View Full Version : Ease of converting a 1/2 plate to modern 5x7?

Tad Cornwell
27-Feb-2002, 03:49
Greetings all! This may be a crazy question but has anyone converted a old 1/2 plate camera to accept modern 5x7 holders? It appears that the 1/2 plate dimension is very close to 5x7 film so perhaps if one had a 5x7 back and adapted it to fit where the old 1/2 plate back was it might be a cheap way to get into 5x7? I know, I know. The older plate cameras didn't have alot of movements but they appear to be the ancestors of the more recent age of field cameras. Any light to be brought to this topic would be helpful. Thanks!

27-Feb-2002, 09:21
The 5x7 cut film holders will fit directly on a half-plate camera without any adaption. However, there will be a little cutoff on the long end of the negative so its more like 5x6.5".

karl french
27-Feb-2002, 11:29
I just processed my first negatives shot with my old Gandolfi half plate field camera. if you take into consideration the edges of the negative that are lost by being coverd up by the little groves that the film slides into, the difference in terms of actual image area is very small. what's nice is that you have a little more room to handle the negative. I was actually thinking about having Gandolfi convert my 1/2 plate camera to 5x7 but now i don't see the need.

As far as film holders. If the camera you have has a spring back then you should be fine. half plate and 5x7 cut film holders are 'basically' the same size. I say "basically" because i had to sand my plastic riteway holders down just a bit to get them to slide in and out of the camera back easily. the older wooden 5x7 holders i have work with ease.

Older half plate cameras i have seen have the flip up style back where the ground glass is hinged and flips out of the way to allow insertion of the plate holder. if you have one of these you may be out of luck since a modern film holder will not fit (as far as i know). in this case there may be issues regarding the film plane in relation to the plate plane. the ground glass may be located for focusing where the glass plate plane is located rather than where a piece of cut film would be located.

You might be able to have both the back and the holders modified for film rather than plates. if you want to use glass plates kodak still makes them in a few emulsions, but they are expensive.

My camera was originally designed for film rather than plates. the half plate film size was popular in england up through the 70's. Ilford still makes HP5 plus in half plate size, but you have to order it from a store in england. Its something i have thought about since my camera came with a bunch of half plate holders.

good luck

karl french

Ted Harris
27-Feb-2002, 13:00
Gandolfi's cost to convert one of tehir half plate cameraas to 5x7 is very reasonable. My recollection from when I last checked a few months ago was less than GBP 50.

Tad Cornwell
28-Feb-2002, 16:32
Thanks for the informative replies so far. The camera is a type that has the flip-up GG. Being kind of a tinkerer it appears it might be possible (I won't say "easy") to just replace the whole plate back with a vintage wood 5x7 spring back with GG or even build the GG frame and springs right onto the existing opening on the camera. I certainly don't want to do a hack job on this sweet old thing but it is usable and I don't want to hunt down the plate holders and convert them. I'm not sure if it's a simple conversion on the holders or not. Anyone have any thoughts on converting holders from plate to film?