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View Full Version : Finally, I found my studio camera Century 8A



Jim Fitzgerald
28-May-2011, 21:12
Well, I wanted to start a separate post to tell all those who may be interested in a great find. I've been looking for a Century 8A double bellows 11x14 camera with the Century stand for a long, long time now. I've looked in my backyard and could not find one so I decided to look in others backyards. I came across this beautiful camera in Connecticut in a small town near the border with New York. The collector has owned it for some 20 years and it was the portrait camera used at Purdue University at the turn of the century. It came with the Century stand, 11x14, 8x10, whole plate, 5x7 and 2 4x5 backs. It has two sliding carriages a large working Packard shutter and a B&L 14x17 Tessar in very good shape in a huge Compound Shutter. I'm going to do some minor cleaning and restoration on the camera and some bellows repair but it is in amazing shape. I picked it up for less than a box of 11x14 FP4+! Shipping from the East coast was easy as could be and did not cost that much at all. I had a friend in Massachusetts pick it up and pack it for me. I can now set up the portrait studio that I've always wanted. My Darlot looks very nice on the front!
If anyone went to Purdue this is the camera that took your picture many years ago. Nice to own a piece of history and put it back to use.
This was a great find and I thought I lost it at first as someone from the area told the owner that they would buy it but when they showed up they said that they wanted to "look" at it. Great for me! Once I heard the camera was available again all it took was a phone call and the deal was done. I'm keeping this at my friend Matt Blais' home until I get my new living arrangements worked out.

Leigh
28-May-2011, 21:24
That's a great find, Jim. Congrats!

- Leigh

Louis Pacilla
28-May-2011, 21:26
Congratulations Jim! Terrific camera.

I fell lucky to have a very nice & complete 8a. Not that many left.

Glad you finally found yours. What a beauty!

Peace

BTW Great lens. It's a IIb.,right?

Jim Fitzgerald
28-May-2011, 21:32
Thanks, guys. At first I thought I wasn't going to be able to pull it off as the owner did not want to deal with shipping. When the purported buyer turned out to be a "looker" the owner was very upset. I was ready to hop on a plane to secure the deal. Nice to know that there are people out there still who deal the old fashion way... a hand shake over the phone!

Roger Thoms
28-May-2011, 22:41
Jim, that's awesome, congratulations on your new camera.

Roger

Jay DeFehr
28-May-2011, 23:13
Looks great, Jim! What a peach! You're going to have a lot of fun with that beauty. Enjoy!

Tri Tran
28-May-2011, 23:14
Hi Jim,
The camera looks pretty good to me. The bellow seems to have many miles left. I'm glad it landed here safely. Enjoy.

cdholden
28-May-2011, 23:31
Jim,
Congrats on the great find! Lots of options to boot...

Best of luck with it.
Chris

Emil Schildt
29-May-2011, 04:56
wow - now I am jealoux!

have a LOT of fun with it!

jnanian
29-May-2011, 06:03
great camera jim !
i wish mine had its 11x14 back
( i have a 7x11 back i use with it instead )

have fun !
john

Heespharm
29-May-2011, 06:09
Wow nice find... I went to purdue but my picture was taken by a heavy set black lady with a bad attitude and a webcam

Jim Fitzgerald
29-May-2011, 07:29
Well, it would be nice to hear from someone who had their picture taken with this camera but it would have been a long time ago. I am very lucky and proud to be the new owner of this beautiful camera. Thanks Tri for you help on this! Also, it made me even more crazy every time I saw your exceptional one at your place. It is nice to keep these cameras working and with x-ray film being so cheap I can shoot a lot of portraits with it. Now time to do some clean up.

Mark Woods
29-May-2011, 07:44
Enjoy Jim. All you need is some flash powder. ;-)

Jim Fitzgerald
29-May-2011, 07:55
Enjoy Jim. All you need is some flash powder. ;-)

And some good looking models!!!

Mark Woods
29-May-2011, 08:07
If you need some help lighting.............

Jim Fitzgerald
29-May-2011, 08:11
Mark, I will need some help in the future and I can't think of a better person to show me the ropes. I will be using the camera in an outdoor environment at a friends home in Riverside until I move to a better place hopefully this August. I'm looking for a place where I can set up a studio. All in time my friend.

