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Thread: Ross Half Plate Field Camera HELP!

  1. #1
    Kierra's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Ross Half Plate Field Camera HELP!

    Hey all,

    I need a hand. For Christmas I was given this beautiful 1888 Ross London half plate field camera but the interwebs aren't being very useful in terms of finding out much about it. It came with a barrel lens and 2 what I assume are film backs. I cannot seem to find any info on how to load the backs, what the take ie. film or wet plate, or the best way to possibly try and use this with the barrel lens.

    Thanks in advance.

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  2. #2
    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: Ross Half Plate Field Camera HELP!

    The holders have clips on the side and are for dry plates, looks like they are half plate with isnserts for quarter plates from the 4th photo. You'd need film adapters which are hard to find or make a 5x4 back for modern DDS (film holders). With modern film you'd also need a shutter.

    Where abouts are you, and welcome to the Forum BTW.

    Ian

  3. #3

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    Re: Ross Half Plate Field Camera HELP!

    A very nice set!

    Unlike Ian, I wouldn't recommend adaption as the character of the camera changes a lot.
    1/2 plate size is good for contact prints without the need for an enlarger.
    The current lens, mounted on a newer lens board, was installed when a previous owner bought insert(s) to produce 1/4 plate glass negatives.
    Converting to using modern film is just a question of locating 1/2 plate film sheaths which fit into your book holders. I did have extra last year, but these are now gone. Will see if I have some in the last boxes.

    These wonderful plate holders are pressing the limits of what mahogany can manage, so there may be some skrinkage cracks even though they look to be in good condition.
    Do you have the three legs for the brass tripod support?

    As you appear only to have 2 double plate holders, it is probably best to modify other (bought!) additional 1/2 plate holders if you want to go the way of wet plate!

  4. #4

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    Re: Ross Half Plate Field Camera HELP!

    It would be easy enough to adapt a modern 4x5 back to the camera without modifying the actual camera. That said after working on an older half plate camera for a while and finally giving up, you have to decide whether you want to fiddle with a camera that ultimately will not be as good as the modern camera you can buy and use today. It will be fine and can take great pictures but as far as usability goes a modern field camera is going to be superior. Nothing wrong with either choice.

  5. #5

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    Re: Ross Half Plate Field Camera HELP!

    By the way, why do think it is a Ross camera?

    The round lens board points to Manchester!

  6. #6
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    Re: Ross Half Plate Field Camera HELP!

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Tribe View Post

    Unlike Ian, I wouldn't recommend adaption as the character of the camera changes a lot.
    1/2 plate size is good for contact prints without the need for an enlarger.
    I'd do both (& have), but I'm nnot suggeesting adapting the current back rather making an additional back, just as I'd make a mew lens board or two, probably one with a lens/shutter. That's what I've done with 3 cmaeras now. I wouldn't do anything that damages the original camera though.

    Ross sold various cameras at different times under their own name but some were made by other companies, Dallmeyer did the same.

    I think what's surpised me about these older British made camera is how remarkably sturdy they are despite being much lighter than most of the US cameras.

    Ian

  7. #7

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    Re: Ross Half Plate Field Camera HELP!

    I have a half plate camera. I went to the trouble of buying a few plate holders and film sheaths. I scrounged up some outdated film from the UK. Ultimately I found that 5x7 film holders fit my camera as well as the plate holders did. Now I shoot 5x7 film in it. I obviously don't know if this would hold true for your camera, but if you have easy access to some 5x7 filmholders you might try it.

  8. #8
    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: Ross Half Plate Field Camera HELP!

    With pre-WWII cameras that only holds true for most US made half plate cameras and some UK made Kodaks, British cameras used non standard book-form type holders and these vary from model to model sometimes from the same manufacturers.

    Post WWII the International standard for7x5 and Half plate means that the outside dimensions of modern holders are the same, the continental equivalent will be the same as well. In the UK after WWII most manufacturers used the International standard, Gandolfi & Watson continued with book-form as well.

    Ian

  9. #9

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    Re: Ross Half Plate Field Camera HELP!

    I was thinking that this camera, with some unusual features, was made by Billcliff in Manchester.He had a period when he produced a lot of round lens board cameras. He also delighted in using ebony for "edging" alongside the the mahogany?

  10. #10

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    Re: Ross Half Plate Field Camera HELP!

    I can't help, but I wish you good luck on your adventures with this camera. It's a beauty. Old cameras are fun to use and can produce excellent images. You will have to put up with some quirks, but once you figure things out, you'll probably enjoy it.

    It looks as though you might also need to adapt it for a modern tripod unless you have the original legs to fit the base.

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