View Full Version : Asanuma "half-plate"?

Scott --
21-Dec-2010, 07:40
Hi, all -

I recently "won" on eBay an Asanuma field camera which is destined to be converted to 4x5 (http://wp.me/pWENv-2R). I was under the impression that it was a half-plate camera, but the inside dimensions of the plate back are 4-7/8" x 6-1/4", not quite big enough for half-plate (or a 5x7 back...).

Can anyone tell me what size this thing actually is? It's perfect for 4x5, and I'm just curious about what the oringinal size was. A little bummed it won't accept a 5x7 back, but I bought it as a dedicated 4x5, anyway. :p


21-Dec-2010, 15:31
From http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/archive/index.php/t-14666.html:

American plates from the 19th Century were usually (but not always) as follows
1/9 Plate: 2" x 2 1/2"
1/8 Plate: 2 1/8" x 3 1/4"
1/6 Plate: 2 3/4" x 3 1/4"
1/4 Plate: 3 1/4" x 4 1/4"
1/2 Plate: 4 1/2" x 5 1/2"
4/4 (Whole) Plate: 6 1/2" x 8 1/2"

Note that an English Half Plate measures 4 3/4" x 6 1/2"

Japanese sizes:
"tefuda" = quarter-plate (3x4, our 3.25x4.25)
"yatsugiri" = eighth(-cut) or octavo (6x8, our 6.5x8.5)
"yotsugiri" = quarter(-cut) (10x12)
"kabine" = "cabinet" (12x16.5 cm, which is very close to the English half-plate 4.75"x6.5")

22-Dec-2010, 05:38
The camera is half plate.

Half Plate film is nominally 4 3/4" x 6 1/2" but the exposed area is smaller. My Toyo half plate holders have an aperture of 4 1/2" x 6 1/8".

This shortening on the long side, when compared to 5x7", makes these Japanese half plate cameras very compact and appealing. The camera would need to be nearly an inch larger in both vertical and horizontal directions to accommodate a reversing back that exposed the full 5x7" frame. Or the back could have some rear extention and flare out wider like Wista and Rittreck expansion backs do, again increasing the size of the camera.

It might be worth fitting a 5x7" back, even if a full 5x7" frame can't be exposed. Then standard film and holders could be used. You could use regular 5x7" film and holders and crop, or modern half plate film holders and film.

22-Dec-2010, 07:14
I have one of these with the original back, and shot bellows. I'm tempted to revive and convert it to 4x5, too, as it's really well built. I love how the back just snaps into vertical stance when you open it. Goodluck, I've bookmarked your blog, can't wait to see the finished project.

Scott --
22-Dec-2010, 16:46
Thanks for the info, everyone! I have the front standard apart; need to get some steel wool and lacquer thinner (and lacquer, and felts wheels, and... :rolleyes:) and get busy!

Michael Roberts
24-Dec-2010, 08:10
Scott, looks like a great project.
If you are interested in adding a 5x7 back, you might be interested in my 8x10 to 7x11 conversion project. It's described here: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=62789&page=2&highlight=8x10+7x11


Scott --
24-Dec-2010, 13:12
Thanks, Michael! I'll bookmark that.

FWIW, the front standard is now finished (http://wp.me/pWENv-2Y)...

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5245/5287759695_c574fec13b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5287759695/)
IMG_6708 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5287759695/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

Scott --
28-Dec-2010, 15:49
Oooh - in cleaning up the rear standard, I found some interesting little lines (http://wp.me/pWENv-36)...

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5046/5300808051_c545c4fdc4_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5300808051/)
Scribe marks... (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5300808051/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

Scott --
31-Dec-2010, 13:01
The plate back is back in one piece again (http://wp.me/pWENv-3q).

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5049/5309918769_f496866215.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5309918769/)
IMG_1160 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5309918769/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

Next step - fabricating a 4x5 insert!

Scott --
1-Jan-2011, 11:37
A couple shots of where the camera is now, in case anyone's bored enough to be following along:
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5130/5313097458_7ff86063d9_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5313097458/)
Progress to date... (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5313097458/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

Everything's been reassembled. The metalwork didn't come out as nicely as I'd hoped, but will be completely serviceable. The woodwork turned out pretty nicely. And it's time to start in on the 4x5 insert. Still need to decide if I'm scrapping the spider to fill in the hole, or if I'm building a base plate to maintain the integrity of the original camera. Dunno. Want to keep weight down, but want to maintain operability and aesthetics. Hmm... :rolleyes:

1-Jan-2011, 12:39
Looking good. And when you're done with that one, you can do mine :D

Have you ever considered replating the metal parts yourself? I did a lens of mine a while back with one of those "hobby" nickel plating kits. Turned out great and was stupid simple (no messy baths, no fumes, nothing). It's basically just a little generic wall transformer/charger with a gator clip on one wire and a cottonswap/foam brush on the other wire, and that's it.

Scott --
1-Jan-2011, 13:56
You mean like this: http://www.micromark.com/PLUG-N-PLATE-NICKEL-PLATING-KIT,8326.html? I'd looked into this years ago and it wasn't nearly as easy (or cheap) at the time. This looks like a great solution! Thanks for the tip.

1-Jan-2011, 14:48
Yup, looks like my kit. I got it from http://www.caswellplating.com/ . They have an active user forum for advice and help if something goes wrong. The only additional advice I can offer is to get some [diluted] battery acid (auto parts store) to activate the parts prior to plating, otherwise the stuff might not stick. The plating process itself is literally the same as painting it on. I got my lens to look like new this way.

One of these days I am going to tackle my camera; it does need a little more work than yours though. Aside from the schredded bellows, I have to fix the front standard - somebody thought that gluing the front rise panel into a permanent position was a good way to repair a missing knob.

Scott --
2-Jan-2011, 08:11
Depending on the glue, it might actually be pretty easy to separate. And a razor knife is your friend. :)

This really has nothing to do with anything, but I had a PM exchange with a guy on Flickr about workbenches. I added to the blog about mine (http://wp.me/pWENv-3w). Read if you're inclined.

2-Jan-2011, 12:07
Depending on the glue, it might actually be pretty easy to separate. And a razor knife is your friend. :)

Except that the guy decided to apply the glue also to the inside of the running channels where it can't be reached :eek: Anyhow, I finally got the pieces seperated as carefully as I could; but a few marks were unavoidable.

Ernest Purdum
3-Jan-2011, 17:00
Regarding the turntable in the bottom, for years Japanese photographers have had their cake and eaten it too, by using a removable adapter between the turnhtable and a modern tripod. No modification to the camera is required.

Without seeing your camera, it's a little difficult to describe how an adapter which would fit would attach. but usually it involves three hooks which grab the sections between where the old separate tripod legs attached.

The Japanese adapters I have seen are metal, and I'm afraid there is no standardization between brands, but I expect a competent woodworker could make a very satisfactory one.

Scott --
4-Jan-2011, 12:05
Ernest, you wouldn't happen to have seen one of these somewhere online you could point me to, would you?

Scott --
5-Jan-2011, 10:42
Got out in the cold garage today and made the base of the 4x5 insert (http://wp.me/pWENv-3A):

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5050/5327751548_d95729f641.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5327751548/)
IMG_1167 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5327751548/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

5-Jan-2011, 11:21
Hadn't realised that was going to be your approach :D

That's what I did to fit a Roll film back to by Houghtons Vecto Quarter plate camera. However I use the original focus screen and set the film plane registration with the adaptor in place to match.

I'm going to use the (my) same approach for my Half plate Houghtons Duchess initially.

For some reason I'd assumed you'd make a completely new back. It's just slightly different approaches that'll both work well though.


Scott --
5-Jan-2011, 12:33
You know, Ian, I was going to fab a whole new back, but when I realized that the existing back was easily salvagable, it seemed pretty straight-forward to just build an insert. I did this before on my ill-fated 5x12 project; there's a lot less joinery involved, and a lot less wood. Which was a consideration once I found the piece of cherry I wanted to use.

