11x14 holder/camera compatibility

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I'm aware that one cannot assume compatibility between randomly chosen film holders and camera backs in obsolete or ultralarge formats. Considering both physical fit of holder to back and register between film and ground glass, does anyone here know from experience whether current Fidelity 11x14 holders are a workable match to any particular vintage 11x14 cameras such as the Korona or Empire State? Thanks...

-- Oren Grad (orengrad@world.std.com), November 29, 2001


Hi Oren, I was hoping for more answers because I've run into the same thing with my Folmer & Schwing 1114. I bought some supposedly like new Hoffman holders on Ebay about a year and a half ago and when I got them they had been shaved about 3/16 inch along the long edge, obviously to fit someone elses camera. So there are differences, probably more so in older vintage cameras like you've mentioned. I'd guess that things got more standardised largely by Deardorff in the 1940's, and that standard would match now, but again that's just a guess and it would be good to hear from those that know. Jim

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), November 29, 2001.

Oren, I have seen reference on the Cameramakers mailing list to an ANSI Standard for film holder dimensions including 11X14, but I don't know when camera makers started building backs compatible with this standard. I would think Deardorff, B&J,and(maybe)later model Eastmans and Koronas might qualify. When you get to something as early as Empire State, Century, Rochester, etc. I would assume modern holders would have some dimension different, at least until I could actually measure the camera to be sure. I have three older wooden 11X14 holders - two "no-names" and one marked "11X14 Sterling Film". One is almost exactly 13" wide, one is 12 31/32", and one 12 15/16". And all three are too wide for the old field camera I bought to use with the holders ("no-name", but believed to be a very early Rochester Optical). I have read 11X14 X-ray film holders from medical supply companies are the same dimensions as photo film holders, but much less expensive.Does anyone know anything about this?

-- Leonard Robertson (leonard@harrington-wa.com), November 29, 2001.

Not exactly an answer to your qestion, but this is hardly a problem of the "bad old" pre-standardization days. I spent big bucks on a Wisner 12X20 (ultimately waiting a year to get it) and holders by AWB, recommended by many on this site to be the best currently available. Both Wisner and AWB were well aware who was making the other matching part, but guess what: holders completely unusable with camera. There are only three ways to solve this problem:

1. Have one person make both camera and holders (not a great idea if you're dealing with Wisner, whose holders are generally not well thought of).

2. Send the back to the person making the holders or vice versa (best choice for most situations).

3. Buy classic holders originally made for your specific classic brand camera, and hope they still are light tight and unwarped (or have them restored).

I ultimately exercised option #2, and now the holders and camera fit like hand in glove, at a cost of an extra 4-6 months wait!

I think it will be pure luck if a modern Fidelity holder works with your classic camera.


-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), November 29, 2001.

Oren, As everyone has said, I think you have to measure your specific camera. I just finished building a 8x20" camera back for a single vintage 8x20" holder I found for a very reasonable price.

I'm assuming that my holder is a Korona (no markings, can anyone confirm this?). I say this because to my knowledge only Korona made a 8x20 banquet camera. My holder is 9.5" wide and the aforementioned 3/8" deep to the film. Actually, a bit deeper on one side ... I hope DOF will compensate, because I split the difference on my ground glass frame.

My first "test drive" of this camera will hopefully be this weekend.

-- Linas Kudzma (lkudzma@compuserve.com), November 30, 2001.

Thanks to all for sharing your thoughts. Given how scarce solid information on this topic seems to be, I wonder whether there's any interest here in asking Tuan to open up a file on his site, a sort of "weird format film holder registry", into which anyone using an odd format camera and holders can enter the details of what cameras and holders they're using, dimensions of the holders, and any problems or other information they think is important to add. Over time, this would become a unique and valuable resource for us weird-camera junkies. Just a thought...

Nathan, I've noted your travails posted here periodically - hope everything's finally working with your 12x20 and that you finally have a chance to do some serious work with it...

-- Oren Grad (orengrad@world.std.com), November 30, 2001.

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