BTZS Focus Cloth Use : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I recently ordered a 4x5 Beynd the Zone System focuse cloth and I have a few questions. When using a loupe on the ground glass where do I insert my hands into the hood? Do I put them in the same hole as my head or do I have to detach the elastic part? I am also wondering the same about film holders. Any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

-- Paul Palka (, January 24, 2001


For your hand, make a separate small opening in the velcro near the ground glass (to keep too much light from getting in). Film holders go in after the dark cloth is removed from the camera (same as with a regular dark cloth). After you get used to the BTZS cloth you'll probably love it, as I do.


-- Mark Parsons (, January 24, 2001.

I don't have an origional Zone VI dark cloth, but rather a homemade one using a similar design. When checking the GG with my loupe, I use the same opening as for my head because a small amount of light at that point won't deteriorate what I see through the loupe.

The film holders are inserted after removing the darkcloth, but in bright sun, I re-mount the dark cloth AFTER inserting the film holder to prevent the direct sunlight from hitting the camera back and filmholder. You can never be too careful when it comes to light leaks.

-- William Levitt (, January 25, 2001.

I just got the BTZS dark cloth, my first dark cloth (my camera has folding hood), but haven't had much time to use it, but found myself making a separate arm hole through the velcro to use the loupe.

I discovered that it appeared that I'd have to remove the dark cloth to take the picture. That really annoys me - another piece of equipment that I have to lay down or hang somewhere. I wonder why it hadn't occurred to the manufacturers that a dark cloth would be used with the camera and provide some sort of lipped frame around the glass to facilitate attaching one - one that would not have to be removed to take the picture.

-- John H. Henderson (, January 25, 2001.

Since you only read good things about the BTZS dark cloth on this forum, I feel I should add my one major criticism of it after one year of use. In cold weather (below freezing) it is *much* harder and less pleasant to use because (i) the material becomes very stiff and (ii) it does not breath at all, leading to serious condensation problems from just the heat of my head and hands (I hold my breath as that really is a disaster). I will be making a cloth soon for winter use!

-- Richard Ross (, January 25, 2001.

> cold weather

Otoh, here in Florida it works pretty well in keeping the deerflies, mosquitos and no-see-ums from getting up under the darkcloth with me.

-- John Hicks (, January 25, 2001.

Agreed, nothing's perfect, but to me the BIG advantage of the BTZS cloth is the amount of light it blocks. Regular cloths seemed to work ok w/ 4x5, but were pretty miserable on larger cameras (too much light coming in from the bottom, and I spent most of my time trying to hold the damn thing closed underneath). The BTZS cloth just seems to make the image on the ground glass much brighter, and it frees up your hands to focus and hold a loupe.


-- Mark Parsons (, January 25, 2001.

This doesn't answer Paul's original question, but I have had the same problems Richard has had with my BTZS focusing cloth in winter use. To solve the problem, I've used my old standard dark cloth in cold weather by tying a shoelace to two of the ends, drape the tied ends over the camera so they hang down over the tripod then secure the top with a binder clip to the front standard of the camera. The tied ends keeps the cloth from flapping in the breeze and the clip secures the cloth and keeps in from sliding off the camera.

-- John Wiemer (, January 26, 2001.

I use the BTZS focus cloth since last Summer and like a lot except for its propensity to increase condensation of the ground glass in cold weather. What I like about it is: reduces the amount of light inside, allows freedom of both hands for camera and loupe operation, and resists quite well to windy conditions.

-- Georges Pelpel (, April 18, 2001.

After focusing and all that stuff, don't take it off the camera to make your picture. Just unzip the velcro and fold the whole thing forward over your bellows, till you insert the CFH, then flip it back over the back to lessen chances for light leaks.

-- B. (, April 19, 2001.

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