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Here is something you seldom see now...a Process Camera


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This post is probably more interesting to the Large Format photography forum, but they banned me years ago...3 times. So I gave up on trying for #4.




Process cameras were mainly used for shooting screened halftones or continuous tone copies of oversize originals. You had glass or film halftone screens and generally used 20 x 24 inch film.  The Art Department gave you the finished size of the reproduction and you used a hand calculator to figure the ratio adjustments. Or you could use the ground glass and a ruler. But the company didn't want you to do that. The size adjustment was outside and the ruler was in the darkroom. Too much wasted time going back and forth.

In the left corner of the photo above is the vacuum pump for the vacuum film back. I'm in the process of finishing a vacuum easel for my copy stand right now. It is similar to the vacuum back. But I'm holding down paper originals which and not film to the vacuum easel. The vacuum film back is below.




On the back was a vacuum film holder. You could put a halftone 'film' screen , which was oversize, over the film or raise or lower a glass halftone screen over the film. The film screen was just that, a high quality repro on film of halftone dots.

It was $2.35 an hour back then. 


Here is a baby process camera...




Below is / was the worlds' largest process camera



Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

It had carbon arc lights. Process camerawork was big back in the day. All the department stores used it for newspaper ads. Robinson's, The Broadway, May Co., Sears, Montgomery Ward. If you wanted to run newspaper ads you needed halftone artwork ready to go.

I got on this topic today as my order of Loupes arrived from B&H. I have been using the old Agfa 8X Lupes from the 70's.  I got my first Agfa Lupe from my first job in graphics arts. The new Agfa Lupes they make now are crap. And after going through the pile of loupes from B&H...most are crap as well. Terrible focus and spherical aberrations. But I found one loupe that is a good replacement for the Agfa. It is the Carson 10X stand magnifier. Peak also make good loupes, but they are $$.



Loupes were an important tool back in the day. We used them to focus on the ground glass process camera and I used them for large format view cameras as well. But I use them even more now with cine' film scanning. I have a bunch of old Agfa lupes, but they seem to keep disappearing all the time. I never have enough loupes!


If you like this throwback in history also check out my post on Nitrogen Burst processing.



Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Can't say Jacob. From what I gather, most of the giant process cameras were dismantled and scrapped. A few ended up in museums.

Some of smaller ones were adopted by large format photogs. But in the graphics arts biz, these smaller ones would be considered as toys. No one used them other than small fry operations.



eBay photo - Fair Use

The big process cameras required 2 rooms to use, consequently huge, heavy and needed a team or workers to dismantle and reassemble.

Giant film that feeds them can still be had if you have the $$. (I don't know who is telling the truth. One listing says 100 sheets, another says 10 sheets.)

Arista Ortho Litho 3.0 Film (30 x 40", 100 Sheets) 531301 B&H (bhphotovideo.com)

If you developed the litho film is special developer, you could get a reasonable continuous tone image. Although the litho film was designed for stark black and whites only.




Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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