View Full Version : Loading Dry PLates

23-Apr-2011, 19:16
I bought a few packs of dry plates and I want to experiment with them. They're very old and for sure I'll have to compensate in order to get something recorded.

My question is, how do I know the emulsion side when loading the plate into the darkslide? I have one plate that came inside one of the darkslide and by looking and feeling, I guess the rough side is where the emulsion is since the other side is just glass with no coating, it feels much more smoother and I believe this is the side that will be facing the lens... am I correct ?


Brian C. Miller
23-Apr-2011, 21:42
Yes, the "rough" side is the emulsion side. Also, you will need to use a glass plate holder. A normal holder will not work with the plate.

24-Apr-2011, 03:04
Thanks Brian,

I have about 8 plate holders that came out with the Voigtlander... yesterday I loaded them with the rough side facing the lens. The plates are smaller than a large format neg but I'm curious how it will turn up. I'll use one to perform a kind of "test strip" since the plates are very old.

I have no information regarding expire dates but they must be at least 80 years old.

This particular box is from Ilford and the label says :
H.P.3 Plate
Hypersensitive Panchromatic
Ilford meter 34 degrees
Ilford speed group G
weston meter 200

I have processed a 1964 Ilford HP3 35mm and came out nicely, the tin said "weston/asa 400" and I shoot with that in mind, I belive the weston meter should be ISO and in this case 200... any thoughts about exposing/processing ?

Michael W
24-Apr-2011, 03:49
As for finding the emulsion side, all the vintage plates I've used have come packed in groups with plates emulsion to emulsion. As you say you can also tell by the different feel. The smooth side is just glass & the side with slightly powdery feel is the emulsion.

I process in a Nebro cut plate tank which is Bakelite & from that era, ie it was made for processing plates so it's straightforward. The plates I use are mostly 6.5x9cm and I've also done some 9x12cm.

The most common problem is age fog, you might process an unexposed plate & find it's already very dense. I use about 15ml of a 2% solution of benzotriazole in each 700ml dev solution. I've been using Rodinal as dev because that's what I started with & it works. I use 8ml Rodinal in 700ml water plus the benzo. Process for 20 minutes agitating 10 seconds per minute.

I find the plates lose a lot of speed over time & I generally start testing around EI 3 or 6. A batch I'm using at the moment has to be exposed at 4 stops over EI 6, i suppose that's 0.35, has massive base fog but I get printable images. The images below are from '09 as I don't have any recent scans. These are of contact prints. The portrait was done using Agfa plates that expired in 1985 & the interior was Agfa Isochrom plates from the 1930s.

24-Apr-2011, 10:19
They're lovely Michael... this is the effect I'm expecting to achieve when I decided to buy them.

I'm quite use to shot with toy cameras so I'm not really bother with fogging and any other imperfections it may happen as long as I have something recorded.

I'm gald you mentioned they came packed emulsion to emulsion because that confuses me a bit when I was loading... I've always thought the emulsion side would be better protected, which means NOT face to face to avoid scratches, because of that I nearly loaded usiong the other side! I'm glad I choose the powdery side...

I have a combiplan tank that is able to take glass plates as well, which will make my life a bit easier, and Rodinal is my choice of developer for almost every film I process...