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Thread: 8x10 Wetplate/Tintype - Chamonix vs Svedovsky advice

  1. #1

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    Question 8x10 Wetplate/Tintype - Chamonix vs Svedovsky advice

    I'm new to large format, and I'm researching a camera to use for wetplate collodion. I could use some advice on what camera would be best for my needs:

    I want to buy a modern/new camera, so that availability of accessories & spare parts/replacements is easier.
    I will predominately shoot studio & environmental portraits, with strobes/additional lighting.
    I want a foldable field camera.
    I want to buy from a brand that can supply wetplate backs - so that I know they are compatible and accurate with focus.
    A camera that is straightforward and not cumbersome to use is important.
    I want to also get a 4x5 reducing back so that I can shoot 8x10 and 4x5 (or perhaps a plexi insert for the smaller size?)
    I intend to buy a fast, shutter lens, rather than using barrel lenses.
    I will probably also run a few sheets of film through the camera at some point as well.
    I'm based in Australia.

    I believe that the Svedovsky is perhaps best suited to my needs. The Chamonix cameras look really nice, however, I don't believe there is any advantage that justifies the $1200 higher price tag for my planned use?
    Svedovsky - http://svedovsky.com/cameras/8x10-camera/
    Chamonix - http://www.chamonixviewcamera.com/810.html

    Does anyone have any advice on the most suitable camera for me?
    Anything that I may not have considered in my decision making?

    At the moment I'm leaning towards the Svedovsky - but happy to hear any advice.

  2. #2
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Wetplate/Tintype - Chamonix vs Svedovsky advice

    Quote Originally Posted by gearu View Post
    I want to buy a modern/new camera, so that availability of accessories & spare parts/replacements is easier.
    Accessories are universal, and if you need spare parts, you're being very rough on the cameras. I shoot wet plate on a 100+ year olds camera and never had to replace a part.

    Quote Originally Posted by gearu View Post
    I want to buy from a brand that can supply wetplate backs - so that I know they are compatible and accurate with focus.
    All modern cameras (hence all modern wet plate holders) are made to ANSI standards and are quite interchangeable.

    Quote Originally Posted by gearu View Post
    A camera that is straightforward and not cumbersome to use is important.
    View cameras are by nature pretty straightforward, the main differences being movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by gearu View Post
    .I want to also get a 4x5 reducing back so that I can shoot 8x10 and 4x5 (or perhaps a plexi insert for the smaller size?).
    Most wet plate photographers just use converted film holders. An 8x10 film holder can be easily converted to any size smaller than whole plate.

    Quote Originally Posted by gearu View Post
    I intend to buy a fast, shutter lens, rather than using barrel lenses.
    Depends on what you mean by "fast". Shutters are only made in smaller aperture sizes, especially if you want a "modern" shutter like a Copal 3, which means 8x10 lenses won't be very fast, more so in portrait focal lengths. In collodion, shutters aren't necessary, so I don't know why you have that caveat.

    Quote Originally Posted by gearu View Post
    Does anyone have any advice on the most suitable camera for me?
    Neither camera you mentioned has any particular advantage in wet plate. I think you have a bit more homework to do...
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  3. #3

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    Re: 8x10 Wetplate/Tintype - Chamonix vs Svedovsky advice

    Thanks for the info that's very helpful. I wasn't aware that the various models followed the same standards for the holders - that is very useful to know.
    I'll do some research on old/used LF - although many from what I've seen are selling for a similar price as the brand new Svedovsky anyway, but with the added risks of light leaks and faulty operation, and generally quite a lot heavier.

    "In collodion, shutters aren't necessary"
    Perhaps not 'required', but this is for convenience with the way I want to shoot. I want to shoot lit portraits. A shutter will allow me to capture more of a 'moment' with the flash sync'd via a PC sync port with the shutter, rather than having to do that as a separate thing.
    I'll add to this, that I'd like to be able to occasionally shoot some sheets of film as well - so a shutter lens is preferable to allow me to do this as well

    "Accessories are universal, and if you need spare parts, you're being very rough on the cameras. I shoot wet plate on a 100+ year olds camera and never had to replace a part."
    Accidents happen, and I want to be able to find a part and replace it if I need to at some point in the future. This is also a statement against buying an old camera, and discovering that a part needs to be fixed/replaced - and how possible that is to do.

