View Full Version : I need an answer from a Century expert

Richard Browne
30-May-2015, 15:00
I need some help from a Century expert. I teach photography at a small college and am fairly well-versed in large format, both film and digital, but, for some time I've wanted to give my students an experience from another age and so happened upon a Century No. 7 at an antique store. Desire got the better of judgement and I bought it, seeing that it only had 4x5 backs, but thinking I could surely find an 8x10 for it.
After some study I think that the No. 7s came with a sliding carriage. My camera simply has a 13 3/4 " square insert that in turn has a 9" square opening for inserts for smaller negatives.
Am I correct that 134568134569134567a sliding carriage will work with a No. 7? Are there simpler 8x10 backs that will work with this camera? With an answer to this I'll start posting want ads. Also, does anyone make these backs?
Half the spring clasp for this camera is missing. It still holds backs, but if anyone is parting out a damaged camera i'd like to get a whole one.

30-May-2015, 15:11
If I had that camera I'd look for some 8x10 back and make it fit. You could go crazy and make it switch between 'portrait' and 'landscape' or just affix it permanently. Maybe Deardorff, Shen-Hao or Canham will sell one?


Or just make your own (on line book available).

Richard Browne
30-May-2015, 15:30
Thanks for the input, It may come to that. However, as a teaching tool, Id like to get as close to historically accurate as possible. If I were just hacking around for myself I'd probably do that.

30-May-2015, 15:37
Thanks for the input, It may come to that. However, as a teaching tool, Id like to get as close to historically accurate as possible. If I were just hacking around for myself I'd probably do that.

I may be wrong, but I don't think its historically original 8x10 glass-plate back will accept modern sheetfilm holders, making it almost impossible to use in that configuration.

Peter De Smidt
30-May-2015, 16:02
I have a No. 7. Yes, they came with a sliding back. Mine has 8x10 and 5x7 film backs, and they work just fine with standard holders. Richard Ritter could make what you need.

The light color of the bellows interior will cause a big loss of contrast.

Richard Browne
30-May-2015, 16:47
Thanks for the information. I appreciate your thoughts. The bellows seems light tight, but I understand what you're saying. Any ideas about correcting the color without buying a new bellows? Also where can I obtain Mr. Ritter's contact info?

Louis Pacilla
30-May-2015, 17:21
Don't know if it helps but here is a couple snap shots of my Century 7 w/ the original to the set Sliding Carriage.

Peter De Smidt
30-May-2015, 17:45
Richard Ritter:

If they are otherwise in good shape, perhaps something like this might help: http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Martins-Hi-Carb-Black-India/dp/B0026HXHAA
Whatever you do, you don't want to damage the bellows if they're in good shape.

I used the ink to blacken interior wooden parts of the camera that had lightened over time.

My camera and stand look just like Louis's. I don't have the side film holder attachment for the stand, though. I'll have to make something.

Richard Browne
30-May-2015, 17:54
Very nice looking camera, and a really great looking lens. I've got a Bausch and Lomb Portrait Series A and a stand like his, just hope to find a Sliding Carriage to upgrade the camera so we can do some nice 8x10s. Thanks for the tip about Dr Martins.I was thinking perhaps airbrushing a flat black acrylic onto the inside without soaking it too much. I'll have to think about that.

30-May-2015, 18:08
About the inner bellows color...

If being used in a school setting, probably the film that the budget will allow would be X-ray film or photo paper, which is color blind to red, so the bellows would be black to the film... Color or pan film would be affected, but not so much with a lens of limited coverage... (And they are big bellows...)

Very light/many light layers of ultra flat black spray fast dry paint, mist painting inside would probably work, as this is well before the age of plastics... Go light so the paint does not soak through the material, and allow plenty of time for each of the several layers of paint to dry before the next light layer... Very light mist coats... Mask everything else carefully... Test before proceeding too far...

Steve K

Richard Browne
30-May-2015, 18:26
We usually use Arista EDU Ultra 100 8x10, a pan film. And yes I'll go very slowly with the coating, if I get up the nerve to do it!