What I did before for film registration, and will do on this one, is to rout a rebate for the film holder and ground glass holder. I'll install a holder and measure carefully where the film plane lies. Then, I'll install the ground glass holder and mark the film plane, then rout to that mark for the ground glass. Worked perfectly on the 5x12.

The only thing that has always eluded me is an elegant way to make the riblock groove. Last time I did it with a crane-necked chisel. I'd like to find a better way this time, though.

FWIW, here's a shot of the insert installed:
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5009/5328054536_9a5d42f648.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5328054536/)
Insert installed... (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5328054536/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

The glue's cured, surfaces planed, and final fitting done. Fits like a glove!

5-Jan-2011, 13:13
Ernest, you wouldn't happen to have seen one of these somewhere online you could point me to, would you?

Post # 6 in the thread at http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=49776 shows the base of my Okuhara half-plate camera.

One advantage of a removeable base is that you can remove the tripod base and fold down the camera with the lens still on it. This is a necessity on my Okuhara, where the lens board is held on with screws and is not easily interchangeable.


Scott --
5-Jan-2011, 13:22
That's fantastic, Bob! Really neat how that works. Now, where to get one? :rolleyes:

Unable to find one online, I'm back to either building one, or filling in the hole with a roundel...

Scott --
6-Jan-2011, 09:20
This morning, I fit the film holder to the back (http://wp.me/pWENv-3D).

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5126/5330579688_47b8947217_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5330579688/)
IMG_1176 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5330579688/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

Next, I'll start on the ground glass holder.

Scott --
6-Jan-2011, 10:13
Planning ahead a little: I have a nice set of springs I'm harvesting off the Graflex spring back that came with the Asanuma. Black anodized, two-piece, should work great. Saves me some metalwork, too, which is good, 'cause I hate working metal. But that still leaves the ground glass clips. I've made them before, and they turned out kludgy. Got onto Lee Valley's hardware site and found some Tansu screen corners (http://www.leevalley.com/US/hardware/page.aspx?p=48668&cat=3,49938) (specifically, I'm looking at B and C). I think these might be just the ticket for glass retainers. I'll check at Ace, too, but these might just work.

Scott --
7-Jan-2011, 12:08
Made the ground glass holder today (http://wp.me/pWENv-3G). Will cut the rebate for the glass a little later.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5206/5333260421_a7de23108a_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5333260421/)
IMG_1183 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5333260421/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

Scott --
7-Jan-2011, 14:09
Went ahead and routed the rabbets and glued up the frame:
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5047/5333563069_300c045a15_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5333563069/)
Ground glass frame, glued up (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5333563069/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

Will clean up the corners with a chisel and finish fitting with planes after the poly glue cures.

Scott --
8-Jan-2011, 19:09
Ground and cut the glass and installed the springs today:

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5043/5337206117_439262f432_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5337206117/)
Getting closer... (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5337206117/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

Starting to look like something. Will order Tansu corners tomorrow, and install the mounting pins on the ground glass holder...

Scott --
9-Jan-2011, 07:41
Well, installed the pins in the ground glass frame this morning. With the springs surface mounted, and no recess cut for the bends on the ends, there's just too much downward pressure on the frame. So, I have the Dremel set to cut recesses for those spring ends.

Drat. Will need to remount the pins after this, too...

Scott --
9-Jan-2011, 13:04
Got everything installed correctly. The 4x5 insert's nearing completion. (http://wp.me/pWENv-3J)

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5007/5340299596_299876acca_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5340299596/)
IMG_1190 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5340299596/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

Michael Roberts
9-Jan-2011, 15:46
Looking good Scott!

Scott --
11-Jan-2011, 07:36
Thanks, Michael!

Have begun to apply finish to the cherry (http://wp.me/pWENv-3O):

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5010/5345738229_21f6699a03_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5345738229/)
Oiled... (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5345738229/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

Scott --
13-Jan-2011, 06:52
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5167/5352029682_a9f990b76b_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5352029682/)
Waiting on clips... (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5352029682/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

The oil and lacquer are dry, and the insert is reassembled. All it needs now are the ground glass retainer clips, which are coming UPS today. Once they're installed, I'll touch up the paint on the springs, paint the screw heads, and move on to the tripod mount. Overall, I'm happy with how this is turning out...

