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CATLABS

Written by TONY PATTERSON
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CATLABS

As a large format film shooter, I’m often drawn to companies or organizations that are supportive of everything film photography related. One company that has caught my eye is CatLABS of JP. Based out of Massachusetts, CatLABS of JP provides darkroom resources and service with a focus on traditional photographic equipment. This includes everything from film processing and darkroom gear to large format cameras. CatLABS is the exclusive distributor of Jobo analog products in the US, and a factory service station for all your Jobo service and spare parts needs.

I recently had the chance to speak with Omer Hecht with CatLABS. I hope you enjoy what he had to say as much as I did.


1.
Tell me a bit about CatLABS of JP
CatLABS was founded in 2010, and started out as a specialty film processing and finishing service for local artists. Over the years the business has transformed to service Jobo and other darkroom equipment, and now includes all types of analog cameras, lenses and accessories sales and service.
We also publish a Bi-Annual magazine dedicated to analog work.

2. What is the driving passion behind CatLABS of JP?
We LOVE film, and everything that surrounds it, especially the people using it. That’s why we are an analog only business, dedicated to preserving film and the entire analog apparatus for future generations.

3. Tell me a bit about some of the “creations” you’ve put together
A while back, manual control/high end Polaroid cameras were quite expensive, and we began offering a handmade converted camera, with a high end lens and manual control. We call it the “Swordfish camera”. We built many of those over the years.
We have built a few custom made Speed Graphic cameras with a mounted 150mm F2.8 Heidosmat lens, as well as a few with a Xenotar 150mm.

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4. What is the craziest combo you’ve ever completed?
We once got a 40’s Deardorff V8, which looked like it had been run over by a tractor, then left in an open barn for 30 years. We ended up building a whole new V8 camera, with new parts, parts from other cameras, self-fabricated parts, and parts from other manufacturers. The result was a pristine V8 camera with better than the original features (like bellows and ground glass), but at the heart of it, we knew it was a “frankencamera”. The person who ended up getting this camera was so happy with it, that he ended up ordering another one with the same modifications.

5. What is the rarest item you’ve listed?
Perhaps because every item we sell is unique, it’s hard to put “most rare” tag on one specific thing, but a few things that come to mind are these:
The rarest would probably have to be a brand new set of Schneider Fine Art XXL 1100mm and 550mm lenses. These are gold plated monsters, which are supplied by Schneider with their own white gloves in each case. There were only around 100 of these ever made. I should say, this was not the only one of these sets we have sold.
We also had the privilege to sell several Docter-Wetzlar Apo Germinar lenses. Again, there might have only been 150 of these lenses ever made, and we were able to source quite a few of those. In that sense, from our perspective, they are not that rare, but from the world of actual user’s perspective, they are hugely rare.
We now have 2 V11 Deardorff 11X14 cameras in stock, again, only a few hundred of these ever made.

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6. What do you shoot with personally? Why?
I love my Canham DLC. I have been using it for so long that it is by now an extension of my arms. When I shoot I no longer look at the knobs or levers, I can generally feel if they are in place or not. When I was contemplating what camera I should get, my boss says - if you want the best, buy a Canham. I did, and never looked back. Having had all these years of handling so many awesome cameras, I can safely say it really isn't the best camera in the world, but as far as I am concerned it is the only one I can use. I prefer a 135mm lens, and currently use an Apo Sironar S 135mm. I use this focal length for 99% of my work. It really does it all. I also have a Nikon 35TI which I carry with me anywhere I go.

7. Are there products that seem to be in high demand from your clientele?
Not really, there is a wide ranging interest in film and analog cameras, and all are in demand.

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8. Where do you see film photography being in 5 years? 20 years?
It’s hard to say. There are enough dedicated fabricators to keep this media going for now, however, if film shooters don’t put their wallets where their money is, that might not be the case five years from now. My message has always been - shoot more film, buy fresh film, support the industry. We can do it; we just have make sure we do.

9. Do you specialize in any one area or item?
CatLABS specializes in Jobo products and large format cameras and lenses.

10. Are you proactive in promoting film photography to the younger generation? If so, how and why?
We do workshops throughout the year. The crowds that show up to these are almost entirely young people who were born post the digital revolution. Most of our social media interaction is aimed at younger people, and we try to have as much information available as possible so that people can educate themselves.
You can find out more about CatLABS of JP on their Website at
www.catlabs.info

Tony Patterson: Website | Instagram

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CATLABS

As a large format film shooter, I’m often drawn to companies or organizations that are supportive of everything film photography related. One company that has caught my eye is CatLABS of JP. Based out of Massachusetts, CatLABS of JP provides darkroom resources and service with a focus on traditional photographic equipment. This includes everything from film processing and darkroom gear to large format cameras. CatLABS is the exclusive distributor of Jobo analog products in the US, and a factory service station for all your Jobo service and spare parts needs.

