A photographer/collector who likes analog cameras and the images film produces, while also enjoying

A photographer/collector who likes analog cameras and the images film produces, while also enjoying
A photographer/collector who likes analog cameras and the images film produces, while also enjoying the latest digital.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

DIY Film Holder for Developing 3x4 Sheet Film

This is the first true post I have made since converting this blog to focus on vintage cameras and photography.  I thought I would jump right in with a blog on something associated with vintage cameras.  Developing film from an old format.  Here goes.

I have never seem to do things the easy way.  Recently an Anniversary Speed Graphic fell into my lap.  I obtained the camera for free in a trade for some other camera items.  Sometime after bringing the camera home I sat down and gave it camera a look.  To my surprise, it was not a 4x5 Graphic, which I have owned in the past, but rather a smaller size.  I learned that Anniversary Speed Graphics were built in three different film sizes: 4x5 (So called even though the actual film size is slightly smaller.)  A small 2x3 (So called even though the actual film size is apparently 2 1/4"x 3 1/4".)  And 3x4 (Again so called even though I found out that the film sheet size is really 3 3/8"x 4 3/8".)  This is the size of my specimen.

This post is not about the camera itself.  But rather the challenges of develop this sheet film size.
 I tried to find existing equipment for developing "3x4" sheet film.  Seemed like I was the only one in the world that had the slightest interest in actually shooting with this camera.

I ended up having to modify an existing inversion tank to accept my new film size.  It involved modifying an AP Universal developing tank and a 35mm to 120 size spool to accommodate my sheet film.  The great part of this conversion is that you do not permanently change or damage the tank and one of the spools.  The only change to this equipment is to one of the spools which after the modification can never be used again to develop 35mm or 120 film.

Below are a few images of this effort.  For a full explanation of what I did, please visit this link to my website for the details.

A not very good image of the camera in question:

 The equipment I started with:

Modifications needed:

The end result, which works great!

I used my two sacrificial pieces of sheet film and went through several complete cycles of developing, while using only water, to test the durability of this setup.  I have now developed several sheets of this size film, and each time was successful.  This includes developing reversal film.  To this point I have only developed 2 sheets at a time.  I am sure I could develop at least 4 at the same time but I have yet to try this.    More to come..........


  1. I would encourage you to purchase some Harman Direct Posiitve paper, then cut it to size for your film holders. Expose it at about ISO8, then you can place two such prints in your deceloping tank without the reels, with the paper along the edge of the tank, emulsion side facing inward, and develop using about 100ml of chemistry, with the tank on its side and rotated continuously for about 3 minutes. You end up with one-of-a-kind prints without the need to use film.

  2. Interesting! I will look into it. I am always looking for new and different methods of doing things. Thanks!