Dark cloth questions

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Hello from Karl

I would like to thank everyone on the forum who has assissted me sinse I started this journey (about 7 months ago)into LF photography. I am now the proud owner of my first LF camera, a 2nd hand Sinar F2 in near mint condition. With the 90mm Grandagon 6.8, wide angle and std bellows and alubox it has cost me $1100.

Just a few questions. I want to make my own dark cloth, dark on the inside and white on the outside. How have you guys attached it to the camera? Secondly, can one and with what can you clean both sides of the GG?

Thanks Karl

-- Karl Beath (karlfoto@mweb.co.za), November 03, 2001


Hi Karl,

I have such a dark cloth but I do not attach it to the camera. I wear it like a cape. So I can put it over my head and the camera for focusing.


-- Alexander Selzer (selzer@gmx.net), November 04, 2001.

Karl... I have some small strips of velcro sewn to my dark cloth in appropriate spots. A little experience will tell you where they need to be. The biggest problem with it is those pesky weed seeds want to stick to velcro better than velcro does!!! A few clothespins (with springs" can also come in handy for a darkcloth and many other things while out in the field. I always carry a couple in my "possibles bag"

Weighting the corners or sewing light chain inside the outer seams works very well too, but watch that you dont get slapped during windy conditions. -Dave

-- Dave Richhart (pritprat@erinet.com), November 04, 2001.

Fold the edge of the cloth over the edge of the camera box (being sure not to compromise the bellows) and clip it in place with a couple of wooden cloths pins.

-- Wilhelm (bmitch@home.com), November 04, 2001.

My dark cloth has velcro across the entire top edge on the black side. Half way across it is hook type and the other half is loop type. That way, I can hang the thing over my back and camera and then use the velcro to bring the dark side together and block light from the ground.

As far as cleaning goes, if you make both sides out of the same material, you should just be able to throw it in the washing machine if it gets dirty. I, however, went with black silk velvet on the inside and white cotton twill on the outside so I'm not sure if I can wash it. I figure that the little dirt marks on the white side show that I actually use my camera instead of just pose around.


-- Nathaniel Paust (paustne@whitties.org), November 04, 2001.

Karl: Clean the GG with mild soap or glass cleaner. I remove mine and place it in soapy warm water in a plastic basin and very gently clean it. A rinse in warm water and blotting dry leaves it in great shape. Bruch it off gently to remove any fibers before putting it back on the camera.


-- Doug Paramore (Dougmary@alaweb.com), November 04, 2001.

Karl, do not bother with velcro it will just create problems,just make or have made a cloth tube to fit your camara loosely and then have an elastic applied within, the whole thing will look like a miniskirt. the elastic (doesn't need to be very tight....) will hold the cloth in place without havint to stick horrible velcro to your nice camera. Get yourself some normal black cloth don't go for the plastic stuff because youll' be sweting in it

-- andrea milano (milandro@wanadoo.nl), November 04, 2001.

If you're using a Wisner or Deardorff or other brand that has the spring steel tabs at the top front of the film standard box (the ones with holes to snap the closed camera shut), you might want to try a solution that's worked very well for me.

I had my wife sew button holes in a dark cloth she made me that match the position of thest tabs. I've also got an adjustable drawstring sewn into a cuff with a push-button string stop. When in use, I simply slide the tabs thru the buttonholes, wrap the loose ends around the bottom and tighten the string.

My cloth is two layers black velvet inside and a silver reflective material on the other. This comes in hand as a reflector at times and does an even better job of keeping you cool than does white, (IMHO).

This may be off the subject a bit, but I'll also offer my unusual "louping" technique for 8x10. I use a jeweler's magnifying headset that is made like a welder's helmet which can be swung up and down on the head. The lenses I have focus at about 4 inches. This allows me to compose with the lenses in the "up" position, keeping the focusing cloth out of the way, then I flip it down to check focus, leaving both hands free to hold the cloth closed to any pesty light openings. Works great and is much fasher (for me) than having to hold a loupe with one hand. Another advantage is that you have a magnified view of a 3-4-inch section of the ground glass. (I will admit, however, that it looks pretty dorky on your head and so I've taken to putting it on after getting under the focusing cloth when in public places.:)

Hope this helps.

Daivd Haynes

-- david haynes (studioblsp@mindspring.com), November 04, 2001.

I own a Sinar F and have never used a dark cloth. Instead I use a spare wide angle bellows which clips securely onto the back of the Sinar and is an ample viewing hood. I also have a Sinar binocular viewer with 4x lenses which fits into the bellows for rough focus and viewing the whole image clearly. I usually use the bellows alone with an 8x loupe for fine focus. Works very well. The only downside is I wear glasses and in intense sunlight I sometimes have to twist my head and the bellows a bit to prevent sun reflections from the side off the rear of my glasses. But it is really excellent 90% of the times.

-- David Kaufman (73501.3677@compuserve.com), November 04, 2001.

Not sure if its worth all that trouble, you can buy one from Darkroom Innovations in AZ, made specily to fit your camera for about $55? Not sure if you knew this, or wanted a homemade one.

-- Bill Glickman (bglick@pclv.com), November 04, 2001.

After years of struggling with dark cloths slipping off the camera and flapping in the breeze, I finally tried using a black t-shirt (a suggestion listed in this web-site). This is by far the best solution- the neck of the-shirt is stretched to fit around the ground- glass holder. You put you head in the bottom of the shirt and you can put your hands through the sleeves. Advantages compared to a fancy dark cloth are: 1-Cost, 2-Compact and light-weight, 3- Blocks light from below, 4- Doesn' slip off the camera or your head, even when windy.

-- Rob Gertler (gertler.r@ghc.org), November 04, 2001.

Easy and cheap. With my Calumet studio monorail, I drape the dark cloth over the rear standard and use a large spring metal clip I purchased from the office supply store, and clip the cloth together at the bottom of the standard.

-- Raven (mtand13@netreach.net), November 05, 2001.

the T-shirt suggestion is just an even simpler suggestion of the one I made but it can work very well(if you have a large neck)

-- andrea milano (milandro@wanadoo.nl), November 06, 2001.

I can fully understand some people not wanting to pay ~$60 for a Darkroom Innovations darkcloth. However, if money is not in very short suppy, do yourself a favor and get one. IMO it's be best, if not the most frugal, solution.

-- Linas Kudzma (lkudzma@compuserve.com), November 09, 2001.

I fully agree with Linas. I have both a 4x5 and an 8x10. For those who may not understand what the broo ha ha is all about .. this meo of a 'dark tube' than a dark cloth. It attaches to the resar standard via elastic and it has a velcro stip all down the bottom to allow you to open it up a smuch as you want. It is compact and light and works wonderfully. BTW the 4x5 is less than 60 and Badger has one for 40 (used I elieve) right now.

-- Ted Harris (slberfuchs@aol.com), November 09, 2001.

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