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Thread: Can someone please give me an overview

  1. #1
    Arcaholic
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    Question Can someone please give me an overview

    Regarding hardware, my brain needs an overview first before I can start absorbing the details of wet plate photography...and I can't find such an explanation. How are wet plate cameras/holders different from dry plate and film?

    For example, Chamonix sells new wet plate cameras with no mention of doing dry plates. Ya can't do both? So what's the difference in cameras/holders between wet and dry plate?

    A dedicated wet plate camera can't do film with the proper film holders?

    On another forum, a guy was talking about doing reduced wet plate sizes with an 11x14 camera, and indicated you "just change inserts" to go smaller...what is he talking about? My brain says you need a reducing back (and holders) to go smaller. I know there are inserts to use film in dry plate holders, but as far as shooting, say, 5x7 wet plates in an 11x14 camera by "changing inserts"? ????

  2. #2

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    Re: Can someone please give me an overview

    In this 11 minute YouTube video, a fellow who makes and sells dry plates and holders shows how they work. He uses them with a standard Intrepid large format camera. There are additional videos about dry plate on his channel:


  3. #3

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    Re: Can someone please give me an overview

    Scott,

    Let me try to answer some of your questions.

    Yes you can use Chamonix wet plate holders for both dry and wet plates as long as their thickness is not over 3mm.

    Inserts are used inside wet plate holders unlike reducing backs for films. For example, with an 11x14 camera and an 11x14 wet plate holder, you can use 11x14 to 8x10 insert to shoot 810 plates. If you put an 8x10 to 5x7 insert with the 11x14 insert, you can shoot 5x7 plates with an 11x14 camera.

    Hugo

  4. #4

    Re: Can someone please give me an overview

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Morgan View Post
    Regarding hardware, my brain needs an overview first before I can start absorbing the details of wet plate photography...and I can't find such an explanation. How are wet plate cameras/holders different from dry plate and film?

    For example, Chamonix sells new wet plate cameras with no mention of doing dry plates. Ya can't do both? So what's the difference in cameras/holders between wet and dry plate?

    A dedicated wet plate camera can't do film with the proper film holders?
    A camera is a camera, pretty much - whether you chose to use it for wet plate, dry plate, or film. You do not need a dedicated camera just to do wet/dry plate work. The difference is in the holders you use. A plate holder is (generally) suitable for either wet or dry plates. But a plate holder cannot be used for film. For film you need a sheet film holder.

  5. #5
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    Re: Can someone please give me an overview

    Thanks Hugo, r.e., and Paul...

    It's clearer now with these explanations, but I'm still confused why some **cameras** are billed as wet plate cameras, instead of just the holders. Paul, before you posted I was going to ask if there are any differences in the camera itself. Can modern cameras, designed to take film holders, also take plate holders (is there enough "spring" in the back?)

  6. #6
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    Re: Can someone please give me an overview

    Hugo, what's the difference in the Chamonix 57W-d Wet Plate camera ($260 more), vs. the film version 57Fs-2?

  7. #7

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    Re: Can someone please give me an overview

    Scott,

    57Wd was designed for wet plate use. It can be used as a film camera as well. It can be used with a 5x8 back as well as an 8x8 focus frame with an 8x8 wet plate holder for 8x8 wet/dry plates.

    57Fs2 is mainly a film camera with asymmetrical rear tilt back, but can be used with a 57 wet/dry plate holder. It can not be used with a 5x8 back or an 8x8 focus frame.

    If you shoot mostly wet/dry plate in studio setting and want to shoot 8x8 plates, 57Wd is a good choice. 57Fs2 should be considered if you shoot film mostly.

  8. #8

    Re: Can someone please give me an overview

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Morgan View Post
    Thanks Hugo, r.e., and Paul...

    It's clearer now with these explanations, but I'm still confused why some **cameras** are billed as wet plate cameras, instead of just the holders. Paul, before you posted I was going to ask if there are any differences in the camera itself. Can modern cameras, designed to take film holders, also take plate holders (is there enough "spring" in the back?)
    I believe there were specific camera designs made back in the day that were specifically built and sold as "wet plate" cameras, but modern large format cameras do not have such a distinction. Period (1800's) cameras listed as Wet Plate cameras are often odd sizes (Google "whole plate" "half plate" etc) and so unless you want to be stuck using period-correct plate holders (hard to find and expensive) then get a modern camera and use modern plate holders. Chamonix is the best wet plate holder I have had the pleasure to use, so my vote is for Chamonix.

    I have 8x10 Chamonix wet plate holders which I use with both my Deardorff and my Intrepid 8x10 cameras, and I also have a 5x7 Chamonix plate holder for use with my Intrepid 5x7, and same for my Intrepid 4x5. If you acquire a modern plate holder (these are almost always BOTH wet and dry plate holders, with a few exceptions) then you can use this with a modern large format camera, fitting just the same as a film holder does.

  9. #9
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    Re: Can someone please give me an overview

    Thanks Hugo and Paul.

    unless you want to be stuck using period-correct plate holders (hard to find and expensive) then get a modern camera and use modern plate holders.
    I've seen that advice before, and I'm glad you mentioned it to reinforce it in my mind.

    Chamonix is the best wet plate holder I have had the pleasure to use, so my vote is for Chamonix.
    Good to hear!

  10. #10

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    Re: Can someone please give me an overview

    Quote Originally Posted by paulbarden View Post
    A camera is a camera, pretty much - whether you chose to use it for wet plate, dry plate, or film. You do not need a dedicated camera just to do wet/dry plate work. The difference is in the holders you use. A plate holder is (generally) suitable for either wet or dry plates. But a plate holder cannot be used for film. For film you need a sheet film holder.
    CORRECTION: Some early dry plate holders came with inserts allowing the use of film. I have both 8x10 and 5x7.The 5x7's will also take 4x5 film in similar adapters. All of mine were made in the 1920-40 era.

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