Pages: [1] 2   Go Down

Author Topic: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.  (Read 6244 times)

MattBurt

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 3322
  • Looking for that other shot
    • Matt Burt Photography
Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« on: July 31, 2018, 01:19:27 pm »

I inherited this 1890's large format camera from a friend who passed away unexpectedly a few years back. It appears to be in beautiful shape and as far as I can tell the shutter seems to work so I'd like to try to get some photos out of it. I just recently acquired some film holders that are of the same make and era and they seem to fit the camera perfectly.

I'm new to this type of photography and while I have a conceptual idea of how it's all done, I have no practical experience. I have shot 35mm and 120 film and developed B&W but have not had a darkroom in ages.

I want to get some film that would work with it and that I could send somewhere to be developed. If all indications are good from there I might take things further and set up a darkroom, but I'd like to be sure the camera and my process work first.

The film holder openings are approximately 5x7" but not exactly. The holders do not open at the bottom like newer 4x5 ones seem to so I guess I need to slide the film in, similar to how the dark slide goes in? I may practice a bit with some paper so that once I've got film I have some kind of working technique. Any specific tricks I should know here?

As for the film, I guess 5x7 is the size to go for since that is the closest available to actual size. 
I'd like to get as little as possible in case I discover this project isn't going to work out. This looks like a relatively small investment, although I'd go smaller if the option is available.
https://www.adorama.com/cz42015750.html

I've used www.TheDarkroom.com for other film developing and they seem pretty reasonable so I'd probably use them unless someone has a good reason I should not.

As for the process, as I understand it, it goes something like this:
  • Load film into holders in the dark
  • Compose and focus using bellows and ground glass.
  • Meter and calculate exposure
  • Set shutter for appropriate time, cock shutter.
  • Place film holder in the camera, pull the dark slide on the correct side
  • Make the exposure, replace dark slide
  • Unload film in the dark, but into what? Does the film come with something I can put it in to send back?
  • Send film in for developing
  • Scan negative and reverse the image

Any glaring omissions or misunderstandings here? I'd love some feedback if you see anything.
Thanks in advance!
Logged
-MattB

eronald

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6642
    • My gallery on Instagram
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2018, 03:23:11 pm »

If you are going do BW, you can develop your own and also do your own contact prints. That would be the best solution, all your need is 3 dishes or containers of some sort and a dark place. I did that when I was 13 years old and quality was good. Once the images are sorted you can think about how to enlarge.

Edmund

I inherited this 1890's large format camera from a friend who passed away unexpectedly a few years back. It appears to be in beautiful shape and as far as I can tell the shutter seems to work so I'd like to try to get some photos out of it. I just recently acquired some film holders that are of the same make and era and they seem to fit the camera perfectly.

I'm new to this type of photography and while I have a conceptual idea of how it's all done, I have no practical experience. I have shot 35mm and 120 film and developed B&W but have not had a darkroom in ages.

I want to get some film that would work with it and that I could send somewhere to be developed. If all indications are good from there I might take things further and set up a darkroom, but I'd like to be sure the camera and my process work first.

The film holder openings are approximately 5x7" but not exactly. The holders do not open at the bottom like newer 4x5 ones seem to so I guess I need to slide the film in, similar to how the dark slide goes in? I may practice a bit with some paper so that once I've got film I have some kind of working technique. Any specific tricks I should know here?

As for the film, I guess 5x7 is the size to go for since that is the closest available to actual size. 
I'd like to get as little as possible in case I discover this project isn't going to work out. This looks like a relatively small investment, although I'd go smaller if the option is available.
https://www.adorama.com/cz42015750.html

I've used www.TheDarkroom.com for other film developing and they seem pretty reasonable so I'd probably use them unless someone has a good reason I should not.

As for the process, as I understand it, it goes something like this:
  • Load film into holders in the dark
  • Compose and focus using bellows and ground glass.
  • Meter and calculate exposure
  • Set shutter for appropriate time, cock shutter.
  • Place film holder in the camera, pull the dark slide on the correct side
  • Make the exposure, replace dark slide
  • Unload film in the dark, but into what? Does the film come with something I can put it in to send back?
  • Send film in for developing
  • Scan negative and reverse the image

Any glaring omissions or misunderstandings here? I'd love some feedback if you see anything.
Thanks in advance!
Logged
If you appreciate my blog posts help me by following on https://instagram.com/edmundronald

MattBurt

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 3322
  • Looking for that other shot
    • Matt Burt Photography
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2018, 04:13:00 pm »

If you are going do BW, you can develop your own and also do your own contact prints. That would be the best solution, all your need is 3 dishes or containers of some sort and a dark place. I did that when I was 13 years old and quality was good. Once the images are sorted you can think about how to enlarge.

