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Randy
23-Feb-2021, 13:18
I have wanted to delve into the wet plate process for some time. I gave dry plates a try but I am particularly interested in tintype and eventually ambrotype. Unfortunately, taking a workshop is not feasible for now, so I am contemplating just getting a kit, a book, watch some instructional videos, and jump in. I just need some recommendations on 4x5 tintype kits. I know there are several companies that offer them.

karl french
24-Feb-2021, 09:12
Bostick & Sullivan makes a nice wet plate kit.

paulbarden
24-Feb-2021, 11:35
The Bostick & Sullivan kit is excellent, but I have two reservations about recommending it: 1) its far more expensive than what UV Photographics offer, and 2) you will receive VERY well aged Old Workhorse collodion with that kit and it has a fairly short shelf life by the time you get it (six months or so) and it will be slow and contrasty. Those issues aren't dealbreakers, but something you should be aware of.

UV Photographics offers an excellent starter kit for as low as $168 USD: http://uvphotographics.com/wet-plate-collodion-starter-kit/

the B&S kit is $329 for the 4x5 starter kit. It does include items that the UVP kit does not, but things like the Hydrometer can be acquired for $5.

Two23
24-Feb-2021, 21:49
I started 2 & half years ago with the B&S kit and it worked well for me. Also bought the John Coffer Doer's Guide which is very good. I've been buying a lot of things from UVPhoto for the past year and like them too. The thing about starting with B&S is you can call them during the day for help. I had to do that a few times when I was starting and they were great. You could call me sometime if you need help as well. You helped me a few years ago when I was learning how to process B&W.:D


Kent in SD

karl french
24-Feb-2021, 22:24
The Doer's Guide is the best working manual out there.

Kiwi7475
25-Feb-2021, 09:05
The Bostick & Sullivan kit is excellent, but I have two reservations about recommending it: 1) its far more expensive than what UV Photographics offer, and 2) you will receive VERY well aged Old Workhorse collodion with that kit and it has a fairly short shelf life by the time you get it (six months or so) and it will be slow and contrasty. Those issues aren't dealbreakers, but something you should be aware of.

UV Photographics offers an excellent starter kit for as low as $168 USD: http://uvphotographics.com/wet-plate-collodion-starter-kit/

the B&S kit is $329 for the 4x5 starter kit. It does include items that the UVP kit does not, but things like the Hydrometer can be acquired for $5.

Regarding the B&S kit, I think they give you now the collodion and the bromo iodizer separately, so the clock starts ticking when you mix it at home.

paulbarden
25-Feb-2021, 09:53
Regarding the B&S kit, I think they give you now the collodion and the bromo iodizer separately, so the clock starts ticking when you mix it at home.

The pages for the kits state that its pre-mixed, not 2 components.

Kiwi7475
25-Feb-2021, 10:46
The pages for the kits state that its pre-mixed, not 2 components.

Maybe the page is not up to date. I bought it a couple of months ago and received in 2 separate components. This was for the 8x10 kit.

Point is, even if mine was an exception somehow (it only 1 data point) Iím sure if you call them to order you can get it separately.

karl french
25-Feb-2021, 10:59
Separate in my kit as well (8x10 kit.)

Randy
25-Feb-2021, 16:38
Thanks all for the input - I'll get busy on this - have been wanting to try it for many years, starting when I began collecting daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes.

paulbarden
25-Feb-2021, 18:25
Maybe the page is not up to date. I bought it a couple of months ago and received in 2 separate components. This was for the 8x10 kit.

Point is, even if mine was an exception somehow (it only 1 data point) I’m sure if you call them to order you can get it separately.

Thats good to know. Its not stated on their web site. Getting the Old Workhorse as a 2 part Collodion is definitely an asset, since it won't be excessively aged by the time the buyer receives it.

Mike in NY
25-Feb-2021, 21:19
If you are new to wet plate, you'll learn that there are a number of different collodion formulas available. I've used the cadmium-free formulas of the two-part collodion + iodizer mixes from both B&S and UV Photographics. B&S sells one cadmium-free formula, whereas UVP sells two of them which are lithium based. I don't like working with cadmium since it is a known carcinogen. Cad-free formulas typically have a shorter shelf life, but since the clock starts ticking only after you mix the collodion (Part A) with the iodizer (Part B), you only mix as much as you anticipate using in the next few weeks or so. The cad-free formula sold by B&S is instantly useable as soon as you mix it, whereas both of UVP's cad-free formulas need to ripen for a few hours after mixing them.

As a side note, I used to make my own solutions with the raw liquid and powder chemicals, but it's much easier ordering the pre-mixed solutions these days... I spend less time measuring, weighing, and mixing chemicals with magnetic stirring rods, and more time shooting.

One other suggestion, as you alluded, is to gain competence with tintypes before attempting ambrotypes. The glass requires preparation and cleaning, and unless it's done well, images can lift off the glass during post-development washing. Wet plate work involves enough frustration already without adding the additional requirements of ambrotypes at the beginning of the learning curve.

(Incidentally, my avatar image to the left is one of the first plates I made at home after I got my training in wet plate at the Penumbra Foundation's Center for Alternative Photography in NYC back in 2011. It's a staging of Narcissus gazing at himself in the mirror. It took several tries, but eventually I got it right.)