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Thread: 12x20 / 14x17 conversion back for Phillips 11x14 Explorer

  1. #1

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    12x20 / 14x17 conversion back for Phillips 11x14 Explorer

    Greetings ULF pros. I have been away for 9 years, but am now back into ULF, 11x14. As Kerik would say 'Craig, that's barely ULF' ;-)
    OK, enough history.

    I am fortunate to own a Phillips 11x14 Explorer Model. I believe this is the largest camera Dick Phillips made, but please prove me wrong ... did he ever produce a 12x20 or 14x17?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Oren Grad; 27-Aug-2020 at 08:05. Reason: Please see your PM

  2. #2

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    Collinsville, CT USA
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    Re: 12x20 / 14x17 conversion back for Phillips 11x14 Explorer

    I have and use an 11x14 Chamonix which is pretty much a twin of your Phillips. I had been toying with constructing a 12x20 back for it. Went through several designs and two test fabrications. Seemed to me that the only way that I could get enough rigidity for the back "standard" was to attach it to the bed of the camera which made the whole camera a bit unwieldy rather than just a large camera, plus I lost the ability to make any rear standard movements. Also wasn't able to work around the problem of easily being able to turn the screw-focus knob/dial. In the late 1970s, I used a 14x17 Empire State view camera, don't remember if it was the "Improved" model or not, but my memories of using it were a lot more user friendly than my proposed conversion back adapter. In the end decided to stick with shooting just 11x14.
    addendum... My interest in shooting 12x20 was spurred after reading the book Among the White Hills, the life and times of Guy L. Shorey (by Guy A. Gosselin and Susan B. Hawkins) who shot many images in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with his 7x17 Korona. I highly recommend this book, it is very inspirational.

  3. #3

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    Re: 12x20 / 14x17 conversion back for Phillips 11x14 Explorer

    I believe he did make some 8x16 and larger cameras. But these days, you want the Chamonix. I have a Canham 12x20, and wouldn't call it rigid. It does the job and I like the build quality of Keith's cameras. I have enough invested in the system, with an 8x20 reduction back and 7 holders that I'm holding onto it for the long term. Learning to live with it's limitations.

    There are some things I don't love about the Chamonix. The central focus can slow down the set up of a shot and (especially) for a big camera the lack of a carrying handle can make them unwieldy. They are super rigid and nicely made. Though I think the Canham has a bit more "soul." I've been tempted by the 14x17 format lately. If I give in, I'll buy a Chamonix.

  4. #4
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    Re: 12x20 / 14x17 conversion back for Phillips 11x14 Explorer

    Dick built 7x17, 8x16 and 12x20 cameras in addition to 11x14. He also built reversing-back 11x14's in addition to the horizontal-only Explorer. I don't think he ever made any 14x17's.

    The 11x14 Explorer has a fixed back and bellows, so attaching a conversion back would require major surgery on the camera.

  5. #5
    Michael Jones's Avatar
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    Re: 12x20 / 14x17 conversion back for Phillips 11x14 Explorer

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    Dick built 7x17, 8x16 and 12x20 cameras in addition to 11x14. He also built reversing-back 11x14's in addition to the horizontal-only Explorer. I don't think he ever made any 14x17's.

    The 11x14 Explorer has a fixed back and bellows, so attaching a conversion back would require major surgery on the camera.
    Dick built two 14x17 cameras and several 8x20. As Oren pointed out, the Explorer backs are fixed in landscape orientation and are not removable.

    Mike
    “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?”

  6. #6
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    Re: 12x20 / 14x17 conversion back for Phillips 11x14 Explorer

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Jones View Post
    Dick built two 14x17 cameras and several 8x20.
    Thanks, appreciate the correction! IIRC, his 12x20 had matching holders with a distinctive design - I don't remember the details, and I've never seen one myself.

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