Edmund

I know but I want to try this before getting into the chemicals. There may be some lack of enthusiasm from other members of the household and I hope showing some interesting results from a test will help my case. If the test shots come out that will likely be my next step in the project.
But thanks for the reply!

I sent an email to that film developing place to ask how people usually pack sheet film when they send it in.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2018, 04:23:08 pm by MattBurt »
Logged
-MattB

elliot_n

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1219
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2018, 04:42:49 pm »

If you are going do BW, you can develop your own and also do your own contact prints. That would be the best solution, all your need is 3 dishes or containers of some sort and a dark place. I did that when I was 13 years old and quality was good. Once the images are sorted you can think about how to enlarge.

If you took this approach, you could use the printing paper to make paper negatives, and avoid the cost of that big box of film.
Logged

elliot_n

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1219
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2018, 04:44:23 pm »

I sent an email to that film developing place to ask how people usually pack sheet film when they send it in.

They normally pack the film in a box like the one it came in. Your lab might be able to send you a spare box.
Logged

elliot_n

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1219
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2018, 04:52:27 pm »

Any glaring omissions or misunderstandings here? I'd love some feedback if you see anything.

4b. Close shutter.
Logged

MattBurt

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 3322
  • Looking for that other shot
    • Matt Burt Photography
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2018, 05:32:18 pm »

4b. Close shutter.

Yes, I'm going to need to study the shutter process so I don't forget something important like that. Thanks!

I found a cheaper box of film at B&H, 25 sheets of Ilford FP4 for $50.
I ordered that along with a package of light proof bags that The Darkroom recommended in response to my question.
They say you can also just send in the film holders so it's good to know I could do that too.
Logged
-MattB

NancyP

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2513
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2018, 06:18:03 pm »

Your source for all tech questions and inspiration:
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/
Forum is quite active.

B and W developing chemicals aren't very expensive.
Using the View Camera, Steve Simmons (book, reasonably priced, unlike the Leslie Stroebel textbook which is now upwards of USD 100.)
Logged

MattBurt

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 3322
  • Looking for that other shot
    • Matt Burt Photography
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2018, 10:34:48 am »

Your source for all tech questions and inspiration:
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/
Forum is quite active.

B and W developing chemicals aren't very expensive.
Using the View Camera, Steve Simmons (book, reasonably priced, unlike the Leslie Stroebel textbook which is now upwards of USD 100.)

Thanks Nancy! Looks like a great resource.
Logged
-MattB

Two23

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 827
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2018, 02:15:20 pm »

I regulARLY use old camera like this. MAke sure it for film and not glass plates..  You can. Call me and I wAlk you through it.  Blue moon in Portland for processing.

Kent in SD
Logged
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
miserere nobis.

mcbroomf

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1249
    • Mike Broomfield
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2018, 06:10:21 am »

If you get into this the other thing you might want to consider is finding a 4x5 back for the camera (if they exist).  You can then get some 4x5 holders.  I believe 4x5 is easier to obtain than 5x7.
Logged

Two23

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 827
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2018, 12:23:31 pm »

I finally found a computer I can type on.  First a little history to give you perspective.  Up until ~1880 photography was difficult and generally not done by hobbyists.  Lenses were expensive and the common process was "wet plate," aka collodion.  It was very inconvenient and a lot of work.  Around 1880 we went from wet plates to dry plate.  Basically the same emulsion but instead of being water based (which dried quickly--not good) the emulsion was gelatin based.  Plates were sold pre-made and didn't have to be processed immediately after exposing.  MUCH more convenient!  This quickly caused a boon in photography as a hobby.  By the 1890s there were a lot of companies making dry plates, lenses, and cameras for amateur photographers.  Rochester Camera was eventually bought out by Kodak around 1912 (I think.) 

