View Full Version : Film Pack Adapter conversion?

20-May-2018, 06:44
Does anyone have any tips/ideas on converting a film pack adapter to shoot either sheet film or glass plates?

I have been looking for a 4x5 RB graflex, and in the process came upon a 5x7 series B with a price that was too good to pass up which should be arriving in a week or so. The camera appears to be in excellent condition from the photos, and I was hoping to start testing it out when it arrives, but the only problem is that the only holder that comes with it is a film pack adapter, and I don't believe that film packs are currently being made. Since finding slotted 5x7 sheet film holders is proving somewhat difficult, I was hoping in the meantime to come up with some way to make the film pack adapter useable for either film or wet plates.

Any ideas?

20-May-2018, 17:22

In all my searching today I found a few resources and ideas on how to modify pack adapters into plate holders. If I don't decide to try and sell/trade the 5x7 for a RB 4x5 I might try and make a few inserts so that I can use the 5x7 pack adapter for 5x5 square plates and possibly vertical 4x5 plates in addition to the 5x7 horizontal plates which I don't see myself using much as a mainly portrait photographer.

Robert Perrin
20-May-2018, 20:58
Robert, there's no reason you can't use the FPA for film, also, especially for a quick trial of the camera. I had the same problem when I got a 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 graflex that also came with only a FPA. It was a little easier because that FPA is 2 1/2 x 4" inside so half a sheet of 4x5 fits. I didn't find any old film packs to measure but their metal was pretty thin and I just wanted to test the camera, not do anything critical, so I just shimmed the FPA with a couple layers of tape to approximate film position and filled the back with a some black paper backed with foam and as the foam wasn't thick enough, some cardboard. Unless you have some larger film to cut to the FPA's internal dimension you could make a an insert to fit 5x7 or 4x5 film. Just a one shot holder but it'll work while you find film holders and serve as a plate holder with just a change of insert and backing. Good luck with the "new" camera!

21-May-2018, 08:27
Thats what I was thinking. Im currently in the process of trying to get the necessary equipment/chemicals together to start shooting wet plate, so my current plan is to make an inset for a vertical 4x5 plate (which I assume should fit/work) and a 5x5 square plate (because I love 1:1) using thin wood from the hobby shop (cant remember the name of the wood) and felt. When everything arrives I will probably use the same method to make a "single shot" 4x5 sheet film insert to test everything and see how it works.

Robert Perrin
21-May-2018, 10:34
While it would work fine for the frame around the film or wet plate, I'm sure that wood as the mask and shim would offset focus unless you can lift the ground glass a suitable amount. Hopefully someone has found an old film pack and posted the thickness of the metal frame but as best I can remember it's probably in the range of 0.0010" to 0.0015". Also wood needs a coating to protect against fibers on the film/plate and chemical contamination from (and maybe to) wet plates; that will add to the thickness. I hope I'm not complicating things and that the offset to retain accurate focus makes sense.

21-May-2018, 13:41
Im not sure I understand.

My plan would be to make an insert that would work inside the pack adapter. Basically Im thinking of essentially a wood block the same thickness as a pack of film held in place with the pack adapters springs on the back with the front having an area "hollowed out" where the negatives/plate sits to hold it flush against the film plane of the adapter. This "hollowed out" area would likely be created by using material that is the same thickness of the plates (im thinking felt) or film (likely a lever of two of electric tape), and not actually physically hollowed out, as it seems getting the thickness correct by hollowing out the wood would be a bit difficult. Either way, if everything is inside and I succeed in getting it to lay flush on the film plane, I don't see why I would have focusing issues or need to adjust the ground glass. Is there something that I am forgetting to consider?

Also, once I get everything correct I fully intend to properly coat the wood, but also plan on using inexpensive and easy to work with Balsa so that making extras if one gets ruined should not be a huge expense/hassle.

Robert Perrin
21-May-2018, 21:34
My apologies for being unclear. I was picturing something in which film is inserted from the back. Your front loaded design sounds workable but while plates are rigid, what I'm not picturing for film is what is holding the front (emulsion side) solidly in place. A sheet of 4x5 film vertical in the film pack adapter would rest just the top and bottom against the FPA's inside edges, but shouldn't there be something for the sides to keep them from bowing? Maybe just a strip of some thin material glued to each side overhanging the film area by 1/8" or so. They should be short enough to leave a gap top and bottom to slide the film in much like a film holder and to stay clear of the FPA's edges. I would think that the side pieces would be neither needed nor workable for a glass or tintype plate.

24-May-2018, 13:36
For plates I am hoping that something holding the top and bottom will be sufficient, and given the rigidity of glass/aluminum I assume it will be. For sheet film I am probably going to try first with just the top and bottom holding the film. Initially I don't really care if it is perfect since I will be just testing the camera for functionality. If it doesn't stay flat I will probably hold off on a better solution for film until I decide whether or not I will be keeping the camera.