Building a view camera, what component is the most difficult to make?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by donbga, Apr 7, 2006.

  1. donbga

    donbga Member

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    I've been trying to do some brainstorming about building my own view camera and it seems to me that the two most difficult steps are building a back and the bellows. I wouldn't even consider building a film holder.

    Or am I missing something here? I know the whole project requires a lot of sweat equity but being to build a back precisely enough seems to be a show stopper. The bellows I think I could do since I'm good a drafting the old fashioned way and have all the drafting tools so laying out a pattern seems doable.

    Also has anyone used any CAD packages to create camera specs? I'm thinking about using turbo cad to generate drawings from sketches though I've never used the software.

    Thanks,
     
  2. Shinnya

    Shinnya Advertiser

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    Don,

    What format are you making? I am just curious...

    Warmly,
    Tsuyoshi
     
  3. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    actually, the hardest part is to just get started. The back's quite easy, I'll post a link to some drawings and pics in the morning. if you have a table saw and a router, it shouldn't take more than an hour or so to make a back. An air brad nailer helps quite a bit with the clamp up (or not needing to)

    erie
     
  4. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I like DesginCad having used it for drawing a House/Garage and addition. I thought the back was the most complex too when I made a field camera twenty years ago. At that time I had not seen a field camera and went only by some pictures in magazines, pre Internet. I used thin, 1/8-1/4" cherry and brass cut by hand and finished by hand. It holds up to the best out there. I made the bellows too and it is showing some pin holes now after all these years. The best thing about using it is; I made it. It's a 4x5 and I didn't make the ground glass. I would get a Satin Snow for your model, they are very nice. I made the springs out of bankers stainless steel clips cut to provide four springs. Works great and looks great. You can do the same, improvise, invent and see what develops.

    Regards,
    Curt
     
  5. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    Unless it is a pinhole view camera, I think that the lens is the hardest.
     
  6. jolefler

    jolefler Member

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    I've been REbuilding a few. Backs are almost always gone when I aquire them. So that's where I start. I don't have the skills or knowledge to use sophisticated software or precision power tools. Using a coping saw, knives, plane, rasps & files and hardwood/brass/aluminum stock I'll get a passably facsimile of the original. Start with a film holder and build the back around it.

    To address the original question, I find it most difficult to mill out the ground glass seat to the proper depth with hand tools. A router should accomplish this in seconds....takes a little long by hand! There's a lot of stop and measure.
     
  7. argus

    argus Member

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    I'd say that the back is the most difficult: the filmplane and ground glass plane need to be in the same position and in registration.

    G
     
  8. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Building a view camera, what component is the most difficult to make?

    A good picture.
     
  9. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Bellows...EC
     
  10. greyhoundman

    greyhoundman Member

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  11. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Tsuyoshi,

    I'm leaning toward an 8x20, but may opt for a 5x12. I've also thought about building a 12x20 with a 8x20 accessorie back.

    Something simple of course :smile:

    What ever it is I would like for it to look good and be as durable and functional as possible. No monorail - a flatbed.

    Don
     
  12. tpersin

    tpersin Member

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  13. 127

    127 Member

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    I think it's all as hard as you want to make it... I successfully made something which took pictures what were in focus, and without any leaks despite my VERY limited woodworking skills. Fortunatly my design skills are MUCH better, and I just designed something I could build. Bellows and movements were too difficult for me, so I went for a 54 mousetrap design.

    It's not pretty, and it's not the easiest camera to operate, but I BUILT IT, and I'm proud of it. I'd really like to build another thats a bit more ambitious (BIGGER!), but I learnt a lot from the simple design, and the total cost was under $20 including lens.

    Ian
     
  14. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    To me, the hardest part of building a large format camera was designing it. The actual construction was pretty easy. Each step of the design process involves compromise: if I use x, it will be lighter, but less stable; if I have this long a bellows, I need more support; do I need 20% of swing, or 30%; etc. With each step, I had to decide what was really important to me and what I could do with out. I had to evaluate how I photograph and build a camera to match it.
     
  15. DannL

    DannL Member

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    I built three unique DIY 8x10 views in the past 3 mos. and did find the back standard and the bellows challenging, but fun. Two of cameras eventually became dumpster assets. The most frustrating part was designing a smooth focus system. On the camera that survived, the front standard is fixed and the rear standard (film plane) moves. I later decided on a screw focus system with a twist knob. Acid etching the glass was also challenging and fun. Why did I choose a fixed front standard, might you ask? "Large Format Macro". I was in "no way" trying to compete with the big guns on looks or functionality. Just trying to satisfy my on curiosity. Honestly speaking, I was very pleased considering the costs were extremely low. I used 8x10 Eastman No. 1 Film Holder as a pattern for the rear and built everything around it.

    Mine looks very similar to the Scovill Waterbury View at the following site . . . In fact, I found a lot of inspiration in sites like the one below. I figured if they could build a camera in the 19th century, I should be able to do something similar today, with all the resources that are available.

    www.antiquewoodcameras.com/views.htm

    Here's mine . . . works for me and was a great way to get started . . .
    www.wwwconnect.net/sony/woody1.jpg
    www.wwwconnect.net/sony/woody2.jpg

    The focus assembly was added after the photos were taken.
     
  16. metod

    metod Member

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    For me it was also the back. You want to make sure it is flat with no light leaks and film plane is the same as the glass. Strangely, I found folding bellows harder than making it. It took me a couple of days to fold it and a at least a week to keep them in shape. Good luck on your project!
    Metod
     
  17. SteveH

    SteveH Member

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    Those are all beautiful pieces of artwork ! I find woodworking impressive when it develops into something you can USE. I just wrapped up plans for a ceder strip kayak...Now that I see this, Im tempted to put that on hold :D .
     
  18. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    as shown in the camera building thread, I spent less than $30 and less than 30 hours to build this, the only mods will be focus control, and better locks for movements....
    [​IMG]

    quick and dirty, but was only designed to test the coverage of a bunch of lenses I had lying about, as well as hold 8x10 sheets of lith film for speed testing.


    erie
     
  19. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    I remember reading a quote about darkrooms once, that I will modify to fit our current discussion:

    The first camera you build, give to an enemy. The second, give to a friend. The third, keep for yourself.
     
  20. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Sounds like sage advice!
     
  21. donbga

    donbga Member

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    More than a beginer like myself could hope to do.
     
  22. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    The Lens:smile: