Tailboard cameras are cameras which enable movement of the rear panel, along a rearward extension, or tailboard. In order to focus an image on the ground glass at the rear of a wood and brass camera, (and subsequently on a sensitive photographic plate), the distance between the front panel carrying the lens, and the rear panel with the ground glass, has to be capable of extension and contraction. This movement can be achieved either by enabling the front to move forwards and backwards, relative to a stationary rear panel, as in what is commonly called the English Style camera, or by having the front panel stationary, and enabling the movement of the rear panel, along a rearward extension, or tailboard. And that is what constitutes a Tailboard Camera.
Initially, in the very early days of photography, the extension/contraction movement was achieved by having two boxes, one of which stayed still, carrying the lens, and another, carrying the focusing screen, which slid back and forwards inside it, to focus the image. These were known as sliding box cameras.
Upon the invention of a flexible bellows which could be used between the front and back panels, the traditional sliding box focusing method, which entailed the moving of only the rear panel, was retained, and the tailboard camera was created.
The tailboard style of focusing was particularly adapted to close-up work, as the lens could be held at a fixed distance from the subject, while focusing was done by moving only the rear panel. This aspect endeared the tailboard camera to early photographers, many of whom continued to use it long after the English Style camera rendered it unfashionable.
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