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Thread: Ideal Dark/Focusing Cloth?

  1. #1

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    Question Ideal Dark/Focusing Cloth?

    I am just getting into LF and assembling my kit. This forum has been tremendously helpful. Thanks much to all who participate. I hope I can return the favor to others as I learn.

    For now, I'm stuck figuring out a good focusing cloth to get. What is the ideal size for an 8x10 field camera being used outdoors? I've also read something on this forum about Harrison cloths being sticky on the silver side, but that possibly no longer being an issue with newer ones? Any other good options besides Harrison?

    Thanks much for any suggestions.

    Scott

  2. #2
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Ideal Dark/Focusing Cloth?

    Hi Scott, and welcome to the addiction.

    I have a couiple of Harrison cloths purchased new ~2 yrs ago, one for the 4x5 and one for the 8x10, and hate them.

    The silver side, although it looks reflective, is not.
    It absorbs heat from the sun like a sponge, making the interior very hot and uncomfortable to use.

    I put them on the shelf and went back to my black/white Delta cloths. Much cooler and more comfortable.

    The main purpose of a focusing cloth is to eliminate stray light that may reflect off the GG, making it
    difficult to view the image. Any black interior will work; some folks use black T-shirts (but they're hot).

    As to size...
    The large Harrison cloth is 54" x 80", which I think is too large for 8x10, but that's a personal call.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  3. #3
    Lachlan 717
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    Re: Ideal Dark/Focusing Cloth?

    I have a BlackJacket 5x7 cloth for my 6x17cm and 4x5", and a BTZS one for my 7x17".

    Both are great, but I do struggle a little in really hot weather with them. Mind you, I don't know of any other hoods that are any better.

    One idea that I did like is having a small hole in one that you can fit a snorkel through to stop the GG fogging up from breathing!
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  4. #4
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Ideal Dark/Focusing Cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lachlan 717 View Post
    One idea that I did like is having a small hole in one that you can fit a snorkel through to stop the GG fogging up from breathing!
    You breathe while you're shooting?

    No wonder your photos look fuzzy.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  5. #5
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Re: Ideal Dark/Focusing Cloth?

    I have a few traditional ones, which are fine. I fold it in half approximately and drape it over my shoulders, so I can flip it over my head and the camera to look at the groundglass. Usually I'm holding it closed with one hand and operating the camera with the other. You don't need to attach the cloth to the camera, as some people seem to believe, and if the cloth is attached during the exposure, it can be a source of camera vibration, but on the other hand, some people use the darkcloth to prevent light leaks.

    I also have an 8x10" Black Jacket, which is very lightweight and compact. Something that light needs to attach to the camera at least while you're focusing or it would blow away, but it's a very good focusing cloth.

  6. #6

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    I like my homemade darkcloth a lot. I lined lightweight white Gore-Tex fabric with a lightweight black curtain fabric (rough, so it won't slide off) from the fabric store. I sewed one-inch Velcro all around, hooks on one half, pile on the other. It is approx. 3 x 4 1/2 feet, which is a little large for 4x5, but makes it double well as an emergency camera cover (I've saved the camera from "sneaker" breakers on the coast) and a poncho. It's easy to fasten around the camera with the Velcro to make it even darker and keep the wind from blowing it around, plus, you can fasten it around your neck and wear it as a fancy Superman-style white cape with black lining

    Best,

    Doremus

  7. #7

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    Re: Ideal Dark/Focusing Cloth?

    I'm also new to LF, but I'm on my third dark cloth. I started with a black piece of upholstery fabric - TOO FREAKING HOT. I moved on to a white blackout curtain lining with ripstop nylon sewn to the inside. Again too hot. I ended up finding a Kalt/Ross Focusing cloth at a local camera store. It's not 100% light tight, but it is MUCH cooler to use.

  8. #8
    Lachlan 717
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    Re: Ideal Dark/Focusing Cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    You breathe while you're shooting?

    No wonder your photos look fuzzy.

    - Leigh
    Only my Nudes, Leigh, only my Nudes...
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  9. #9
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Ideal Dark/Focusing Cloth?

    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb View Post
    You don't need to attach the cloth to the camera...
    This is another of those "personal preference" subjects, and I think it's appropriate to discuss it in this thread.

    I generally attach the FC to the top of the camera by folding it over the top, back into the shell, and clipping
    a pair of clothes pins in the upper corners. This is quite secure and causes no damage whatsoever.

    The FC serves as a light shield, since I frequently pull the dark slide,
    then wait for clouds or whatever to get in the right position.

    I should note that I don't shoot in windy environments.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  10. #10
    Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Re: Ideal Dark/Focusing Cloth?

    I've found the BTZS "tube" type hoods to be the best for me, light tight from every angle.



    -Dan

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