View Full Version : 12x20 Dreams

17-Jul-2008, 18:45
Pardon my bragging... It's taken a while, but I finally got my Folmer & Schwing 12x20 together. The old bellows was all but shot, so I had Camera Bellows make a new one. Except on these cameras it's two because there's an auxiliary bellows up front for the tilt. It didn't seem right to replace just the main bellows, so I had them make both. It was pricey, but they did an excellent job and the new bellows fits perfectly. While the bellows was out I modified the back to take S&S holders, something Folmer & Schwing cameras don't naturally do. The wood was cleaned up and waxed with Renaissance wax. A transition board was made to go between the tripod head and the camera. Even though the Ries head has a fairly large platform, the camera balances better by using the board which shifts it back a few inches. The front extension is supported by the board and the setup is solid. Small rails run the length of the board on the bottom to keep it aligned with the head. Rails along the edges keep the camera aligned so it doesn't twist. The ground glass was replaced with one from Steve Hopf (photofixation or Brilliant Ground Glass on Ebay). Steve did a great job. He got the measurements right on. The new glass is a major improvement over the old one.

The lens shown is a 405mm Kodak Portrait. Primary lens is a 450 M-Nikkor. Another lens board is set up with a lens chuck (iris lens mount) so I can use some interesting wide angles - a couple of Protar V's and a Scientific EWA. Now just to get a room with some dark in it so I can develop film...


Colin Graham
17-Jul-2008, 18:50
Looks truly awesome Will, looking forward to seeing some work from it.

Patrik Roseen
17-Jul-2008, 19:00
Wow, that camera looks great! Well done.

Is it not risky to put the 12x20 on that wooden tripod?

17-Jul-2008, 19:05
Is it not risky to put the 12x20 on that wooden tripod?

Guess you've never used a Ries. ;)
It's more than adequate. The setup is very sturdy.

Oren Grad
17-Jul-2008, 19:05
:) :) :)

More evidence, as if any more were needed, that you've got that restoration bit down cold.


Matt Magruder
17-Jul-2008, 19:05
will that camera looks like it could be the better looking twin sister to mine.

Have even used the same Kodak Portrait lens before. :)

can't wait to see what you create with it.

Brian Bullen
17-Jul-2008, 19:11
12x20 Dreams come true! Beautiful Will, congratulations.

Really Big Cameras
17-Jul-2008, 19:19

She's a thing of beauty. And, I'm sure she'll help you create many beautiful images.

Keep me posted on how those wide angles work out coverage wise. I'm always on the lookout for wide lenses than cover 14x17 - which has a slightly smaller diagonal than 12x20.

Kerry Thalmann
Really Big Cameras

17-Jul-2008, 19:24

The 11x14 Protar V will cover 12x20. It's about 270mm focal length. I got mine when I still had a 14x17 and it was impressive on that format. A 10x12 Protar V (around 212mm) will also cover.

Mike Castles
17-Jul-2008, 19:38
Looks beautifull, Will. Congratulations! A fine job and fitting of the photographs you will be making with it.

17-Jul-2008, 19:55
That's a magnificent camera. What? No picture with the front tilt bellows extended? Looking forward to seeing some photos--maybe you need to go on a grand excursion.

17-Jul-2008, 20:03
Beautiful camera. The F&S is one of the most beautiful and sturdy of the vintage 12X20 cameras.

Hope you make some great negatives with it.

Sandy King

Jim Fitzgerald
17-Jul-2008, 20:32
Will, this is awesome! It is nice to see someone take the time to refinish one of these beauties. Wait until you get one of those big negs in your hands in the dark. You won't stop laughing it's so great. Good luck and keep us posted.


17-Jul-2008, 20:40

Thanks, but let me just clarify that I did not refinish the camera. I simply cleaned it up and waxed it. The hardest part was figuring out how to confidently cut the groove for the rib lock on the film holders.

Frank Petronio
17-Jul-2008, 21:03
very nice job!

John Kasaian
17-Jul-2008, 21:50
A beautiful camera! :D

Jim Galli
17-Jul-2008, 23:23
Magnificent was the word I was looking for! That 405 is a streetcar headlight. Can't wait to see pictures. Now I've got to go try my 10X12 Protar V :~'))

Really Big Cameras
17-Jul-2008, 23:27

The 11x14 Protar V will cover 12x20. It's about 270mm focal length. I got mine when I still had a 14x17 and it was impressive on that format. A 10x12 Protar V (around 212mm) will also cover.


Thanks for the info. I have never been fortunate enough to own a Series V Protar longer than 183mm.

I recently picked up a 270mm f9 Computar that has been reported to cover 14x17 with a tiny bit to spare, but I haven't tried it yet. I know the 305mm Computar covers nicely. There aren't a lot of lenses shorter than 300mm that cover 14x17/12x20. I know the 210mm Super Symmar XL does, but that would blow my budget for film. And frankly I'm not an ultrawide kind of guy. I like to use them occasionally, but nowhere near often enough to justify the cost of a 210mm Super Symmar XL (plus the center filter alone costs more than any ULF lens I own).

For most of my work I prefer working in the slightly wide to slightly long range. Fortunately, lenses in the 355mm/360mm range that cover 14x17 are much more plentiful and much more affordable (a 360mm f5.6 Symmar convertible in Compound shutter just went for $163 on eBay a couple days ago - granted the lens probably needed a little haze removed and the shutter a CLA, but that's a whole lot of coverage for the money). I find I really like this focal length on 14x17.

Best of luck with the the Folmwer & Schwing. She really is a beauty.

Kerry Thalmann
Really Big Cameras

Colin Corneau
23-Jul-2008, 18:17
What a beaut.

Is 12x20 film particularly hard to come by? This really is the stuff of dreams.

John Bowen
23-Jul-2008, 18:27

Beautiful camera. Now get out there and make some beautiful images!

David A. Goldfarb
23-Jul-2008, 18:33
Very nice!