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The beast of Llanidloes awakens

My first blog post for a while to kick start the resolution to keep it more regular in future ! And apologies for the false start when I inadvertently clicked "publish" instead of preview !





The John Nesbitt 5x7 inch folding field camera. made with Brazilian mahogany, Yew and Lignum Vitae and a fine looking camera !







Recently, while chatting to a couple of good friends the subject came onto 5x7 inch format cameras and the possibility of acquiring a "lighter weight" option to make the format more viable for the "aging photographers" among us, myself included. My current 5x7, the kodak specialist II, had firmly become a "car camera" weighing in at almost 9kg and substantially bigger than the new acquisition when folded down (it only went into a backpack once and that was one hell of a walk!).


Conversation and active "looking-not-buying" took place and the intrepid version was top of my list (and so far up Dave's list he is now the proud owner of one). However, while looking at gorgeous wooden 4x5 field cameras which I have always had a liking for but never owned (my first 4x5 is the Horseman45FA and has served me well for the best part of 20 years, but something like....an Ebony was always a wish) I chanced upon the intriguingly named:


  • "Other" - 5x7 field camera


at Ffordes photographic (fine purveyors of fine photographic equipment) and clicked.


I was greeted with a series of images that piqued my interest as it was unusual, relatively rare, gorgeous looking and came with 6 5x7 film holders, a reducing 4x5 back and 4 bespoke lens boards built by John Nesbitt specifically for this very camera. The ability to use as a 4x5 with extended movements was a big draw , as were the 6 film holders as my current 2 at the time were ropey to say the least.


After speaking to my confidants, (as I knew they would help calm down the GAS I was feeling)....... I bought the camera that day !

 


The camera attached to the tripod will make a fine coffee table or lamp in the event that it turns out to be "no good" *




* The converting of this camera into any household ornament, furniture or other "bric-a-brac" is prohibited and punishable by imprisonment.







The camera was deployed on the very first Sunday after its arrival. I had about an hour and just had to shoot with it.


It rained from the moment I started setting it up under Henllan Bridge, so under Henllan bridge it stayed. I made 2 negatives using Fomapan 100 (initially used to test for light leaks etc but now becoming a film I have new regard for)



Its not going to win any prizes but the first exposure with the camera was indeed a successful test shot. no light leaks and focus was pin sharp on the ivy on the arch which is where I critically focussed the camera with a loupe. Very happy


i-phone "scan" of the negative in its sleeve.

A 5x7 inch negative is a lovely big detailed thing!



 

The Camera was made in Llanidloes somewhere in the late 80's or early 90's (as it is not stamped with a date likely the late 80's) by camera maker John Nesbitt. He made around 150 5x7 cameras so I suppose that makes it a limited edition. John made his cameras from seasoned timbers including Brazilian mahogany and unusually yew. He also made the large tightening knobs from Lignum Vitae for its hard wearing yet comfortable feel. Having used it a few times now I can say the movements are extensive and easily deployed and offer far more than I will ever realistically need for my image making.


Set up, it is a thing of beauty and has already drawn attention from passing walkers hoping to catch a glimpse of a photographer in the woods (I assume that is why dogs are taken for walks in the woods in any case).


One lady told me I should be wearing a suit and shoelace tie and offering "portraits while you wait". The whole wet collodion thing is something I will try in the future once I get a horse drawn darkroom and a shire horse called laughing gravy to take me back to my water polo days.


 

Needless to say I also required lenses and subsequent to the purchase of the camera, I have acquired a 240mm Nikkor W - described by one generous e-bayer as "MINT" and a very worthy description for a lens that looked very much like it had never even been mounted before. In addition a near MINT 120mm F8 Schneider Krueznach Super Angulon was also generously provided by ebay to supplement my existing 180mm Rodenstock N.


Note - 120mm, 180mm and 240mm in 5x7 equates to lenses of 24mm, 36mm and 48mm in 35mm camera terms (but without the depth of field !) Used with the 4x5 reducing back they are equivalent to 30mm, 45mm and 60mm lenses in 35mm terms (but without the depth of field !)


 

During a weeks leave in early November I did manage a couple of outings but at this stage I only had the 180mm lens to utilise as the other 2 lenses won't fit the lens boards without the right size hole being made into them !




These are Fomapan 100 once again and developed in Rodinal 1+50 for 7.5 mins to hold the highlights on the bank (I knew the sky highlights at top left and centre right would blow, although on the negative there is some vague texture there.) The exposure was a bit of a guess as the light was changing by the minute but having metered I just went with what I thought would be right with the one on the left being F22 at 1/2 sec through a yellow filter and it is a good negative. Focus drops off into the background trees which was my plan as it was very bright back there and I wanted to play that area down a bit if I could. I used quite a lot of front rise to cut down the amount of foreground while retaining the verticals as vertical (my most utilised movement with a view camera).


The scan from my Epson v800 held up well and after a relatively small amount of processing I declared it "finished".


The final image has left me very pleased and is the first image from this camera that will make it into my website "portfolio".




 

Thank you for taking the time to read my first post for quite a while and sharing in the excitement I feel for this "new to me" camera. It is one of those cameras that has immediately felt like it was always mine and already is second nature to use it!


I am sure there will be more to come !


My "latest images" gallery has been updated this week as well and can be seen here


Have great Light !


John


 


114 views6 comments

6 Kommentare


Russell Jones
Russell Jones
04. Dez. 2023

👌

I think the camera is at the very least a *handsome* beast😂, beautiful in its own right even before setting up. I think Mr Nesbitt's handiwork encourages the photographer to match his skill. But I'm never sure I do 🙂. I hope you have many enjoyable outings with the camera.

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temporallightimages
temporallightimages
04. Dez. 2023
Antwort an

Handsome is a very apt description Russell.

Not sure I do either but striving is what counts ! I take it you own one too ? Almost enough now for a fan club !

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Jim Graves
Jim Graves
03. Dez. 2023

An excellent blog, John. It's good to see your genuine enthusiasm for this camera. :)

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temporallightimages
temporallightimages
04. Dez. 2023
Antwort an

Thank You Jim and thank you for taking the time to read and comment , much appreciated !

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davewhenham
03. Dez. 2023

An enjoyable read John. As one of your long-suffering confidants may I just say that reining you in when you get GAS is nigh on impossible! 🤣

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temporallightimages
temporallightimages
03. Dez. 2023
Antwort an

Glad you enjoyed Mr W .......I have made some of my best acquisitions under your influence.....😉

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