View Full Version : Need information about Seroco 5X7 drop bed camera

5-Feb-2015, 19:06
I'm new to Large Format, so please forgive my ignorance...

I just purchased a really nice looking Seroco drop bed 5X7 camera from that famous auction site.


There are a few questions that I hope more educated forum members can answer for me. Maybe I should have asked before buying? lol

Where can I find more information about this camera? I really would like to find a manual and history about it. Anyone have a link to a Sears Catalog that shows this model?

Does it use the dry plates or sheet film. If it is set up for dry plates, what do I need to do to use with with my 5X7 sheet film?

It has not arrived at my door yet, so I am just going by the photos posted.

Thanks for the help,

Tim Meisburger
5-Feb-2015, 20:45
From what I can see the camera looks complete. The holders that came with it are dry plate holders that will work with the camera. To use them with film you will need plate to film adapters (essentially a metal sleeve that fits in the space for the plate). If you are lucky, they will already be inside the holders, and you will not need to do anything. If they are not there and you just want to shoot now, you can probably make sleeves out of thin cardboard (I've done that for 6x9 holders).

Lovely camera! Good luck!

Mark Sampson
5-Feb-2015, 20:45
I believe Seroco brand cameras were made by Conley. Other people who know more about this may speak up. It might help to look at cameraeccentric.com.

5-Feb-2015, 20:45

Start with this site (http://www.piercevaubel.com/cam/catalogs.htm), and just keep digging.

Alas, cameraeccentric seems to be a "lenses only" source these days.


5-Feb-2015, 20:59
Nice camera. The only real problem is that it is OLD, and things are gonna go wrong with it.
Be extra gentle -- it will save you a lot of grief.

6-Feb-2015, 05:54
Tim - That would be perfect if the metal sleeve adapter is inside, but if not, do you have a sample of what the sleeve should look like or maybe a video link of someone making a adapter?

Bill - It sure seems to be OLD. lol I think that is why I like it even more. For some reason the idea of shooting with something so vintage is very appealing to me. What the exact date of manufacture is, I am not sure. I have searched for a bit, but it seems hard to find a lot of info on this camera. Maybe it was not as popular at the time?

I will start with the link that c.d. provided....

Tim Meisburger
6-Feb-2015, 07:03
Sure. I've got one somewhere with the adapter inside. I'll see if I can dig it out tomorrow and take a snap.

6-Feb-2015, 07:28
My everyday camera has been a Seneca No. 5x7 (also self-casing), which is very similar to your Seroco. I carry it everywhere when possible. Excellent for handheld 5x7 exposures. The original plate holders I found to be very difficult to use. But, luckily a regular 5x7 film holder (wooden, circa 1920's) works perfect. Your camera may also work well in that sense. One problem with film sleeves and regular film holders alike is that the film's front surface does not set in the same position of that of a dry plate. On mine I simply reversed the focus screen glass and then added a small piece of foam in the corners of the camera-back. The focus and film now reside in the same plane. I had to replace the shutter with something from the 1920's also.

Jim Noel
6-Feb-2015, 09:37
If you holders don't have a metal insert just buy some modern wooden or plastic holders. They will work fine.

7-Feb-2015, 19:40
Modern 5x7 holders might not fit without slight modification.

Steven Tribe
8-Feb-2015, 03:52
As far as I can see (I can't get the original listing to appear!), the listing was a BIN with just a single photograph and a rather unhelpful description of condition.

You are paying a somewhat premium price for something that could be unusable without a new bellows! As someone has already mentioned, these compact cycle cameras are rather well designed but very fragile. Getting a new bellows made which will compress into the available space in the box is not for the faint hearted.

Do check the flexibility/light tightness of the bellows on receipt and do not hesitate to return it. The mahogany strips are also prone to damage - especialy the front standard and extension system.

There are threads here which illustrate what film sheaths look like.

Drew Bedo
8-Feb-2015, 07:34
Would standard 5x7 fuilm holders work on this camera?

If not, maybe Star can make an adapter beck . . .? http://starcameracompany.com/index.html

8-Feb-2015, 16:22
That looks like a fine condition camera. Seroco (Sears Robuck Company) had any of the good makers relabel their cameras and lenses for them. This one looks like Century, but could be another maker. http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?81517-Gonna-make-my-old-Century-Grand-Senior-work!

