Tom Westbrook

Large Format Accessories


GnassGear™ Dark Cloth

I've been on a search for the perfect dark cloth ever since I realized that my old BTZS cloth was slowly disintegrating from using it in cold temperatures. I also have gotten a little weary of the BTZS's stiffness and that the elastic collar was difficult to deal with. I tried the Harrison cloth, but found it to be too large and not configured to my liking (the velcro didn't allow me to fasten it very securely to my Arca rear standard).

I recently got one of the new focusing cloths from GnassGear. I was immediately impressed with its quality. The material is a close-woven fabric that feels like cotton, but is really polyester. It has no weird plastic feel like my BTZS cloth, so I'm hoping it will serve better in cold conditions. The edges all taped all the way around, which is a very nice feature that prevents any unraveling at the edges of the fabric.

The dark cloth I got was a pre-production model, and has a light tan color on the outside, rather than the charcoal that's standard now. I really don't care what color it is, personally, though the GnassGear web site claims that the dark exterior of the newer cloths helps eyes adjust more quickly to the dark conditions inside the cloth. I haven't noticed any difference in that regard between the white exterior of my BTZS cloth or the neutral gray exterior of the Harrison cloth, but others might. The dark exterior probably will show dirt less readily, though, so it might be better just for that.

The GnassGear cloth is quite opaque and is soft and pliable, so drapes well. The inside is a dark gray color, so doesn't compete with the image on the ground glass.

I was a bit skeptical of the claims that it ventilates well so I took it out and tested it on a cool 40°F/4°C day. I usually get bad condensation on the ground glass in cool conditions like that. I found that while it has much better ventilation than the BTZS, I was still fighting condensation. Flapping the cloth periodically helped to clear it, though.

It's the perfect size for 4x5 at 38"x42". It has a little loop that's perfect for hanging it off the rail of my Arca or from any knob of my tripod or ball head. It features snaps and velcro and a bit of elastic on the business end to hold it around the rear standard. This arrangement works quite well to keep it on the camera and makes the cloth very quick and easy to deploy, so is great for those times where you have to move quickly to get the shot.

All in all, I find it a great improvement over the BTZS and Harrison cloths I have used in the past and can recommend it to others.


506 g or 1 lb-2 oz
38 x 42 inches


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Page last modified: 16-Feb-2012