View Full Version : should I try and save this giant camera

29-Jun-2008, 16:07
I just came into possession of the largest format camera I've ever seen. It will cause me much trouble to save it from the trash pile (as it's in a barn on a forclosed property), but it might be something someone could use.


I've also got the lens assembly in front of me. It states: 12 in. F:9 Apochromat Artar red dot. the bellows have a few holes, but not bad, just really dusty.

Do I have a responsibility to save this camera (the track itself must be 20 ft. long) or is it simply a relic?

Dave Parker
29-Jun-2008, 16:25
My only question would be? What the hell are you going to do with it?



29-Jun-2008, 16:26
It's a special type of copy camera used in graphics. Think photocopying pictures reeeeeal big. At least that's what I think I remember it being for.

Keep the lens, it's worth something. The camera, it might be worth a play but will be costly for you to use. It's rare for somebody to want one of these.

29-Jun-2008, 16:40
I believe your camera is similar to this one, by the way.


29-Jun-2008, 16:44
I'd lose the track. Is the camera built for a 'normal' film size (11x14, 20 x24) and are there film holders? If the back and size are not somewhat standard it may not matter as any repair short of a partial rebuild will be a wast of time. On the flip side if you like big negs, have a studio and enjoy DIY projects this cameramy be big fun.

Don Sparks
29-Jun-2008, 17:45
I have one similar sitting in my darkroom. It's an old process camera used in the graphic and printing industry before computers. This one was given to me several years ago just to haul it off. It has a light box for projection and I was going to use it for an enlarger before I found a regular 10x10 enlarger. The back is approx. 20x21.

Paul Fitzgerald
29-Jun-2008, 19:37
"Do I have a responsibility to save this camera (the track itself must be 20 ft. long) or is it simply a relic?"

the wood may be worth something to a restorer but even that's a stretch. it would be hardwood and should burn well this winter.

29-Jun-2008, 19:58
If you don't want to keep it yourself, I would give someone a chance to come and get it.

30-Jun-2008, 01:54
Do you have a photographic project for it? If not, take the lens and be happy without the rest.

robert fallis
30-Jun-2008, 02:02
restore it, once it's done you will find a use for it


30-Jun-2008, 02:10
restore it, once it's done you will find a use for it


:) The only problem being that hauling it is a bigger problem than restoring it... :)

30-Jun-2008, 05:27
Get rid of the rails. Buy a big light proof panel van and install the restored camera in the back so you can aim the rear at you subject, fling open the back doors and make your exposures. Sounds like a heck of a road trip to me.

Frank R
30-Jun-2008, 06:29
Clean it up and put a piece of plate glass over the top and use it as a coffee table.

30-Jun-2008, 07:03
Here in New York, we live in apartments about that size.

30-Jun-2008, 09:12
You cant destroy something that unique. its a crime. i'd take it off yu but the shipping to ireland might be a bit hefty :-)

30-Jun-2008, 09:28
If you have the space I'd restore it and convert it into a horizontal ULF enlarger.


Brian Ellis
30-Jun-2008, 09:59
These things aren't all that uncommon, they come up on ebay occasionally. The school I attended had one. The students in the alt process class used it to make enlarged negatives from smaller prints. I can't imagine why you'd want to restore it unless you just enjoy doing that kind of thing.

Glenn Thoreson
30-Jun-2008, 11:35
You could set the whole thing up in your front yard and charge people to ride on it. :D

30-Jun-2008, 11:45
I bought a slightly newer version of the same camera for $1 last year off e-bay. Mine has metal rails instead of wooden rails. It is currently sitting in my farm shed waiting to be restored. The copy camera was used years ago by a company which printed Life magazine. The back is marked for positioning two pages of the magazine, in mock up.

I find the camera interesting and plan to restore it and use it for large wet plate work. I temporarily mounted it on a movable cart to see if it was manageble. It worked well enough to encourage me to finish restoring the camera as a winter project. Hopefully I'll have time this winter to get to it.

30-Jun-2008, 12:24
Get rid of the rails. Buy a big light proof panel van and install the restored camera in the back so you can aim the rear at you subject, fling open the back doors and make your exposures. Sounds like a heck of a road trip to me.
hah! that DOES sound like a sweet road trip idea :cool: Put it on a two axis level that you could move up and down with some hand cranks, so you could aim it up and down, and level the horizon! aim left and right by moving the van!

