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Two23
19-Jun-2011, 10:46
I'm still in the hunt for a historical camera. I've had to really think about how I'll use one and exactly what I want to narrow it down. I've come to think I want two different cameras. One is a Bergheil Deluxe, 6.5x9. I like its cuteness. :D I'm also thinking of buying something older, probably British. I want something that can take 4x5 sheets without a big hassle, that's gorgeous to look at (fine wood, brass, etc.), and probably has a shutter. I like the "fanciness" of the British cameras, especially the early field cameras. I'm thinking of either 4x5 or half plate. With half plate I should be able to stick a 4x5 sheet in the holders. I could also get glass plates for when I get around to trying to make dry plates. I'm trying to stay around the period 1890 to 1910.

What I'm narrowing down to is something like a Thornton Pickard Imperial or Royal Ruby. They have the look I'm after and also that cool roller blind shutter! :cool: I do think I want a shutter of some kind, something that predates the Compur type. I have two questions at this point though. First is were the film/plate holders pretty standard for half plate by then, or is it really advisable for me to buy only a camera that has the holders with it? Second question is the big hole on the bottom of the camera. I don't want to use a period tripod if I can help it. I love my AcraTech ballhead and lightweight Gitzo 1325! Is there any good way to adapt one of these cameras to use my modern ballhead? Alternately, were the sizes of the big circle on the period tripods pretty standard in case I have to end up buying one of those? Here's a link to the kind of camera I'm thinking of, except this one is the wrong plate size:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Thornton-Pickard-IMPERIAL-Triple-Extension-Camera-/280697899093?pt=US_Vintage_Cameras&hash=item415ae60855

Any comments from current owners on these kinds of cameras? I've had to pass up some wonderful 5x7 models because I thought they were just too large and I didn't want to start buying yet another film size.


Kent in SD

Ole Tjugen
19-Jun-2011, 11:05
The big hole isn't standard, except that each maker tended to standardise on one size of big hole.

What you would do is to make an aluminium adapter plate with a "modern" 3/8" hole in it for mounting on a modern tripod.

Or you could of course get a Gandolfi Universal, they have standard tripod threads...

BarryS
19-Jun-2011, 11:51
The bookform plate holders that were used with those early brass and wood cameras were never standardized. I can tell you from experience that when you locate half-plate holders you'll have a hard time figuring out if they fit before you try them. The ones that you can find are frequently warped or cracked. If you can find a camera with a set of holders, it'll make things simpler, but make sure the seller confirms that they fit correctly. It's common to have some holders "thrown in" with a sale and they may not fit.

You'd be much better of buying and adapting an old 4x5 or 5x7 film back because you'll still need metal sheaths to adapt the book form plate holders for sheet film. The sheaths are also hard to find, although you can have some fabricated.

The inset crowns in the camera base for tripod legs also vary, but you can sometimes interchange or adapt legs. Some people add a baseplate--either an inset wood roundel (after removing the hardware) or a rectangular baseplate that covers the cutout.


Even if you find a camera in nice condition, it will still be a project to make it useful. They're beautiful examples of craftsmanship and still quite usable with some work.

IanG
19-Jun-2011, 13:47
Barry's right about the plate holders not being standard, I've just bouaght some more for my Houghton Quarter plate they are Thornton Pickard made and almost fit. It's going to be easy to make them fit it's a minor adjustment to let them slide in 1.4" further, however I have more TP Quarter plate holders and they are quite different and would need a lot of work to get them to fit.

It's easy to make an adaptor to fit a roll film back to a British Quarter plate camera, or a 5x4 holder to a Half plate camera, the film.plate register is so much deeper on older British cameras.

To invest in these older cameras you'd really need to pay less than the $600 the sellers asking for that TP camera, it's not a particularly desirable format and would typically sell for much less in the UK closer to 50-60% of that figure, and shipping for that wouldn't be much as they aren't heavy.

Putting things into perspective I was offered a very nice whole plate Thornton Pickard today for about 250 ($404) with a TP shutter & lens, and elsewhere two Ruby's one at 180 the other 220 both nice condition.

Ian

Ash
19-Jun-2011, 13:51
Hey Ian if you passed on that whole place TP, pass them onto me ;)

IanG
19-Jun-2011, 16:43
Hey Ian if you passed on that whole place TP, pass them onto me ;)

I'm possibly doing some shutter restorations and other work for the seller so all's not lost. I may do a trade.

