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Nostalgia Nexus - early and pre-digital discussion Want to discuss the really early days of digital and even film - here is the place for you.

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Old 3rd February 2019
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Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

I wonder if anyone here knows anything about Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view cameras, or could point me to any fora or resources for people who might?

A friend in the village has lovely 10x8" and 5x4" Thornton Pickard view cameras, which he mainly likes for their aesthetic qualities, although they do have working shutters. The 10x8 is complete, but he's missing a lens for the 5x4 and he'd like to track one down (either a Thornton Pickard, or else something from the period that will fit). The lens mounting boards have different screw threads and aperture sizes for the two cameras.

The cameras, with the 5x4 on the left:


We've done some research without turning up any obvious & recent leads, so before we start a blunderbuss approach I thought I'd pose the question to the hive mind here...

Anyone wanting to find out more than they probably wanted to know about Thornton Pickard (based in and near Manchester: active between the late 1880's and 1939) could click here: http://www.altrinchamheritage.com/wp...ndell-1992.pdf
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

You could try the UK Film and Darkroom User forum, there are a few members who dabble in such things I think.

http://www.film-and-darkroom-user.or...orum/index.php
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

Quote:
Originally Posted by drmarkf View Post
I wonder if anyone here knows anything about Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view cameras, or could point me to any fora or resources for people who might?

A friend in the village has lovely 10x8" and 5x4" Thornton Pickard view cameras, which he mainly likes for their aesthetic qualities, although they do have working shutters. The 10x8 is complete, but he's missing a lens for the 5x4 and he'd like to track one down (either a Thornton Pickard, or else something from the period that will fit). The lens mounting boards have different screw threads and aperture sizes for the two cameras.

We've done some research without turning up any obvious & recent leads, so before we start a blunderbuss approach I thought I'd pose the question to the hive mind here...

Anyone wanting to find out more than they probably wanted to know about Thornton Pickard (based in and near Manchester: active between the late 1880's and 1939) could click here: http://www.altrinchamheritage.com/wp...ndell-1992.pdf
I have a tatty one. Complete with lens. Don't want to part with it but let me know if I can help with details...


Thornton Pickard 9
by Mark Johnson, on Flickr



Thornton Pickard 2
by Mark Johnson, on Flickr


Thornton Pickard 6
by Mark Johnson, on Flickr

I picked it up in an auction in the early 70's. I did try it out with photo paper rather than film, but as such it won't catch on...………..

Mark J
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

Could try this site https://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/

I registered and received helpful advice on reciprocity failure.
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

Modern large format lenses are all sized for Copal shutters, which probably wouldn't work well with this. They have elements either side of the shutter.

If you can identify the thread on the lens board it should be fairly simple to find a suitable lens on e-bay. An alternative option is to make a new lensboard for whatever lens you find.
I've picked up several over the years that would look right on there & cover 5x4 - a search for 'brass lens' will usually include a few possibilities. Something like https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Antique-P...jDU:rk:26:pf:0 would be ideal and may even fit your existing lens board
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

Many thanks to all you lovely people - I'll follow these up.
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

I am unable to provide any useful information I'm afraid, but I am fascinated by the transition from these massive British built cameras of the 1930's to German and Japanese 35 mm within a very short timescale.

How much of this change was shaped by world history I wonder?
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naughty Nigel View Post
I am unable to provide any useful information I'm afraid, but I am fascinated by the transition from these massive British built cameras of the 1930's to German and Japanese 35 mm within a very short timescale.

How much of this change was shaped by world history I wonder?
These massive cameras weren't the norm in the 1930s, they were more routine prior to the release of 120 (& similar) films (around 1900), but still offered considerable advantages for those wanting top quality.
Things like the box brownie were much more common & considerably smaller. The move down to 35mm followed as the cameras/film became available.


I admit i'd like to get to play with my 5x4 (a monorail camera with more movements available, not as good looking as these ones), but the film cost nearing £100 a box compares very badly with digital!
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Petrochemist View Post
These massive cameras weren't the norm in the 1930s, they were more routine prior to the release of 120 (& similar) films (around 1900), but still offered considerable advantages for those wanting top quality.
Things like the box brownie were much more common & considerably smaller. The move down to 35mm followed as the cameras/film became available.


I admit i'd like to get to play with my 5x4 (a monorail camera with more movements available, not as good looking as these ones), but the film cost nearing £100 a box compares very badly with digital!
Did the lenses of the day ever match the abilities of the huge negatives I wonder?

I was scanning some old family photographs over the weekend, some of which would have been taken on large format studio cameras. The quality was remarkably good for their age, but definition was somewhat lacking, which left me wondering which was the weakest link in the chain.
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naughty Nigel View Post
I am unable to provide any useful information I'm afraid, but I am fascinated by the transition from these massive British built cameras of the 1930's to German and Japanese 35 mm within a very short timescale.

How much of this change was shaped by world history I wonder?
Oskar Barnack is the man we need to thank, plus the ability of the Leitz optical engineers.
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Old 4th February 2019
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naughty Nigel View Post
Did the lenses of the day ever match the abilities of the huge negatives I wonder?

I was scanning some old family photographs over the weekend, some of which would have been taken on large format studio cameras. The quality was remarkably good for their age, but definition was somewhat lacking, which left me wondering which was the weakest link in the chain.
As it has always been, it's more about injecting 'soul' into the image and less about resolution, and certainly not sharpness.
Sadly, digital photography has turned the statement on its head. It seems now that sharpness is the ultimate goal, and sod the content. If it's sharp it's great.
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naughty Nigel View Post
Did the lenses of the day ever match the abilities of the huge negatives I wonder?

I was scanning some old family photographs over the weekend, some of which would have been taken on large format studio cameras. The quality was remarkably good for their age, but definition was somewhat lacking, which left me wondering which was the weakest link in the chain.

I believe symmetrical lens designs could be quite high quality, many of them are still quite usable today (at least by those of use who don't obsess about sharpness)


Ansel Adams certainly got great results even in his earlier work. Of course local portrait photographers wouldn't have been inclined to take quite as much care over the focusing etc. In addition shutter speeds would have been rather slow for some early portraits. - I can't decode the EXIF in any of the early family shots I have around but a few could have been over 1s exposures.


The earliest decent photo I have to hand (of my GGGGF who died in May 1879) looks quite acceptable to me.
https://www.wikitree.com/photo.php/d/d9/Ollard-8.jpg
NOT taken with Olympus!


My earlier prints are mainly daguerreotypes which have suffered considerable degradation over the years (and are a pain to copy).
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

The Lens Collector’s Vade Mecum has a short entry for Thornton-Pickard. They were based in Altrincham (a stone’s throw from me in Sale!). Dates are roughly 1890 to 1930.

They didn’t make lenses themselves. Beck is given as one supplier of their lenses. Some were actually marked TP-Beck. Some of their lenses had odd imperial focal lengths (eg 5.375-inch) suggesting they were rebranded European lenses.

I can’t cut and paste from the pdf document as it is protected and copyrighted.

They used names like Ruby Anastigmat (Series I to III), Panoptic, Pantoplanat, Rectoplanat, as well as simply Rapid Rectilinear and Wide Angle Rectilinear.

Rapid Rectilinear: f8.0. FL 5.5, 9.0, 11, 13.5in. Sold with iris, 1900-1905. 5.5in recommended for 5x4. Two grades. Ruby higher price and Amber lower priced.

Ruby Anastigmat: f6.8. FL 5.0, 6., 7.5, 8.0, 10in. 1910.

Ruby Anastigmat series II: f4.5. FL 5.375, 6.0, 7.125, 8.25, 9.5in. 6-inch is recommended for 5x4.

Ruby Anastigmat series III: f6.5. 6in for 1/4 plate and 5x4

Pantoplanat: f8.0. 5.5in RR probably by Beck

Most of their lenses would seem to be of the Rapid Rectilinear (RR) type. This was a very common lens type before the days of the Cooke Triplet.

From Kingslake:
The RR or Aplanat is a type of symmetrical lens in which each half consists of a cemented doublet with all three surface curved towards a central stop.

The symmetry gives correction of spherical aberration. By modern standards performance is mediocre, but they were much much better than meniscus lenses. Also, with only 4 air-glass interfaces the losses from reflections are not too horrendous.

I have a few RRs, mostly in shutters from folding cameras. A couple are seriously bad performers due to decentring of one of the doublets. I guess built down to a price.

