View Full Version : 1907 Seneca Black Beauty

John Rhilinger
25-Jul-2011, 09:57
I have been restoring this glass-plate camera (4x5), and it now seems functional. This will be my first foray into large format . . . once I figure out one more thing. The slot on the cameras slide seems too narrow for anything but a sheet of glass, certainly not any kind of box/holder. How is this meant to be loaded? It is too easily portable for the need of a darkcloth to make sense, but I also can't see darkslides and glass fitting. Sorry for such basic questions; I am a neophyte. My web searches just yield more items for sale, not useful information. Thanks :confused:

Nathan Smith
25-Jul-2011, 10:11
Hi John, I'm not familiar with that particular camera, but it would have taken some sort of holder whether film or glass plate. It would probably help if you posted some photos of it, particularly of the area you're looking at.

Just a guess, but I'd think that 4x5 film holders would fit, but you'd have to adjust things to account for the difference between the original distance between the front of the holder to the plate, and that of a modern film holder.


John Rhilinger
25-Jul-2011, 11:36
Sadly I can't post a digital picture, but here's what I've got: There's a door on the back with a latch to expose the ground glass. On the side, the slot for the plate is spring-loaded so it can keep a light-tight fit (which, surprisingly, is still light-tight). But that slot can open at best to just over 3/16", more comfortably 1/8" or so. Like I said, this is my very first LF, but I thought the holders had to be thicker. How thick are "most" (ha ha) plate and/or film holders? If I knew that, I'd have better sense of what I'm not seeing/forseeing.

Thanks for such a fast post.

25-Jul-2011, 19:17
Find something similar on the internet and post a link.

Kent in SD

Peter Gomena
25-Jul-2011, 19:52
It seems odd to me that a standard holder won't fit. I have a 5x7 black beauty from the same era and standard holders work fine.

On my camera, there are 4 screws that hold the steel springs to the movable ground glass part of the back. You might check that they are not stuck or out of place. The springs should move pretty freely.

Peter Gomena

26-Jul-2011, 21:34
Are you sure it's a 4x5, and not half plate?

Kent in SD

27-Jul-2011, 11:16
Before I started using Deardorff I had Senecas. My first 8x10 was a Seneca. Then I got a 5x7 and a 4x5. All of these cameras take off the shelf modern cut film holders.

28-Jul-2011, 05:53
I have an 11x14 Seneca and it takes standard holders. If your camera won't take standard 4x5 holders I suspect you don't have a 4x5 camera (or at least a 4x5 back). Try a 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 (quarter plate) holder. You may have a 4x5 camera that has a different back. I have 4x5 and 5x7 backs, as well as an 8x10 back for my Calumet C1. My 11x14 Seneca also came with an 8x10 back as well as the 11x14. My Century Universal 8x10 came with a 5x7 back, but no 8x10.

John Rhilinger
28-Jul-2011, 21:14
The springs had, in fact, been jammed. I was hesitant to "persuade" too strongly, but once you said that (Peter Gomena) I tried again. It looks like it will handle a holder just fine (pardon the redundant construction),

The half-plate question gave me pause. Here again is my lack of experience on full and amusing display. The ground glass measures just about 4"H but a bit under 5"W, snugly in the groove. So, this is obviously not full 4x5 since the holder itself must take up some space. I'll keep searching e-bay for that.

Your responses are proving very instructional. thank you.

John Rhilinger
7-Aug-2011, 17:23
This does in fact take standard 4x5 holders. Your input gave me badly-needed direction. A special shout-out to Don Bryant for taking the time to sit with me and give the camera a look-over and for providing me with two ground glass panes. The camera is shaping up to be a "Beauty" indeed.