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Thread: First Home made Large Format camera

  1. #11

    First Home made Large Format camera

    I LOVE the material you've made the bellows from !!! I wish I could get something like that on any of my cameras

    your apertures have a long history: they are most properly called "Waterhouse stops" and are a very elegant solution 8)

    there's a lot of ways to deal with the back....
    as Earl suggests, the easiest option is to recycle the back from an old camera if you can find one; they do come up pretty cheap sometimes

    otherwise, there's all sorts of home made solutions [most of which will be easier if you use standard holders]
    in most cases the ground glass remains attached to the camera but there's also some back designs that have the ground glass mounted in a frame the same size as the film holders and you just swap over. I think the best of these [that i've seen] is the razzlok

    then all you need is a packard shutter or something similar and you're groovin' !

    what I can't make out is how you're dealing with your film, are you using standard holders or something homemade ?

  2. #12
    500+ Posts Longbow3's Avatar
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    Nov 2005
    North central Texas

    First Home made Large Format camera

    Fantastic Camera. I have seen very large magnifying lenses at the local discount store and have thought of building something like what you've done. Again Great work!

  3. #13

    First Home made Large Format camera

    Great work, Elvis; I'm hoping to do the same for some 8"x10" film holders I acquired. I don't yet have a design for my ground-glass back so I'm no help to you there.

    I love the bellows; that's something I'll have to tackle with this project; perhaps I'll be asking you for advice.

    As for the resulting images, they are wonderful. As I've indicated elsewhere (and have myself created), I love these images made with primitive optics, especially the off-axis effects, and the limited tonal range available with paper negatives. Keep up the good work, I look forward to seeing more.


  4. #14

    First Home made Large Format camera

    First of all thank you for you'r comments.

    Yes my name is Elvis
    My film holder i just made one is allso made from black foamcore because where I live, film holders are a really difficult thing to get a hold of. I am having some ideas on how to mount the ground glass holder but the biggest obstacle in my foamcore film holders is the focus on the glass and later in the picture. If you have any pictures, that would be great, since I just saw one Linhof bellows camera for a few minutes. I'm going to Poland on an exchange soon and have heard that the camera and camera parts over there is abundant, and I am hoping to snatch some film holders. If i had a holder I could easily reverse engeneer the glass holder but for now i'm just wondering in the dark, for now

    This is the third bellows i made for this camera. The first ones were made from paper and duct tape, and soon the paper fell apart so it was no good. The scond one was made from black 0,4mm polypropylene, duct tape and a black outer lining. Since the polypropylene is too stiff I could not get the bellows to move easily because of the resistance. So finally I learned something from previous attempts, this one is made from black inner lining, black 240g paper, and the colorful outer lining, with the lining on both sides preventing the paper from tearing and still they are very felxible. Didn't know about water stops, now I know. The razzlok holder is really nice, got some ideas from that one and it's soo simple, thank you. The film holder is just a foam core holder that fits over the back of the camera, with no light trap, because I had not figured out how to make one. Okay the packard shutter would be really really nice to have, did not know that exists either, since large format is soo new to me.

    Thank you very much, and good luck with your project.

    I've made a lot of bellows but still they are not as felexible as I would like them to be and that's mostly because of the materials used. I think If you switch from duct tape to black hockey tape the difference will be obvious. But the first one was all I was able to get my hands on. When the first picture was developing I could not believe it, but for now the large format experiences are limited to the darkroom use only. One question, how do I calculate the aperture with camers lihe this, I really don't have a clue?

    Thank you all. I got a lot of new information that's just waiting to get absorbed.

    Good Light


  5. #15

    First Home made Large Format camera

    Quote Originally Posted by puggsley
    One question, how do I calculate the aperture with camers lihe this, I really don't have a clue?
    Your focal ratio (i.e. "f-stop") will be the focal length (measured from the lens board to the film plane) divided by the diameter of the aperture stop. So you will want to measure the lens' focal length (when focused onto the subject) and divide this by the diameter of the aperture stop. Some people get creative and attach a scale to their camera's focusing rail; I prefer just to remove the lens board (after having focused the lens) and insert a metric scale inside the bellows to measure the focal length.

    I measure this in millimeters. My Speed Graphic has a removable lens board; after focusing on the subject I pop off the lens board, measure with a metric scale the distance from the lens board to the film plane, and then divide by the aperture stop's diameter, which I've already measured ahead of time and marked.

    The shortest focal length you will use with any one lens will be at near-infinity; as you focus on subjects closer in, the bellows will need to be extended outward. How close you can focus is determined by how flexible is your bellows. It is when you are focusing close-in that you really need to carefully measure the focal length, in order to compensate for the so-called "bellows extension factor." The method I described above automatically takes into account this factor. Once you have your working focal ratio, just reference that number onto the dial of your light meter to determine your exposure time.


  6. #16
    Administrator Tom Persinger's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    Pittsburgh PA USA

    First Home made Large Format camera

    hi elvis-
    thanks for posting! wonderful camera and photos - great work!
    i look forward to seeing more of the images made from this camera (and the others you're bound to cobble together)


  7. #17

    First Home made Large Format camera

    Very nice job Elvis!

    I agree with Andrew...the material is cool...for bellows.

    ...but not clothing! (not me anyway)

    Similar to what Earl said, any piece of glass that will pass light and focus is worthy of trying in my opinion.

    I once bought a surplus front cell from a somewhat rare lens, and it seemed like the front surface was pitted.

    I looked under a microscope and found the pitting was black and it looked like fungus. The seller offered to take it back but it was the last and only one they had so I said no to returning it. I said it passes light and it focuses and the price was OK so it still has a use!

    Good luck


  8. #18

    First Home made Large Format camera

    Elvis, Very nice craftsmanship and design. Here are some food for thought that I have used on two 8x10 pinhole cameras I built. Both utilize 8x10 standard film holders and the backs rotate to accommodate portrait and landscape. One is from an old Kodak the other is of my own design utilizing springs used in framing
    matted photographs. Attached files

  9. #19

    First Home made Large Format camera

    Kodak Back

    Attached files

  10. #20
    500+ Posts earlj's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, United States
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    First Home made Large Format camera

    I can't find the images of my 8x10 back. However, it looks just like this old Bourke & James back. I think that most of the old backs looked pretty much the same ...

    This works if the ground glass is a permanent part of the back. If this is not the case, then you will have to make a ground glass holder that is identical dimensionally to your film holders, and where the front surface of the ground glass is the exact same distance from the front face of the holder as the film is from the front face of a typical film holder. Then you put in the glass holder, focus, and then swap it for the film holder. I think that this is the way imageon's framing spring back works. Attached files

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