View Full Version : Help for beginner -- Century 5x7

Nita Ann
10-May-2009, 17:18
I just bought a Century 5x7 camera and I have absolutely no idea how to use it. If anyone could recommend resources so I could learn how to use my camera I would greatly appreciate it. Any tips would be helpful as well. Oh, one last thing the ground glass is broken on one corner is there any thing I need to know before I buy a replacement? Thanks!

Steve Hamley
10-May-2009, 18:30
Right here of course!


Also, there are several books, the usual suspects are Steve Simmons, "Using the View Camera", Jim Stone "User's Guide to the View Camera", and for landscape, Jack Dykinga, "Large Format Landscape Photography".

Jim Stone is teaching a class at Penland School in NC (beautiful land).


That should get you started.

As far as the ground glass goes, I recommend one by Steve Hopf.

The Century is a nice camera. I have a little later version in 6.5x8.5, an Eastman #2.

You push the front rise knob/shaft back and forth to lock and unlock, the rear swing has a lock knob and a geared movement knob, ditto for tilt.

Cheers, Steve

Tim Meisburger
10-May-2009, 21:51
Hi Nita. Living in Bangkok when I received my first LF camera as a gift from my wife last September, I had to learn to use it on my own, one step at a time, through books and internet. How to load film in a holder (there is a good video on youtube), how to open a lens to focus, how to focus on a ground glass, how to load holders in a camera, how to remember to close the lens before you pull the darkslide, how to trip the shutter, etc. None of this stuff is intrinsically difficult (otherwise I would not have been able to do it), but it does take a while to work through on your own. I do think if you can find someone there who shoots large format (or at least used to shoot LF), you can learn as much in an afternoon as I did in months of trial and error (mostly error).

Good luck! I'm sure you will have loads of fun.

Steve Hamley
11-May-2009, 03:55
Oh yes, a lot of us will be shooting in Western NC through the catawba rhododendron bloom, mostly the Parkway and Roan Mountain. Most everyone is digital these days except me and Lori Kincaid, but many have shot LF. A lot of us post here:



You can watch the wildflowers post (there will be one for rhododendron) and figure out where everyone will be when.

Lori primarily uses a 4x5:


Cheers, Steve

11-May-2009, 04:12
Steve Hopf usually sells on Ebay: http://stores.ebay.com/Steve-Hopfs-Ground-Glass-Store. I've bought several ground glasses from him and recommend him without any reservation.

Some older cameras require the ground glass to have clipped corners because of the way the rebate (the recess into which the glass fits) is cut. Others don't. You'll need to look at your camera and decide if that's necessary. Either way, there's no trouble ordering the glass. The only trouble would be if you need the clipped corner, but don't get that option. Then the glass will not fit into the back properly.

When ordering a ground glass from Hopf or anybody, measure the glass that's in there now. While the nominal measurement may be 5x7, the actual dimension of the glass may vary by a small amount. If the glass you order is the wrong size, it may not fit properly or possibly not fit at all.

There are probably several folks in the Triangle area who use large format. I would suggest you post something in the "Introductions" forum. There may be someone close by who can offer some help. I'm in Greensboro, a little farther away.

Century made some nice cameras. And 5x7 is a nice format. I hope you can get yours up an running so you can make some photographs with it.

11-May-2009, 05:56
Welcome to the club.

Owning a large format camera is only the tip of the iceberg. Do you have a lens? Film holder? Tripod?

As for the broken corner, hard to say without a photo. If it's small, it may not a problem. Or one that can wait until you get everything sorted out and working.

Nita Ann
11-May-2009, 06:49
Thanks for all the help! I'm going to get the books recommended and try to learn the basics. Also, I need to clean the camera up a little and order new ground glass. It does have a lens - I have just looked at it and it says Century triple convertible. I don't have film holders. The only tripod I have is a cheap one I use with my Nikon D80. I am totally out of my element but hoping to learn.

11-May-2009, 15:41
Good luck with your Century. You may find some useful info on cleaning up the camera here: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=29267