5x12, there and back again!

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by Colin Graham, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. Colin Graham

    Colin Graham Member

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    I thought I'd post my results to encourage others to try this wonderful format. I just returned from a three week trip around the country with it, and now I want to shoot nothing else. Very portable- it fits in a mountainsmith odyssey backpack with 4 holders and 3 lenses and feels about the same as my 4x5 outfit. I made it from mahogany to keep the camera under 10 lbs and the holders at about 12 oz each. There's die-cut film from J&C available for it- Ilford fp4+; hp5 and aslo adox/efke PL100, which are about the only films I use anyway- also the price is roughly equal to 8x10 so it isnt too exorbitant. Also, most lenses for 8x10 will cover as the diagonal for 5x12 is only 330mm. While not a true ULF the size is wonderful for contact printing and the negatives are still relatively easy to handle ( I was able to load holders on my lap in dark hotel bathrooms). I made eight holders mainly because I didnt want to have to change out the film too often but I'm really glad I did because tool setup was the most time-consuming aspect of making them. I wanted to thank Barry Wilkinson for providing some timely dimensions from his Canham 5x12 (I stole many ideas from Canham and Lotus- thanks and sorry!) and also Sandy King and Barry Young for info on making holders. I was agonizingly nervous for the past three weeks since I only had time to test 2 exposures before we left but I just got finished developing the 'normals' and everything looks good.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2007
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    That's a great looking little setup, there!
     
  3. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    Good to see another 5x12 shooter here! It is a wonderful format and is primarily the format I've been shooting for the last five months.
     
  4. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Wow!! Nice looking camera and holders. Great job. Now, let's see the pictures!
     
  5. BarryWilkinson

    BarryWilkinson Subscriber

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    Looks absolutely superb Colin, I'm very impressed. Welcome to 5x12 it's a great format as you have found. Glad to have helped.

    Best regards

    Barry
     
  6. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Colin,

    Looks like a beautiful camera and holders. Use them in good health. Look forward to seeing some results.

    Rich
     
  7. mark

    mark Member

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    My dream format. Nice job.
     
  8. Colin Graham

    Colin Graham Member

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    Thanks for the comments. Now, to make a bigger contact printer! I wonder, does anyone know a source for odd sized trays?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2006
  9. barryjyoung

    barryjyoung Member

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    Hi Colin:

    It is truly amazing what can be done by a motivated person. Hats off to you for producing a fine camera. Very very nice work.
     
  10. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    Colin,
    How big are you planning to print? I use an 11x14 contact print frame to make my prints. I use 12x16 trays to process the prints in. I use an 11x14 tray for a final film wash when I develop my film.
     
  11. Colin Graham

    Colin Graham Member

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    Hi Diane,
    I was mainly looking for a odd sized tray for negatives to save on developer, (seems like someone would make a 7x17 by now) but then I decided to make a slosher tray with three compartments that fit into a 12x16 tray, which cuts down on scratches too (as I cant seem to hand-shuffle efke film without scratching them no matter how much I practice, especially in big trays where everything gets kind of sideways.) For the prints I ended up making an odd size proofer scaled to the pano format but had I been thinking I would just gotten an 11x14 and used it for other things as well. Oh well! Thanks.
     
  12. RobertP

    RobertP Subscriber

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    AWB will make custom size trays to any dimension you like
     
  13. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Colin,

    That sure looks like nice work. Wish I could see it in real life.

    Did you keep a record of the time spent on the project, and on cost?

    Sandy
     
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  15. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    No problem Colin. As for developing, I use a 3004 Jobo Expert tank for my 5x12 negs.
     
  16. Colin Graham

    Colin Graham Member

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    Hi Sandy,
    It took about seven weeks for the camera and holders. I was working 16+ hours a day for the last few weeks to finish before our trip, so probably about 300 hours total. I know I sure slept well when I got finished. Thanks again to you and Barry for the advice about the holders, probably the main reason I was able to finish in time and return without any nasty suprises. Total cost (less lenses of course) was around $600, but I there might be an invoice I'm forgetting. This is just material cost, as I already have a pretty well equipped shop.
    Hi Diane-
    Thanks, I'll look into getting an expert tank when I recover abit. I wouldnt have thought of it.
     
  17. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    Just keep in mind that the Jobo 3004 Expert tanks are not available new anymore. They come up on ebay on occasion and that's how I got mine.
     
