View Full Version : Got my LF camera today, now a question...

Curtis Nelson
4-Jun-2002, 22:43
I just got my first LF camera today (a used Calumet 45N off eBay), and now I've got a couple of questions.

1. When I was taking some pictures today, my (homemade) focusing hood kept saili ng around in the wind. What's the best way to attach it to the camera? Is ther e a special way to sew it (maybe like a tent or something)?

2. I'm getting ready to develop the pics I took (Ilford Delta 100 in D-76), and I was wondering about developer capacity. I buy D-76 in the quart size, and the re's no information the envelope to help. For 35mm, I always diluted D-76 1:1 ( 4oz developer/4oz water). I figure a 4x5 neg has the equivalent surface area of a 15-exposure roll of 35mm film, so I should be able to develop two sheets in o ne mixture of D-76, right?

3. Is it better to place the file emulsion-side up or emulsion-side down in a tr ay to develop?



N Dhananjay
4-Jun-2002, 22:56
1) The folding focussing hoods are generally held in place by clips. If this is just something you jury-rigged, you could try those little bulldog clips or larger paper clips.

2) A roll of 35mm film has a surface area of approx. 80 sq in. The same as four 4x5 sheets. You basically want to ensure there is sufficient developing agent to develop the given surface area of film. I would suggest the following developer volumes. If you are using D76 1:1, use at least 125 ml per sheet of 4x5 film.

3) You'll get conflicting opinions on this. I personally find it easier with emulsion side down. When I develop emulsion side up, I often find that the sharp corner of the film I drop down onto the stack scratches the emulsion which is face up. Other folks seem to scratch the emulsion when the emulsion faces down and they scrape the emulsion along the bottom of the tray. So, if you lift the entire stack up before sliding a sheet out, I would suggest developing with emulsion face down. If you can drop the sheet you have removed perfectly flat without having a corner dig into the sheet below, I would suggest emulsion side up.

Good luck. Enjoy your camera. Cheers, DJ 3)

Curtis Nelson
4-Jun-2002, 23:00
Thanks for the response.

Question #1 is actually referring to a focusing cloth, not focusing hood. Sorry for the confusion.

Curtis Nelson
4-Jun-2002, 23:04
When you say to use 125 ml, is that 125 ml D-76 + 125 ml water, or 125 ml total (D-76 + water)?

Marv Thompson
4-Jun-2002, 23:13
I will address #1 only, I can add little of value to N Dhananjay's responses to 2 and 3.

I would be cautious about attaching the dark cloth to the camera. The wind can push the cloth around and depending on how sturdy the tripod is could cause the whole thing to come crashing to the ground if left unattended.

The cloth should be large enough to wrap completely around the back of the camera and still hang below the camera far enough that you can grab both sides in one hand. This will seal the cloth around the back of the camera and allow a free hand to make adjustments. You will need to gather the dark cloth up to put a clip on so why not utilize the most complex "clip" of all, your hand. It is also quite hard to misplace the "hand" clip. Like all things Large Format, this "dance of the dark cloth" takes time and practice to perfect.

Weights can be sewn in to the coners of the cloth. Just be prepared to be smacked in the mouth at least once, a rather unpleasent learning experience, but one you will definately profit from.

4-Jun-2002, 23:45
The "Dance of the Dark Cloth" can be simplified with a strip each of velcro hooks and loops. Squeeze the velcro together when you are focusing and remove the cloth before you move away from the camera.

David Willis
5-Jun-2002, 02:21
For developing, I love my Jobo reel and tank. I roll it by hand in a 68 degree water bath. I get nice, even development with no scratches.


Chad Jarvis
5-Jun-2002, 07:56
Regarding numbers 2 and 3 (3 first): I agree with DJ in that you'll get conflicting opinions about emulsion up or down, but I think the general concensus is emulsion side up, pull from the bottom of the stack, and place on top. Don't try to slide the neg under the solution; instead lay it on top and apply pressure to submerge it. This will avoid the notorious corner digs and scratches. As far as developing in D-76 goes, why bother developing only a couple at a time? You'll easily be able to develop 6 or 8 4x5s in a liter of 1:1 in a 5x7 tray.

Noshir Patel
5-Jun-2002, 09:32
Regarding darkcloths...

I got a BTZS darkcloth. It works much better than a normal darkcloth with velcro. The BTZS darkcloth is smaller and uses elastic to attach to the camera. It's great to have both hands free and it's very quick to attach. I've used it in heavy wind with no problem. It is sort of pricy, but I think worth it.

http://www.darkroom- innovations.com/BTZS_Focus_Cloth/btzs_focus_cloth.html

Hal Hardy
5-Jun-2002, 09:32
If you go the route of velcro for attaching the dark cloth, use small pieces and put the hook side on the camera. The hooks will fill with lint if attached to the cloth and quit sticking. Be gentle when removing the cloth, it's easy to move the camera when disengaging the stuff. I use clothes pins (wood, of course) to attach mine to my field camera. They won't work if your camera doesn't have some sort of lip on the rear standard.