Lenses.  Up until about 1890 there were basically three kinds of lenses:  achromatic doublets (2 element, cheap), Petzval (4 element, expensive), and rapid rectilinear (4 element, mid priced.)  After 1890 Zeiss invented a new kind of glass and new lens designs became possible, such as the Protar and Tessar.  These were "anastigmat" lenses and very expensive at the time.  Most likely your camera has either an achromatic doublet (the cheap "kit" lens) or a rapid rectilinear.  You can tell by unscrewing the element group(s) from the lens.  One group = achromatic doublet, two = rapid rectilinear.  Most likely it will be a rectilinear lens on a Premo as these were a higher end camera.  Next, look at the shutter.  They were pneumatic at this time.  They ran on air pressure created by a piston inside the cylinder.  Some were single cylinder, some were "double pumpers."  If you can unscrew the cap from the bottom of the cylinder you can carefully clean it out with a cotton swab.  Do NOT lubricate the cylinder.  The pistons are generally leather and lube will cause them to swell.  These shutters are somewhat inaccurate.  Top speed is generally either 1/50s or 1/100s.  Emulsions at the time were slow--ISO 10.  Next is the aperture on the lens.  In the 1890s the most common was the "wheel" or "rotary" stop.  There was a thin disc in the side of the lens barrel.  In that disc were holes that rotated into place.  Each hole is twice (or half) as big as the one next to it.  Apertures ran something like f8/f11/f16/f22/f32--i.e. doubled the amount of light.  The other type of aperture was the iris, like we use today.  These became common after ~1900 when the tiny parts could be mass produced.  Look at the aperture scale.  At that time there was no standard scale.  Most American lenses used the "U.S." scale--Uniform System.  It is different from what we have today.  On the U.S. scale, it's f16 equals modern f16, but there will be no f11--next step will be f8.  That is what we now call f11.  Start with f16 and then calculate up and down a stop to convert it to modern equivalent.  If your lens doesn't say what it is wide open (likely something like f8,) you can calculate by focusing the lens on something over 100 ft. away, measure distance from the back of camera to the middle of the lens, and divide by the internal diameter of the lens barrel.  (Not exact but close enough.)


Holders.  In the early years (pre 1920-ish) serious photographers did not use film in large format cameras.  It was floppy and there would be out of focus areas.  Almost certainly any photographer buying a Premo would use dry plates (glass,) not film.  If your holders are original to the camera they are probably plate holders.  How to tell?  Open one up and look at the sides.  If there is only one groove--for the dark slide to go in, it's a dry plate holder.  If there is a second groove it's a film holder.  You can buy "film sheaths" to convert a plate holder to use film (ebay).  There were several similar sized formats in use in the 1890s:  4.75x6.25 inch half plate, 5x7 in., and 6x8.5 in. full plate.  Measure the dimensions of the ground glass on the camera back to tell what yours is.  Most likely it is 5x7 since this is an American camera.  Since you provided no photo I can't tell if you have the modern designed holders or the older "book" style.


Bellows.  Take the back off the camera, and in a darkened room run a small flashlight inside the extended bellows.  You are looking for light coming through--especially in the corners.  If you see no light the bellows are light tight. 

To focus the camera is different from modern lenses (which have a viewing shutter.)  On your lens, set it to "T" which is "Time."  Shutter will stay open until you push it again. (Shutter will likely be marked: T, B, I.  T=time, b=bulb, I=instant and is the shutter speeds.)  Focus the lens while shutter is open (duh!), press the shutter lever again to close it, stop the lens down, set your shutter speed, insert film holder, remove dark slide, trip the shutter, REPLACE DARK SLIDE backwards to show you've exposed that sheet, remove holder.

If you want to know more, let me know.  If you want me to walk you through using the camera, you can PM me and we can do it over the phone as you handle the camera.  I own and use a 1905 Century Camera, a 5x7 Gundlach Korona from 1925, and a Watson & Son half plate camera (English) from 1880s.  I regularly shoot a 4x5 with antique lenses.


Kent in SD
Logged
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
miserere nobis.

Two23

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 827
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2018, 12:29:35 pm »

I just looked up Premo:
http://www.historiccamera.com/cgi-bin/librarium/pm.cgi?action=display&login=premo

These self-casing cameras were called "bicycle cameras" at the time.  The other great invention in the 1890s was the bicycle, and people wanted a portable camera to take with them on their bikes.  These were sold as a kit:  camera, lens/shutter, tripod, dark cloth, plate holders & all in a nice case.  There were no meters at this time (maybe some used extinction meters around 1900.)  Exposure by Sunny 16.


Kent in SD
Logged
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
miserere nobis.

MattBurt

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 3322
  • Looking for that other shot
    • Matt Burt Photography
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2018, 01:00:24 pm »

I finally found a computer I can type on. 
...

Kent in SD

Wow, thanks for the wealth of info! I've read some of this history but this is a nice concise summary of it all.
I've had some health issues in the past few weeks and have not been able to do much with it recently.

As a bicycle enthusiast, I love the Bicycle Camera moniker! Although it still seems a bit large to carry on my bike.  :)

I did determine you are correct about the holders, they are indeed plate holders, complete with some old plates in them.
The one I was thinking was a film holder was just a little jammed so it seemed like the plates were an integral part of the holder but the other one has the plates in with a little spring loaded mechanism at the bottom that holds them in place. They both have two dark slides, each in their own slot and appear to each hold two plates.
I might need to return that film or look for a film sheath like you mentioned. I saw there is a place still producing and developing dry plates so I could give that a try too. Maybe once I'm more confident it is functioning correctly I'll want to spend that kind of money on media.

