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Scovill Waterbury View Camera. c.1888

In Cameras > Wood Cameras > Show & Tell.
Vintage & Classic Cameras27 of 115E.I. Horsman No. 33 Eclipse American Field Camera, c.1890 - 1900Gennert Penny Picture Studio Camera. c.1880s - 90s
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    Posted 4 years ago

    rniederman
    (307 items)

    While I enjoy odd camera designs, there is something nice about simpler body patterns. This Waterbury View Camera, made by the Scovill Manufacturing Company, NY., is a classic representation of an American tailboard field camera.

    Tailboard cameras were very popular, uncomplicated and elegant in appearance. They are basically a fixed front lens board attached to folding bed-rails with focusing done by moving the rear section portion back-and-forth on the rails.

    This example is a 5 x 8 inch format model (for glass plates) constructed of nicely finished mahogany with brass hardware and a Scovill Waterbury marked brass barrel lens. A rotating disk adjusts the amount of light entering into the camera (f-stop adjustments).

    The camera sold for $16.50 in 1892, or about $439.00 in year 2015 dollars.

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    Comments

    1. walksoftly walksoftly, 4 years ago
      What is the purpose of the vertical moving front panel?
      Great camera, love the look of brass & wood together!
    2. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks, David and it's an excellent question. Unlike normal cameras, view cameras typically have ways to control image composition and distortion: swings, tilts, and shifts. What you are seeing is a rise-fall (shifting) lens board. It is especially useful when taking pictures of buildings or simply fine-tuning a composition.

      As you probably know, pointing a camera up when photographing a building (such as a house) or trees will cause the object to look like it is disappearing in the distance (angular distortion). To avoid that, you would align the camera to the building (or trees) so that the lines stay parallel. The new problem is that the top part of the buildings or trees will be cut off and you end up with a lot of foreground.

      To fix this, a shifting lens panel can 'rise' to change the portion of the image coverage to see the tops of buildings and trees. This can be done because lenses are designed to make image circle that is much larger than the film-plate format.

      Also notice in the advertisement that the rear can be tilted. This is for distortion control. For instance, buildings and trees can be much too tall for a simple lens board rise and you have to point the camera up. Lines can be undistorted (returned to looking parallel) by tilting the board the holds the plate-film and so forth.

      View cameras have a steep learning curve but it makes a lot of sense once you become acquainted with the concepts. I purchased my first view camera at the age of 17 and it's all instinctive to me (including understanding what's known as the Scheimpflug Rule).

      Digital photography makes things a lot simpler. You can purchase perspective control lenses (very expensive) or simply correct distortion in software such as Photoshop, Lightroom and other products.
    3. walksoftly walksoftly, 4 years ago
      Thank you for the detailed response, It all makes sense when it is explained so well.
      I always like studying old technology & am amazed at the ingenious ways that people arrived at a solution to the problem before them.
    4. SEAN68 SEAN68, 4 years ago
      wow!! Rob you have a great collection and what a fabulous camera!!
    5. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks, Michael!
    6. filmnet filmnet, 4 years ago
      Hi rniederman, as you might know now i also now, i work on a View cameras for 1887-1995, and B/W film and other film for company's.
    7. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks!
      racer4four
      valentino97
      fortapache
    8. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks!
      Sean
      vetraio50
    9. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks!
      JohnK
      Manikin
      Ben
    10. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks!
      blunderbuss2
      antiquerose
      petey
    11. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks!
      farmlady
      mtg75
      Longings
    12. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks!
      kyratango
      Designer
      shughs
    13. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks!
      sanhardin
      AntigueToys
      glassiegirl
    14. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks!
      Manikin
      Oroyoroyisthatyourhorse
      Beachbum58
    15. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks!
      Trey
      leighannrn
      crswerner
    16. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks!
      f64imager
      Chevelleman69
      sugargirl
    17. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks, Nicefice!
    18. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks, chrissylovescats!
    19. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks, Roycroftbooksfromme1!
    20. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks, BCHMuseum!
    21. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks, NevadaBlades!
    22. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks, pops52!

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