I've shot my 5x7 century grand. Because the dryplate versus film registration may be off, just shoot it stopped down a ways. That will help any focus problems. The film sheaths are common, here is what various sizes look like: http://www.ebay.com/itm/6-KODAK-4X5-CUT-FILM-SHEATHS-4-KODAK-5X7-CUT-FILM-SHEATHS-/400856831652

Jim Noel
8-Feb-2015, 16:59
Would standard 5x7 fuilm holders work on this camera?

If not, maybe Star can make an adapter beck . . .? http://starcameracompany.com/index.html

Yes, they fit.

8-Feb-2015, 17:01

Thanks for the link!

So, what the film sheath does is move the film plane forward a small amount to compensate for the thickness of the glass plate which was removed. Then, when the smaller thickness film is inserted into the holder, the film will be on the same plane as the original glass plate was. Does my thinking sound correct or am I off?

Is loading the film holder still fairly easy in the dark? lol


8-Feb-2015, 17:37
That's the idea. It's not scientifically measured down to a micron though. They are actually a lot easier to load. Just slide the film into the metal sheath, then drop the bottom of the sheath into your holder, held at an angle. Depress the little spring so the sheath drops fully in, at the top, and release. Put in the darkslide. It works well. But again, they may not line up the same as the glass plates, but are close enough if you are at F8 or so.

8-Feb-2015, 18:37

OK, I will have to experiment to see how close it is.

Do you have any pictures that you can post as a guide? I think what I am looking for is a visual of what I need to look for and do to make this work.

Can anyone explain why I am willing to spend so much time and money with all this vintage photography? I need help!

Thanks again,

Peter Gomena
10-Feb-2015, 10:43
Keep an eye on the large format film holder section of Pacific Rim Camera's site. They often list film sheaths of various sizes. Another alternative is to find a piece of sheet metal the same thickness as a glass negative. Cut it to the outside dimensions of one of your holders, and cut long so it sticks out of the camera back for easy gripping. Then cut a rectangle the size of the holder opening. Focus the camera with this in place. Remove it and replace it with your loaded holder. (I took the easier route of reversing my ground glass when I owned an old Seneca cycle camera. Works fine as well.)

Steven Tribe
10-Feb-2015, 13:02
You should be getting this camera quite soon - remember to do a bellows check! The camera looks to be in good condition. Changes in available technogy at the time (early 20th century) meant that many of these super cameras were put in storage after just a few years.

Fitting a film sheath loaded with film into a plate holder is not a difficult operation. The easiest conversion of these kinds of plate holder, without pressure springs as in book holders, is to install some strips of softish foam slightly thicker than the glass thickness that used to be there. Depending on the construction of the edge (and wear) of the type of holders (Agfa and others made these too, although KODAK had most of the market), very small distance pieces of paper may need to inserted under the GG mountings. There is no way that a reversal of the GG is necessary! This was only necessary with the first colour plates, such as autochrome, where the exposure took place on the side of the glass facing away from the lens.

Chauncey Walden
10-Feb-2015, 14:06
Steven, I have one of these Conley bicycle cameras in 4x5 and a 1910 Conley view camera and both have their original leather bellows and both are fine. I don't know how European bellows from this time period were but apparently here they were made for the long haul.

Steven Tribe
10-Feb-2015, 15:13
I have had a range of cycle cameras (POCO long focus and the like) - all with bad bellows, in spite of having superb mahogany beds and leatherette covering! European camera bellows - the ones with heavy duty calico folds and leather edges - vary an awful lot. Some are really as new, whilst others, having an apparently similar quality when new, are OK - apart from these leather edges. I am sure it is a storage problem. Mahogany, brass can survive bad storage, but leather can't.

Coming in a case, even when scruffy, improves the chances!

10-Feb-2015, 18:11

Yes, I checked the tracking number and it says it will be delivered tomorrow night. I am so excited! I will first check the film holders to see if they are still glass plates or already have the film sheaths installed.

The film was delivered last week...

