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It was blackened by painting, lacquering or enamelling, and coated with a collodion photographic emulsion.The dark background gave the resulting image the appearance of a positive.This, along with the resilience and cheapness of the medium (iron, rather than glass), meant that ferrotypes soon replaced collodion positives as the favourite ‘instant’ process used by itinerant photographers.
They are a very dark grey-black and the image quality is often poor.
The huge camera in this photograph is the Diamond Gun Ferrotype Camera, which was made by the International Metal and Ferrotype Company, Chicago, Illinois and dates from the 1920s.
The ability to utilise a very under exposed image meant that a photographer could prepare, expose, develop, and varnish a ferrotype plate in just a few minutes.
The patent was purchased by Simon Wing who had already patented a camera design of his own in 1860.
This multiplying camera was capable of making as many as 616 " square images on a single plate depending on the number of lenses, number of movements of the plate holder and, of course, the size of the plate.