View Full Version : 30x40cm camera?
Over on ePay there is a curious beast for sale that is listed as 30x40cm. Is this a real, 'standard' size? Is film and/or paper available in this size? Or maybe that is the size the seller measured, maybe it actually is 11x14"? I am intrigued...
30x40 is a standard metric size, comparable to 11x14, but closer to 12x16 which is attractive to me because it's a 3/4 aspect ratio, which enlarges directly from 3x4 film. The Fomatone MG Classic paper from J&C Photo comes in 12x16 (30x40), and I love the format as well as the paper enough to buy a bunch of polaroid 665 pack film, and shop around for a 3x4 Graflex Super D. Another interesting option is the Graflex XL, which accommodates a full frame 3x4 polaroid back, and a really nice 58mm Grandagon. I think one could make some really good negatives from Polaroid 665 packfilm in such an outfit that would enlarge beautifully onto the Fomatone paper at an enlargement factor of 4X. 3x4 film is also available from J&C Photo as well as the Photowarehouse. I think it's a great format that's worth considering as an alternative to 6x9 rollfim or 4x5 sheetfilm. As for 30x40 film, it is also available from Photowarehouse and Fotoimpex, and possibly others as well. There's a Russian(?) gentleman selling 30x40 filmholders very cheap on ebay, as well as the odd 30x40 camera. I have no experience with the cameras or filmholders, but the price and pictures suggest a fairly crude, but functional outfit. For the price of the camera plus shipping from the Ukraine, I'm opting to build my own camera, but I will give the holders a try, as shipping is not as prohibitive, and the alternative is so expensive.
I have purchased two of these Russian LF cameras: 13x18 and 18x24. These formats are European metric sizes, reflecting European LF history: both these sizes (which are different from 5x7" and 8x10") are "landscape" formats, as is the 30x40cm. Depending on the seller, you can get a very nicely-built camera for pennies compared to the Japanese or the older American woodies. I have been using my cameras, supplied by sibir_sergey (from the Ukraine), for a variety of processes including wet plate collodion, wet-paper and waxed-paper Calotype negatives, dry plate and film negatives . The lenses supplied are very sharp and contrasty, and the cameras have held up to both studio and field work without a hitch. They are made to look and to operate just like a 19th century "tourist" LF camera, complete with little slide locks and period perspective controls (front rise; rear tilt, shift and swing). To state the obvious, I am a very satisfied user of LF Russian cameras. Just be sure to get a recent version (1960-84), and not the older versions (made in the 1930's) because the latter tend to be very used and beat-up. Can you believe this? Russian surveryors and roadway engineers were using glass plate technology for their work until very recently. Does anyone know where the Russians were getting their glass negative material?
Photographic plates are still manufactured in Russia. I have been thinking of getting some for my old Voigtländer Bergheil, but I fear the transportation cost for the minimum order would make it far too expensive.
I had a link for the manufacturer somewhere... Ah yes. Slavich: http://www.slavich.ru/english/sl_usa.html
But from what I've heard the minimum order seems to be about two year's production...
A while ago, a Ukrainian eBay seller, Sergei Sibir, advised me of several 30x40 cameras he had for sale. Seems like he has someone who can reproduce as well as re-furbish the older plate cameras. The 30x40cm cameras he offered were both the field and the studio versions. In writing to someone who purchased a field camera, I am glad I did not get one of the field versions: they tend to be very worn because they were used for heavy field use. Instead, I acquired a big (and I mean BIG!) 30x40 cm studio version, complete with plate holders and a very clean, newish and sharp Apo-Tessar 450mm f9. A camera like this needs a platform stand to manoever it, but there is nothing like a ground glass image this large. Sergei included a 100 sheet package of 30x40 cm film (outdated, but useable with some restrainer in the developer; I use pyro).
I acquired this camera, and its "universal" little brother (this makes images in both 18x24 and 13x18 cm formats), for far less money (including shipping) than if I were to get one from either a European or an American market. The camera itself was a couple of hundred, and the shipping about the same. The cameras are well-made, sturdy, and quite heavy. (Of course, they might not be heavy for some one else: I am in a wheelchair much of the time and not able to wrestle with cameras as in the old days.)
I have also acquired some 13x18 cm glass plates from Slavich, as samples. Unhappily, they did not fare the trip well: about 50% breakage. The emulsions are old Kodak formulae: one, at ASA 100 for general landscape use; the other, at ASA 25, for making positives. I am not at all sure which factor contributed to the rather high level of fog on the exposed and developed plates; they were certainly within date.
I bought the above large Russian cameras for a specific project: to make mid-19th century Calotypes. I will be finished with this project by year's end, and will be looking to sell them at that time. If interested, please email me.
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