Building A LF Camera

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by BrendanCarlson, May 6, 2012.

  1. BrendanCarlson

    BrendanCarlson Member

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    I am looking into the world of building a large format camera, the one part I am scared of is building my own bellows, is there something special about the bellows or could I build a sliding box to act as the bellows? Thanks ahead of time!
     
  2. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    You should read "Primitive Photography." It has plans for building large format cameras, including a folding, sliding box camera.
     
  3. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    It just has to be light tight and able to accommodate the various positions of the front and rear standards without blocking the light beam emanating from the rear lens element.

    Why not build your camera to accept a pre-built bellows, and allow for swapping bellows as needed? You might find you want a bag bellows design for wide angle lenses, and an accordion bellows long enough to accommodate your longest lens requirement.

    Unless want to construct every single part of the camera, seems being able to use a manufactured bellows might be a good thing.

    Sliding boxes will work, assuming you make sure they are light tight. But they will limit your ability to have movements.
     
  4. vdoak

    vdoak Subscriber

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    The "special" part about the bellows is it makes it easier to 'tilt' and 'shift'. Being albe to adjust the focal plane vis a vis teh film plane is part of what makes LF photography diffrent. You can achive this to a limited degree with sliding boxes.
    With that said, making (4x5) bellows is not all that diffecult. Take a look at http://www.cyberbeach.net/~dbardell/bellows.html . I made mine this way and took Doug's advice to make the first test set of belows out of brown paper.
    It was well worth the effort!
     
  5. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    Bellows can be found in a number of places and forms. I have one project underway building a 9x12cm camera from a spare back and a professional Hasselbald shade. The down side of this is that I will not have any movements but considering I will be using an old Super Angulon 65/8 the image cirlce will not allow any. On the up side I have the focusing in place already.

    Be creative and good luck
     
  6. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    don't worry about movements--you can always add later, right...I have made cameras out of cardboard boxes--just finished another 11x14 camera over the weekend--the smaller is easier, but with bigger cameras--the measurements must be EXACT or things don't line up square---the good thing with cardboard is being able to cut it easily (and bend it)...and join with tape.

    sliding box is superior to a bellow construction if you don't use movements--you can HAVE movements if you make different fronts/lensboards with different lens heights, etc...don't worry about details first.. make is simple and shoot--if you find it lacking in some movement, then add that movement later--I'm always improving designs--it's ok to scrap the first one after you make a BETTER one

    OH--make sure the insides are BLACK and nonreflective--I got that black flocking material for telescopes for the last camera--just shot it last night and appears to work as advertised.

    for focus---maybe a pipe in pipe on the front (friction) is better than sliding box--then the box portion will be more rigid and easier to make--all you'd need is a box!
     
  7. himself

    himself Member

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    a square bellows is dead easy to make, it takes a little time to cut out everything you need, but after that there's really nothing too difficult about it.

    I used this design, an old dark bag and managed to get a bellows that extends about 28cm. There is also an excel table that helps you calculate all the necessary bit-and-bobs you might need floating around some where - I can email it to you if you like.

    A square bellows won't close up completely tho', mine closes to about 4cm.

    It only took a few hours all in, which was nice.
     
  8. BrendanCarlson

    BrendanCarlson Member

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    Thanks to all of you. I think I will start by getting a lens and building the rest of it, I'm mainly doing this as a learning project not for everyday use. I think I will start with square bellows as himself pointed out (btw, I would love to get the excel sheet) and eventually buy some premade bellows. Thanks to everyone. I'll post pics of the result. :smile:
     
  9. himself

    himself Member

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    no problem just PM me your email address and I'll send it straight over.
     
  10. Steven L

    Steven L Member

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    I've made my own tapered bellows design out of black thin cardboard. What I did was meisure the lens plate and groundglass plate. I used twice the focal length for the unfolded length of the paper. Then I drew 4 connected trapezoids with the lenghts I previously meisured. (actually, I cut the first and last trapezoid in half for better connection.
    Now comes the tricky part. Make a zigzag line of 90 degrees in the middle of the intersecting lines. I used a zigzag with a 2cm offset. The zigzag lines are supposed to be the mirror image of the next intersecting line.
    Next, I used an empty ballpoint pen to make indentation lines in the cardboard. This would be the folding lines. Than I taped both ends of the half trapezoids together and started folding. The first couple of folds are a bit hard to do, but along the way it gets easier.
    A square bellows is easier to make, but won't fold as tight as a tapered one. The first bellows I made was a tryout for a better, more durable one.
    Have fun building and exploring how bellows work.
     
  11. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    With a 65mm lens on 6x12, you don't really need any movements.... or focussing!


    Steve.
     
  12. BrendanCarlson

    BrendanCarlson Member

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    Anyone have suggestions for lenses to start with?
     
  13. himself

    himself Member

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    are you going to build a 4x5 or bigger?

    I use a Rodenstock Ysarex 127mm 4.7 on mine, it will just about cover 4x5 without movement, or a little f/45. they are usually pretty cheap because the come off the old Polaroid 110A.

    There is almost a limitless amount of choice, but it comes down to how much you want to spend and if you want total/partial coverage with movement, or with no movement.
     
  14. BrendanCarlson

    BrendanCarlson Member

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    4x5 with almost full coverage preferred.