Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 16

Thread: Ensign Glass Plate 10x12 Camera

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    108

    Ensign Glass Plate 10x12 Camera

    I've come across one of these and I'd appreciate comments from anyone who is familiar with this camera. What is involved in making glass plates?

  2. #2

    Ensign Glass Plate 10x12 Camera

    Rory, more info is needed to give you specific details about this camera. Ensign was a UK camera manufacturer producing huge numbers of cameras in the first half of the 20thcentury. Glass plates were used as the base for the photographic emulsion up to 1940 or so when they were replaced by sheet film or roll film. Plate holders or dark slides can often be adapted to be used with modern sheet film. The main difficulties in using an old camera is making sure you have the compatible plate holders or roll film adaptors and getting film the right size. 10x12 may be 4x5 size which is the commonest sheet film available today. If not you would have to cut the film to size.

  3. #3
    multi format
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    local
    Posts
    3,715

    Ensign Glass Plate 10x12 Camera

    rory:

    if you want to coat your own plates ...

    http://www.alternativephotography.com/process_dryplate.html

    its not very hard, and kind of fun too

    good luck!

    -john

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Harbor City, California
    Posts
    1,748

    Ensign Glass Plate 10x12 Camera

    "Ensign" was a tradename for a British conglomerate which went through very many name changes over a history going more than 100 years. Ensign Ltd., was the company name for awhile, late in its history. 10 X 12 (inches) was a fairly common size in Britain, usually stated as 12 X 10.



    It isn't entirely necessary to use glass plates in one of these cameras. The holders ("book form double dark slides" in British parlance) can be adapted to use cut film of any size up to that of the holder. This is done by means of reducing frames, often called "kits", and metal sub-holders with the edges and one end rolled to hold the film. Any sheet metal shop can easily make these sub holders, called "septums", but it may be necessary to shim the groundglass slightly to compensate for the thickness of the metal. If your camera has been in use in the last seventy years or so, you may find that it is set up for film already. Except for astronomy, and some other scientific purposes, the use of glass plates has been uncommon for very many years.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    108

    Ensign Glass Plate 10x12 Camera

    The camera is in excellent condition and comes with plate holders. If I acquire it, the intention would be to buy glass and apply an emulsion. Thanks, j nanian, for the link on what is involved in doing this.

    I'd be interested in comments on the aesthetic differences between glass plate and film prints. Also, why was 12x10 format common? What was it used for? My understanding is that glass plates were still being manufactured until the mid-1970's, which means that there was a demand for them despite the pervasiveness of film. Why is that?

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Harbor City, California
    Posts
    1,748

    Ensign Glass Plate 10x12 Camera

    Aesthetic differences between plates and film would depend on the emulsions applied to each, not the base to which they were applied.



    12X10 was used in the same manner 8X10 was used in the United States or 18X24cm on the European Continent, a general-purpose size large enough to produce large contact prints. In Britain, the next smaller common size was "whole-plate",8 1/2" X 6 1/2".



    Plates do have one advantage over films. Questions about film flatness are eliminated. For this reason, they were preferred for certain extremely demanding specialized purposes. On the other hand, films are not subject to accidental breakage, are easier and lighter to store, and, I think, most people would find them easier to process. In the 1970's, some view cameras in Japan were still routinely supplied with book-form double dark slide plate holders, but it was expected that the user would buy a set of septums in order to use film in them. At that time, professional portrait and tourist group photographers in Japan were an ultra-coonservative bunch, but there were also some conservative photographers elsewhere who had started with plates and continued to use them for as long as feasible.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    1,791

    Ensign Glass Plate 10x12 Camera

    I think Kodak only stopped selling plates in 2002. But if I remember the price right you'd didn't lightly choose plates over film.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    10

    Ensign Glass Plate 10x12 Camera

    Ernest,

    Thanks, I understand that the differences, if any, depend on the emulsion rather than the backing. I have a print made from a half plate photograph taken in 1934 on the deck of the Bluenose. It was made by the marine photographer Frank Beken, who continued to use full and half plates up until his retirement in the early 1970s. I think that this print has a very different look from prints made from modern film. I'm curious to know whether the difference in look is the result of the fact that Beken would have used an older lens, and perhaps that the plate is now rather old, or whether the difference is inherent in the kinds of emulsions used for glass plates.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Harbor City, California
    Posts
    1,748

    Ensign Glass Plate 10x12 Camera

    Emulsions for general-purpose use, as distinct from say. spectroscopic photos, usually had the same emulsions as were applied to films by the same manufacturer in the same time period. I just looked at a 1936 Ilford list which showed all their emulsions except for a few 35mm extra fine grain types to be available in either plates or films. The 1934 plate may have been orthochromatic. These were preferred (as opposed to panchromatic) particularly by some portrait photographers but were not confined to that field. This could account for a difference in "look" but there are so many other variables that it would take a real expert (which I am not) in early photographs to make an attrribution to the plate as opposed to filtration, development, of both plate and print, and many other possible factors.



    You are fortunate in having that print. Are you in Nova Scotia?

  10. #10
    multi format
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    local
    Posts
    3,715

    Ensign Glass Plate 10x12 Camera

    rory:

    i'm not sure what emulsion beken would have used

    kodak's last glass plate was tmax 100 - the cost was something like $100/25 (4x5) plates from what i remember - pretty steep!

    if you can get ahold of a book called liquid photographic emulsion - grab it! it has everything you need to know about coating and making emulsions, it is still sold by silverprint in the uk, but not imported by amphoto anymore. i haven't looked, but it might be available in the used book market or on FEEbay ..

    the main difference between conventional film and silver bromide emulsion ( might have been used for dryplates ?) is that the bromide emulsion is like a paper emulsiion, it is blue sensitive and REALLY slow. it is about asa 1-3 or so. you can get a traditional silver bromide emulsion today in a bottle - liquid light. it might give you the same look as beken's dryplate emulsion, but it is just a guess.

    modern emulsion ( pan emulsion ) has special dyes in it to allow it to be sensitive to more than blue light. if you are very wealthy, and sophisticated, it can might be possible in a home-lab, but my research tells me that it is pretty expensive, and tricky to do.

    making bromide emulsion doesn't "read" hard, but it seems kind of time consuming and probably will take more than a few tries to get it right. if you write to kodak, they will send you a pamphlet (J-10 i think) on how to do it --- the recipe they give you is very similar to the bottled stuff -- liquid light. i've coated plates before, its kind of addictive to "subb" window pane and use liquid light

    ... there is a alt-group that makes their own emulsions, if i come across the URL i'll post it for you.

    have fun!

    -john

Similar Threads

  1. 8x10 glass plate holders
    By BillieBob in forum Gear
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 7-Apr-2010, 09:32
  2. Glass plate film still around?
    By Carolyn Schimandle in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 16-May-2006, 18:43
  3. Sanderson plate camera, 10x12
    By Don Wallace in forum Cameras & Camera Accessories
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 22-Dec-2004, 15:44
  4. glass plate negatives
    By Chris Gittins in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 14-Jun-2004, 12:15
  5. handling glass plate negs
    By lee nadel in forum Style & Technique
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 17-Jul-1999, 21:10

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •