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Thread: Whole Plate opinions?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    San Antonio Area

    Whole Plate opinions?

    I am looking at the possibility of perhaps moving to a whole plate camera. I need to know some things first, such as which lenses would work well with a Whole plate camera? Also are there any whole plate users on this forum who care to share their experiences?

  2. #2
    Dave Karp
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Los Angeles, CA

    Re: Whole Plate opinions?

    I have been using a WP Improved Seneca for a while now.

    The disadvantages I see of the WP format are (1) the expense of new holders (Chamonix, Ebony, Lotus - I think) until Fotoman gets their WP holders out the door, and (2) the requirement of ordering WP film in advance during special runs each year (an alternative would be to cut down 8x10).

    The advantages:
    -I like the shape of the 6.5 x 8.5 photo.
    -It is a nice size contact print. Not too small, kind of just right. Most people would probably think it is an 8x10 if they don't have a comparison close by.
    -Lots of lenses work with this format. You don't need to buy expensive lenses with loads of coverage. If you have a 210mm Plasmat type for your 4x5, you have a nice gentle wide lens for your WP camera. My old single coated 180mm f/5.6 uji W also makes a nice wide on WP. Many lenses designed for 4x5 and 5x7 work great.
    -It is easier to pack and carry than an 8x10. Everything is smaller, not all that much bigger than a 5x7.

    So far, I am happy with my venture into the WP world.

  3. #3

    Re: Whole Plate opinions?

    I have a 4/4 (whole plate) reducing back for my 8x10 as well as few wooden holders from the 1920s. All of my 8x10 lenses, and most of my 5x7 lenses work fine with it. Like David, I really like the ratio (pretty similar to 11x14), but unlike him I never get my act together and order at the correct time, so I never have film for it.

    Of course, many of the collodion cult (ether-heads) pour their own 4/4 plate, and when I can afford it I occasionally make 4/4 plate Daguerreotypes, but that is a different story...

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    Re: Whole Plate opinions?

    I'm a fan. It just looks fantastic on a sheet of 11X14 paper with white rebate. My method has been to simply use a reducing back on my venerable 2D 8X10. I've been able to hoard a few holders and I cut down 9 1/2 inch aerial recon roll film. It is a lot of messing around but my shots are good and cost me pennies. I have a reducing back for the big Century studio camera also. Next to 8X10, full plate is my most used.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Re: Whole Plate opinions?

    I'm a fan of the size also, but my method is 8x10 and a "pair of scissors" which solves all the problems except bulk.



  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Re: Whole Plate opinions?

    I think RJ Lam has his own Whole Plate group on Yahoo?? He's a member here so probably will reply in time.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Oregon Coast

    Re: Whole Plate opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Greenberg Motamedi View Post
    Of course, many of the collodion cult (ether-heads) pour their own 4/4 plate, and when I can afford it I occasionally make 4/4 plate Daguerreotypes, but that is a different story...
    Don't forget silver gelatin dry plate! So far, I think I'm probably a cult of one, but as soon as a few more people figure out how easy and fun it is, I'm sure I'll have company .

    I'm not known for being at a loss for words, but I'm hard put to describe what it is precisely that is so perfect about the WP format. I just know that it seems right. Both horizontals and verticals stage well without looking either unstable or static. It's easier to find subjects than with most other aspect ratios, and (at least for me) it's the easiest size to contact print with a bit of burning and dodging. But, for some real advice, you'll want to talk with RJ.

    RJ is my go-to guy for WP (and photographic philosophy). He's always willing to answer questions and talk photography. He's in Great Britain and is out of time sync with most of the rest of us, but he's sure to be along soon. He's done a hero's job in reinvigorating a whole plate community. His forum is putting together a terrific collection of information and inspiration.

    Good luck and Happy WP,

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Medicine Hat Alberta

    Re: Whole Plate opinions?

    Both Glaziers in Seattle and BigCameraworkshop who is on this list advertise whole plate film. We ordered a box of FP4 from Rob as soon as we purchased the Seneca Improved just in case film became scarce and as of today still have not used the camera.

    Film Holders seem to be the scare commodity.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    South Carolina

    Re: Whole Plate opinions?

    BTW, S&S made a small batch of the WP holders recently, in cherry wood. If interested please contact me through the S&S site for details.

    Sandy King

  10. #10
    Wayne venchka's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Cool Re: Whole Plate opinions?

    Howdy Murph! Glad you joined. Welcome to the Asylum.

    I can't add much to what has already been said. I had the privilege of seeing several Ansel Adams whole plate contact prints recently. Jim's right. Whole plate prints do look right. Very nice. You could get a feel for the look by making whole plate size inkjet prints.

    Processing the film does come to mind. If you have a dark space, trays would always work. Pure specualtion: the various print drums from Unicolor, Beseler or Jobo mayb work as well.

    There are a lot of old lenses around that would be period correct for whole plate. You could even do wet plates on glass or aluminum.

    I feel a Perdnalez Falls Big Camera weekend coming on. Road trip!

    Good luck.

    Happy New Year!

    Deep in the darkest heart of the North Carolina rainforest.

    Wayne's Blog


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