Wayne Crider
5-Jun-2002, 17:27
The old standard recommendation is a minimum of 100ml stock before dilution per 80 square inches, so a 1:1 dilution is 200ml total. For a single 4x5 sheet, and by the above you should be able to develop the film with 25ml stock solution, but I think it best to err on the side of more, (plus you'll need to cover the film totally) so I use a minimum of 125ml stock for 80 sq, or in the case of developing a 35mm strip in a daylight tank, alot more stock to get dilution, in which case your covered. (Test for your own knowledge) For two sheets, one at a time, (maybe doing N+ or N- devloping) I use 4 Yankee utility tanks with a minimum of about 250ml total 1:2 solution which gives me a little more than necessary, but I need to use extra solution to cover the film. I use stainless holders for the film, cutting off the holder tops to lay the holder flat in the bottom of the tank. It's easier to handle the holder than the film to change tanks, and pouring out chemicals in the dark is no fun nor do I want to put my hands in the chemicals. Without the holders you could probably get by with 150ml. Consider a water bath to temper the lowered volume of chemical and keep it correct.

Brian Ellis
5-Jun-2002, 19:15
I use two ounces of D 76 1-1 per sheet of film (in BTZS tubes). I also second the recommendation of others that you spring for the $50 or so and get the BTZS dark cloth. In the overall context of large format photography costs, it's pretty small considering that you should only need to buy it once in your life and it will save you a lot of aggravation. BTW, congratulations on getting the camera and going right out to make some pictures. So many people seem to be afraid to use their cameras once they get them, or spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about which one to get (a personal failure of mine). They're made to be used, not worried over, so I think it's great that you just took it out and used it right off the bat.

Vicki Guidice
6-Jun-2002, 11:48
I tell customers that buy our focusing cloths (and anyone else who uses one and asks) just to wrap the cloth around the camera back and clamp the cloth to itself underneith. You can use a teeny Jorgensen spring clamp for this (about 3")- get them at Home Depot, etc. A big problem with a big view camera like an 8x10 is using too small a focusing cloth. Around 4'x 5' is a good size for 4x5 and 5x7, I think you need at least a 5' x 6' for an 8x10. Lots of focusing cloths aren't really opaque either...

Ole Tjugen
7-Jun-2002, 08:33
Another minority opinion here:

I don't use a darkcloth... I use a black T-shirt instead! The nech opening fits perfectly around the back of a 4x5" camera, the sleeve openings provide access for one loupe-wielding hand, the other sleeve collapses flat, the wind-capture area is smaller than for "proper" darkcloths - and it's cheaper.

Of course, if I were shooting in Death Vally, the Negev Desert, Danakil, or some simlar area I might well consider getting a darkcloth with silvered or white outside. But I don't, so I don't...

John Brownlow
28-Mar-2006, 17:32
Ack, dark cloths. I made a huge and heavy one from two sheets of cotton, one black and one white. It is perfectly light tight, incredibly awkward to use, and blows away in the wind. I folded it up and put it somewhere safe. For a while I used a black T-shirt, which is still my favorite conventional dark cloth, and goes everywhere. But Julian Thomas and Eric Fredine both gave me the same idea, which is a reflex finder.

Omigod, it makes such a difference.

Reflex finders all the way. They are staggeringly expensive (especially the ludicrously priced Linhof one) but hang tight for a beater on eBay and buy me a beer some day to thank me for passing the tip along!

29-Mar-2006, 07:23
For a dark cloth, I bought some cheap piece of rubberized fabric from somewhere and then sewed some elastic around one end so I can wrap it tight around my 8x10, and then a line of velcro down the bottom so I can seal that up.

It doesn't quite fit on my 4x5, so in order to make it snug I just use a safety pin to take in some of the excess. Sure, I could buy another, but I'm cheap and lazy. ;)

A few safety pins will help you get the cloth nice and taunt around the back of the camera, and you don't need to sew anything.

When I developed in trays, I'd do it emulsion side up and usually only two at a time, otherwise I'd scratch 'em. I eventually stopped using trays because I disliked being in the dark for so long, standing in a cramped little bathroom. I now use a Unicolor drum and develop in glorious, glorious light. I use enough D76 1:1 for a roll of 135-36, or four sheets of 4x5.