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Thread: Gandolfi half-plate camera...advice needed

  1. #1

    Gandolfi half-plate camera...advice needed

    I am a newcomer to LF, and I am on the waiting list for a Chamonix 45, but have missed out the August shipment and am on the alternate list...we will see. Could be December...

    While poking around the local camera shop here in London, I discovered a Gandolfi half-plate camera, with 7 matching double bookholders (i.e., for plates), with original Gandolfi wooden tripod, and case. Fitted with a 127mm Schneider lens, which has a working shutter. Bellows look good and light tight too.

    I know of only one place to get half-plate film here in the UK (Retrographic), and of course they only have a limited supply and choice - just the NP line, in one ISO.

    The shop wants 200 for the Gandolfi - which is in respectable but obviously not perfect cosmetic condition. Any advice from the members here on whether or not that represents a sound investment to get started in LF? Or should I just wait for the Chamonix, which will have more movements, film availability, lighter, etc.?

    And lastly, on a half plate, what does that 127mm lens represent in 35mm equivalence? Is it close enough to 4x5 to figure that as a 35-40mm equivalent?

  2. #2

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    Re: Gandolfi half-plate camera...advice needed

    A traditional Gandolfi is (IMHO) the ultimate LF camera, like owning an old Bentley. I once had a half-plate Gandolfi, but circumstances required giving it up.
    Although half-plate film is difficult to get, you can use 5x7 DD film holders, which fit exactly, and there's plenty of that available. (I just re-read your post, and realized that it is a plate, not film, camera. Gandolfi is still in business in England and can make the conversion IF you need it.)
    The 127mm lens is probably too short to cover -- I expect it once had a 4x5 back.
    200 Pounds sounds like a bargain price.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  3. #3
    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: Gandolfi half-plate camera...advice needed

    It's worth more than £200, that's a bargain. Gandolfi tripods are worth around £50+

    Are you sure it's a half plate camera, they also made Quarter plate cameras, and a 127mm lens would be standard for that format. But of course as Bill says it may have had a different back.

    You need to decide whether it's worth £200 to you, you could make a 5x4 back, getting even a response from Gandolfi in the UK is supposed to be difficult and a new back would cost quite a lot.

    Ian

  4. #4

    Re: Gandolfi half-plate camera...advice needed

    I work in half plate, and use paper negatives ( ilford multigrade, pearl 5x7) and just cut it to size, it makes good contact prints, if you really want film I use ortho film and cut that to size under a red safe light, I tray develop so asa is not that important pull the negative when it's cooked enough.
    Rob Lam at lux cameras had some half plate film holders

    bob
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  5. #5
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: Gandolfi half-plate camera...advice needed

    The big question is: Is is a Gandolfi Universal, a Gandolfi Precision, a Gandolfi Traditional, or a Gandolfi Variant?

    The Universal is a tailboard camera with a fixed front.

    The Precision and the Traditional are the same camera, a "traditional type" field camera. Compared to the older Universal, they really deserved the name "Precision".

    The Variant is a "modern" camera with more movements, often made of black MDF but can also be wood.

    Have a look at www.gandolficameras.com to see the different cameras.

  6. #6
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: Gandolfi half-plate camera...advice needed

    BTW, there is no picture of the Universal ln that site. And since I just arrived at work in the North Sea, I can't take a picture of my Universal to show you either - but mine is a half-plate camera modified with a 5x4" spring back. It has a Shneider 150mm Xenar on it, at least until I get around to replacing it with something more fitting for such an old camera (like a TP shutter and a Satz-Aplanat?)

  7. #7

    Re: Gandolfi half-plate camera...advice needed

    Robert,

    I have no experience with half-plate format other using a half-plate reducing back for a Charten whole plate. Unfortunately most half plate holders do not seem to fit, thus the redundance of these holders. Unless Rob_5419 who uses an English Gandolfi has sold his, it sounds identical to yours.

