View Full Version : How does this tilt work?

Scott --
7-Jun-2007, 06:12
Hi, all -

I'm still working on design for my 4x5 scratch-built project. I'm basing the design on the rear-focus Seneca I've been working on (though adding a rack and pinion to the front standard would be academic...), but would like to include front tilt. Found this site (http://www.lostlabours.co.uk/agfa-ansco/index.html) today, and it would be one way to slay this beast, but I can't quite convince myself that I understand how the tilt works - is it pivoting and locking using the brass protrusions next to the front standard insert?

Thanks for any ideas.

Ernest Purdum
7-Jun-2007, 06:22
Yes, here are two brass plates together, one of which has a cuved slot. Loosening the knob allows the front to pivot as far as the slot permits. Other cameras use clamping knobs on the pivot point itself. This allows greater movement, limited only by the bellows, but may not lock as securely.

7-Jun-2007, 06:26
Somebody added front swing to that camera also. If you see the lighter coloured wood that's the spot somebody shaved the wooden ridge off. Normally that camera doesn't have front swing.

Chauncey Walden
7-Jun-2007, 06:31
Scott, this patent might help you out:

Scott --
7-Jun-2007, 08:27
Oh, that is too sweet! Thanks for the link!

Ernest Purdum
7-Jun-2007, 09:37
The patent seems to be the basis for the Folmer Graflex "Century Universal" camera, a brilliant design, though the durability was not up to the usual Graflexx standards.

11-Jul-2007, 09:35
Just spotted one of the images of my main Agfa Ansco 10x8 in this thread. :D

Your very wrong this camera has had full swing, shift and tilt from new. The unvarnished wood allows easy re-alignment of the front standard. The camera shown as a Commercial View 10x8 in the 1941 Aga Ansco catalogue is not a Commercial View as described ! There is an Agfa badge where the extension rail should fit.

I have a second Agfa Ansco 10x8 with no front swing (or tilt) and the whole base of the front standard is different, its also between two guides for front shift. It would be apparent if this was modified after manufacture, to give front swing.

At the time of manufacture these Agfa Ansco cameras were almost certainly the best US manufactured 10x8 cameras available and the original owner paired mine with the best available lens an AM Opt Dagor.


Somebody added front swing to that camera also. If you see the lighter coloured wood that's the spot somebody shaved the wooden ridge off. Normally that camera doesn't have front swing.

11-Jul-2007, 10:39
Ian if you're talking about the first photo you can clearly see how it was modified to add front swing. The lighter wood is the area that was shaved down. That part started out a rabbet. The high part of the rabbet stopped the front from swinging. If the factory had left it unfinished it would have darkened with time.

Or go to the catalogue in the link. It doesn't mention front swing but does mention the other front movements.. I think I can see the ridge but maybe I'm dreaming -)

11-Jul-2007, 11:16
Nick, the cameras never been modified, that lighter wood has darkened naturally over the years. If you see photos of Agfa Ansco's refinishd with no lacquer/french polish they are quite a different colour. See Refinished camera (http://www.photo.net/neighbor/registry/one-case.tcl?stolen_id=13200) There's another on ebay at the moment.

I've seen pictures of late Agfa Ansco's with no front ridge, the whole front is a flush fit, and I've seen others with front swing. However when the front has no swing, which is by far the majority there is also a fitting behind the front standard as well. This has never been fitted on my camera.

When I'm back in the UK I'll photograph the other Agfa Ansco and then the differences will be apparent.


11-Jul-2007, 11:36
Neither of my Agfa/Anscos have any rear fitting behind the front standard. At least without checking I don't think so.

Why would the factory build a camera with so much front swing and a much different rear swing system?

The refinished camera looks like the bare wood when new. You can't compare a camera that has aged for unknown number of years with a fairly fresh refinish.

11-Jul-2007, 12:18
Yes you make a good point, the refinished camera does look like the wood when new, my point is that the bare wood on the front standard of my camera has aged substantially.

My camera was built shortly before the US joined in WWII, after that Agfa Ansco's all changed to the Grey finish, also the hardware changed, by then all production was for the US military.

I wish I could find out more about the camera's original owner, I do know his name and where he comes from, he may still be alive, 10 years ago when he sold the camera he was still playing Cello in an orchestra ! At the time he bought the camera new in New York he was teaching at the "Clarence White" School of Photography, perhaps that's why he wanted "Full Movements". He did send the Dagor lens back to Goerz American Optical for coating after the war, so obviously the camera outfit was important to him.

There's no reason to think the camera was modified later, this was a purchaser who knew exactly what he needed.


PS. I have just found the website of what maybe the original owners son ! So fingers crossed, the father a Cello player it appears is still alive :-) I've searched numerous times before with no success.

John T
11-Jul-2007, 13:49
Also, you can't shift the front to the right and swing it at the same time. Well, you can, but the swing has to be pretty radical. The circular notch in the base of the piece of wood in question is designed to allow the focus knob to slide underneath that piece of wood.

I personally converted several Ansco 8x10 cameras (4, I think) to allow front swing. The oxidized light area of the block could just indicate an early conversion. By the time I sold my first conversion, the wood had already darkened a little.

There's no reason to think the camera was modified later, this was a purchaser who knew exactly what he needed.

This is also an argument as to why the camera could have been converted. He bought the camera for it's front tilt and sturdiness, but wanted the front swing. He could have easily sent it to a wood worker for this simple upgrade.


11-Jul-2007, 14:25
John, this is reminding me of a similar thread about a pre-Anniversary Speed Graphic I own.

After numerous posters said it was a late conversion I found someone who told me my customised Wide Angle Speed Graphic was almost certainly a camera finished and sold new by another company for specialist use.

Hopefully the original owner may be able to help :-)