10-Feb-2015, 18:18
Also, not to change the subject of my original question too much, but what kind of polarizing filter can I use with this camera/lens? I don't see any threads to use like a modern lens has.

Steven Tribe
11-Feb-2015, 01:17
Clip-on filter holders (using a steel spring clip) are fortunately a very common (and price right) item on "that" auction site. I would think that a replacement of the filter part with more modern glass would be quite easy. In addition, I think there were pressure fittings in the old "Series" system with Roman numerals?

15-Feb-2015, 21:17
My Seroco camera has arrived and looks great! The shutter is sticky, so I have already sent it out for a CLA.

All the film holders have Kodak film sheaths inside them, so I believe that should work out well for the film I have.

The next step is to get a yellow filter and a polarizing filter.

Can a few members post some images of their cameras with filters attached? What do I need to purchase, maybe from that auction site to get me going?


Steven Tribe
17-Feb-2015, 13:51
Sorry, I forgot to check this thread yesterday.

This is the type I know (but have never owned!).

This is (reference) listing 121572992852. Nebro made a lot of these too.
I am fairly sure these have threads so you can switch to other filters.

Leonard Robertson
18-Feb-2015, 19:58
Kodak made a number of sizes of "slip-on" or "push-on" adapter rings for Series filters (Tiffen and Ednalite also made these but Kodak are more common. All three makers made screw-on Series adapters too, so you need to find the push-on style). Search eBay for Kodak adapter ring and you will see a style of ring with several slots cut in the rear of the adapter that slip over the outside of your lens barrel (eBay #221694052709 is an example). The ring is aluminum and the segments between the slots can be bent slightly to make the diameter larger or smaller. Kodak marked the adapters with the diameter that fits over the lens, so you can find a size that is close and bend the segments to adjust to your exact lens diameter. If you aren't familiar with Series size filters you can Google and find the sizes of the different Series numbers. Step-up rings are available to mount larger Series sizes on smaller Series adapter rings. I recall there are one or two Series sizes that will allow a standard size threaded filter to screw in instead of the Series retaining ring. The threads are not exactly the same, but will work. If you can't find the filters you want in Series size, this may be an option for you. If you need more details on this idea, I can get out my boxes of adapters and filters and refresh my memory.



20-Feb-2015, 07:00

OK, that makes things much clearer. I will measure the O.D. of the lens and see what it needs for size. Then, if I can get a new polarizer that will screw into the Kodak adapter, I will be set.


20-Feb-2015, 07:03

The sample you posted is very interesting too! Plus, it is vintage...

Leonard Robertson
20-Feb-2015, 14:57
I dug out a Series VII Kodak adapter ring to play with. For anyone not familiar with Series filters, they are filters without any threads on the metal ring surrounding the glass filter. They are designed to fit into a recess on the Series adapter ring. The recess has threads inside where a Series retaining ring is threaded in to hold the filter in place. If that doesn't make sense, Google Series filters or some variation on that term.

Anyway, a Hoya 55mm threaded filter will screw into the Series VII adapter ring in place of the retaining ring. The thread pitch isn't the same and it doesn't screw in very far so you must use your own judgement whether it is acceptable or not. Vibration in a car might loosen it. But for short time use on the lens while shooting, I suspect it will work.

The outer diameter of a threaded 49mm Hoya filter (I'm not sure if the o.d. of all makers threaded filters are the same) is almost the same as the o.d. of a Series VII filter. So a 49mm threaded filter will fit inside the Series adapter ring and the Series retaining ring holds it in place. However, the threads on the 49mm filter need to point toward the retaining ring so they fit inside the retaining ring (otherwise the threaded filter is too thick). This method of holding a filter is more secure than threading in a 55mm filter, but I'm not sure how well it will work with a polarizer which needs to be rotated, since the polarizer ends up behind the retaining ring.

Last idea: take the glass out of a threaded filter and glue the outer ring of the filter to the front of the Series adapter ring. Then regular size threaded filters can be screwed into the "empty" filter. This is possibly the best idea, although it involves a bit of effort. It may give more size options. It appears an empty 49mm filter can be glued to the front of a Series VI adapter.

I tried one more combination - a 67mm filter screws into the front of a Series VIII adapter rather well, although this may be somewhat large in diameter for your lens.