Some Suggestions for Working with ULF Cameras

Working with ULF cameras is similar to working with LF equipment. However, because of the size and age of some ULF cameras one should take care to check the camera, the holders, and the fit of the holder to the camera in the studio before going out for work in the field. Any failure is likely to result in annoying light leaks and fogging which can ruin your work.

The three most common reasons for light leaks that result in fogging of the film are the following.

1. Pinholes in the bellows, or improper fit or separation of the bellows from the frame of the camera at the front or back. Pinholes are not likely if camera is relatively new but the bellows of any old banquet or panoramic camera should be suspect and carefully checked. To check for light leaks in the bellows put a flash light inside the camera and cover the lens board opening. In the dark inspect the camera from all angles. Put a film holder in the camera and, in complete darkness, inspect the camera from all angles, with special attention to the bellows and the area where the bellows is joined to the frame of the camera. Check very carefully the area around the film holder, especially the side of the camera where the rib-lock of the holder mates with the groove in the camera back...

2. Light leak in from the light baffle of the holder. The integrity of the light baffle can also be checked when you inspect the bellows. Remove the dark slide facing the inside of the dark and carefully view through the area of the holder where the slide was removed that faces the baffle. If there is a problem with the bellows the light inside the camera will show through the baffle. You can also the integrity of the light baffle with the holder out of the camera by removing the dark slides from the holder. Now, with your eye at the flap end look back up through the baffles with a strong light from the back back. If there is a leak in the baffle system this inspection should reveal it.

3. The holder does not fit correctly in the camera. Light leaks may result if the fit of the holder in the camera is too loose. Ideally the width of the holder should be no more than about 1/16" narrower than the width of the back. However, the major cause of light leaks caused by improper fit of back and holder is that the rib-lock on the holder does not fall into the groove in the camera back. The mating of the rib-lock with the groove on the camera back is the primary system of light baffling between the camera and holder and if off there will be a major light leak at this point, which because of the angle of entry of the light, may manifest itself at any point on the film. To check, insert your holder into the camera and make sure that the rib-lock falls into the groove on the camera back.

In order to minimize film fogging it is considered best practice to keep your holders in a light-tight bag or envelope whenever working in the field. Remove the holder from the light-tight container only when you are ready to place it in the camera back, and return it to the container as soon as you expose the negative. It is also good practice to keep a dark cloth over the camera and holder at all time when working in bright light.

©2008 S&S Film Holders