How to Make a Ground Glass Focusing Screen at Home


Did you know that you can make your own ground glass focusing screen? In his latest video, wet plate photographer Markus Hofstätter shows you exactly how by making a ground glass screen for one of his large format cameras.

The process is surprisingly straight forward, requiring very little in way of materials or DIY skills.

All you need is a piece of glass, a diamond glass cutter, two different types of silicone carbide grinding powder, and a makeshift “grinder” made of a piece of wood attached to a glass plate. The whole process can be summed up in 5 steps:

  1. Measure and cut the glass to fit using the diamond glass cutter
  2. Grind the glass using your makeshift grinder and some 400-grit silicone carbide grinding powder mixed with a little bit of water
  3. Rinse with water and repeat as needed until all of the “shiny” portions of the glass have been ground away
  4. Grind the glass once more, this time using 600-grit grinding powder
  5. Rinse with water. If you’ve done it right, the water should no longer “stick” to the glass.

Once you’re done, the final product should look something like this:

Admittedly, this particular DIY project won’t apply to that many photographers—not a lot of large format shooters out there. But even for us digital photographers who only occasionally dabble in film, it’s interesting to see how this is done. As with all of Hofstätter’s photo projects, DIY videos, and ambitious undertakings, he somehow manages to make this niche of photography entertaining to everyone, even if you’ve never touched a large format camera or framed your shot on a ground glass focusing screen.

Watch the video up top to see Hofstätter in action, and then visit his website if you’re interested in browsing through some of the work he’s created using these cameras.


Image credits: Photos by Markus Hofstätter and used with permission.



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