Saturday, May 06, 2017

Working on my plate camera skills

I have decided I need to spend more time with my plate cameras.  I have acquired five of the compact folders over the past several years.  All have good shutters and lenses, and bellows needing just minimal patching to be usable.  My first, the Kodak Recomar 18, was in great shape as it came to me from a fellow who was a very competent camera repairman.  The others had small issues that I was able to handle myself, and I was able to find two roll film adapters which made it practical to shoot all the cameras.

Yesterday, I loaded a roll of Fuji Acros in the Bentzin Primar and took it for a walk around Old Town.  As usual on a Friday morning, some of the local classic car enthusiasts had parked their treasures on the west end of the Plaza Vieja.  As much as I like the 100-speed Acros/Rodinal combination, it turns out to be something of a challenge to shoot in the plate cameras in anything less than full sun.  A shutter speed of 1/100 is about as low as I can go when hand-holding a 105mm lens, and opening the lens past f16 gives very shallow depth of field when distance has to be estimated.  I still have several rolls of Tri-X in the refrigerator, so I'll likely use that in my next round with the plate cameras.


JR Smith said...

Understanding these camera's quirks and then placed in the right hands...I am amazed at the results they can produce!

Well done Mike!

Mike said...

JR, your look back at some of your past work has inspired me to do some of the same. What surprises me most is how long I've had some of my fine old cameras and how little I have done with them. It seems like a good start to remedying that is to try working for a while with several examples of one type of camera before moving on to another. It really takes some time and familiarity to get the best that the old machines are capable of delivering.

James said...

Very interesting project. Could you please share more specifics about which rollfilm adapters you used?

Mike said...

All my plate cameras are 6x9 format, so I looked on ebay for adapters in that size. I now have two roll film adapters. The Rada adapter is well built; it fits my Recomar 18, my Maximar and my Bentzin Primar. The Patent Etui cameras have very narrow rails that allow sliding the adapter onto the back of the camera and will only work with the Rollex adapter. Unlike the Patent Etui, the Rollex adapter is of rather flimsy construction and requires some care in use. My Rollex has a loosely inserted roller on the supply side which has to be carefully held in place while you load the film and get the adapter fully assembled. If you click on the links in the right hand column for the plate cameras you will find all the posts about them including more details about using the adapters. Ebay prices for adapters are all over the map; I think I paid about $30 for mine and roughly the same for the cameras.