Vick Vickery
30-Jun-2008, 15:39
Process cameras were once quite common and found at every newspaper and printing shop. As time has gone along, the job is more and more often done by computer and the process camera has gone by the wayside just like the dinosaur did...and I guess that the person who called it "unique" might be right at this point since so many of them have been scraped or trashed (I never thought of them that way since I worked for a newspaper once that still used one and had plenty of opportunities to use it), but saving these beasts is more than most of us are willing to tackle because of their sheer size and weight. The lenses are typically slow (f-9 being a very common largest opening) and are made for shooting flat field shots at fairly close distances like 1 to 1 out to 10 to 1. In all honesty, I'd probably salvage the lens and junk the rest, but I don't have room to house one...if you have room, it could be fun to play with!

30-Jun-2008, 16:59
Right you are, Daniel.

Once in my younger years, I had the thought of installing one of the mammoth Polaroid 20x24's in the back of a van and using it just as you described.

Can you imagine backing up to some of the great scenic overlooks and aiming this monster at something like Old Faithful (I know it's too far from the parking lot) or the Tetons or just a beautiful forest stream and in only a few minutes seeing that huge print in your hands?

I'm now imagining this particular camera in something on the order of an Austin Powers sort of vehicle. Perhaps my panel van idea or a large motor home but taken forward to where the roof splits open like a giant clam and the camera dramatically rises on a pneumatic platform (with the photographer and startlingly beautiful assistant behind) until the whole thing is about eight feet above the ground. Said platform now rotates to the desired viewing angle.

Photographer and assistant then proceed to make all necessary swings and tilts, rises and shifts until it's time to load the hundred pound glass plate holder, pull the newspaper sized dark slide with a flourish, and theatrically squeeze the absolutely necessary shutter bulb.

It would be a shame to do this wearing anything but a long cape and top hat (requisite bathing suit for the glamorous assistant) for the inevitable crowd.

Kind of reminiscent of that several ton railroad camera that was made in the 1800's to take only one image, that of a locomotive and cars on a track for some exposition.

On well, I can dream until the lottery kicks in.


domenico Foschi
30-Jun-2008, 17:09
lenser reading your post i was thinking of Fat Bastard being the darkroom assistant.
Perfect person to have in enclosed spaces.

30-Jun-2008, 18:08

I've always thought of you as being a voice of reason and a safe person to have on this planet. Now you're getting scary.

I think I would much prefer Heather Graham, Byonce or Elizabeth Hurley....even Frau Farbissina for Pete's sake. At least she could be the living PA system for crowd control, but Fat Bastard in a closed room, even alone, is more than I care to contemplate.

Then again, the bagpipes really weren't too bad, and the kilts, truly impressive.


EuGene Smith
30-Jun-2008, 19:55
does it come with a 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 reducing back?

domenico Foschi
1-Jul-2008, 11:36
me voice of reason?
The cause of all evil is just reasoning, or better rationalizing, instincts never made a war, quite the contrary.
Safe person? I like to think so.

"Then again, the bagpipes really weren't too bad, and the kilts, truly impressive."
You see?...
All you need is a little encouragement.....

1-Jul-2008, 14:03
By all means, save it! The humanity will be immensely grateful.

Glenn Thoreson
1-Jul-2008, 15:41
You may need a building permit for that thing. :D

1-Jul-2008, 16:03

I didn't say you couldn't be eccentric. After all, normal people are just plain boring.

As to the kilt, I'm having a hot flash of converting those into the bellows for this beast....should be just about enough material. Now that would be a flashy camera!

Maybe the the skirling of the pipes could be set off every time an exposure is made.

Be well and stay crazy!


Wade D
1-Jul-2008, 19:54
There was one of these in the darkroom at the place I worked at. It used a 24x30 vacuum back to hold the film. When digital started taking over they got rid of the darkroom. I was able to salvage the lens from it only, because of the size of the camera.
I did get a Durst Latico 10x10, a an Omega D2 and a Beseler 23C plus a few other darkroom goodies for $100. I had no use for the Durst so I sold it. The Omega was well worn with too much corrosion and rust but I still have the Beseler.