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Saturday, July 25

Quarter Plate, anyone?


The adapted DDS and quarter plate film sheaths.

I've had hardly any time recently to get properly acquainted with the second Kodak Specialist 2 to have occupied a space in my darkroom, a half plate camera that creates its own gravitational pull by virtue of its stupendous mass.

That's why I missed a wee collection of plate holders - more like film sheaths really - in the bottom of the Kodak's custom case. At first I wasn't sure why they were there and then I remembered that one of the two double dark slides that came with the camera was adapted for the quarter plate size.

Sure enough, I tried one of the sheaths in the quarter plate well in the DDS and it dropped neatly into place. That means there are six pre-loadable, quarter plate film sheaths in the outfit and I think I'll give them a try. Quarter plate measures 3.25x4.25 inches. Unlike half plate (4.75x6.5 inches) which is slightly bigger than half of a whole plate (6.5x8.5 inches), quarter plate is exactly that - a quarter of the size of whole plate.

The sheaths simply drop into the quarter plate well.

I've been looking at x-ray film for the half plate holders and have found a supply of 18x24cm film for a very good price. It would be £35 including delivery for 100 sheets which works out at 17.5p a half plate sheet (you get two half plate sheets from an 18x24cm) which I really can't complain about at all. Each 18x24cm sheet would also provide four quarter plate sheets which is an almost economical 9p per shot for a film size that isn't an awful lot smaller than 5x4.

What a cute outfit: The Specialist, 203mm Ektar, 90mm Angulon,
two DDS and film sheaths, lens hood, filters and the cloak of
darkness for viewing the ground glass all in a neat case.

The only slight problem is that, like all x-ray film apart from that used in mammography and industry, it's coated with emulsion on both sides. This has two drawbacks: it's easier to scratch the back side of the sheet when processing it and the double image builds contrast quite quickly so a soft-working developer is required. The usual advice when tray processing the film is to put a sheet of glass in the bottom of the developing tray to protect the underside emulsion. I'm going to ask the supplier if they have any single coated film.

In the meantime I think I'll pinch six sheets of 5x4 Adox CHS 100 II from a box I have in the fridge and cut them down to fit the quarter plate holders. It's a bit of a waste but you know what it's like when you get a new camera and are keen to try it out.

Being just sheaths rather than proper dark slides, I'll have to put them in a black plastic bag once loaded and use a changing bag to fit them into the adapted half plate holder when out "in the field". It'll be a faff but it's workable.

The Kodak outfit came with a 203mm f7.7 Kodak Ektar lens - an excellent lens that covers half plate with a little to spare - and a 90mm f6.8 Angulon that barely has enough coverage for 5x4 but is good for the smaller quarter plate size. The pair, equivalent to around 35mm and 70mm lenses on the 35mm format, are all I'd ever need for quarter plate with this camera.

I've even got a couple of glass plates in the quarter plate size which I can use as a template when cutting the 5x4 film. That'll save a lot of fiddling around in the darkroom! With our house now on the market and much of my darkroom/photography gear boxed and packed away, it's going to be quite a while before I can get any enlarging done so scans will be the order of the day for weeks to come.

We have our eyes on a small house about 15 miles away that has an attic space suitable for conversion into a darkroom but it would be a lot of work and could mean that it might well be late autumn or even winter before I'm in a position to do any printing. Looks like a hybrid workflow for me for the foreseeable future.

You might also like:

Return of the Kodak Specialist
Kodak Specialist 2 Unboxing
Kodak Specialist Half Plate: First Outing

3 comments :

etienne dezutter said...

Hi
I've got some plates 2 1/2 X 3 1/2 for Mamiya .I've bought a plate holder model 2 but I'm still missing the single exposure back to work fully with the mamiya TLR C 330 prof . I'v thought to let make an exposure back ,but I'm afraid cause everything looks drather complicated ... First you've have to cut the just size from bigger plates . But where do I stock the loaded plates to use when you're in field .Not in sunlight I suppose ?
etiennedezutter@yahoo.com

David Kirk said...

You can just strip one side of the X-Ray film with bleach after you've developed it - looks like I'll have to do that as I don't have a darkroom, so I've been using JOBO 2840 tanks.
Where are you getting your x-Ray film from? - is it someone actually in the UK, as I've been getting it from the USA via eBay. (Currently Agfa G+ - seems to like ISO 50 in sunlight (North Lanarkshire) in Rodinal 1:100 for about 7:30 minutes with a pre-soak of 2-5mins, depending on how patient I am, or how long the kettle takes to boil for a coffee. . .)

Kenny Wood said...

You might want to check out this blog by Tim Layton as Tim mentions that Kodak Ektascan B/RA film is available as a single sided radiography film. However I believe it's now called Carestream Ektascan B/RA Film as Carestream have taken over the manufacture of the film.
I've downloaded Carestream's UK 2014 price list but 100 sheets of 10x8 Ektascan B/RA film is £245.87 probably this doesn't include VAT or postage. So if you can find a cheaper source of radiography film please let us know.