Film holders

Fragments of nature

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I keep on coming across cut film holder but what is the difference between the cut film holder and the film holder.
Any suggestions on where I could get some new ones from please.
Thanks Simon
 

David M

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They are all names for the same thing. ‘Cut film’ is non-roll film, or sheet film. The shallow double sided box that holds the film can be called a film holder, a cut film holder, a double dark slide (DDS) and so on. The sliding lid that closes the box can be called the slide or the sheath. There are almost certainly more variants.
Book-form holders were the original form and they split down the middle (like a book) to drop in glass plates, but they belong to history and historical processes. If you come across one, admire the fine craftsmanship that was routine in those days.
Intrepid sell them, as do our sponsors, Morco and Nik and Trick. You may be surprised at the price. They are also available more cheaply second hand, but as always, you will have to exercise some caution. Other members may offer much better advice on second hand purchases. Chamonix make a luxury version, available from Nik and Trick.
I hope this has reduced the confusion. Photography was invented and developed by many hands so there’s some variation on nomenclature. Can you believe that there are even people who say four-by-five and eight-by-ten? Incredible, but true.
 

Ian Grant

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As David says the commonest name for Film holders is DDS here in the UK, I never pay more than £10 for second hand 5x4 DDS, usually less typically £7 if buying a few and that's in excellent condition.

Another reason for the term DDS was before WWII some plate cameras used quite thin metal single sided plate holders but a few used double side holders, Convention is that the white tab at the top indicated loaded and unexpsed, and after exposure inserted the other way around showing black to indicate exposed (or empty).

I have a large Roll film camera made between 1898 & 1904 that shoots 5x4 negatives on 110 Roll film, other models could take Plates or Cut film as well, sometimes with a different back. That was why the term Cut or Sheet films was used. By 1898 Ilford offered two cut films in 5 sizes Quarter plate, 5x4, Half plate, whle Plate, and 10x8.

Ian
 

David M

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The black/white tab convention is important. Both Saint Ansel and Kodak say that things are done in the way Ian describes. Some people have claimed that "intuitively" they prefer the other way round. I cannot see why. If you find yourself working with a stranger, it might be sensible to ask.
For extra security, there is generally some small feature on the white side, near or on the pull-tab that can be described as rough or textured, so that you can distinguish the sides in the dark.
Sadly there's no universal convention for empty. I simply withdraw the dark slide an inch or so, still in the black/exposed orientation, (so that there's no danger of an accidental but unlikely mistake) and store them somewhere clean. When loading, I remove the slide, dust the holder inside, dust the slide on both sides, replace it with the white side out and then load the film as usual.
I believe there are still single-sided holders made for specialist applications, but Ian would know better.
 

Ian Grant

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The black/white tab convention is important. Both Saint Ansel and Kodak say that things are done in the way Ian describes. Some people have claimed that "intuitively" they prefer the other way round. I cannot see why. If you find yourself working with a stranger, it might be sensible to ask.
For extra security, there is generally some small feature on the white side, near or on the pull-tab that can be described as rough or textured, so that you can distinguish the sides in the dark.
Sadly there's no universal convention for empty. I simply withdraw the dark slide an inch or so, still in the black/exposed orientation, (so that there's no danger of an accidental but unlikely mistake) and store them somewhere clean. When loading, I remove the slide, dust the holder inside, dust the slide on both sides, replace it with the white side out and then load the film as usual.
I believe there are still single-sided holders made for specialist applications, but Ian would know better.

In commercial photography where others may be loading DDS for photographers it's a very hard and fast rule, no exceptions, There was a time when assistants in London were often hired on a freelance basis and you couldn't afford simple mistakes.

Sinle sided holders are made for wet plate use.

Ian
 

David M

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Yes. I found references to “intuition” in the arty side of photography, as part of “expressing yourself”, which I’ve otherwise forgotten. I was impressed by the daftness.
There are people who claim that mastery of technique destroys creativity.
Did Sinar once make a single-sided holder with vacuum?
 

David M

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…or pilots or dentists. I hope not.
But let’s try to be fair. There are people with a genuine interest in accidental effects. This is how the Holga has become popular. Some wet-plate photographers are fascinated by the possibilities of unpredictability. No doubt there are others. Not an interest I share.
Lack of technique is not how to become the most famous tennis player in the world, overnight. Another interest I don’t share, I’m afraid.
 

Marley

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…or pilots or dentists. I hope not.
But let’s try to be fair. There are people with a genuine interest in accidental effects. This is how the Holga has become popular. Some wet-plate photographers are fascinated by the possibilities of unpredictability. No doubt there are others. Not an interest I share.
Lack of technique is not how to become the most famous tennis player in the world, overnight. Another interest I don’t share, I’m afraid.
just the mistakes I make in large format photography if I don't keep my head in the right space are QUITE random enough for me.
 

Ian Grant

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There's a lot in common between poetry and photography in the right hands :D It's about telling a story or saying something with images.

Ian
 

Marley

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There's a lot in common between poetry and photography in the right hands :D It's about telling a story or saying something with images.

Ian
Amen Ian. When done well a photograph will transfer a mood, opinion or narrative from photographer to viewer directly - with no need for narration or title.
 

Ian Grant

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I have just bought a "Job Lot" of film and plate holdeers, Half plate, 5x4, Quarter plate, 9x12, some film inserts, 5x4 Wet Plate holders, at least 10 contact frames (small), lens boards, and two roller blind shutters. I don't expect the package before early next week.

Some of the 5x4 DDS will be surplus, as I already have plenty, so will be available at a reasonable price after checking/cleaning.

Ian
 
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