Mark Woods
29-May-2011, 08:16
I'll be there for you. You need to supply the flash powder though. ;-)

Jim Fitzgerald
29-May-2011, 08:28
I'll be there for you. You need to supply the flash powder though. ;-)

I'm working on that part too!!! :-)

Jim Fitzgerald
29-May-2011, 21:34
Wow! I found a 10x10 back also. Getting better all the time!

Steven Tribe
30-May-2011, 03:14
It certainly fills out the gap between the two uprights on the stand and makes the 9x9 board look small!
Congrats!

Scratched Glass
30-May-2011, 04:06
Looks like fun, maybe there is one in my neighborhood.

Jim Fitzgerald
30-May-2011, 06:28
Keeping these beautiful cameras operational is a good thing. I know there are several of us that appreciate the fine craftsmanship during this period. Nice to own a bit of history and clean and do some minor restoring to get it back to the best condition I can. Cleaning all of the backs and doing some minor re-gluing on the back bed. A long but enjoyable task!

Mark Sawyer
30-May-2011, 08:46
Grrrr... not fair, I want one! :D Congratulations, Jim; big studio cameras are a joy and an inspiration to use, and I know some epic images will soon pass through those bellows!

Jim Galli
30-May-2011, 09:46
It certainly fills out the gap between the two uprights on the stand and makes the 9x9 board look small!
Congrats!

Steven that little front board is actually 10X10 on this camera.

Congrats Jim! I love mine, and DO use it. I would be fearful of using the Century stand though. That's a lot of camera for that stand. With a 21" Petzval you're at 44" bellows quite often. Too much weight for that spindly arm underneath.

Ash
30-May-2011, 09:55
Amazing!

Mark Sawyer
30-May-2011, 09:59
That's a lot of camera for that stand. With a 21" Petzval you're at 44" bellows quite often. Too much weight for that spindly arm underneath.

Agreed; the wood screws that go into the bottom of the bed on mine stripped out. Now the felt covering the top of the bed hides bolt heads and fender washers.

Craig Roberts
30-May-2011, 14:17
Nice find Jim, I know you will put it to good use. Craig

Jim Fitzgerald
30-May-2011, 14:31
Thanks everyone, and thanks for the heads up on the arm and the screws that hold the bed on. It did look a bit weak upon my initial inspection. I'm going to make sure that the attachment points are much more secure. Now I do have to save for one of those giant 22" Petzval's. 16" is as large as I have in a Petzval right now. I'm always fearful of the camera or stand or something crashing over. Maybe that is why we see so many of the giant brass lenses with dents in the front hood! I will be careful. Going to shoot with it soon but I want to pretty her up a bit first.

sanking
30-May-2011, 14:59
Jim,

You should be able to make some awesome portraits with the camera. And I hope some of them will be carbon transfer images!! Not many people do portraits with carbon these days but in the 19th century Nadar in France made some of the best portraits ever with the carbon process.

Sandy

Jim Fitzgerald
30-May-2011, 15:45
Sandy, thanks. I have always been looking for this camera. It has been something like 10 years or so. I guess it is just a progression in an artists life. I have always want to do carbon portraits. I am so glad that I found the process and with your help and Vaughn's help I now have the final piece ( I hope) to my puzzle. I have always felt that the wonderful tonal range of carbon transfer was ideal for portrait work, traditional portrait work. I can't wait to expand my knowledge of carbon portraits. I feel that I am accomplished enough in carbon transfer to proceed. Again, thanks for all of your help and encouragement over the years.

Jim

Jay DeFehr
30-May-2011, 19:05
Sandy,

I couldn't agree more about Nadar's portraits. I didn't realize he printed in carbon, but it makes sense. Some of his portraits have the reddish hue I associate with POP; were those carbon as well?

sanking
30-May-2011, 19:38
Sandy,

I couldn't agree more about Nadar's portraits. I didn't realize he printed in carbon, but it makes sense. Some of his portraits have the reddish hue I associate with POP; were those carbon as well?

