View Full Version : Info appreciated on this hand-me-down..

7-Oct-2004, 11:04
Before I start I should mention I know barely anything of LF photography.
I took delivery of this camera, it belonged to my great grandfather. As far as I can tell it's a Thornton Packard, folding bellows camera with a brass lens with 2 elements. The shutter seems to work, and handles 1/15 to 1/75. It takes 6.5 x 4.5 glass plates.

What I am wondering, is if it would be possible to, in a dark bag, load in 5x4 polaroids one at a time into the plate holders, with a little cardboard frame to hold them in, and use them instead? I'm not sure how lightproof the whole thing is. I say polaroid, because I'm not willing to go to the trouble of negatives, processing, etc, since I don't have my own B&W processing equipment. I just want to 'give it a try' and see what I can do with it.

Other than that I'm wondering how much it's worth, maybe a collector of these sorts of cameras would find it more useful than me.

Thanks for your assistance


Jay DeFehr
7-Oct-2004, 11:17
The short answer is; I don't know. The polaroid emulsion would have to be in the EXACT position relative to the ground glass focus screen as the front of the glass plate would be in the holder. Theoretically, it should be possible with careful shimming, and some testing to work it out. A more practical approach might be to adapt a 4x5 back to the camera, and use a polaroid film holder. Good luck, and have fun.

Gem Singer
7-Oct-2004, 11:28
Hi Doug,

Perhaps you could figure out a way to adapt the back of the camera to accept a Polaroid 545 holder, or some way to use the Polaroid holder. Without the holder, Polaroid sheet films are very difficult to hold in an absolute flat position on the back of any type of camera.

Dan Dozer
7-Oct-2004, 11:42
Hi Doug,

I have a couple of old view cameras myself, however, not the Thornton Pickard. As far as the old view cameras goes, this is one of the nicer ones as it is a triple extension. Most of the old turn of the century field cameras like the Kodan 2D were not. Here's what it says about in in McKeowns camera price guide.

"Imperial Triple Extension - c1094 -26. One of the more advanced field cameras with triple extension tapered leather bellows. 1/2 plate size. Mahagony with brass trim. Beginning c1920, there were brass strips added above and below the lensboard, and on the front of the bed. This was called the "New" Imperial. Beck Symmetrical, T-P Rectoplanat lenses. Rollerblind shutter. One fine example sold in 1991 for $560. Common in England in average used condition for $350 - 500. Fine condition less common and work an extra $150 - 225."

My copy of McKeowns is 1997/1998, however, I doubt if the values have changed much. The trouble with this camera is being a 1/2 plate camera, it isn't really usable for today's photography market due to the plate size and film size being different. There are some people around today who do plate photography rather than film, but that market is very specialized. It's market today is more for the collector than the user. You see these cameras occasionally on E-bay and I think that they will generallly sell for about 1/3 - 1/2 of what McKeowns value is (depending on condition). I've seen a couple of totally restored ones that the owners have tried to get good money for, but I don't know how successful they were. I would suspect that since the camera was manufactured in England, that the value might be a little more there than in the US. By the way, the rollerblind shutters are on E-bay all the time so if you need a replacment, it's not hard to find one.

Regarding using Polaroid film, I agree with Jay that it's probably possible to try, but it would take some experimenting. I've always been a fan of the old view cameras. If nothing else, when cleaned up, they make a great display item in your house and get a lot of attention.

Good luck in your efforts with it.

Ernest Purdum
7-Oct-2004, 17:54
Since your back is removable, it's not all that difficult a piece of woodwork to adapt a Graflok back frame which would allow use of Polaroid holders, rollfilm holders and any of the normal 4X5 film holders. Graflok backs are regularly available on eBay, but you have to allow for spelling problems. Search graphlok, graflock grafloc, etc. Since no modification of the camera is required, you can have a nice display item and a usable item both.

To use Polaroid's 545 holders you should have a spacer about 5/8" thick and the size of the Graflok back placed between the basic adapter and the Gtsflok.

Good materials for such an adapter are the thin Baltic Birch plywoods from model shops and the thin mahogany sheets available from www.micromark.com.

Careful, you might catch the Large Format bug.

9-Oct-2004, 07:29
If you decide to take off the old back, or in some other way modify it, I would be very interested in purchasing the old back, or, more importantly, the plate holders. I've been toying with the idea of getting into glass plate for a while, and still want to find a way.

Ernest Purdum
9-Oct-2004, 10:31
Jason, plate holders like those that come with Doug's camera have several problems. They were not atandardized, so it would be difficult to match them to another back. I don't know what your source of plates will be, or whether you are going to do your own coating, but it might also be easier to have plates in one of the current common sizes instead of the 1/2-plate size of Doug's holders.

Fortunately, plate holders wee made for many years after film came into common use, and were made to the same external dimensions as the current film holders. I think you would have a good chance of locating some. A want ad in Camera Shopper or elsewhere might work. If all else fails, I have a few I would put up on eBay if requested.

Paul Ewins
10-Oct-2004, 04:22
I've got a very similar camera and made a couple of adapters that allow the use of standard film sheet holders and also grafmatic backs. I had to allow for the fact that glass plates are thicker than sheet film so the film holders have to sit further back than the plate holders.

With polaroids you could probably just tape them to the back of the plate holder (i.e. the divider between the two sides) and that should put the emulsion in roughly the right place for a test shot.

I'm not sure how you would deal with the polaroid dark slide and you will still need some sort of polaroid holder to do the devloping, but it shouldn't be too hard to get it working.