I recently had the chance to speak with Omer Hecht with CatLABS. I hope you enjoy what he had to say as much as I did.


1.
Tell me a bit about CatLABS of JP
CatLABS was founded in 2010, and started out as a specialty film processing and finishing service for local artists. Over the years the business has transformed to service Jobo and other darkroom equipment, and now includes all types of analog cameras, lenses and accessories sales and service.
We also publish a Bi-Annual magazine dedicated to analog work.

2. What is the driving passion behind CatLABS of JP?
We LOVE film, and everything that surrounds it, especially the people using it. That’s why we are an analog only business, dedicated to preserving film and the entire analog apparatus for future generations.

3. Tell me a bit about some of the “creations” you’ve put together
A while back, manual control/high end Polaroid cameras were quite expensive, and we began offering a handmade converted camera, with a high end lens and manual control. We call it the “Swordfish camera”. We built many of those over the years.
We have built a few custom made Speed Graphic cameras with a mounted 150mm F2.8 Heidosmat lens, as well as a few with a Xenotar 150mm.

Stacks Image 2580

4. What is the craziest combo you’ve ever completed?
We once got a 40’s Deardorff V8, which looked like it had been run over by a tractor, then left in an open barn for 30 years. We ended up building a whole new V8 camera, with new parts, parts from other cameras, self-fabricated parts, and parts from other manufacturers. The result was a pristine V8 camera with better than the original features (like bellows and ground glass), but at the heart of it, we knew it was a “frankencamera”. The person who ended up getting this camera was so happy with it, that he ended up ordering another one with the same modifications.

5. What is the rarest item you’ve listed?
Perhaps because every item we sell is unique, it’s hard to put “most rare” tag on one specific thing, but a few things that come to mind are these:
The rarest would probably have to be a brand new set of Schneider Fine Art XXL 1100mm and 550mm lenses. These are gold plated monsters, which are supplied by Schneider with their own white gloves in each case. There were only around 100 of these ever made. I should say, this was not the only one of these sets we have sold.
We also had the privilege to sell several Docter-Wetzlar Apo Germinar lenses. Again, there might have only been 150 of these lenses ever made, and we were able to source quite a few of those. In that sense, from our perspective, they are not that rare, but from the world of actual user’s perspective, they are hugely rare.
We now have 2 V11 Deardorff 11X14 cameras in stock, again, only a few hundred of these ever made.

Stacks Image 2588

6. What do you shoot with personally? Why?
I love my Canham DLC. I have been using it for so long that it is by now an extension of my arms. When I shoot I no longer look at the knobs or levers, I can generally feel if they are in place or not. When I was contemplating what camera I should get, my boss says - if you want the best, buy a Canham. I did, and never looked back. Having had all these years of handling so many awesome cameras, I can safely say it really isn't the best camera in the world, but as far as I am concerned it is the only one I can use. I prefer a 135mm lens, and currently use an Apo Sironar S 135mm. I use this focal length for 99% of my work. It really does it all. I also have a Nikon 35TI which I carry with me anywhere I go.

7. Are there products that seem to be in high demand from your clientele?
Not really, there is a wide ranging interest in film and analog cameras, and all are in demand.

Stacks Image 2596

8. Where do you see film photography being in 5 years? 20 years?
It’s hard to say. There are enough dedicated fabricators to keep this media going for now, however, if film shooters don’t put their wallets where their money is, that might not be the case five years from now. My message has always been - shoot more film, buy fresh film, support the industry. We can do it; we just have make sure we do.

9. Do you specialize in any one area or item?
CatLABS specializes in Jobo products and large format cameras and lenses.

10. Are you proactive in promoting film photography to the younger generation? If so, how and why?
We do workshops throughout the year. The crowds that show up to these are almost entirely young people who were born post the digital revolution. Most of our social media interaction is aimed at younger people, and we try to have as much information available as possible so that people can educate themselves.
You can find out more about CatLABS of JP on their Website at
www.catlabs.info

Tony Patterson: Website | Instagram