Building a 12 in x 12 in camera : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'd like to build a 12in x 12in camera and I prefer to work in color. I know I'll probably have to make my own film holders. Who produces color film in this size or will consider special orders ( I'm an amateur not a pro )?

If anyone else had a yearning to build such a camera, how would you proceed?

-- Lawrence (Larry) Floyd, Jr. (, May 15, 2002



Step 1 would be to order film.

I think you'll have a hard time getting color (chrome or print) film in this size. If Kodak, Agfa or Fuji would accept the special order, be prepared to morgage the house and to change one of your rooms into a fridge to stock the truckload of film. Anyway you need at least some very deep pockets.

I recently exchanged a few emails with someone that wanted to buy Ilford 11x14 FP4+ B&W film: he was told that the minimal order was 30 boxes, I believe it summed up to about $5000,--.

-- Huib Smeets (, May 15, 2002.



-- Terry (, May 15, 2002.


"Wednesday, May 15, 2002, 7:56 a.m.

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Don't post if you're not willing to use a working e-mail address!


-- Terry (, May 15, 2002.

Fuji supposedly make CDU E6 duping film in large sizes, but don't distribute it worldwide. It's slow, tungsten balance, and you have to fiddle to get the colour balance right, but it does exist.

The closest standard format to 12x12 would be the european 30x40 cm. CDU is the only colour film I have ever heard of in this size. Various B+W and graphics arts films are available if you can live with B+W or are prepared to do tri-colour work.

If you made your camera 11x11 your film choices would expand quite a bit, although I'm not sure colour films are still available in this size. Kodak used to do 11x14 colour negative which B+H said they could special order for me, but that was two years ago, so things may well have changed. Contact B+H and/or Kodak professional services to find out.

About your only other option is to use printing papers for colour slides such as Ilfochrome. Contrast control is hard to impossible, but if you want art rather than accuracy good looking results are possible.

Before kids put my ULF projects on hold I played with the idea of making pseudo-autochromes by inkjet printing a colour dot pattern onto the surface of a B+W emulsion. I couldn't find inks which survived the processing steps, but that was before the pigment inks that are now available. Might be worth some experiments if you really want to do colour in ULF.

-- Struan Gray (, May 15, 2002.

sounds like an enormous amount of trouble to me. Kodak makes aerial color films in 9-1/2" rolls- otherwise 8x10 would be the largest any more. why not shoot 11x14 and trim to 11" square? Not difficult enough? You could use the wet-plate method on 12" glass plates, people still do that.

-- Mark Sampson (, May 15, 2002.

Larry, if that's your real name, If I ever had a yearning to build any camera, especially a 12X12 format, the first thing I would do would be to get a psychiatric evaluation. Then, after the treatment phase, I would take up a new hobby-- setting fire to my hair, and beating out the fire with a baseball bat!

-- Eugene (, May 15, 2002.

I would do something retro-why not shoot separation B&W negs-one ea. through blue, green, red filters. Then,work digitally or triple-layered gum bichromate would be an incredible approach to super-format color photography. I don't have the URL handy but the Library of Congress has an outstanding exhibition on-line of a Russian photographer, assigned to document the far-flung Russian Empire at the time, who shot such "tri-color" glass negatives. The exhibit shows how the original negs were scanned and re-born; you can even download the separation files. As others will suggest, medical x-ray holders may be a good source for mega-holders. G

-- David Stein (, May 15, 2002.


Thanks for the clue about the Russian Photographer at LOC. What an amazing technique!

-- jason (, May 15, 2002.

Sorry, I was supposed to include the URL: empire/??

-- jason (, May 15, 2002.

I recall someone saying on the pinhole forum that you can use sheets of cibachrome paper -- though after much searching, I never found the link -- if you do find it, I'd be interested myself.

-- Dean Lastoria (, May 15, 2002.

Right now I'm experimenting with the use of reversal paper; I'm shooting 8x10 but you can get paper in mega-sizes.

I like it; I've exposed Kodak Radiance III at ASA 12; since it's tungsten paper it's very blue, and I haven't nailed down the filtration yet. I have several filters on order.

This is a good way to do color for a hobbyist (I don't mind that the image is backwards) because it's easy and inexpensive. The paper is about .75 per sheet and my lab is processing it for $1.25. If I can get decently pleasing color with the filters, I'll be set.

That would be my suggestion is to learn to work with the reversal paper.

-- Jonathan Smith (, May 15, 2002.


I'm currently building a 16"x48" panoramic camera, not an easy task but if you plan to get into the giant stuff get the film first. I'm shooting B&W so film is no problem, for colour I'd suggest either building for a standard size, cutting down something readily available like 20x24 Portra 400 or going the whole hog and getting a special run done.

None of these options are cheap but can be done if you're committed to your work, have deep pockets or can organise grants to make it happen.

good luck

-- Clayton Tume (, May 15, 2002.

try checking out these guys make pretty much everything ..

-- jnanian (, May 18, 2002.

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