Jay,

The carbon portraits I have seen with my eyes by Nadar were at the Harry Ranson Center at the University of Texas at Austin. They were all very neutral in color.

However, almost certainly he printed with other processes, gold toned albumen for example, and this would have given a reddish tone. Course, making reddish tone carbons would have been no problem at all for Nadar so I don't discount the possibility that he also made those.

I find it pretty amazing that so early in the history of the medium a photographer like Nadar would have done work in several different processes that we marvel at today!

Sandy

Jay DeFehr
30-May-2011, 20:00
I find it amazing, too, and inspiring. What he did with slow, ortho plates and available light is beyond impressive, and that's before he even got to the printing part.

sanking
30-May-2011, 20:44
Sandy, thanks. I have always been looking for this camera. It has been something like 10 years or so. I guess it is just a progression in an artists life. I have always want to do carbon portraits. I am so glad that I found the process and with your help and Vaughn's help I now have the final piece ( I hope) to my puzzle. I have always felt that the wonderful tonal range of carbon transfer was ideal for portrait work, traditional portrait work. I can't wait to expand my knowledge of carbon portraits. I feel that I am accomplished enough in carbon transfer to proceed. Again, thanks for all of your help and encouragement over the years.

Jim

Jim,

I believe you are on a wonderful journey of discovery (re-discovery). For me the old cameras and the old process make a beautiful marriage and I believe you are going to do great work with the carbon portraits. I hope to see some of your work one day from this marriage!

Sandy

Jim Fitzgerald
30-May-2011, 20:48
Sandy, thanks, I have the same feeling. I have some research to conduct and reading to do. I'm looking at as many images as I can find.

Kimberly Anderson
30-May-2011, 20:59
So I have a line on the 8x10 version here in Utah. Owned by my mentor to shoot portraits in his north-light studio he ran for many years during the summer.

Any tips? Advice?

Jim Galli
30-May-2011, 21:06
So I have a line on the 8x10 version here in Utah. Owned by my mentor to shoot portraits in his north-light studio he ran for many years during the summer.

Any tips? Advice?

GEt it! With lenses. ;)

Jim Fitzgerald
30-May-2011, 21:37
Michael, I agree with Jim. get it.

Hugo Zhang
31-May-2011, 10:18
Hi Jim,

So this is the camera you were talking about at Tri's garage last time. Can't wait to see it! So you are going to put it on your truck and bring it to our next nude shootout at Matt's house?

Hugo

Jim Fitzgerald
31-May-2011, 12:58
Hugo, I don't have to put it on my truck! It is at Matt's house now! I'm going to keep it there for a while until I get my living arrangements changed in a few months.

Tri Tran
31-May-2011, 19:50
Hugo, I don't have to put it on my truck! It is at Matt's house now! I'm going to keep it there for a while until I get my living arrangements changed in a few months.

Right on Jim! So I dont have to bring my camera but still can use my Cooke and other big lens . I look forward to have the next Nude & Portrait shoot out for "West Coast Large Format Group". Hope we can all get together to finalize the date soon. Please hurry go back to work on your camera. Stay tuned folks.

Jim Fitzgerald
31-May-2011, 20:21
Tri, I'm on it. I just need to get the GG for the 11x14 trimmed down a bit and were are good to go. I am going to detail the camera and stand though..... but that does not mean we can't use it!

Jim Fitzgerald
5-Jun-2011, 20:14
Well, I finished the minor restoration and cleaning and thought I'd post some of the images of your truly with the new camera.

Jim Galli
5-Jun-2011, 20:18
Bra-Vo!

Jim Fitzgerald
5-Jun-2011, 20:20
Jim, thanks. This was in such great shape that the cleaning and minor restoring was next to nothing.

Peter De Smidt
5-Jun-2011, 20:27
Looks great.

I have to build a new platform for my stand.

Jim Fitzgerald
5-Jun-2011, 20:52
Peter they are so nice!!

Mark Woods
6-Jun-2011, 16:08
Jim, you could tuck a nude into the camera and no one would know.

Jim Fitzgerald
6-Jun-2011, 18:27
Mark, I like you're thinking....... but then again there would be plenty of room in there for me if she is small!!....... and naked!