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Thread: Portrait Cameras - Dark Cloths

  1. #1
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Fond du Lac, WI, USA

    Portrait Cameras - Dark Cloths

    I'm going to have to come up with a good darkcloth system for my 8x10 portrait cameras, a Kodak Century No. 7 and and Agfa Studio. Does anyone have pictures of what was used as a darkcloth? The setup has to be fast to use, both in view and in loading film. I'm thinking of some type of frame connected to the stand. Thoughts, examples, suggestions? The cameras will only be used in a studio.
    May tomorrow be a better day.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    Re: Portrait Cameras - Dark Cloths

    Depending on the light in the studio you might not need one. I'm not familiar with either of the cameras you mentioned or what was used back in the day for a darkcloth. If I were looking for quick to use I would try to do away with one altogether by having the studio dark with enough light on the subject. This is what I do when working at a friend's studio. I hang the loop on the tripod (I don't have a studio stand) and I'm able to make quick work of it. It's rare I miss in focusing using this method.

  3. #3
    William Whitaker's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    the Southern Part of Heaven

    Re: Portrait Cameras - Dark Cloths

    I recently discovered this web site:

    I do not have one of his dark cloths, but am intrigued enough to want to order one when the need next arises. I like that he considers the use of rear focusing in his design considerations as most all of my cameras utilize rear focus. I currently use fabric focusing hoods with an elastic band and yes, they do interfere with a rear focusing mechanism, especially on a big (ULF) camera.

    At any rate, just a suggestion of something that looks promising. Again, I cannot speak directly as to the quality or appropriateness of the product, so caveat emptor.

  4. #4
    Tin Can's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Re: Portrait Cameras - Dark Cloths

    The Calumet C1 and Linhof Kardan Color have rear standard holes that fit a spring wire dark cloth support. Some years ago I sold a couple here I made for the C1. I made a bending jig.

    I have used the support with black foam core in studio. Light weight with Gaff tape helping.

    The Linhof also allowed the same wire support to be used over the lens as shade. Fore and aft! Sails...

    I have seen many images of studio Deardorff with a folding dark cloth system.

    Modify your cameras as needed with a way to mount a C1 wire spring.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2007
    Greenwood Lake NY USA

    Re: Portrait Cameras - Dark Cloths

    My cloth was about 4ft square, I seem to recall that I used to secure it using elastic straps around the front standard so that the cloth could be raised to insert the darkslide. Attaching it to the rear standard made access to the darkslide slot tricky.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Del City, OK

    Re: Portrait Cameras - Dark Cloths

    I use a Calumet brand dark cloth that came with my first large format camera. It's basically just two pieces of thick cotton sewn together, one black and one white. Had it not been thrown in for free, this is likely something I would have made myself. You could use anything that works from a plastic trash bag to wool blanket made from the frozen remains of woolly mammoths. Typically, I recommend something that's not too hot to spend time under on a hot summer day (something that breathes), is black on the inside to block out stray light, dense enough to block out the light from the outside (but doesn't have to block 100% of the light), isn't too light weight (so it doesn't blow around in the wind), and is white on the outside to reflect heat, and large enough to wrap about my camera and head at the same time, without being so large as to be unwieldy. There are about a million things, probably a few things you currently own, that fit that bill, or close enough to be useful.

    One thing I'll recommend in the studio is to get some large paper binder clips. You can use them to attach the dark cloth to the camera on either standard. You can also wrap the dark cloth completely around the camera, and use them to secure the dark cloth closed in the front to keep out even more light. Then, when you're not focusing, you can throw the cloth over, so it rests on top of the camera. It makes it easy to come in and out of the dark. However, I don't recommend using them in the field. If a strong gust of wind kicks up and you have your dark cloth attached to your camera, that dark cloth can turn into a sail and take your camera for a ride.

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