View Full Version : Process camera

Mike Cockerham
8-Sep-2004, 21:18
I have a chance to git a large process camera for next to nothing. It shoots upto 20x24, has a vaccum back which is in another room and two Rodenstock apo lens. It sets on a rail about 8 ft long. Is it woth it to try and convert it to a 20x24 camera for studio portraits.



Ralph Barker
8-Sep-2004, 21:39
I would think that depends, in part, on how close to nothing "next to nothing" is, Mike, and what sort of engineering skills and equipment you have to make the "conversion". While there are certainly likely to be useful parts included (assuming you can dismantle and move the beast), such a conversion is likely to be rather daunting. The lenses may not have shutters, meaning you'll probably need to have them mounted in an appropriate shutter to make them convenient to use for studio portraiture- a fairly expensive process, if done correctly. Similarly, while the bellows might be useful (if still good), the existing rail mounting is not likely to lend itself to typical studio situations. Thus, you'll probably have to build a new "body" for the camera, and make serious modifications to the vacuum back to make it useful. In the end, you might not actually save much over buying a monster Wisner-cam or some such - unless you can make all the parts yourself.

8-Sep-2004, 22:28
Are you going to be using it in a place which can be made dark to load/unload the vacuum back? If not, have you considered the price of 20x24 film holders?

8-Sep-2004, 22:29
Or you could make a killer enlarger for 12x20.

David Vickery
9-Sep-2004, 01:09
Hello Mike, You could use the bellows to make your own fairly simple camera. If you are just going to do studio portraits then you don't need many movements. You could probably discard most of the rest of the camera body. You may be able to convert the vacuum back into a vacuum frame, which you will definitly need for printing the 20x24 negatives. Depending on the light source (if it comes with it) then you may be able to use it for exposing your alternative print paper. For studio portraits you don't really need shutters so the lenses could easily be used---if you don't use them, then depending on their focal length they may bring a good price on ebay. The longer focal length process lenses are of high value. Or, you could just set it up as it is now, but without its light source(use your own studio lights). You would have to go into the dark room to load a sheet of film in the vacuum back and go back out to the studio to get the subject ready, remove the "cap" from the lens and expose. Could be real interesting.

9-Sep-2004, 04:51
I'd consider it for use as an enlarger.

If not, I'd say it's worth it if you can get the rail and metal parts to a scrap yard, and just keep the vacuum back, bellows, and lenses.

Frank Petronio
9-Sep-2004, 05:49
Remember that the Polaroid 20x24 studio has something like 30,000 watt/seconds of high end strobes on hand for portraiture. Used lighting alone could cost ten grand to start with... Why not try renting the Polaroid studio for a day to see how you like it? I think it is only $800 and $30 a shot (those are prices from a few years ago) - expensive but not really that bad.

tor kviljo
10-Sep-2004, 01:34
Hello Mike

About 10 years ago & more, most norvegian prepress-shops left the repro-cameras for digital prepress- production (not shure if that is the correct words in english). At this time, repro-cameras were sold for next to nothing or given away. I aquired three of them, one Oce Van Der Grinten and two all-computerized ($$ 10.000) Agfa Repromaster 2000's. All of them with 3-lens sets, at least one of them had the easily adaptable G-Claron lenses

As You, I were looking for the possibility to use the unit as a whole, but I intended to use it as a enlarger for LF neg's. However, it were way to cumbersome, and when dismounting it to get to the bellows (thinking about making a VLFC) & vacuum-board, the bellows were very stiff (unsuitable for applying shifts) & not very solid construction of black-painted cardboard - not able to take any kid of beating (or humidity) once outdoor. I ended up throwing the whole thing away save for the three lenses, the densiometer and the vacuum pump. If not Your camera is entirely different, I would advice You to do the same.... The lenses are, however, usually superb - mostly 6 lens rather-wide-angle construction (60- 70 degrees), or the 4 lens Apo Ronar narrow-angle, suitable for mounting in shutter (the Schneiders) or in front of Sinar-Copal or behind Packard for use on LFC's

Good luck anyway!