You need to realise I passed because I can get the same un-restored for less, also I'm quite lucky as if I buy well my wife actually likes having them on display :D So much so she complained when I brought a Half plate camera back to the UK (from Turkey) to use :)

Ian

Ash
19-Jun-2011, 16:45
I still can't get used to the girlfriend coming out with phrases like "buy it, why not? buy it if you want it" and "i like that camera"

IanG
20-Jun-2011, 07:17
Ash & Kent, I was with two other members of this Forum yesterday and we talked about Lionel Hughes Photographica (http://www.glowbox.demon.co.uk).

He usually has some good cameras and is very in tune with what are realistic prices, his TP Triple Imperial is a far better buy than the one Kent referred to, I particularly like the Houghton Empress at 160 ($262) but only because I already have 2 Houghton's of similar vintage.

Prices are very variable a Half plate TP Triple Imperial sold yesterday for 165 including the tripod legs (on ebay). Maybe not as good as the Lionel Hughes TP but very easily restorable.

Ian

Michael E
20-Jun-2011, 07:30
I still can't get used to the girlfriend coming out with phrases like "buy it, why not? buy it if you want it" and "i like that camera"

Marry her. She's a keeper! ;-)

Two23
20-Jun-2011, 07:34
OK, it's starting to sound like while the plate size is standard, the holder size isn't. The rest I think I can deal with.


Kent in SD

Emil Schildt
20-Jun-2011, 07:37
Ash & Kent, I was with two other members of this Forum yesterday and we talked about Lionel Hughes Photographica (http://www.glowbox.demon.co.uk)

thanks for that link - didn't know about him..

IanG
20-Jun-2011, 08:26
thanks for that link - didn't know about him..

He normally has more cameras (that we'd desire) than currently listed, he was spoken of very highly as being genuine & fair.

Ian

Andrew Plume
21-Jun-2011, 14:09
Ash & Kent, I was with two other members of this Forum yesterday and we talked about Lionel Hughes Photographica (http://www.glowbox.demon.co.uk).

He usually has some good cameras and is very in tune with what are realistic prices, his TP Triple Imperial is a far better buy than the one Kent referred to, I particularly like the Houghton Empress at 160 ($262) but only because I already have 2 Houghton's of similar vintage.

Prices are very variable a Half plate TP Triple Imperial sold yesterday for 165 including the tripod legs (on ebay). Maybe not as good as the Lionel Hughes TP but very easily restorable.

Ian

now I'm at a real loss here to identify those two guys

andrew

jloen
21-Jun-2011, 21:01
I bought a Thornton Pickard Ruby half plate field camera a few years ago for about $125. Nice wood and admirable craftsmanship for 110 years ago.

The clueless seller called it a 5x7 view camera, but half plate is smaller than 5x7.

There were a large number of obstacles to overcome, from getting film holders that work, to making a way to attach a modern lens, to repairing leaky brown paper bellows, to making a tripod mount to cover the huge hole in the bottom. Each of these was quite a challenge. I still haven't taken a photo with it.

If you are a tinkerer like I am, you will love stuff like this.
If you want to make photos, maybe consider something else...

Jeff

Two23
22-Jun-2011, 07:18
If you are a tinkerer like I am, you will love stuff like this.
If you want to make photos, maybe consider something else...

Jeff


Hmm. Wasn't aware they had paper bellows! What else is out there that might work for actually taking photos c.1890-1910? I intend to use older lenses with the roller blind shutter. The big hole on the bottom can be dealt with, I think. I still intend to keep my Shen Hao and use it as a primary camera.


Kent in SD

IanG
22-Jun-2011, 07:53
Kent where there's a will there's a way.

This camera was given to me by a girl friend and sat on the mantle-piece for 15 or 16 years,

http://lostlabours.co.uk/photography/cameras/images/LFcamera0_sm.jpg

I've posted images of this camera before, anyway last year (while back in the UK) I suddenly decided to try and restore it on the spur of the moment, within a week to 10 days it was complete except for the new brass work. Hardest part was making the new bellows.

http://lostlabours.co.uk/photography/cameras/images/QP_shutter.jpg

You couldn't get much worse than that to start with :) The bellows were a write off, the front standard was missing.

Cost wise the most expensive part was the new front standard which I had made by a local joinery shop, they made me some unrelated bits as well and I had to pay their minimum charge of 25 for an hours work. Bellow less than 5 with enough material etc for two more sets !!! screws, French polish etc another 5, I made my own stain to match the wood work, I'd guess a about 40 ($64) in total.

So hopefully this one might give you some inspiration :D

Ian

Two23
22-Jun-2011, 18:13
Those British cameras are gorgeous and will likely tempt me more than I can resist! I just have to be careful in what I buy, and research it carefully. Thanks to all!

Kent in SD