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Thread: 5x7 Foam Core Monorail (Work in Progress)

  1. #1

    5x7 Foam Core Monorail (Work in Progress)

    5x7 Foam Core Monorail (Work in Progress)

    I've not posted on here for a while but I lurk from time to time and I thought I'd make a work in progress thread for the project I'm currently working on.

    I recently picked up a Schneider Symmar-S 210 F/5.6 with the hope of getting into large format photography, but I've never got round to buying/making a camera until now. The plan is to build a really simple foam core monorail camera which I can mount the lens on. I also have a 4x5 bellows (I think they're Sinar) which I'm going to incorporate (being careful I design in such a way that the 4x5 bellows don't intrude on my 5x7 frame). I'm not planning on the camera having any movements; it's just going to be a simple friction focus design. I'm also going to have a go at making a foamcore film holder (although actually I think I'll be shooting more paper with this at first), I've got an idea of how I can make this light tight...I'll just have to see how it works out.

    So far I've mostly completed the front standard. I'm using 5mm foamcore and 1.5mm card which is black on one side and white on the other. The front standard is a fairly straight forward 230mm x 230mm x 40mm box. I took some pictures of the making, hope to update this thread when I do a bit more.

    Materials before I started, missing here is the rail which I still have to acquire and a ground glass...hoping to buy glass and grind my own:



    Parts cut out for front standard:



    Bonding the two parts of the front panel to make a stepped panel (1.5mm card on front, 5mm foamcore behind). Using double sided tape to stick the two sheets together. I'm going for a non-changeable lens board...which in hindsight might not have been a great idea. Maybe if I do a mark II I'll implement an interchangeable one:



    Front panel stuck together:



    Making the rear panel which holds the bellows. I didn't want to glue in the bellows so the method I've gone for is to make a cutout in the panel which locates into a recess on the bellows. Again this panel is made up of 1.5mm card and 5mm foam core to create a step around the edge:







    Attaching box made from 5mm foam core strips to front panel (glued but in hindsight I should have just taped this so that at least I could get it off relatively easily again...oops):





    Doing the same for the rear panel and we have a front standard



    I'm currently cutting out parts for the film back and rear standard, hope to update again relatively soon.

  2. #2
    500+ Posts earlj's Avatar
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    5x7 Foam Core Monorail (Work in Progress)

    Wonderful work so far - keep us posted.

  3. #3

    5x7 Foam Core Monorail (Work in Progress)

    Thanks Earl. I had the chance to do a bit more this weekend. Have now finished my film/paper back (pending testing to check if it's light tight).

    Parts laid out before assembling:



    The finished article:



    Showing the darkslide partially out, testing the fit with a 5x7" print I had lying about:



    That's it for this weekend I think. Hoping to grind my ground glass this week though, purchased a 130mm x 180mm picture frame from a £1 shop and hoping to use the glass from this.

  4. #4

    5x7 Foam Core Monorail (Work in Progress)

    Pretty much done on the build now. Made the ground glass, rear standard and tripod mount this week.

    I bought a 5x7" photo frame from a £1 shop for the glass to make a focussing screen.



    And the finished camera. The reason the rear standard is so deep is to allow full coverage of the 5x7" format but while using the bellows for 4x5" which i already had. Any shorter and the bellows would start to intrude on the frame at close focus (I've designed this so that theoretically I can focus at 1:1...although whether my bellows will stretch that far is another matter):







    Hopefully take a couple of test pictures at some point this weekend

  5. #5

    5x7 Foam Core Monorail (Work in Progress)

    Couple of test shots

    Shot these on Kentmere VC Select paper rated at ISO 6. Both a bit blurred, may have missed focus a bit and slight movement during 10 seconds of exposure wouldn't have helped either. Still quite happy though.




  6. #6
    500+ Posts earlj's Avatar
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    5x7 Foam Core Monorail (Work in Progress)

    That's a beautiful camera. I insist that anything can be built from foamcore and matboard. Well done.

  7. #7

    5x7 Foam Core Monorail (Work in Progress)

    Those are great results. I love the elegant simplicity of construction you've achieved. And I like the idea that you made your own film holder, too.

    I'd like to see more portraits from this camera; your initial results remind me a lot of the work being done by modern-day wet plate collodion artists. They often use head braces to stabilize their subjects during their similarly long exposure times. Or, another common pose method is the subject sitting backwards, leaning on a straight-backed chair, head stabilized with chin on arms.

    One technical question about your film holder: do you remove the dark slide completely, or does it stay in the holder as the final light seal? If you remove the holder completely, how do you achieve a good light seal? These are issues I've had to work through over the years in building homemade cameras. Again, great results, thanks for sharing.

    ~Joe

  8. #8

    5x7 Foam Core Monorail (Work in Progress)

    Thanks for sharing details of this great built camera. You spent a lot of work in this very nice camera. The first pictures look very promising.

  9. #9

    5x7 Foam Core Monorail (Work in Progress)

    Quote Originally Posted by 1351
    I'd like to see more portraits from this camera; your initial results remind me a lot of the work being done by modern-day wet plate collodion artists. They often use head braces to stabilize their subjects during their similarly long exposure times. Or, another common pose method is the subject sitting backwards, leaning on a straight-backed chair, head stabilized with chin on arms.
    Thanks Joe, wet plate collodion is something I'd love to give a shot actually. It's a bit too messy and dangerous for me just now though I think. I had heard of subjects wearing braces to keep their poses. The chair pose method is certainly worth considering as well, thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1351
    One technical question about your film holder: do you remove the dark slide completely, or does it stay in the holder as the final light seal? If you remove the holder completely, how do you achieve a good light seal? These are issues I've had to work through over the years in building homemade cameras. Again, great results, thanks for sharing.

    ~Joe
    The darkslide can be removed completely. Basically there is a bent piece of thin cardboard which is pushed down when the darkslide is inserted and fills a void as the darkslide is removed. There is a slight light leak evident on the right hand side of the first image but I'm not 100% sure this has come through the darkslide aperture...there is also a slot cut in the rear standard (which is not sealed) to allow the slide to be pulled out; I think this might be where the leak is coming from.

    Quote Originally Posted by 904
    Thanks for sharing details of this great built camera. You spent a lot of work in this very nice camera. The first pictures look very promising.
    Thank you very much, I'm quite pleased with them.

  10. #10
    500+ Posts Longbow3's Avatar
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    5x7 Foam Core Monorail (Work in Progress)

    Really neat camera and very cool portraits! I am afraid to get in front of my cameras!

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