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Thread: Big, medium and small folding cameras

  1. #1

    Big, medium and small folding cameras

    I have been busy since Easter re-cycling old laminate flooring into cameras. In size order, the biggest is 8x10, medium is 4x5 and the small is 2x3 (2 1/4 x 3 1/4 really).

    The key objective with all of the cameras was to make them folding, to allow very short focal lengths for pinhole work and to allow plenty of movements for use with a lens.

    First the 8x10.

    The back standard is square and the rear plate can be rotated for portrait/landscape. The rear standard has left/right swing and front/back tilt. The standard is also moved back and fore for focussing. The screen is acrylic sheet I sanded to 'frost' it and it has a fresnel magnifier taped on to brighten the image.

    The bellows are detachable and made from blackout curtain lining on the outside, paper stiffeners and black dress fabric on the inside. The bellows were fun to design as the fold depth starts at 25mm deep at the rear standard, increases to 30mm deep, and then reduces down to 15mm where it meets the front standard. the change in fold depth minimised the number of folds and therefore the compressed thickness, and also allowed me to use a smaller frame for the front standard.

    The front standard has both rise/fall, front/back tilt, left/right swing and left/right shift. It has a 62mm filter ring attached to allow different pinhole plates or lenses to be screwed in.

    The bed of the camera is folding to allow easier transport and the tripod mount can be slid up and down in order to better balance the camera.
    Attached files

  2. #2

    Big, medium and small folding cameras

    The back of the 8x10 with the tail-board bed folded up and also the camera configured for 100mm focal length and a pinhole fitted.

    Attached files

  3. #3

    Big, medium and small folding cameras

    The 4x5 is very similar in design, except that the rear standard only has left/right swing and will not tilt forwards or backwards; as the design is very modular, I may get around to making a standard that will tilt too.

    The images show:
    the camera with the long bellows fitted and the tail-board bed folded up;
    the rise and swing in action;
    the camera with the bellows removed,
    and finally with bag bellows fitted to allow short focal lengths for re-cycled medium format lenses and pinhole work.

    In these pictures, I held the screen/filmholder in with velcro straps, but have recently modified the design to be the same style of wooden clamps as in the 8x10. Attached files

  4. #4

    Big, medium and small folding cameras

    The baby of the bunch is the latest addition which takes 2-1/4" by 3-1/4" negatives. I had some of the 2x3 graflex 6-shot magazines so I thought I should build a camera to fit them!

    At the moment, this camera is really just a prototype to see how restrictive the design concept is. The structure of the camera is basically the same as the larger two, however the rear standard is only in a 'portrait' format and the entire camera needs to be turned on its side to get 'landscape' format images. As the camera is so small, turning it on the side is not the problem it would be for the 8x10!

    I made some long bag bellows and glued them in (a mistake :-/ ); the odd metal hoops are an attempt to keep some structure into the bellows so that I do not have to fight with getting the material from the image path all of the time. I did not pleat the bellows as it would have limited the minimum focal length I could achieve.

    Apart from the bellows not being ideal, I rather like this camera as it is far more portable than the others; I can get this small camera and my 4x5 stereo camera+lenses+pre-cut paper negatives all in the same small bag.

    The pictures are:
    Camera folded for transport - the folding bed is the same as used in the pictures of the 4x5, I have yet to decide how long to make the bed!
    Rear view showing the screen held in with velcro straps rather than the wooden clamps of the larger cameras
    Front view showing some of the movements of the front standard.

    I will post example images from these cameras shortly.

    Best regards,

    Evan Attached files

  5. #5

    Big, medium and small folding cameras

    Here are some images with the 8x10, (first picture of 8x10 above is taking this) (last picture of 8x10 above is taking this one).

    With the 4x5:

    These are with the 2x3

    Best regards,


  6. #6
    500+ Posts earlj's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, United States
    Blog Entries

    Big, medium and small folding cameras

    Great work, Evan. Lots of good ideas to steal. Thanks for the documentation. This is why this site is so great - where else can I have seen a hundred wonderful camera designs in such a short time?

  7. #7

    Big, medium and small folding cameras

    This is great work, it's an inspiration to me. Hope to see many more fine images.


  8. #8
    500+ Posts toniox's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Saint-Pierre, Reunion Island, France

    Big, medium and small folding cameras

    I am in love with that incredible baby camera !

  9. #9

    Big, medium and small folding cameras

    Evan, these are great cameras for a flexible use. The "baby" is also my favourite. Excellent test pictures.

  10. #10

    Big, medium and small folding cameras

    fantastic cameras !!! and I'm esp impressed that you've made such good looking bellows

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