Yesterday I arrived at Dave Shrimpton's studio with 10 cameras in the back of the van, much to his delight (he is almost as much of an anorak as I am). Fortunately, they were not all for testing on the day. I had 5 wooden half plate bodies (one to test, 2 to try and find holders for so they could be used again and 2 I knew were good, but that were just along for the ride as they don't get out much).
The first job was testing the new (to me) half plater, fitted with an F8 8" Busch lens that I had loaded up with some Ilford MG paper inside. We took some meter readings in the studio under continuous light, and it worked out perfectly. The bellows have no light leaks and the Busch F8 lens was lovely and sharp (I had cleaned it prior to the trip). Very happy with that.
I also took along my old battered Graflex Speed Graphic body and a Kodak Aero Ektar lens in order to test some 4x5 Zebra dry plates in a controlled environment (both the tin and glass). It's always a struggle to get consistent results at home as being very much the amateur I don't have a decent lighting rig, or anything very interesting to set up subject wise, so this trip out to the wilds of Cambridge was really helpful. The best results came from metering at ISO2 and then over exposing by 1 stop for the tintypes.
We shot 4 tintypes using various settings and developers, and then I busted out 1 of my 2 remaining glass plates, and we developed that in the same chemistry as the tintypes. Ending up with a lovely 'positive' ambrotype type thing.
I can't thank Dave enough for sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with me in order that I can continue to learn and hopefully get better at all this stuff. It's very rewarding when you finally get it right.