I do have two old brass lenses of the type you are looking for. Both are RRs and have irises. One is unbranded and would seem to be very primitive as I don’t believe it uses doublets.

The other is much nicer. It is a G Houghton and Son 'Holborn Special Rapid Rectilinear'. It is marked for 7x5. The FL is not given but I have noted it as about 10-in, so too long for your 5x4. The thread OD is 1.75in. I have not attempted to measure the tpi.

I picked up both these on ebay years ago. They did not cost much, but they were scruffy, badly listed with really bad pictures, so it was hard to tell what they were. Because they are uncoated, they cleaned up quite well, though the iris in the unbranded one does not close properly.

You will find that the best large format lenses command very high prices now. Anything like a real Petzval or anything made by Ross or Zeiss will be super expensive. If you are just looking for a lens to display with the camera (and not use), your best bet is to go for a RR type or scour listings for something hiding.

Last edited by Mark_R2; 4th February 2019 at 06:07 PM. Reason: correct typo
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

Hmmm. I must have a go with my Pony Premo. (See other thread.)

I'm sure I can buy some 5" x 4" FP4 easily enough but how would you go about developing it without a proper darkroom I wonder?
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Re: Thornton Pickard 5x4" half-plate view camera?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark_R2 View Post
The Lens Collectorís Vade Mecum has a short entry for Thornton-Pickard. They were based in Altrincham (a stoneís throw from me in Sale!). Dates are roughly 1890 to 1930.

They didnít make lenses themselves. Beck is given as one supplier of their lenses. Some were actually marked TP-Beck. Some of their lenses had odd imperial focal lengths (eg 5.375-inch) suggesting they were rebranded European lenses.

I canít cut and paste from the pdf document as it is protected and copyrighted.

They used names like Ruby Anastigmat (Series I to III), Panoptic, Pantoplanat, Rectoplanat, as well as simply Rapid Rectilinear and Wide Angle Rectilinear.

Rapid Rectilinear: f8.0. FL 5.5, 9.0, 11, 13.5in. Sold with iris, 1900-1905. 5.5in recommended for 5x4. Two grades. Ruby higher price and Amber lower priced.

Ruby Anastigmat: f6.8. FL 5.0, 6., 7.5, 8.0, 10in. 1910.

Ruby Anastigmat series II: f4.5. FL 5.375, 6.0, 7.125, 8.25, 9.5in. 6-inch is recommended for 5x4.

Ruby Anastigmat series III: f6.5. 6in for 1/4 plate and 5x4

Pantoplanat: f8.0. 5.5in RR probably by Beck

Most of their lenses would seem to be of the Rapid Rectilinear (RR) type. This was a very common lens type before the days of the Cooke Triplet.

From Kingslake:
The RR or Aplanat is a type of symmetrical lens in which each half consists of a cemented doublet with all three surface curved towards a central stop.

The symmetry gives correction of spherical aberration. By modern standards performance is mediocre, but they were much much better than meniscus lenses. Also, with only 4 air-glass interfaces the losses from reflections are not too horrendous.

I have a few RRs, mostly in shutters from folding cameras. A couple are seriously bad performers due to decentring of one of the doublets. I guess built down to a price.

I do have two old brass lenses of the type you are looking for. Both are RRs and have irises. One is unbranded and would seem to be very primitive as I donít believe it uses doublets.

The other is much nicer. It is a G Houghton and Son 'Holborn Special Rapid Rectilinear'. It is marked for 7x5. The FL is not given but I have noted it as about 10-in, so too long for your 5x4. The thread OD is 1.75in. I have not attempted to measure the tpi.

I picked up both these on ebay years ago. They did not cost much, but they were scruffy, badly listed with really bad pictures, so it was hard to tell what they were. Because they are uncoated, they cleaned up quite well, though the iris in the unbranded one does not close properly.

You will find that the best large format lenses command very high prices now. Anything like a real Petzval or anything made by Ross or Zeiss will be super expensive. If you are just looking for a lens to display with the camera (and not use), your best bet is to go for a RR type or scour listings for something hiding.
Fantastic information, many thanks. Iíll send it on to my friend.

As ever, Iím amazed and grateful for the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience on this forum!
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