View Full Version : Uh-oh! Century 2 (WP) bellows problem

7-Mar-2008, 21:48
Fiddling around tonight with the Century 2 whole-plate camera I acquired last summer, trying to decide which lenses I would mount on the three (only) lensboards I have for it, and how I would go about boring or resizing the holes accurately without a woodworker's lathe, I noticed I've got a problem.

We speak of 6.5 x 8.5 inch format. But the groundglass area on the camera measures pretty close to 6.25 x 8.25. I've measured my cutfilm holders, and they show a clear area of 6 3/16 x 8 3 1/6. No problem so far. But taking off the camera back and taking a good look around the interior of the camera, I would say that probably when I finally get a lens mounted that isn't a wideangle, it is probably going to see something like 6.25 high x 7.25 wide in landscape mode, or maybe even 6.25 x 7; in portrait mode, a little better, probably 7.75 high and 6.25 wide. That will be because the BELLOWS near the camera back are definitely intruding into the image area, particularly on the right-hand side of the camera.

I cannot see anything very obviously wrong. There are no crimps or misfolds in the bellows. They are a bit saggy in the midsection from old age, just like me; but that's easily dealt with by giving them a bit of support from beneath, between bellows and the camera bed. The problem's on the sides, and it seems to be mostly very near the camera back.

Oren? Do you have new bellows on your Century? Have you seen this problem? Can anybody make some intelligent observations on this issue? I don't need to even expose a piece of WP film (which I don't yet have in hand) to see the image is going to come up short on the long dimension, so to speak.

I guess I'm in denial, and I need somebody else to tell me firmly what in my heart I already know -- I'm looking at three or four hundred bucks for a new custom-made set of bellows for this dear old baby. :(

David Karp
7-Mar-2008, 22:09
Western Bellows charged me around $275 for a new bellows (installed) on my WP Improved Seneca. The new bellows (not leather) is much more flexible and compressible than the old leather bellows. So, things may not be as bad as you think. By the way, this price included an extra for mounting the bellows. If you end up needing a bellows, contact Jim (westernbellows@aol.com).

Here is a thread with a couple of snaps of the camera with the new bellows: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=26278&highlight=plate+madness

7-Mar-2008, 22:16
'Tis pity, as I don't think they are leaking light anywhere. Just old and tired, like me. :p They seem a bit floppy on the right side near the camera back. I've done a couple of quick digis to illustrate the problem as best I can. The first shows the overall interior view; the second is a closeup of the bottom right side looking through the open camera back towards the circular opening in the front standard.

Oren Grad
7-Mar-2008, 22:54
I had Richard Ritter restore my WP Century, including installation of a new bellows. I have to confess it didn't occur to me to check for obstruction before making pictures with it. But I've never noticed any problem while composing on the ground glass, and the negatives I've exposed with the Century, using 210mm and 240mm lenses, are fine - exposed evenly all the way out to the edge where they're masked by the holder itself.

8-Mar-2008, 09:11
Just some notes I made when copying my Century's original 8x10 bellows. The pleat stiffeners near the film plane got progressively smaller (presumably to keep the pleats out of the image area). Does your camera have the original bellows?

neil poulsen
8-Mar-2008, 09:50
I have a similar problem with my Kodak 2D. With the back in vertical orientation, it doesn't take too much rise before to bellows obscures the image towards the top of the holder.

I may have a replacement bellows. At some point, I'm thinking about having a custom bellows made that doesn't have this problem. I was thinking of bellows that were thiner towards the film plane.

Dave Moeller
8-Mar-2008, 13:19
Can you pull the front of the bellows forward? On many bellows there are rings on top that can be placed around a post on the top of the front standard. These are generally used when bellows are sagging, but if you can pull some of the bellows up against the front standard, the pleats at the back might unfold somewhat. It's worth a shot.

Best of luck.