View Full Version : Dry Plate or Wet Plate back... Something Else?

10-Mar-2012, 12:38
I have this tailboard camera, I believe it is a Jas. H. Smith model 300. It came with this back on it and I don't know what it is. It's removable and I've made an adapter to shoot 8x10 film but I'm starting to wonder how to shoot this camera as originally intended. Can someone point me in the right direction as to what kind of back this is, and what film/plate holder I would need to get myself into more trouble than I am presently in?


11-Mar-2012, 09:36
What you have is a studio tpe camera that has adapters so you can shoot different plate sizes. As for what to shoot, I'd suggest either dry plate or paper negatives. I don't think this camera was designed for wet plate, and the chemicals involved will slowly eat the wood and destroy the camera over time.

Kent in SD

Steven Tribe
11-Mar-2012, 09:58
Many Studio set-ups were "downsized" in format when the public grew to include less wealthy groups of the population and the quality of dry plates improved. I have a number of camera backs that were obviously made for 8x10" or 18x24cm which have been adapted down (both with screws, nails and ragged sawn wood) to 1/2 plate or 5x7". The precise modification depended on the source of back available. The missing plate holders for yours are quite simple in design.They had to have two holes in the base to fit into the two dowels in the opening and had to have the early tambour "dark slides" activated from the rear. These could be single plate holders or double plate holders with two tambours running parallel tracks. The second system is prone to mechanical breakdown after so many years.

All this is very difficult stuff - its much easier when you have the actual backs in your hands!

The last photo is of a single back, wher the entrance to load the film/plate is through the half covered door. The tambour is halfway down so the "dark slide" in the front is also half open.
The first and second shows a double tambour. Again one side is half open and there is one and half tambour visable on the outer side. The tambours really do go round 180 degree corners!

12-Mar-2012, 14:39
Thank you Kent and Steven, I really appreciate your expertise and the pictures. I'll have to look for a dry plate holder that will fit because I'd like to try some alternative printing.

Thanks again!