    "An 8x10 film holder can be easily converted to any size smaller than whole plate."
    Is there an advantage to this approach over a reducing back, other than the cost savings of not buying a reducing back?

    "Neither camera you mentioned has any particular advantage in wet plate."
    Are there any cameras which have 'advantages' for wetplate? Generally, this is what I'm trying to understand.
    Do you have any specific requirements of a LF camera that I should definately consider for wetplate?

  4. #4

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    Re: 8x10 Wetplate/Tintype - Chamonix vs Svedovsky advice

    Quote Originally Posted by gearu View Post
    Accidents happen, and I want to be able to find a part and replace it if I need to at some point in the future. This is also a statement against buying an old camera, and discovering that a part needs to be fixed/replaced - and how possible that is to do.
    Interesting, the last 7 View Cameras I've bought in the past 20 years have all been "used"! There are plenty of parts for older cameras as well as people who can fix them. They just don't make them like they used to! L

  5. #5

    Re: 8x10 Wetplate/Tintype - Chamonix vs Svedovsky advice

    Quote Originally Posted by gearu View Post
    Are there any cameras which have 'advantages' for wetplate? Generally, this is what I'm trying to understand.
    Do you have any specific requirements of a LF camera that I should definately consider for wetplate?
    In a word, no.
    Any camera suitable for film work is suitable for wet plate work, as long as the specs meet your requirements, and lets face it - most cameras available to you are fully capable. The only real difference between film and wet plate is the wet plate holder itself. My first wet plate holder was one of my Fidelity film holders that was modified (By Lund Photographics) to work as a plate holder. I think you may be spending more energy and concern over details that simply aren't significant to your case.

    Pick the camera you like, and which has features you know you need for your technique. Those needs are the same whether you shoot film or wet plate.

  6. #6

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    Re: 8x10 Wetplate/Tintype - Chamonix vs Svedovsky advice

    I shoot my wet plate work with 4x5 and 8x10 Chamonix cameras. I use the Chamonix wet plate holders. Both work flawlessly together. I chose Chamonix originally for film & hiking due to their light weight and sturdy build.

  7. #7
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Wetplate/Tintype - Chamonix vs Svedovsky advice

    My best recommendation is that you take a wet plate workshop before you buy the camera, That will give you a chance to try one or several LF cameras, and see how they work with the process.

    If you intend to work in the field, remember that you'll need to have a darkroom onsite.

    If you intend to use "fast lenses" for 8x10 portraiture, not all field cameras have the front standard sturdiness or the large-enough lensboard to handle them. But if by "fast" you mean f/6.8 in a 14-inch or f/4.5 in a 12-inch, you're probably okay.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  8. #8
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    Re: 8x10 Wetplate/Tintype - Chamonix vs Svedovsky advice

    If you do portraiture and/or stuff with little to no movements, a tailboard camera has the advantage of being able to handle large and heavy lenses.

    I am with Mark above - take a workshop or find someone willing to show you how it works. It does make a difference, at least it did for me.

  9. #9

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    Re: 8x10 Wetplate/Tintype - Chamonix vs Svedovsky advice

    I would highly recommend looking into the Calumet C-1 8x10. It's a bit heavy but can fold up and be transported in a pelican/haliburton case. Really stable camera!!... Which is great for shooting wet plate collodion. You can find these used for around $400-600 depending on condition and if a reducing back is included.

    If you are mostly shooting WPC I would start out with just using barrel lenses since you don't need a shutter when shooting WPC. That way you can spend a lot less money while also being able to try out many different lenses. Plus you probably would want to save some money if you are buying everything you need for WPC. (Silver tank, silver nitrate, collodion, on location darkroom tent, glass or aluminum, etc) 8x10 gets expensive...A used Calumet C-1 is about 1/4 the price of the Svedovsky so just think of how much chemistry and plates that extra money allows you to buy. Makes learning the process a lot less painful on the wallet.

  10. #10

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    Re: 8x10 Wetplate/Tintype - Chamonix vs Svedovsky advice

    Buy used, you won't be so worried about silver stains on your camera, you'll also save enough to buy a spare camera, just in case.....
    Real cameras are measured in inches...
    Not pixels.

    www.photocollective.org

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