view with 4x5, 5x7,and 6.5x8.5 backs. I was a little worried about finding holders that would fit the 6.5x8.5 Rittreck whole plate back. Previous posts in this forum had led me to believe that the Chamonix whole plate holder would not fit, that it was "just a hair too wide."

Not so. I emailed Hugo Zhang, Chamonix's US rep, telling him I wanted to buy two of the whole plate holders anticipating I would have to plane them down .5mm on the outer edges to fit into the Rittreck back. Hugo instead kindly lent me one of his personal holders to examine. I measured that holder every way to Sunday. It is 197.6mm -- 7 13/16 inches -- wide. The distance from the end of the holder to the start of the rib is 9 13/16 inches. The T distance is .26 inches. The thickness is 23.75mm.

The camera arrived today at my office (an attempt was made to deliver on Saturday, but the office was closed). I knew EMS shipping was fast, but the package was only shipped out of Tokyo on Wednesday morning, December 30. I had the holder with me, anticipating delivery.

The Chamonix whole plate holder fit perfectly in the Rittreck whole plate back. I estimate clearance at 1/32 inch. The locking rib fit perfectly, as well. The holder is not too thick and slides easily under the glass. The entire negative area is exposed when the dark slide is pulled, with no cropping whatsoever.

BTW, I also emailed Ebony about the width their whole plate holders and received a prompt reply that they measure 199mm. Based on that measurement, I would have to conclude that either the Rittreck back or the Ebony holder would have to be planed about 1mm total for a fit.

I hope this information is helpful to anyone tossing around for holders for a Rittreck whole plate back, and perhaps also for owners of other whole plate cameras. Incidentally, if you are poking around Ebay and find something you want to buy offered by tokyophoto, don't hesitate, go for it. Besides helpful advice and fast shipping, he kindly added a lens board to the outfit when I explained that I live in Austin, Texas, which is a peculiar sort of backwater on the edge of the earth where "whole plate" means a flattish ceramic dish covered edge to edge with barbecued meat.

Finally, I note that the Rittreck whole plate back, unlike the 4x5 and 5x7 backs (which are metal), is made of lightweight wood. Planing the inner walls beneath the gg would be quite possible to accomodate an Ebony holder -- but the Chamonix holder is very light and quite well crafted. I only wish I could afford more right now. And my film worries were answered by MPEX, from whom I am buying the last 3 boxes they have on hand. Glazers in Seattle and Bigcameraworkshops.com in Ontario list the Ilford wp film as in stock.

David Karp
4-Jan-2010, 18:00
Congrats on the new camera. WP is a very nice size. I think you will like it.

Your post raises an interesting point. I thought that the Chamonix holders were built to be consistent with the Eastman standard (except for the T distance). For this standard, the distance from the taped end to the rib lock should be less than 233mm. Based on your measurements the distance from the flapped end to the rib lock is in the neighborhood of 249mm.

It appears that my understanding was mistaken.

Oren Grad
4-Jan-2010, 18:02
I think the "hair too wide" bit must have been from a post of mine. Just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating, I went now to re-check my own equipment. My Chamonix WP holders still don't fit in my Rittreck WP back. Plainly there's some sample variation.

If I were willing to do surgery on the back or the holders, they could be made to fit. The Rittreck back feels fragile enough to me that I'm not willing to do it. Fortunately, I don't need to, because I have Tachihara yatsugiri holders that were made to fit.

I'm glad your Chamonix WP holders fit in your back, but I'm afraid the caveat needs to stand - one can't assume they will. If one is considering making a purchase, it's still a good idea to do what you did if at all possible - borrow one of the holders and check against the back in which they'll be used.

Anyway, with that worry out of the way, enjoy your camera! :)

Oren Grad
4-Jan-2010, 18:16
For this standard, the distance from the taped end to the rib lock should be less than 233mm. Based on your measurements the distance from the flapped end to the rib lock is in the neighborhood of 249mm.

David, the distance from taped end of my Chamonix holders to beginning of rib lock is 234mm, give or take a small fraction. They fit fine in my Eastman backs. But who knows what variation there may have been in the Eastman cameras over a few decades of production?

I think the take-home has to be, if you're trying to fit a vintage camera in a non-standard format, don't assume anything, unless you can tolerate the cost and hassle of remodeling equipment and/or re-selling if something turns out not to fit. Measure the equipment on hand as carefully as you can and ask specifically, or borrow to test or buy with a return privilege if possible.

David Karp
4-Jan-2010, 18:17
Even more interesting. Perhaps Chamonix made some holders to fit a WP Rittreck?

Oren Grad
4-Jan-2010, 18:20
Even more interesting. Perhaps Chamonix made some holders to fit a WP Rittreck?

Or the OP's 9 13/16" is a typo - my measurement is pretty close to 9 3/16".

EDIT: My Tachihara yatsugiri holders are 235mm to rib lock, or a shade less than 9 1/4".

David Karp
4-Jan-2010, 18:24
That would make more sense.

4-Jan-2010, 18:38

You are absolutely correct; I measured 9 7/32 inches on the length from the end of the holder to the start of the rib, and my confusion about that measurement arose from my using a tape measure and starting in a little to avoid the tab on the end. So I hastily correct that: I forgot to subtract the distance along the tape at which I started the measurement. THe other measurements I provided are accurate.

