Bellows - repair or replace?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Robert Kennedy, Jan 14, 2003.

  1. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    I was looking at my old Calumet CC-401 yesterday and notice a hole in the bellows. It appears to have happened because the knob and spring that hold the gear which adjusts the front rise and fall are missing. I haven't had a chance to replace them yet and it looks like the gear has torn a small hole in the corner of one pleat.

    Bigger than a pinhole, but very small.

    So here is quandry. Since I am contacting Calumet anyway, should I see about getting a new bellows when I get the new knob assembly, or should I just patch up the bellows I have now? I have NO idea how hard it is to replace bellows. It appears to screw on with 6 screws on each end, but that is all I know.
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    If it's just one hole and the bellows is otherwise sound, I'd just patch it. If you put a light inside, turn off the room lights, and discover you've got a planetarium, then I'd replace it.
     
  3. Robert

    Robert Member

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    Having a 401 you've got me worried. 401 is just the long rail version of the 400 right?


    Let me put it this way. My near mint 401 didn't cost me much more then $100 US including the case. Ask Calumet how much a new bellows is. I think patching instead of replacing the bellows will turn out the best option.

    I
     
  4. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    If you go the repair route, Bostick & Sullivan sella very good kit for this.
     
  5. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    If you think you need to replace the bellows I would look on EBay for another 400 or 401. I bought a replacement bellows for my first 4x5 which was one of the old grey ghosts in 1987 and it was about $150. I would suspect prices have gone up considerably. You can probably get a entire camera with a good bellows and lots of replacement parts for about $150-$250.
     
  6. Prime

    Prime Member

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    Robert, in addition to posting here (certainly a smart idea), you and others may find the portal to be quite helpful. Among the links listed is one for repair specialist SK Grimes ( http://www.skgrimes.com ). He might be able to answer specific questions about how to repair bellows. Good luck!
     
  7. Robert

    Robert Member

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    While we're discussing 401s anybody know the shortest lens that will fit?
     
  8. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Yes, the 401 is the longrail version of the 400. I THINK I have a 401. It has a 24" extension which I think makes it the 401. And it is a "Grey Ghost". Although ghosts aren't supposed to weigh that much!

    I'll probably end up repairing it. It is a very nice camera. I bought the whole thing for $150 including two Riteway film holders still new in the box. Tomorrow I HAVE to call Calumet and get that part! Been putting it off for too long.

    I must say though it is a great studio camera. It even is stable on my Gitzo 3038/Benbo Mk2 which surprised me. I thought it might be too heavy.

    As for lenses....

    IIRC the 401 takes a standard 4" lensboard and I THINK you can easily get a recessed lensboard if needed. Plus you can get out on the end of the easily. No problems with a bed showing. I can't imagine that there is much you CAN'T put on that beast if you have recessed lensboard and are out at the end of the rail.

    That said I'm sure someone has made a 20mm lens out there for 4x5.... [​IMG]
     
  9. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    I have the same exact camera. Do the "planetarium test" and then decide. If you only have the one hole, patching is a good option. If the bellows is really shot, you will have to replace it. You can get recessed boards easily on Ebay, or direct from Calumet. The shortest lens that will fit at the usual shooting distances without a recessed board, and the front/back frames snug against each other is about 105mm. There will be a bit of vignetting with most cheaper lenses such as the Tessars. If you are shooting macro, the lens is further away from the film surface though.
     
  10. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    There was also a short rail version with a recessed front standard and bag bellows. I beleive the rail was about 13" and the front standard was designed with about a 3/4" recess. I had one of these for my first camera and used a borrowed 75mm on it with no problem. With the standard camera it may be difficult to get movement with a 75mm with the camera closed that tight.

    These are great cameras for anyone wanting to start out in LF. Inexpensive and plentifull on Ebay, they sell for between $150 and $350 without lens and above that depending if a lens is included. The venerable "grey ghost" has complete view camera movements, vertical and horizon levels and a revolving back. Lens boards are easily had and easily made. The only downside is they are not as portable as a flatbed, and the round rail design can produce a slight amount of yaw on well worn cameras. I eventually bought another one with the long rail and would remove the rail, hold the standards together with two large rubberbands and carry the camera and rail seperate in the backpack.
     
  11. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Jim - You answered a question that had been festering the back of my mind! Looking at the camera, I figures the only thing keeping it from being somewhat portable (considering it weighs a ton....) is the fact that the rail is capped and the camera can't come off it.

    Obviously this can be changed. So, how did you remove the caps and did you replace them with some form of stop or just "live dangerously"?

    BTW - I think I am setting myself up for a hernia..... [​IMG]
     
  12. Robert

    Robert Member

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    You think the camera is heavy? The case is close to 9lbs I think-( EMPTY-)) I hear the porter is supposed to sleep in it while you use the camera-) Not long after I got the camera I borrowed a 4" or something lens. I couldn't get infinity focus. It was very close but not quite. When I checked Calumet still sold a recessed board for it but the cost of the board and shipping almost exceeded what I paid for the camera. Would have made more sense to find a short version for that money.
     
  13. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Robert Kennedy @ Jan 15 2003, 08:49 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>That said I'm sure someone has made a 20mm lens out there for 4x5.... [​IMG]</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    Slightly off topic...

    The widest lenses ever made were Goertz Hypergon. A 30mm would have covered 4x5", but the shortest made was 60mm...
     
  14. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    The end caps are held on by an allen screw. it may be hard to see if the head is filled with crud. I removed the caps and carefully drilled and tapped out the hole to hold a small thumb screw which I could tighten with my fingers. Carefully slide the standards off each end to be able to leave the tripod bracket on the rail.

    Yes these cameras are heavy and awkward to use in the field. But they take the same quality of image as a camera that costs $2500. For me when I started out the price of the camera afforded me the opportunity to buy two very nice lenses.
     
  15. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Amen to that! I always find it a bit hard to imagine paying $2,500 for a metal rod, two metal frames and some cloth. [​IMG] Even if it is really high quality. Must be the miser in me.

    I would also worry about damage. I know that the CC-401 is tough. Hard to damage. Some of those small portable monorails seem a bit fragile. I'd hate to break one of them!