I'll try to get some photos of it this weekend too. It's in really great condition. The bellows look so nice I wonder if they have been replaced. I'll inspect the lens and shutter more closely too. Definitely a pneumatic design.

Thanks again. 
Logged
-MattB

MattBurt

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 3322
  • Looking for that other shot
    • Matt Burt Photography
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2018, 05:24:16 pm »

I'm having trouble locating 5x7 film sleeves that I can use to convert those plate holders.

I see other 5x7 film holders on eBay but I suspect they would not fit a different brand camera, would they?
Logged
-MattB

Two23

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 827
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2018, 01:47:12 am »

I'm having trouble locating 5x7 film sleeves that I can use to convert those plate holders.

I see other 5x7 film holders on eBay but I suspect they would not fit a different brand camera, would they?


They might.  Both 4x5 & 8x10 were standardized early, so the other American size (5x7) might also be.  I would measure the width of the holders you have and then ask the ebay sellers to measure what they have.  You might also try using the glass plates already in the holder as a sheath.  Try one film sheet in the light to see if you can tuck it into the top and bottom edges of the holder.  I was shooting 4x5 in my half plate holders that way.  I used a couple of dabs of honey to make the film sheet stick. :)  I've also used a piece of -black- foam core of the right thickness cut to size.

Kent in SD
Logged
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
miserere nobis.

MattBurt

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 3322
  • Looking for that other shot
    • Matt Burt Photography
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2018, 10:45:15 pm »

Well they do! I took a chance on an early Kodak Premo film holder and it's a good fit. Slightly taller at the top but the right dimensions in the right places to be a snug fit.

So now I need to sort out the shutter. It's a Victor with the two cylinders. I can turn the dial on top to cock it and it has two levels of release with the first stage being open, I imagine to focus. But if I press the lever one more time it just seems to close the shutter. Aperture is a lever on the bottom of the lens and seems to work.

Does anyone have any info on how to use these? I don't know enough to tell if it is working correctly but I wonder if maybe it is not. I hope I am just not using it right.
Logged
-MattB

Two23

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 827
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2018, 11:08:19 pm »


1. So now I need to sort out the shutter. It's a Victor with the two cylinders. I can turn the dial on top to cock it and it has two levels of release with the first stage being open, I imagine to focus. But if I press the lever one more time it just seems to close the shutter.
2.Aperture is a lever on the bottom of the lens and seems to work.


1. That is correct.  Unlike modern shutters (Copal), there is no "viewing" shutter.  What you are doing with your shutter is setting it to the "T" position.  It's designed so that when you push it opens and will stay open until you push it again.   This is so you can make very long exposures--half minute, two minutes, etc.  It's also how you hold the shutter open while you focus.

2.  Keep in mind what  I said about the f-stop scale.  On this camera it's likely the U.S. scale (Uniform System.)  If there is no f11 on the dial it probably is the U.S. system, NOT the modern British System we use now.   On the U.S. system f16 equals our modern f16.  Count one stop down (or up) for each value marked on the dial.

3.  Shutter should be able to be tripped by a little lever.  You can find replacement rubber squeezy bulbs on ebay.  The hose attaches to the nipple on the bottom.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Deluxe-1904-style-rubber-Bulb-Tubing-pneumatic-shutter-device-for-antique-camera/153136063134?hash=item23a79ee29e%3Ag%3AUuMAAMXQUmFSngvg&_sacat=625&_nkw=gundlach+korona&_from=R40&rt=nc&_trksid=m570.l1313


Kent in SD

Logged
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
miserere nobis.

Two23

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 827
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2018, 11:53:18 pm »

Logged
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
miserere nobis.

MattBurt

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 3322
  • Looking for that other shot
    • Matt Burt Photography
Re: Rochester Premo ~5x7 - getting mine up and running.
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2018, 12:56:05 am »

I tried using the rocket blower but without a good seal I can't get enough power to trip the shutter.
So I used some canned compressed air and that fires it but it seems to behave the same as when I use the lever. One press opens and the next closes.

So I took some pics and now I can actually read that it is set to T mode. Would that make it act this way? If I loosen that screw I can move the arrow so I tried on 100 instead of T but the behavior is the same.

Here are some pics and a little video.






Shutter video here.
Logged
-MattB
Pages: [1] 2   Go Up