camerabellows WAS ceasing production, resuming production as Custom Bellows

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Ulrich Drolshagen, Nov 27, 2008.

  1. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    Hi all,

    sad news today. Camerabellows seems to be ceasing production after November 28th. Just seen in German Grossformatforum
    (text in English)

    Ulrich
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You have to be a member to read the posts.

    Ian
     
  3. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    sorry, I didn't know that. The poster cited a message he has received from E.C. Ruffel, managing Director of Camerabellows, informing him that they cannot serve an order as they will cease all trade as of 5.30pm on November 28th.
    He explains that "Over the past few years, Camera Bellows has not produced an acceptable level of financial results and there are no market indications that demand for our product will change in the foreseeable future."
    Sorry, it is not my message so I don't want to cite it in full length.

    Ulrich
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    They were sharing a booth with Lee filters at PhotoPlus in New York. If you didn't know who they were, you wouldn't have known from their display. They were mainly promoting self-supporting bellows shades for computer screens, and there was an unassembled Bulldog camera kit in a box there.
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Back around 76/77 I went to the previous factory for some bellows, and they instantly found the original manufacturers pattern.

    It doesn't surprise me that they'll cease trading, it's unfortunate but there really isn't enough demand. It is possible that someone might continue as a sideline business, but like David I've seen the computer & digital camera bellows shades and they aren't thta appealing or practical. They've made bellows since 1895 and since then made many million sets of bellows, Kodak were their largest customer at the peak of production. A sad day but unfortunately inevitable.

    Ian
     
  6. Frank Hoerauf

    Frank Hoerauf Member

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    i would think that at this point a mom and pop bellows shop could do very well for themselves. niche buisnesses generally do very well.
     
  7. AgX

    AgX Member

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    But what does that cease of production mean for the production of the Lee Lens Hoods?
     
  8. photomc

    photomc Member

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    More important, wonder what this will mean to some of the smaller LF camera makers that were using them for their bellows?
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Camera Bellows is a Ltd company, and has a small modest factory in Birmingham, they downsized and moved a few times over the years. But they have quite high sales/marketing costs, and are part of a larger group of companies.

    It's quite likely that someone will pick up parts of their business, bellows are being made in China after all for a variety of cameras. Whether an ex employee will continue making bellows albeit entirely separately on a much smaller scale remains to be seen.

    Ian
     
  10. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    What kind of machinery is used to make this stuff? If it can be made in a garage then I guess there is some hope, but if it needs a large industrial unit with 3-phase supply etc then I guess that's it.

    Very sad: another traditional manufacturer that can't survive in today's pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap world.
     
  11. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    There's no heavy machinery needed to make bellows. A good industrial sewing machine is very useful though. You can make bellows on your kitchen table :D

    Camera Bellows have large map drawers full of the various manufacturers patterns, this is their greatest resource, and the skill of the actual workers making up the bellows. They didn't make the standards/panels the bellows attach to.

    Ian
     
  12. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I know you can do it by hand but I though it may need specialist folding machines or similar to get the accuracy and throughput required for an industrial process. If it's a bunch of patterns, folding by hand with perhaps a jig or two in a vice and a heavy-duty sewing machine then there is some hope I guess.
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Bob, I suspect there are few specially made or adapted tools as well, Camera Bellows products are the best bellows on the market, and there's years of experience being called on when they are made, so it would need the right person to follow them.

    There are other Bellows manufacturers, in fact there's one less than 20 miles from Camera Bellows, I know the owners but they've never made camera bellows although some of their small machine bellows are similar in scale. Unfortunately production runs would be far to small for them

    Ian
     
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  15. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Exactly. When I needed a new bellows
    for my 5x7 Sinar Norma, they had the
    pattern on hand -- I had the new bellows
    in New York six days later. I am sorry
    to see them pass.
     
  16. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Weeping ... they did several cameras for me over the years.
    Bless 'em.

    They were the ONLY good makers on the planet.
     
  17. PanaDP

    PanaDP Member

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    I'm sure their bellows were very good but they're not the only bellows makers. I just received a set of kodak 2d bellows form Western Bellows and am very happy with them.
     
  18. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The difference is that Camera Bellows made the original bellows for virtually every Western made LF & MF cameras, and have done for quite a number of years, so when you bought from them you got the same high quality or better than the originals.

    Ian
     
  19. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    They did an excellent job on my 11x14" American Optical bellows. I had them make it a bit longer than the original and sent them the frames, and I think I had it in about two weeks including shipping time both ways. I was hoping to have them make a 7x17" bellows for me some time in the next year or so.
     
  20. ReallyBigCameras

    ReallyBigCameras Advertiser Advertiser

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    Wow, this is extremely sad news. I've had them make custom bellows for me in the past and they always exceeded my expectations. I had also planned to continue to use them in the future for additional projects.

    I know there are other bellows manufacturers around, but I'm not aware of anyone else that makes something comparable to their "lightweight" bellows. This is the extremely flexible bellows that doesn't use stiffeners to maintain the shape of the ribs. Bellows made from this material/technique fold much smaller and are much more flexible than conventional bellows that incorporate stiffeners. This permits a longer bellows to fit within a folded camera and also allows the use of wide angle lenses without switching to a bag bellows.

    My first experience with this type of bellows was my Canham DLC - and it was one of the best features of that camera. I could use all my lenses from 75mm to 720mm telephoto with the single stock bellows. When I needed a compact bellows for my 7x17 Franken-ARCA project, Camera Bellows was the first place I turned. They delivered quickly, and as always, exceeded my expectations.

    If this story of their demise if indeed true, I will certainly miss their friendly service and top quality product. I also wonder what this means to all the large format and ultralarge format camera manufacturers that rely on them as a supplier of bellows for their cameras.

    Kerry Thalmann
    Really Big Cameras
     
  21. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    agh!

    Western Bellows is good, though...and a 30 minute drive from me.
     
  22. coriana6jp

    coriana6jp Member

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    I sent them an email a week ago getting a quote on an hold whole plate camera I have been slowly restoring. The provided a price quote and everything, there was no indication they were shutting down then. The home page is still active as well, I hope this is just a sad rumor.

    Gary
     
  23. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    In Großformatforum a poster cited an email by E.C.Ruffell in full length which he received in reply to an inquiry. Another poster confirmed this as he got a similar message. But let us hope the best.

    Ulrich
     
  24. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It would give me great pleasure to flush this puppy down into the doom and gloom sub forum. I have sent Camera Bellows an email politely asking them to confirm or deny this matter. Hoping for the best.
     
  25. Anastigmatic

    Anastigmatic Member

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    Veronica (from c/bellows uk) sent me an email, unfortunately confirming the overall statest of camera bellows UK is as said closing. however she does say that Tony will be be continuing something of his own in January. she will keep us updated. she thanks us for our support. lets hope Tony can provide!

    its a sad occurance.....i suppose at one point the last person making buggy whips stopped making them too...well for buggies at least
     
  26. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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