View Full Version : New 16 x 16 LF user

4-Feb-2013, 16:28
Hi everyone,

I'm kinda new to LF photography (although not very new to photography in general) and managed to buy myself a 16x16" LF camera body today! I love practically everything about photography, down to the chemicals and tech stuff, and can't wait to get stuck in with this baby :)

My only problem now is: I can't seem to wrap my head around what lens I would need to get with this one. I have been able to find quite a bit of information on 4x5 and 8x10, but anything above that size - not much. Unless I have been looking in the wrong places....

The camera is a wooden rigid monorail type (officially a repro camera I think) with 2 sets of bellows, divided (supported) by a slim wooden frame in the middle. The maximum size at the rear is 39 x 42 cm (roughly 16 x 16") (I tried attaching a photo, hopefully that will work - please ignore my dad in the first one :p)
I don't know the maker of exact age of this camera.

I would hope to use this for fine art work, portraiture size but would also appreciate some advise on lens size/ type for macro work and landscapes. Thanks for being patient with a newbie! :D


4-Feb-2013, 17:19
Congratulations on your new camera--very nice! Landscapes too, you say? Before you start looking for a lens, you need to decide on your film format. Did the camera come with any film holders by chance? Maybe you could post a photo of the other end, so we could see what the back looks like. With a big old process camera like that, you may be in for some work (and expense) to be able to use it. It seems that portraits and still lifes would be your most likely subjects (both macro with a camera that large).

4-Feb-2013, 23:04
For landscape work using 16x16 negs you'll need a lens that has 23 inches of coverage when focussed at infinity, at a minimum (no movements, possible falling off)
If you're going to shoot wetplate, it also has to be pretty fast (f/4?)
And, since you're focussing on infinity, you have to have the necessary bellows draw on the camera
For portraiture, you can use a lens with less coverage

This may help http://www.allenrumme.com/lensdb/DBIntro-1.html

Andrew Plume
5-Feb-2013, 03:26
as Barry has said, and I agree, holders are crucial, they can be a bit of a stumbling block but there's plenty of used stuff out there

bellows can easily be patched with heavy duty black tape, so that's never a problem, similarly with a lens board

good luck


5-Feb-2013, 04:24
Thanks for your advise so far guys - I will post some more images of the camera and parts now that's it daylight :)

I have a film holder that came with it - although it looks a bit different from other film holders I have seen for LF so far. The bottom rail misses it's middle section as far as I could tell (to be replaced), but on the bright side, the rail comes apart in 2 sections, so I can extend the bellows quite far.


5-Feb-2013, 04:26

The plate holder is basically a flat box with a wider top on it, the shutter works as a curtain made of little wooden slats re-inforced with cloth. When it's open, you can see the 2 wooden slats meant to keep something in place (the silvery metal brackets being later additions) but the space between them and the back plate seems too large for even a plate of glass. The back plate can be removed in it's entirety through the back when the rolling shutter is moved to the front, by pulling the leather tab.

I think this is an intriguing construction, but quite possibly not original to the device as it's so different to others commonly used. The whole construction can be hung from slots in the back plate (take out the ground glass plate which hangs in the same slots) so I would be more inclined to make some DIY back plates for my project as this one might not even work - it might be impossible to equal the distance to the lens as judged on the glass plate !

5-Feb-2013, 04:51
That's a very impressive-looking camera!

5-Feb-2013, 06:03
Excellent, those photos reveal a lot. You have a glass plate holder with a reducing insert. Those bars with the clips look like they would have held a glass plate in place for the exposure. The photographer would load a plate into the holder, securing it under the clips, and close both sides of the holder. The photographer could then focus the camera, close the lens shutter, remove the ground glass frame, replace it with the loaded holder, raise the wood screen, and shoot the photo.

I don't see the characteristic black stains that would indicate the holder was used for wet plate, but that would be a good use of your camera now. You might start out using paper negatives to get a feel for the camera. You could use a sheet of thin metal or glass cut to a size that fits the holder, and use some double-sided tape to attach the sheets of paper (and maybe film eventually).

