View Full Version : What size do you recommend for someone new to wet plate?

Shannon Wilkinson
26-Jul-2011, 18:53
I have a 4x5 and I love it. I have shot 5x7, 8x10 and 7x17. 7x17 is impractical for me so I'm trying to decide between 5x7 and 8x10. For those who have done wet plate which would you suggest? And this might be a silly question but having never done wet plate I don't know...do you contact print? If you enlarge how do you do it?


27-Jul-2011, 05:43
Most poeple do positives or contact prints. The glass collodion negatives can be printed on regular silver gelatin paper, but they were traditionally printed on albumen.

The larger sizes, above 5x7, will use more chemicals per plate, and require larger dark boxes, silver baths, and other equipment. But of course a large positive looks nice on the wall.

I recommend you buy a manual from one of the pros, and possibly take a workshop or spend a day with someone that knows what they are doing. Check out Collodion.com too.

Mark Sawyer
27-Jul-2011, 09:59
What Garrett said. And start with a smaller size; it's easier to coat the plate, and you'll waste less in the materials, (there's always waste at the start!). At least make sure you can easily hold the plate by the corners with the thumb and a finger of one hand. If you can't, handling the plate becomes much clumsier.

Go bigger later. It won't take long to figure out when you should, and you'll have a good handle on it with fewer frustrations.

Scott Davis
27-Jul-2011, 10:12
Third on the notion of starting small - you can even modify a film holder from your 4x5 to serve as a plate holder and shoot 3x4 plates until you are comfortable with the materials and methods. Or buy a cheap box brownie and use it as a wet-plate camera. This all works very well and costs very little money. Well, nothing with wet plate costs little money - it's a relative thing. Getting kitted out to shoot 3x4 inch wet plates costs a lot less than shooting 11x14.

Mark Sawyer
27-Jul-2011, 10:55
Of course, if you're sure you want to go bigger later, get a bigger silver tank and whatever else you need at the start, so you aren't buying them again later.

And think of whether you want to go with modern sizes (4x5, 5x7, 8x10), or historic sizes (4.25x5.5, 4.25x6.5, 6.5x8.5). Or you can make up your own...

29-Jul-2011, 13:34
Put it this way....

I've gone from 1/2 plate to 5x7 to whole plate.

I also have a 1/4 plate and a 8.5x15 plate camera.

I think 5x7 or whole plate is a good average size.Imo.