View Full Version : Newbie needing advice, 16x20, and a densitometer.

Bill, 70's military B&W
5-Aug-2012, 10:26
I am still accumulating equipment and I ran into 2 "deals". I'd like someone with more experience to advise me.

#1. MacBeth TD-929 densitometer. I plan on shooting mainly B&W, probably a lot of x-ray film. Asking $100.
Questions are, do I need a densitometer? If I do, is this the one? It comes with no accessories, will I need any?
I have never seen a densitometer, but I read about OP's on this forum talking about negative density all the time.

#2. I ran into a guy who has a 16x20 camera he bought at an auction. It is taking up 8 feet of his storage. Says it is from 1932. Has a lens, "size of a coffee can". It has a shutter that is activated by a bulb(can't remember the name of that type of shutter). He knows nothing about the lens and says that in the next day or two he will take pictures and I'll know more. It is located a long road trip from me, but I'll be in that area next weekend.
Question for the board, Is this something I should consider? Is there a market for an 16x20? I know that the lens could be valuable, and it may be garbage.
Any advice would be appreciated. I could probably get it for around $700.

I have not spent a penny yet, not until I get some expert opinions. THANKS in advance!


Greg Davis
5-Aug-2012, 12:25
If it is taking up 8 feet of storage, then the camera is most likely a studio camera or copy camera that will not be portable for field work. Take that into consideration. As for a densitometer, if you haven't needed one up to now, then you probably won't need it after you buy one.

Mark Sampson
5-Aug-2012, 13:01
The bulb-activated shutter (probably a Packard or Ilexpo) suggests that it's a (portrait) studio camera on a wooden stand with wheels. Popular on this forum among people with studio space. It might be a graphic-arts/copy/'process' camera, more likely in the 16x20 size. Useful for copying, and not much else. A 16x20 folding field camera is a real rarity. Someone here will want the lens even if you don't. The densitometer? Well, I've used them since the late '70s at various jobs, but never needed one for my personal work. If you're into precision and the engineering approach to the darkroom, grab it.

Bill, 70's military B&W
7-Aug-2012, 19:17
Thanks, Greg and Mark.
I just remembered he said it was a studio camera, just like Greg and Mark guessed. So far I do not have any more information. I am mainly interested in what kind of lens the 16x20 has. All i know so far as that the lens is the size of a coffee can. Sounds exciting.
He will not part it out, all or nothing, probably around $700. Mark said it is popular among OP's with studio space. Would there be a market for a 16x20 studio camera? What is the price range? I'll know more soon, and I'll pass on what I learn. I know I have no use for a camera that large. The lens could be fun to play with.

What kind of lens would it likely have? What type/brand of lens would be a great find? I do not know how many different lenses there are that would fit a 16x20. If it was used for portraits, what size lens would it have? 500mm? 1,000mm?
Could not get 'on line' today, I am 2 hours south of Atlanta, and when it rains....I lose internet!!! Tonight, now it is too late. Tomorrow is another day.

The densitometer, I'll probably pick it up. $100 not to much to gamble.


Bill, 70's military B&W
11-Aug-2012, 15:01
Well, I went and looked at that giant 16x20, all I can say is WOW on the size and actually the craftsmanship. It was made for reproduction work and had a lens that was only good for that purpose. So it was no use for me. It was made around 1932 by the RR Robertson Company in Chicago. The lens I believe would have no use at any other distance or purpose. It is a Taylor-Hobson Planital Lens, #235046 a 19 inch 483 mm f/12.5 Ms 113490 Made in England. It was a very simple lens, nothing worth getting excited about.

He is thinking of covering the camera with a piece of glass and using it as a large coffee table. I agree that probably would be the best use for it.
It is made out of a nice Mahogany, craftsmanship back in 1932 was impressive.
Just in case someone is interested, if nothing else a really large/unique coffee table, his name is Charles 352-213-4127 he is in northern Florida on I-75.

I picked up the densitometer, Macbeth TD 929. There is a manuel on line on how to work the machine and get numbers. I need someone on the forum to tell me what those numbers mean and how to use them. Esp when I start shooting x-ray film.
Thanks, Bill

Lachlan 717
11-Aug-2012, 16:24
YOu could do as Clive Butcher did (http://clydebutcher.com/technical-info.cfm) and convert it into an ULF enlarger!

Bill, 70's military B&W
11-Aug-2012, 17:37
He would want way too much $$$, and I seriously do not have the room.
I do like the idea of a coffee table.

12-Aug-2012, 17:02
Thanks a lot for all you guys!!I'm a newbie here too.