Tailboard camera is a common term for a view camera with bellows and rear focusing. That means that focusing with such a camera is carried out by adjusting the ground glass back's position forward or backward until the image on the matte screen is sharp.

The cat tail theory says that a cat holds its tail upright or horizontally behind itself. That would mean that the term tailboard camera originally meant a kind of rear focusing field camera like the one that was marketed as Reisekamera. This camera type has a hinged baseboard which completely covers the back of the folded camera (tailboard upright) and is the base on which the camera back is moved to unfold the bellows and to focus with the matte screen (tailboard in horizontal working position). That definition would make the tailboard camera the ideal counterpart of the folding bed camera.

But the fact is that the term tailboard camera is also used for rear focusing view cameras which simply have a frame as base instead of a board. Does the term tailboard mean the opposite side of the lens board? Does it mean the frame that alternately holds plate holder or focusing screen? That would be another theory. Probably the cat tail theory is true, but the classic camera experts haven't found a better term than tailboard camera for briefly naming all old wooden rear focusing bellows view cameras.

Thus three main kinds of tailboard cameras can be distinguished: The ones with a hinged baseboard that has the same width as the camera (see Reisekamera), the ones with a narrow baseboard, and the ones with a baseframe.

Glossary Terms

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