  18. Colin Graham

    Colin Graham Member

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    I was hoping maybe I could archive this a little. I chose to remove the original photos because I was getting so many emails about how to make a 5x12, but now I think it would be better to have questions asked and answered here so I don't have to keep recompiling all the info, and it’s here for those who are interested. I'll start with some basic info.

    The camera and holders are mahogany, milled from 12/4 rough certified renewable stock, from a beam roughly 16 board feet in size. I chose large-ish timbers so I could resaw it how I chose, mostly quartersawn. I initially was going to use cherry, but the mahogany was substantially lighter than the steamed cherry. I generally resaw and sticker and wait & see how the tensions will manifest themselves before milling to rough dimensions. I handplane edges and first surfaces and use a thickness planer for overall thickness. I don't own a jointer. Everything must be dead flat and completely true, square and straight before any joinery is done. Completely flat and true and straight and square is of course an exaggeration, but barely!

    The joinery is straightforward- for the standards I use box joints, sometimes called fingerjoints. The sliding carriages are mortise and tenoned and the slides are all tongue and groove. The camera bed is a breadboard, a thin board edged with thicker perpendicular pieces that provide the bearing surface for the slides. These are joined with crenellated and shouldered mortise and tenons. The lensboards are breadboarded as well.

    The back is also mortise and tenoned, as is the ground glass frame. I don’t use a leaf spring arrangement, but a double torsion spring (think clothespin) attached to a swing arms on either side of the glass. The springs are hidden in the GG framestays in aluminum housing. The arrangement is similar to a graflok back, only in wood.

    The bellows are quick-change using the standard thumbscrews on the side of the rear standard and sliding catches in the front. I made the bellows with fabric from Porter’s Camera...Don’t ask about making a bellows, I’ve only recently got a handle on the twitching and spasms.

    The gearing is all 20 degree pressure angle, 48 pitch, brass rack and pinion. I re-bored the pinions to allow for a 3/16th inch shaft (way too much slop in 1/8th) and threaded and pinned the hubs. Pinning helps eliminate backlash and keeps the gears from jumping teeth more than just set screws. The rack is inlaid in the slide stages; on the bottom for the front and rear extensions, on top for the rear standard forward focusing.

    The remaining movements are very simple, principally a single knob controlling shift and swing on both standards. The knobs are over-sized, with a large bearing surface, and each is fitted with a leverage arm for locking down securely. I mainly chose to do this because of the need for a lot of rise (shift when horizontal) and tilt when doing vertical shots. Front tilt and rise are independently controlled. Rear rise (a la Lotus) was an unnecessary complication, I haven’t used it yet in over a year of using this camera, and it adds over an inch to the width of the rear standard. A lot of the design elements of the camera were rushed because I was scrambling to complete it before a cross-country trip. I had planned to rework a lot of it upon returning but happily most of the movements are just right as is. I do plan on removing the rear rise at some point just to shave a little weight and size. As is the camera is under 10lb and the holders are about 14 oz each- the 12 oz stated in the OP was inaccurate.

    The holders were made to no ANSI or any other standard, just to fit this camera. I made 8 because setup is the most arduous aspect of fabrication by far. By far. There are dozens and dozens and dozens of tooling setups. If you ever make holders I recommend that you do not make a prototype or only make a couple at first. Make dozens! :-] Make a very good set of drawings, plan everything out, then have at it. Busting apart a riteway holder is a great way to get a handle on how everything fits together. Essentially all I did was make wooden equivalents of the plastic parts of a riteway. I painted all internal parts with flat black enamel, the outer wood surfaces are lacquered. The camera is also similarly finished; all internal potential flare surfaces are flat black, the rest in semi-gloss lacquer.


    I have a little micro mill fitted with a slitting saw (1/32 and 1/16 blades) that I used to mill the slots. The mill and attachments were under $300, about the cost of one holder so it was easy to justify the expense. Plus I used the mill to cut the slots for the camera as well. For the darkslide and septum I used garolite from McMaster-Carr- 1/32 for the slides and 1/16 for the septum. I ordered the torsion springs and the knobs and aluminum bar stock from them as well, truly a fabulous resource.

    As for what lenses on 5x12, well. I hate giving advice on lenses. My favorite is a 100 year old Busch aplanat that most people would probably depise. But it seems to be axiomatic that wide+banquet=cool beans.