    On the link page for Traditional Bookform Plate Holder, he has an image of a half-plate Gandolfi:

    http://groups.google.co.uk/group/who...---other?hl=en

    The most reliable source for half-plate film which I am aware of can be sourced from Dirk at Unicircuits who offers Fuji Acros emulsion in half-plate format or Alex at URL =" www.mrcad.co.uk " also stocks Efke PL emulsion.

    Kind regards,

    RJ
    Last edited by RJ-; 4-Jul-2008 at 08:59. Reason: Activate link

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    Re: Gandolfi half-plate camera...advice needed

    Over the amazingly long period when the Gandolfi firm meant father and sons, they made several types of camera in addition to those mentioned. All of them were fine examples of craftsmanship and were made of well-seasoned top quality wood. They differed substantially, though, in their extension, movements provided and other factors. This means that one type might be all that a landscape or portrait photographer wants or needs, while an architectural specialist would find it entirely inadequate.

    During most years of Gandolfi production, the holders provided were "book-form double dark slides". Cameras made for these holders will not accept the current "block-form" holders. The camera back, however, is readily removable, and it is an easy job for a woodworker to make or adapt a back which will accept modern holders in 4" X 5" (or 5" X 4", since you are in England) size. It is also quite possible that the camera could take a back capable of accepting 5" X 7" holders. This depends on exact dimensions but I am guessing the opening of the back would be large enough.

    Regarding the lens, is it f4.5 or more? If so, it will have too narrow a view to be useful. I would suggest selling it. The proceeds of sale should go quite a ways towards something more suitable.

    Does the base of the camera have a "turntable" into which the tripod legs fit? This is an arrangement which can be rather hazardous since inadvertently kicking a leg can bring the whole assembly crashing down. If so, tell us and we can suggest means of avoiding this hazard.

    I think you may be pessimistic regarding the availablity of 1/2-plate film in the UK. Some other forum members may be able to provide information on this point. Do the holders have metal pieces inside? These "septums" or should I say "septa" accept cut film.

    If, after the delivery of a Chamonix, you should decide that the Gandolfi is redundnt, you should be able to sell it and consider any loss involved as cheap rent. You might, however, decide to keep it, finding that it has advantages as a supplemtal tool. I always like the possibility of two formats since it makes fuller use of your lenses.

  9. #9

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    Re: Gandolfi half-plate camera...advice needed

    I see RJ has already provided some information on 1/2-plate film availability. It is no surprise that one type is Japanese. This size was a Japanese standard for very many years.

  10. #10

    Re: Gandolfi half-plate camera...advice needed

    Thank you ALL for your responses...I went back today after work, and one of the managers had brought in her Manfrotto 410 head for me to try with it (I have a set of 055 legs, and the original Gandolfi tripod is not the best shape), and the owner of the shop was there. He showed me that in the camera box was a whole collection of 4x5 film adapters, and showed me how the just popped in to the holders - he said the previous owner used it as a 4x5 camera exclusively. It also had a spare lensboard that I had not seen yesterday.

    I bought it on instinct, and the 410 head (on order), and just brought it home. I am thrilled to death with it - it just has a look and feel about it that spoke to me. I am glad that some of you think it was a good price - but I bought it before I got a chance to read this. The more I spent time with it, the more I just wanted to load it with film and take it out somewhere...which really meant anything else was secondary.

    I had a look at the Gandolfi site that someone posted above, and my camera looks older than any of those. All of the rise and front shift movements are done by moving the actual lensboard itself, and tightening two brass screws (one horizontal, one vertical). The rise screw has two holes, one for rise and one for fall. The front mount itself does not move - it is locked in the upright position by two brass rails that hook onto the sides. Those same rails lock the case closed for travelling.

    Also, while the back plane looks a bit like the Traditional, it has two brass setscrews on top, that permit coarse focus by sliding the backplane up and down the bed, and then lock down by the setscrews. Fine focus is then attained by using the right side focus knob.

    I will try to take some pictures of it and post them tomorrow. Perhaps someone can help me figure out what model it is...

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