|The Kodak Specialist or one of the alien tripod machines from|
War of the Worlds?
Back in December, 2013, I won a half plate, British-made Kodak Specialist, a lovely old studio camera, at auction. I was quite smitten by it but, apart from a few paper negs to test the bellows, it never burned any film.
I had a stack of double dark slides in the half plate size for it but I think only Ilford in their once a year custom large format film run would be able to supply it with material. That meant it would have been necessary to buy 5x7 film and trim it to fit.
With one thing and another - including the fact that it's a big, heavy beast - I never actually took it outside at all. Early this year, when I was considering a deal for the Leica outfit I've been writing about in The Leica Diaries, the chap who had the outfit wanted to include the big Kodak as part of the deal. Since I wasn't using it, I reluctantly parted with it.
Then a few weeks ago, a Kodak Specialist owner stumbled upon my blog whist looking for information about his camera. He got in touch to say he was hoping to find a good home for it. Well, I couldn't resist and ended up buying the outfit myself.
And that's why I once again have a relatively huge, very capable and, in a 1950s utilitarian way, quite beautiful half plate view camera. This time round the big Kodak has come with a 203mm f7.7 Kodak Ektar lens, the standard optic for the camera, and a 90mm f6.8 Schneider Angulon. The Ektar has an excellent reputation and makes a great lens for 5x4 as well. The Angulon barely covers the 5x4 format but its presence was explained by the inclusion of a quarter plate back in the bespoke Kodak Specialist outfit box.
|My first Kodak Specialist|
The other item of considerable interest was an original Kodak tripod (it's supporting the Kodak in the pic at the top of the page) designed for the camera. It does a great job of holding the heavyweight at a jaunty angle if required but it weighs a whopping 6.5kgs! My pal Phil Rogers reckons I should still be able to pack everything in a rucksack and go walking over the hills but I suspect he has a strong masochistic streak in him. :)
"Mount 370"The outfit also included a nice, original lens hood for the Ektar and a green filter that drops into a special holder but the filter has seen better days. The filter size is known as Mount 370. I went on to Ebay to see if there was anything available and found a lovely Kodak yellow filter for less than a fiver including postage. That's now sitting in the Kodak outfit case as well. If anyone has Mount 370 accessories they no longer need then please get in touch.
The big question, I suppose, is will I actually get round to using it this time? Definitely! I'm determined to load it into the boot of the car and do some "proper photography"' as I like to think of large format. That would come, I suspect, as a welcome change to reader Michael Carberry who fears that I go on about Leicas so much there's a danger I'll turn into "one of them".
One can only speculate what that would entail but I certainly don't like the sound of it! Neither do I want the blog to morph into a Leica-only website so a bit of variety would do us all some good.
The first thing I'll have to do is knock up a jig of some sort for trimming 5x7 film to half plate size. Then I'll need to buy some film. The Foma 5x7 is quite reasonably priced but I'm also going to check out X-ray material. Andrew Sanderson has successfully used this in the past although I believe most of it is orthochromatic.
When I had my first Kodak Specialist, a reader whose name escapes me made the offer of some 5x7 X-ray film so that I could try the camera out to make sure everything was working properly. If the offer is still available then I'd like to take him up on it. I wouldn't mind getting a few 5x7 DDS holders as well so if you can help, again, please get in touch.
I've never tried doing 5x4 contacts although some people say they can be magical. Being that bit bigger, I reckon half plate would be just about perfect on 10x8 paper and can't wait to see what they're like.