Cameras of natural materials?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by bryanphoto, Apr 23, 2011.

  1. bryanphoto

    bryanphoto Guest

    Can anyone point me to some currently active makers of large format cameras made with natural materials? I notice that quite a few of the makers use different synthetic polymers and coatings. I am particularly interested in makers using wood, leather and brass. I would consider other natural materials, but am trying also to avoid aluminum. Thank you.
     
  2. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    You probably can find a lightly-used Wisner in good condition if you shop around. Leather bellows, brass, wood, glass. Most manufacturers use synthetic bellows these days.

    Peter Gomena
     
  3. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    Brass is natural?
     
  4. bryanphoto

    bryanphoto Guest

    Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, has a very long history of use, and is one of the more useful and safe metals that is commonly used.
     
  5. WarEaglemtn

    WarEaglemtn Member

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    But brass is not 'natural'. Most metals used in products are alloys of one sort or another.

    Or are you looking for a wooden camera with goathide bellows and hardware made by pounding a meteorite with stone tools?
     
  6. aluncrockford

    aluncrockford Member

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    A deardorff should fit your needs, depending on the bellows type, alternatively the ebony is made of titanium, ebony wood and leather bellows so that should also fit the bill .
     
  7. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

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    Sure, but it's still not natural. In fact, I'd think it unlikely you'd get any cameras with metal bits that weren't some sort of alloy. And aluminum should be okay as long as you're not cooking a tomato on it.
     
  8. sly

    sly Subscriber

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  9. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    Have you thought of using a Gandolfi - Mahogany Wood, leather bellows and Brass metalwork - http://www.gandolficameras.com/

    Some of the original cameras are still going strong after more than 100 years

    Martin
     
  10. bryanphoto

    bryanphoto Guest

    Those ceramic cameras are very interesting. Thanks for all of the suggestions. I do like the look of the Ebony cameras.
     
  11. Eric Biggerstaff

    Eric Biggerstaff Member

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    If you are looking for wood field cameras, there are many past and present. My favorite is Lotus cameras from Austria but they use Derlin on the knobs. There are many many current companies that make wood field cameras such as Tachihara, Shen Hao, Ebony, Chamonix, and Wista. Also, there are many older cameras that work great, I mainly use a 5X7 Conley that was made in 1910 and it still works great 100 years later! Check out places like Badger Graphic Sales as they stock many different brands of wood field cameras and they show most of them on their website.
     
  12. nhemann

    nhemann Member

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    I'm curious what your philosophy is regarding this? Why brass but not aluminium? Also, there is typically a small amount of lead added to brass to help its machinability - not sure if this would be an issure for you.
     
  13. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I think for currently active makers you'll be looking at some of the very small shops in southeast Asia.

    You see them on eBay occassionally.
     
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  15. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    This seems very pointless. Aluminium and plastic is not going to do you any harm.

    Tom
     
  16. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    The majority of the world thinks film is useless.

    But here we are.
     
  17. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Strange conversations popping up on APUG.

    Define natural. Ever seen steel in it's natural state? Wait, steel is an alloy. Ever seen iron in its natural state? It's a rock. Ever seen silver in its natural state? Its in a rock. Ever seen copper in its natural state? Its a rock too. Ever seen a camera bellows made with untanned leather? I didn't think so. Wanna know how you tan leather? I didn't think so. Ever seen how tung oil is made? Wanna? I didn't think so either.

    I suspect the OP wants to minimize his impact upon the land. Good for you. Buy a used 50 year old camera and live with the fact that its impact was made two generations ago and you won't be adding to your generations. I suggest a Deardorf. Wait, I always suggest a Deardorf.

    And no, you can't get Alzheimers from aluminum.

    Maybe this needs to be moved to the Soap Box?


    tim in san jose
     
  18. NormanV

    NormanV Member

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    Human beings are natural so if we make something it is natural. I am currently building a metal working lathe using aluminium. I am recycling old engines and wheels by melting them down and making castings, that's not too bad is it? I am considering a cast aluminium camera if I can manage to make castings with sufficient accuracy.
     
  19. bryanphoto

    bryanphoto Guest

    Certainly, it is not possible (well maybe it is, but a very primitive one) to make a camera that is constructed of materials in the native natural state. What I am looking for, as has been mentioned above, is simply to minimize impact (and buying used is one way to do that). As far as referring to certain metals as more natural than others, I am considering the impacts of the mining and manufacturing, historical use and biological roles in life.

    Simple iron alloys and copper alloys have been used for centuries and can be made very simply, and are for the most part fairly safe. Yes, I am sure that their manufacture is not totally harmless, but probably far less so than aluminum -- one reason being that these materials are available (as far as I know) in their usable (or usable with primitive processing) state, whereas aluminum does not occur in its free metallic state, but must be processed (in a dirty and toxic way) out of bauxite (or other similar rocks). Aluminum also plays no biological role in life and can accumulate in the body -- therefore it does most likely have harmful effects (whatever they may be) in lower doses than some other metals. I do not know everything about the mining and processing of metals, but am simply going on what I do know.

    Leather can be tanned in quite natural and nontoxic ways with traditional methods, and there are still tanneries that practice vegetable tanning (and recycling and purification of byproduct). I realize that anytime you use any resources, you are having some impact. I am just curious what cameras might be available with some of the more natural and traditional materials.
     
  20. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    If it is made... look for it at Trader Joe's.
    When you find your natural camera are you going to have it shipped by FedEx, or Pony Express???
    Sorry if I sound like a smart ass... but I really don't see the point in stirring up nutty conversations and debates about stuff like this, especially if your are going to feed it silver halide films.

    Regarding electric cars+++ The Nissan Leaf is just a coal burning locomotive in my eyes. Or a nuclear powered vehicle.... I know you can hook it to a wind turbine or solar cel.. but the manufacturing of these is less than responsible even if the energy derived seems to be.
     
  21. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    So is a pencil and paper?:laugh:
     
  22. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Umm, is glass natural?

    PE
     
  23. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    I got it!!! A pinhole camera made from a Trader Joe's oatmeal box, and pinhole made from ... humm thinking natural pin-hole... how about a .... bat wing ... yes a tanned bat wing with a tiny hole in it.
     
  24. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Some time ago I proposed using the lens from the eyeball of a dead cow but I never got around to it :smile:

    Anyway, let's not forget that roll and sheet film are petrochemical products. You can run it through a hand-finished wooden box camera and that fact still remains. So if you want to go natural as some narrowly define it, then I guess you have to shoot anthotypes in that wooden box.

    As for me, I consider all materials with the exception of spam and the transuranic elements to be natural and perfectly acceptable for camera building.
     
  25. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    I actually tried to use a lens from an animal eye for something in JR high. I went cloudy after just 24 hours.

    I thought about posting this too.
     
  26. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    You might consider making your own. I recently found this link:

    http://home.online.no/~gjon/jgcam.htm

    It's a complete how-to on making a monorail type LF camera. It's mostly made of wood and all other materials. I think he used brass for most metal parts and aluminum for railing. It'll be heavy but I'm sure you can use steel for the rail if you wanted. I'm not quite sure what criteria you are using to define "natural" but this way, you get to dictate what goes into every part of the camera.