I MADE a 3-1/2 in. x 2-1/2 in. plate camera, after some general experience of photography, to eliminate waste when my needs could be met with a single photograph. Like many another, I had taken up photography in the grip of an enthusiasm that left little room for reflection. For a time my Ensign Selfix 820 camera was in constant use. I did not dream that with returning rationality my requirements would be drastically curtailed.


But what can you do with a roll film camera, unless the one urgentlyneeded photograph can be taken near the end of a film? If it is near the beginning, you must waste the remainder of the film or wait until it can be used on other subjects. Soon I did not wish to do either. I wanted single photographs, or at most a few, without waste and without loss of time. Obviously, I needed a plate camera. By this time I had used the Ross Xpress lens of the Selfix for several purposes besides the original one. It was the basis of the apparatus for the Profile Projector in ME of November 26 and December 3 and 10, 1959. Mounted on a 3 in. square of 1/8in. Tufnol, it had done copying and enlarging in the dark room. I could easily transfer it to a plate camera on its Tufnol mount, which was drilled near the corners for 2 BA bolts. This lens has everything to simplify camera construction. The roll-film cameras are themselves very cheap now at second-hand. The maximum aperture is 3.8 and the focal length 105 mm. By turning the front cell, you can focus from infinity to 4 ft. With supplementary lenses you can get within inches of subjects. The Epsilon shutter gives a choice of speeds from “ time ” to l/250 second. With these built-in facilities, the plate camera had only to be a suitable design of box to take lens and slides. Diagrams A and B show its main features.

The wood is oak. Front, back and sides are 1/2 in. thick; top and bottom are 1/4 in. thick. Front and back are the full width of the camera with the sides fitted between them. Top and Countersunk bottom cover all. screws hold the pieces together. As shown, the right side is shorter than the left to leave a space through which the slide with the plate can be inserted. The left side has a step 1/8 in. deep into which the inner end of the slide engages. The back has two integral bosses through which the pins UV of the Y-shaped slide holder pass. These pins are stepped at the ends to bear over the outer edge of the slide as the slide holder is tightened by its nut. They prevent the slide from being inadvertently withdrawn, as might otherwise happen when the cover was removed for taking a photograph. Details of the fitting will be given in my next article. I chose the simplest single slide holder: A. P. Paris made by Posso Ltd, Paris, and distributed by Actina

Ltd. You can buy as many as you need at photographic dealers. Diagram C shows details when the thin metal cover is drawn off. There is a spring against which you push the end of the plate until it can be slipped under two lugs XY. Then you replace the cover. This is done with a safe-light in the dark, or with a changing bag. You push the slide into the camera, tighten the slide holder, and draw out the cover, ready to take a photograph. As you draw out the cover, a strip of velvet in the slide comes up against the right side of the camera at W, to prevent light from entering. You take the photograph, push the cover back into the slide, and remove the slide from the camera. I fitted the original Albada view finder so that I could see what I was taking. To get the length of the camera, I checked the lens at its different settings, after screwing the front on a wood base with a ground glass plate in a bracket, as at D. A piece of cloth over top and sides excluded light so that I could see the image on the plate. The correct length Z, after the plate had been set. agreed closely with the dimension of the Selfix. q







T theweek the illustrations show dimensions for parts of

the camera whose purpose and main features were described in the first article. Heavy wood simplifies the construction for anyone who has doubts about his skill. It leaves ample room for all screws and so there is no risk of splitting. For the front, back and sides 1/2 in. oak is used. Top and bottom are of fin. oak. The focal length of the Ross Xpresss3.8 lens controls the length of the camera. The width derives from the length of the A.P. Paris slides for the 3 -1/2 in. x 2-12 in. plates and the depth is equal to the width of the slides plus top and bottom; it is 3-7/16 in., the slides being 2-15/16 in. wide. Diagram A shows the front as seen from the outside B gives the .

back, and C is a view of the top. The bottom is the same. Diagram D gives details of the two sides. The left side is as seen from above: 3-5/16 in. long with a step 1/8 in. X 5/32 in. running the full depth at the rear end to take the inner end of the slide. The right side is shorter by 5/32 in., leaving a gap between its end and the back. Through this space the slide is inserted. Twenty-six No 6 countersunk steel woodscrews are used for assembling. Six are 1-1/4 in. and 20 3/4 in. The long ones fit from front and back into the sides and the short ones secure the top and bottom. I made the clearance holes with a No 28 drill, afterwards countersinking them with a rose bit so that the heads of the screws lay flush. For tapping holes, I used two different drills : a N o. 50 for the long screws and a No. 52 for the short ones. This was to eliminate the risk of wringing off long screws in tightening, and to leave extra bite for short ones. The four holes at 2-3/8 in. spacing in the front of the camera, as shown at A , are for mounting the lens holder by 2 BA screws. The screws are inserted from the back with the threads to the front, where nuts are fitted.

Had I made the holes of clearance size for the screws, there would probably have been difficulty in ftting the lens holder from ths screws pushing back into the camera. I therefore made the holes with an undersize drill,. No 22, and tightened the screws, which are 1 in. long, with a screwdriver. I used the same drill for the hole W in the back of the camera, as shown at B. It takes a 7/8 in. countersunk 2 BA screw for the slide holder, as shown a tE, where the hol eZ is 3/16 in. for clearance on the screw. The lathe was used for boring the hole for the lens in the front of the camera and for machining the 1-1/4 in radius on the back. I held the front in the reversed jaws of the independent chuck; the back I clamped to the faceplate. For both I used the same boring tool. The hole in the front is stepped, 1-5/8 in. at the outside and 1-1/4 in. at the inside. Its off-set in the front is to bring the axis of the lens to the centre of the plate. After machining the 1-1/4 in. radius 361

on the back of the camera, I used the partly-finished slide holder, of 1/16 in. steel, as a template for drilling two 5/32 in. holes. Then I turned a 3/4 in. diameter steel plug with a 5/32 in. shank as a guide for filing the two 3/8 in. radii on the back and those on the slide holder. With these operations completed, I opened the two holes in the back to 1/4 in. clearance, and fitted the corresponding holes in the slide holder with 1/4 in. X 5/8 in. shouldered pins, which I riveted and brazed. Each pin has a filed step, as shown a t F, to fit over the outer edge of the slide to prevent it from being inadfrom the vertently withdrawn The slide holder has a camera. 1/16 in. set for the ends of the pins to bear on the slide. A further point about the fitting of the slide is that the right side of the camera, as shown at D, must be filed a few thou at X and Y, to clear the top and bottom flanges of the slide, which are tight on the outside. The inside of the camera is painted matt-black to prevent reflections.