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Thread: NOOBIE: Century 10a barn find...need thoughts.

  1. #1

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    NOOBIE: Century 10a barn find...need thoughts.

    Hi folks, first timer here....

    I wound up hauling off an elephant of a camera from a local woodworkers barn. From what I can gather it is a 8x10 Century 10a (folmer and schwing) w/ semi-centennial stand . I also gather that I have a 4x5 rotating back. The lens is a Schenider Symmar 210/5.6 - 420/12.

    The goal is to get this camera working again for a long-term portrait project, but I have no clue where to begin or what I have.

    Check the pics for a better look.

    a couple of questions:

    If I want to go to 8x10 where do I get the back, are there third party options?

    What lenses and shutters can I use? The lens board is recessed, I assume to better utilize the 4x5.

    Anything else you folks can tell me about this camera to get me in a place to use it in the studio?

    Would love to hear about your experiences.

    Thanks for taking the time to help a total noobie out.

    Cheers, -matt

  2. #2

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    Re: NOOBIE: Century 10a barn find...need thoughts.

    Hi Matt, welcome to a fun project and a usable camera.

    If I want to go to 8x10 where do I get the back, are there third party options?
    No 3rd party, but Kodak 2D backs will often fit. Or look for a Century, Graflex, Folmer, Eastman studio camera back, they are all about the same.

    What lenses and shutters can I use? The lens board is recessed, I assume to better utilize the 4x5.
    The sky's the limit. You can research this board for any number of combinations. At any price.

    Anything else you folks can tell me about this camera to get me in a place to use it in the studio?

    Would love to hear about your experiences.


    Do some searching on this board on "Century" or "Studio" or whatever, they are posted often. Restorations, et al.

  3. #3

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    Re: NOOBIE: Century 10a barn find...need thoughts.

    what a fantastic find. Do not leave that barn without the stand! These things do not sell for much becuase they cost a small fortune to ship but, they are wonderful cameras. The one I had came with an Ilexpo shutter. It fit perfectly and appeared to be original. I'm sure that more common Packard shutters would also work.

  4. #4

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    Re: NOOBIE: Century 10a barn find...need thoughts.

    Thanks folks, I have the stand which is more or less perfect, need a single pyramid cap for one of the posts.

    I think first thing first, is to replace the lens and shutter and shoot a few sheets of 4x5 until I can track down the 8x10 back.

    Supposedly, this camera was part of a large studio in San Antonio, TX -- hoping to find out more.

    BTW, it appears that I have a spare 4x5 back and a couple of 5x7 film holders if someone is looking.

    Keep ya posted on the progress and will do more diligent searching to avoid bogging down the board. Cheers -M

  5. #5
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: NOOBIE: Century 10a barn find...need thoughts.

    You can take any back and put it on a piece of wood that fits, and it'll work. It's really basic. Kodak might be the closest fit, and if you're into adapting things, Burke and James or Calumet could be adapted.

    Shooting some 4x5 would be a good start. That lens is far modern for your use, and the recessed lensboard is probably homemade, but it's a good choice for 4x5 portraits. If you wanted to do 8x10, converting it to the longer focal length would be good, but a little dim. It has a shutter, and if it works, it will be versatile and functional. If your schenider has x-sync you could use studio flash. Otherwise, you'll use continuous lights such as a window, aluminum dished work/brooding lights , diffused fluourecent panels, etc...

    Other inexpensive period lens choices might be tessars, triplets, or rapid rectalinears. They'd probably be without shutter and you'd need a packard or other such shutter to operate if you weren't using a hat or darkslide to shutter the lens. Some old projection lens would be fine too. Browse what people are doing with portraits on here. Some excellent photos are even made with magnifying glasses. A used packard shutter for $100 and a $100 tessar and you'll be in business. A lens in the 350-500mm range would be most practical for portraits on 8x10.

  6. #6

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    Re: NOOBIE: Century 10a barn find...need thoughts.

    Welcome. That's a great camera and you'll have a lot of fun working with it. Folmer Graflex Eastman Century are all good search words for an 8X10 back on ebay. It should snap right on once you get one.

    Look for longer focal length lenses combined with fast speed. A 16" f4 or f4.5 lens is a great place to start. The original fast lenses that the old boys used in the 1920's will take up sufficient real estate on the 9X9 inch lens boards that you'll understand why the front of the camera is built that way. Big petzval types are the logical place to start howbeit somewhat pricey now days. I've got a 19 1/2" Dallmeyer 5D I'm getting ready to list, but that one may stun you when the price is included.

    My web pages are full of images made with big lenses and old cameras, including my 10A.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

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