Does that middle bar in the holder slide up and down? If so, it would allow you to use different sized plates/paper/film. The distance from the side of the wood ground glass frame that seats against the back of the camera to the ground surface of the glass should be exactly the same as the side of the holder to the emulsion surface of the paper/film/sensitized plate.

The clipped bars can likely be removed entirely if you want to shoot a 16" by 16" plate (are those the exact dimensions of the ground glass and the inside of the holder disregarding the bars with clips?).

Regardless of whether you want to do wet plate, you'd do well to hook up with some serious wet plate artists near you--preferably near enough to visit and take stock of your setup. They're likely to be able to understand how to use plate backs with big cameras and help guide you. You can sign up for the collodion.com forum as a start.

As Andrew mentions, the bellows needs to be light tight. Darken the room and hold a flashlight inside the bellows moving it around and pointing at all the bellows folds and corners. If you see light through holes, tears or cracks--they need to be patched. Carbon black acrylic paint works well for pinholes and opaque tape for anything larger.

Before you buy a lens, you need to have a pretty good idea of how you'll use the camera. As Cyrus said, a 23" lens will cover 16"x16" at infinity, but that's probably not the most likely use for your camera.

5-Feb-2013, 06:58
very nice!!

5-Feb-2013, 10:11
Thanks everyone, this is surely of great help! I'm going through your recommendations as I've already now got a better idea of what sort of lens to look for - and I'm sure I'll be able to start using it soon :)

alex from holland
5-Feb-2013, 14:43
Lol, i know that camera.
Did you also bought the table which was underneath it?
It's a reprocamera for sure. Hasen't been used for wet plate. You need to modify the plateholder for it
The camera is missing an extention rail which was inbetween the two parts.

5-Feb-2013, 15:11
Haha! The wonderful (small) world of Marktplaats! Nope - I refused the table and got a good bit (a little over 1/3) off the asked price :D
Had you been bidding on it as well? :P

I know the middle part of the rail is missing, but frankly, I don't think I'll miss it much. The design of the other two parts are very simple and could be reproduced for a replacement, as it would only need to support the middle wooden section of the bellows.

I have just been taking it apart and will fix some minor issues with the rail blocks (still working but some wooden parts have come loose and will need some glue) as well as some minor pinhole issues in the bellows. After that: a spit and polish for the wood, trolling the internet for a lens, and coming up with some additional plateholders :)

alex from holland
5-Feb-2013, 15:19
No, i did not bid. I saw the camera.
But it was of no use for me so i didn't made them an offer.

Now i got curious who's behind "Sirenn"........

6-Feb-2013, 06:16
Well Mr Timmermans, it's very very easy to find out who's behind 'Sirenn' as you can follow the link to my homepage, as I did with yours ;)

I do love your wet collodion work, and that camera you are posing next to is MORE than impressive :D

6-Feb-2013, 12:43
Hi - what sort of lens are you planning to use? I'm working on my own 20x24 but I can't get one of those superfast brass lenses so will ahve to use an f/9 process lens, which I'm not sure is practical for wetplate indoors...

6-Feb-2013, 13:05
I'm not sure what lens to go for precisely, as I'm forced to go by what Ebay offers within my budget :) My plate is a little smaller, so I'll have a few more options when buying a lens, which I suppose is lucky. I'm simultaneously looking with different generic search terms on Ebay, as well as looking specifically for some of the lenses mentioned on the list on Allenrumme.com but will try to go for something a little quicker than f9.

I almost went for a B&L Zeiss Tessar 14 x17 process lens, until I noticed that this coverage is only achieved by stopping the lens down fully which is far far slower than f9 :(

6-Feb-2013, 13:06
Hi - what sort of lens are you planning to use? I'm working on my own 20x24 but I can't get one of those superfast brass lenses so will ahve to use an f/9 process lens, which I'm not sure is practical for wetplate indoors...

F9 might be ok though, depending on your subject...?