    Sorry to be windy, but clearly there’s interest in DIY cameras, and it’s a shame that so much of the info out there is confined to emails and PMs. If you have any questions, please post them here. This forum has so many knowledgeable and design-fluent people, many of whom I’m very much indebted to and in awe of. When you stump me someone else will be bound to pick up the slack.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2010
  19. Colin Graham

    Colin Graham Member

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    Here are some more shots of disassembled parts and so forth.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2010
  20. Colin Graham

    Colin Graham Member

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    And some holder drawings. These are prelims, the measurements and some of the details aren't finalized. Use at your peril.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2010
  21. walter23

    walter23 Member

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    Sorry to induce twitching and spasms, but did you use the darkroom cloth for both liner and outside of your bellows? How does it seem in terms of flare potential from internal reflections, and on the inside did you elect to go with rubberized side facing the interior of the camera, or the nylon side? Thanks; I'm going to try to assemble my 8x10 bellows this weekend, and this issue of the possibility of flare is my only reservation. Otherwise I'm ready to design & build the thing. Did you use spray adhesive or contact cement or something else? I have both 3M 77 and contact cement and the 3M tested out pretty good, so I'm probably going to use it.

    Really nice looking camera.
     
  22. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    My dad is a carpenter and now retired, builds furniture for the hell of it. I've met a lot of craftsmen growing up but I've only ever met one guy who could make anything in his shop from parts for our lathe to wooden nuts and bolts. Wow! You've got a beautiful piece of equipment there to be proud of! Everything from scratch and it looks amazing. It must be a hell of a feeling to look at the ground glass.

    vinny
     
  23. walter23

    walter23 Member

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    BTW, to echo vinny, I really don't have any woodworking experience to speak of, and recently embarked on a very, very, very simple little 4x5 project. Now that I'm actually trying to cobble together a fairly simple camera (with nowhere near the elegance or precision of yours, and no film holders) I finally realize the kind of skill and work that goes into something like what you've presented. Very impressive.
     
  24. Colin Graham

    Colin Graham Member

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    I used flat black linen for the liner and the Porter's cloth for the outside. I've used the headliner stuff and the spray 77 with equal success, though the headliner seems to dry with more flexibility. I haven't noticed any issues with flare, the linen is pretty non reflective, but then I'm using 100 year old lenses, eh.
     
  25. Colin Graham

    Colin Graham Member

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    Thanks Vinny. The first time I lit it up I did a little dance. It's such a joy to use my still knees knock on occasion.
     
  26. Colin Graham

    Colin Graham Member

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    Here's a few more of the mill setup for cutting the slots in the holders, and some of the freshly milled pieces before they were cut to length and joined. I use some featherboards and a special table mounted to the XY table of the mill to keep everything absolutely snug to the blade and table. The XY table makes adjusting the blade depth of cut breezy, and with the fine elevation adjustment on the column, you can easily dial in 1/128 of an inch adjustments for the cutter height. When I milled up stock for these I made a lot of extra material to use as gauge blocks and test pieces.

    Simply put, the center cut is for the septum, which is cut with a 1/16 blade at full depth. I feed it one way and reverse it and feed it again to make sure it is exactly centered. I then crank the fence out from the blade and lower the cutterhead 1/64 of an inch for a little rabbet that will form the film slot when the septum is in place. I then change out the 1/16 blade for the 1/32 blade, lower the cutterhead more to cut the darkslide grooves.

    Flipping the workpiece to run the groove on the other side will give perfectly symmetrical pieces. I also run the film gate slots at the same time. Having the cutter head registered from the table means that all side will line up precisely, so I wont have to keep changing the cutterhead elevation for different parts.

    That's probably the trickiest part- 1/64 doesn't leave much tolerance for slop around the four sides, otherwise film would jam mercilessly when trying to load it, and the darkslide would jam as well trying to insert it in the 1/32 slot. I did test the insertion force and widen the slot a little to allow for some seasonal movement- I didn't want to snap a darkslide on some snowy mountain somewhere trying to jam it in. I also tested the clearance for film by holding a piece of the septum material in the groove while sliding a piece of film along the slot briskly. That would be misery itself to make 8 of these * things only to find to slots were too tight to load any film in. After 18 months of use, including warm hotels, cold rainforests and arid badlands, no problems yet.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2010