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Thread: 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 cameras?

  1. #1

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    6 1/2 x 8 1/2 cameras?

    Is this a viable format?

    I was looking for something larger than 4x5. For some reasons I don't feel that 5x7 would make a large difference. 8x10 would be the next logical step. But for 6.5x8.5 I have at least a lens that covers it to start with. But the other formats do have film available. A lens is a one time cost, film comes always back. (ok, I know it rarely ends with a single lens) That would make 18x24 (metric) a better choice concerning film but not concerning choice of gear.
    Expert in non-working solutions.

  2. #2
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 cameras?

    I think that 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 was a format called "Whole Plate" in the glass plate era. I know that dry plates are avsilable in that size, but I'm not sure that sheet film or holders are.

    Anybody?
    Drew Bedo
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    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  3. #3

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    Re: 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 cameras?

    I'm pretty sure you can order WP film from Ilford and Shanghai during their ULF yearly program.
    I have a Seneca WP camera, and Richard Ritter made a 5x7 back for it for me.
    5x7 is a far more accessible film size, although WP is a lovely aspect ratio and great size for contact printing.

  4. #4
    mitch
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    Re: 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 cameras?

    Yes you can order the film with no problems and B&H have it in Delta 100 in stock
    I just finished restoring two Seneca 6.5 x 8.5 cameras with new bellows and the backs fitted by Richard Ritter to accept the SS film holders I have along with front lens board adapters If you have an interest in one let me know
    Mitch

  5. #5

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    Re: 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 cameras?

    Chamonix makes them new as well as film & plate holders.

  6. #6
    Foamer
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    Re: 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 cameras?

    Whole plate is right at the threshold where costs really take off. I shoot 4x5, 5x7, 8x10. I find 4x5 is the most versatile because it's lighter to carry, more lens choices, more film choices, and everything is less money than larger sizes. The 5x7 is a nice size for contact printing and isn't much harder than 4x5. If you shoot color film though you might end up having to buy expensive 8x10 and cut it down yourself. With 8x10 costs quickly multiply in all directions as well as the bulk. Whole plate is slotted between 5x7 and 8x10. I think it depends on what you do with the photos--scan and print or contact print. Also depends on if you are wanting 19th century historical aunthenticity I think. You're going to have to handle a neg from 5x7 and whole plate and maybe the cameras too before you can make up your mind.


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  7. #7
    Ron (Netherlands)'s Avatar
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    Re: 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 cameras?

    Imperial formats are great to work with (whole plate and half plate), but in that case you are mostly looking towards the vintage British and US made camera's - which are plenty offered btw, but to acquire whole plate holders for a camera you bought separately might be a challenge - so best to look for camera's that come with matching plateholders.
    Other thing to think about is that even if you can acquire matching plateholders, and you want to use sheetfilm, you'll need the hard to get metal film sheats; took me about two years to find some of these at an affordable price.
    Everything in smaller formats is much easier to find and a bit cheaper - if you come from 5x4 why not give it first a try in the old half plate format....

    Currently have 3 WP camera's but only one with matching original plateholders...the British made Eastman:


    The other two are the Sanderson A-Pattern, which is still in restoring state, for which I don't have a fitting holder yet, and a Butcher & Son National which is restored and has one fitting (but I don't think original) plateholder.
    Last edited by Ron (Netherlands); 18-Apr-2021 at 12:23.
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  8. #8
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 cameras?

    Oh for the "Good-Ol'-Days" of the Camera Shows. I went to the Houston Camera "Show twice a year for 15-20 years, Usually bought some LF film from the expired film guy that came down from Chicago. A few bucks each for 8x10 boxes of Tri-X and Ektachrome . A test shot or two and off I went.

    The inflation in film prices in the dcades following Y2K are incredible and bruising to my aging psyche. Used to get 20 sheets of 4x5 Velvia for around $20. Now the same box in closer to $100 if you don't shop around.
    Drew Bedo
    www.quietlightphoto.com
    http://www.artsyhome.com/author/drew-bedo




    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  9. #9

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    Re: 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 cameras?

    Soon after becoming intrigued by whole plate - I measured the coverage of my 5x7 Heiland LED VC head, and while slightly oversized (as it should be) for 5x7, it really would not work for WP...and I cannot see making the investment into yet another (larger) Heiland Head, nor do I really forsee making contact prints from anything smaller than 8x10.

    But I do like the Whole Plate aspect ratio...would be perfect for me I think! (hmmm...)

  10. #10
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    Re: 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 cameras?

    My favorite format, have been using it for more than 20 years. Makes a beautiful contact print on 8x10 paper, with a margin for safe handling and corner mounting. Because of the slightly smaller coverage requirement, lens selection is easier than for 8x10, and lens sets will tend to be smaller and lighter because you can often get away with lenses in #1 shutter where lenses of comparable specification for 8x10 come in #3. My standard lens for WP is the 210 Apo-Sironar-S, but even the regular 72-degree plasmats in that focal length, which are cheap and plentiful, offer ample coverage for WP.

    When I was getting started more than 20 years ago, it was easier to find vintage cameras and holders, often at bargain prices, as hardly anybody was interested. I stumbled across my first WP camera, an Eastman No 2 with a few holders, at a local camera show - was intrigued, took a chance on it, and the rest is history. I think that would be much less likely today. But now you can at least buy the Chamonix WP camera and holders new, and Ilford film is available factory-cut in that size through the annual special order program.

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