Yes, I was quoting you, Oren, about "just a hair" but I did not name you as I did not wish to come across as, well, accusing or in some way obnoxious.

My guess, based on Oren Grad's reiteration of the Chamonix holder not fitting his Rittreck back can only be just that-- speculation. I am inclined to speculate that there may be some variance in the Rittreck back, rather than in the Chamonix holder. After all, Chamonix has only just recently begun making their holders. Logically, they would not yet have introduced variations in dimensions, and would be cautious about changing specs for the wp camera and holders. The Rittreck camera's whole plate back was presumably manufactured over a wider time frame. Perhaps Oren's and mine are of different vintage, perhaps from different decades, and perhaps Rittreck changed the specifications to Tachihara? It is also possible that my back is worn away slightly from long use, or that a previous owner planed it to widen it. In any event, Hugo's holder fit perfectly, hand in kid glove perfectly.

I measure the width of the back opening on the Rittreck at 198.3 +/- .2mm. Hugo's holder is 197.6. I am ordering 2 new CHamonix holders. They should be here in ten days, or so. I will post follow-up.

Diane Maher
5-Jan-2010, 06:47
I am curious, are you ordering the Chamonix holders from Hugo or the factory? I thought there was a long wait time to obtain these holders.

5-Jan-2010, 07:57

Hugo Zhang told me that the factory just completed a fresh batch of Chamonix whole plate holders. I contacted him rather than Chamonix directly because he is listed as the official USA rep.

After sleeping on the posts on this topic last night, I realized that Oren Grad is probably correct, that Chamonix have changed their wp holder's width: he measured his holder at several mm wider than the one Hugo lent me. I hope that is the case, and that we all have holders that fit all our whole plate variations. 2010 is starting out on a bright note!

Chauncey Walden
7-Jan-2010, 18:24
This thread got me curious so to add to the confusion I measured my holders. The Rittreck holders are 7 23/32" wide (196mm) and measure 9 3/8" (238mm) to the locking side of the rib (the far side from the taped end - I think this is the side that really counts). My old Eastman holders are 7 3/4" wide (196.85mm) amd measure 9 5/16" (236.5mm) to the locking side of the rib. There is no problem with the width of the Eastman holders in the Rittreck. Where things get more interesting is that the film window of the Rittreck holder is 8 1/16" (204.8mm) whereas the window of the Eastman is 8 5/32" (207.2mm). So when withdrawing the darkslide, thus pulling the holder out to its locking point on the rib, the Eastman window is shifted 1.5mm towards the rib side compared to the Rittreck holder and, since its window is 2.4mm wider, the rib side of the window ends up 3.9mm closer to the rib than the Rittreck holder. I guess I need to measure the width of the window on the back to see if that makes any real difference in the image area.

28-Jan-2010, 17:36
My promised follow-up on my Rittreck/Chamonix experience has no surprises. I received two whole plate holders out of China in 4 days total. They slapped very nicely into the old Rittreck whole plate back.

My first negative was fogged on the edge where the end of the holder snugs into the back. A much more thorough examination of the back with a holder in place and a flashlight crammed into the front, under a dark cloth, showed light leaking around the holder itself. Maybe the Rittreck Hope film holders are thicker than the Chamonix and therefore afford more resistance to the coiled springs in the Rittreck back? Anyway, my solution -- I am no carpenter and pretty much all thumbs -- was to lay a piece of thick black cloth on the end of the back with a film holder in place, and then to use residue-free duct tape to hold that cloth on the end of the back. I taped it so no tape spanned the full width of the back as that would of course prevent the back from reseating properly when the holder was withdrawn. It is arguably a temporary fix at best, but the old back is so hard to find and so relatively frail (somewhere between balsa and pine, I would say), I do not want to attack it with hammer, drill, screws, etc. And if duct tape could hold an old car together (as it did a 1990 Pontiac Transport van for the last three years I drove it) it will do for a view camera, too.

I will keep the dark cloth over the back when pulling the dark slide and making the exposure, as well. I anticipate no further problem with fogging. Alas it was so windy this past weekend -- the first chance I had to photgraph since the fogged sheet -- I could only consider it a waste of time to take the camera out (and I have no interest in still-life arrangements or the interior of my rather depressing rented hovel).

I am fairly sure the Rittreck back has not been modified (that is, widened) -- there are no signs at all of modification, with the wood smooth, aged, stained and painted all in a condition one would expect from an unaltered piece.

My conclusion is that buying a Rittreck whole plate back without Rittreck holders was a risky and impudent throw of the dice. (I had the 5x7 back just in case...) But in the end, whether Chamonix altered their holders, or Rittreck altered the back at some point, given the discrepancy we have seen in measured width of the back opening, the Chamonix holders fit perfectly, and they are so delightful and well-made and light.

Maybe I dodged one on this whole venture, but I will quote Lope de Aguirre in Herzog's "Aguirre, The Wrath of God," Fortune smiles on the brave and spits on the coward.

And the weather forecast does not seem to forebode gale winds this weekend in the Austin area, so I'll be heading out to a little town in the hill country named Lago Vista with my camera, two holders, a box of 24 sheets of HP5, and a changing bag. Yee haw! as we are reputed to exclaim down here in Texas. And sometime next month, before it gets really warm and the spring grade and high school field trips start, I'll have my whole plate set up in front of that most sacred and glorious spot in the western world, the Alamo.