Scott --
13-Jan-2011, 13:16
So close (http://wp.me/pWENv-3R)... :rolleyes:

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5286/5352220795_8010dbe8ce_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5352220795/)
So close... (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5352220795/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

13-Jan-2011, 15:01
Your work looks better than the original camera, you should make them from scratch.

Scott --
16-Jan-2011, 13:30
Your work looks better than the original camera, you should make them from scratch.

Thank you kindly. :)

Now I need to figure out the tripod mount (http://wp.me/pWENv-3U)...

Scott --
17-Jan-2011, 10:39
Okay - I've got a plan (http://wp.me/pWENv-40)...

Scott --
22-Jan-2011, 17:21
A quick update (http://wp.me/pWENv-49), in case anyone's following along...

22-Jan-2011, 19:41
We are ! :D Good work (actually not so much done in this update, tho) =)

Scott --
29-Jan-2011, 10:33
Good news - the original bellows have made it to Sandeha Lynch (http://scottperryphoto.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/asanuma-project-camera-bellows-update/)! Time to get moving on the base plate and some lensboards...

Scott --
30-Jan-2011, 12:23
Well, I completed the tripod-mount base plate (http://wp.me/pWENv-4o)...

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5011/5401547610_c1e3f8c124_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5401547610/)
IMG_1239 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5401547610/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

Darcy Cote
1-Feb-2011, 09:54
Hi Scott:
I interesting project. I did the same several years back by buying one from Japan. This may sound a bit morbid. But I was so amazed by the workmanship they did on the camera and holding it I would get a sense of how part of the soul of the craftmen lived on through it although they were all long dead I am sure.
Anyways I got my wordworking buddy to adapt a 4x5 wood back and a back from a graflex camera. I was making a 5x7 back but haven't attempted that yet. I did not refinish the camera as I figured it would be too time consuming and a hassle. I made it to take pictures. However, I sure would like to have it nicely finished like you. It came with the tripod mount. I also bought a full plate camera that I did adapt to 5x7. Just to warn you, the bellows on my camera was shot, so I made my own bellows but it has a tendency to fold backwards a bit. I couldn't figure out why but then I realized that the original bellows was very thin and mine was thicker. You have to have a very thin bellows with this camera using thin material in order for it to work properly. The 5x7 folded fine but it is a bigger camera.

Scott --
4-Feb-2011, 14:03
Thanks, Darcy. I wonder about the workmen as well.

I'm pretty confident that the bellows will be fine on this. In the meantime, I just stare at the nekkid camera, imagining the bright red bellows on it.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5057/5416291585_696212f679.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5416291585/)
Naked... (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5416291585/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

Scott --
5-Feb-2011, 18:46
Woot! The bellows have been folded! (http://wp.me/pWENv-4w)


Scott --
6-Feb-2011, 10:31
Here's the first lensboard, with a 210/5.6 Sironar-N MC mounted:

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5132/5421344777_817bec0b6a.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5421344777/)
Ready... (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5421344777/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr

I'm liking these tiny, simple little lensboards. Just knocked out a half dozen in the same aged cherry. Will mount my 121/8 SA today, then I'll have five blanks for Petzvals and future purchases. Nice.

12-Feb-2011, 16:09
Man that's nice, I wish you'd take orders! I know I could never make mine as nice as this. Can't wait to see it done.

Scott --
22-Feb-2011, 12:57
Well, the bellows arrived today. Glued them in, and all work is finally finished (http://wp.me/pWENv-4I)! Going to shoot a couple sheets tonight when the kids get home!

Thanks, Sandeha!

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5172/5468559179_f0a628189e_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5468559179/)
Asanuma, bellows installed. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott--/5468559179/) by Scott -- (http://www.flickr.com/people/scott--/), on Flickr