How to Make Ground Glass for a Large Format Camera

Markus Hofstaetter recently shared how he makes ground glass for a large format camera in this cool video.

Austrian wet plate and wedding photographer Markus Hofstaetter has always been our go-to guy when it comes to all things cool about large format photography, especially wet plate photography. Aside from taking impressive, one-of-a-kind snaps, he’s also quite the handyman with his cameras and often makes modifications and DIY parts required by his projects. The latest of these is DIY ground glass for the large format camera. As always, he documented the process in a cool video and shared a bit of information about it with us.

Below, Markus demonstrates how he makes ground glass for 5×7 large format cameras in just a few steps. The ground glass is a handy tool because it gives photographers a preview of the image that will be projected on the film sheets or photographic plates. This video should especially come in handy for anyone who wants to either build their own large format camera or needs to DIY a ground glass replacement for their existing cameras.

According to Markus, he makes ground glass once in a while, but this particular piece was part of the restoration for the camera of a wet plate workshop participant.

Also, the ground glass utilizes the same 2mm glass sheets he uses as his plates. He orders it from an alternative photographic store in Vienna, so you may need to find a similar establishment in your area if you’re thinking of making ground glass for your camera. As for the diamond glass cutter and the grinding powders, he said you can buy them on Amazon.

The process is actually very simple. Once you have a glass cut in the size of your camera, measure the edges for cutting using the diamond glass cutter. Dull the edges of the glass plate as a safety measure. Mix the silicone carbide powders with a small amount of water, and another glass plate to grind the glossy surface of both sides of the glass. Make sure it’s done evenly to the edges. Grind the glass one more time for a brighter screen. Then you’re done!

Curious about his other DIY camera modifications? Check out how Markus prepares metal plates for wet plate photography, and how he shot macro photography with two wet plate cameras! Make sure to also visit Markus Hofstaetter’s blog and YouTube channel to learn more about his wet plate photography and projects.