Peter De Smidt
30-May-2015, 18:32
Paint might make the bellows stiff. But worry about that the bellows after you get a back. If having one made, you could get a stationary one, i.e. not a sliding back. That would greatly simplify construction.

Jim C.
30-May-2015, 18:53
There are fabric paints that won't stiffen up appreciably. Createx is one brand, water based acrylic comes in opaque and translucent,
find it art and crafts stores, make sure you test how opaque their opaque is. If the bellows are ok, then you probably won't need much to
blacken the interior.
Duplicolor also markets a fabric and vinyl spray paint, you'll have to hit Autozone or Pep Boys for that.

30-May-2015, 18:57
Keep in mind that the big studio camera won't be folded down tight as a field camera might be. There is some tolerance for 'stiffness'.

But to reiterate Peter's advice, make the back your priority and return to the bellows later. IMHO.

Richard Browne
30-May-2015, 20:28
Yes. i may try some acrylic paint airbrushed on, but also, as advised, I intend to pursue the back first and will start my search for the holy grail (which may be easier to find). If anyone hears of an available back, let me know, after a time I'll see about having something built.
Thank all of you for your valuable advice. I'm glad I joined this forum.

31-May-2015, 10:44
I've got a century which has a thin wooden picture frame shaped piece which has the snaps for holding a normal wooden / groundglass back for film holders. Something like a 2D back on it. Other brands would fit but they put the pins in slightly different places. I too would put a thin coat o spray paint on the bellows interior.

Richard Browne
31-May-2015, 13:00
Thanks for the new idea, I'll look into it.

Peter De Smidt
31-May-2015, 13:52
So there's two things:
1) The sliding carriage.
2) The ground glass back.

2)is very similar to a Kodak 2D back. I can check later if a 2D back will attach to the sliding carriage. I did check the ground glass back from a wooden Kodak Commercial camera, and that was close, but it didn't fit. I have no doubt that it could be made to fit, though, with some modification.

The inner ledge of a 2D ground glass back, the part that goes inside the camera, is 12" square. On the Century back it's about 11 and 13/16ths inches.

31-May-2015, 16:15

Having owned both cameras at once, I can tell you that the 2D and Century studio 8x10 backs have the same external dimensions. It is the difference in size and depth of the backside light trap rebate that makes them incompatible, at least when attached to the Century's sliding carriage.

See comparison photos of the two backs here: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?116282-Century-Studio-Camera-questions&p=1169167&viewfull=1#post1169167


Peter De Smidt
31-May-2015, 18:16
That's right.

Richard Browne
31-May-2015, 19:54
Thanks Peter and all for the work you've done to get me answers. It's opened up several possibilities. i'm learning a lot. I've posted a want ad and will check some other sources as well. I may contact Richard Ritter and see what his time frame is like. I'm stuck with this large studio forma because I want to use a lens that weighs 14 pounds and so i pretty much have to do what it takes to get a back

Peter De Smidt
31-May-2015, 21:10
It's no problem. If you need any specific measurements, let me know. I just installed a new bellows (from Custom Bellows) on mine yesterday. That sounds like quite a lens. What one is it?

erie patsellis
31-May-2015, 21:43
I got a pile of odds and ends with my Century no.4, I'll see what I have left and get some pictures of some of the odds and ends. If I'm not mistaken, there's most of a century to 2d type back adapter as well.

Richard Browne
1-Jun-2015, 07:18
Peter, the lens is a Bausch and Lomb Portrait Series A f4. When I bought it I kind of put the cart before the horse. It would have been better to have an 8x10 film back first.

Erie, anything you come up with would be great. I'll be glad to reimburse for whatever you think might work.

1-Jun-2015, 07:42
Another option is a Burke and James Rembrandt. I have one with the normal 9" lensboard and 8x10 groundglass back.

For some reason Bartles and James comes to mind when I say or read Burke and James; and it's not a good association. It's a pretty vile beverage that had real good marketing a generation ago.