Fixed focus P&S 4x5

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by picker77, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. picker77

    picker77 Subscriber

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    I'm interested in cobbling together a simple, lightweight, compact-as-possible fixed focus 4x5 P&S with a salvaged 120-150mm lens. Something like a pinhole box with a lens. I'm leaning toward aluminum sheet metal construction with a grafted-on front end/lens board from a junker camera, and either front or rear shims for focus tuning. Anybody know of websites with how-to in this area? I've found a few but they were mostly oriented toward using a ground glass back.
     
  2. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    How were you planning to check focus initially? A GG is the perfect way to set up the camera, then exchange it for a film back.
     
  3. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    A groundglass back doesn't take up space, and it's nice to show people, and for verifying focus.

    Study up on the gowland aerial cameras for aluminum fixed focus 4x5's. I've got one and it's realllllly light.
     
  4. picker77

    picker77 Subscriber

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    To get initial rough focus, I was thinking of using drafting vellum taped to a sacrificial film holder (with all but 1/4" or so cut out of the film backing plate), and later doing trial and error tests with thin shims under the lens mount for fine tuning. Obviously I've never built anything like this before, it's just in the pencil stage right now. As for adding weight, I can't see how a GG back could be as light as a simple rear film holder slot (ie., no back at all), though. And of course I want to avoid focusing entirely, and just use a simple viewfinder on top of the body.

    And thanks, I'll look over the Gowlands.
     
  5. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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  6. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I built something like that using a Graflok back and a 90mm angulon. It was OK with a fixed focus, but I took apart a 35mm lens for the focusing helical and now it focuses down to 5 feet. It's much better than fixed focus.
     
  7. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    there was a great article and photos in an old View Camera mag....maybe you or someone here can reference it....built from aluminum
    Best, Peter
     
  8. picker77

    picker77 Subscriber

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    Good thought, BetterSense. There are a zillion old 35mm lenses all over the place, too, for either free or nearly free.

    Keith, thanks for the thread, don't know how I didn't see it to start with. Good place to start looking with 280 posts!

    I looked at the Gowland 4x5 minimal version, nice cameras at about $600 new without lens. I understand Mr. Gowland is at the age where he will likely soon have to stop doing what he's doing (95?), but I hope he has family or whatever to carry on. A while back when I sold a Super Speed Graphic I also sold the lenses, and have regretted ever since not keeping the lenses, especially a 90mm Super Angulon, which would have been a nice lens for this project, albeit a little shorter than I'd prefer.
     
  9. jakyamuni

    jakyamuni Member

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    I'm building something of the sort, out of an Autographic Kodak that fits the 4x5 holder pretty well. I'm using a 90mm Wollensak to do it, and building the cone out of heavy black paper (much like some of the early Kodaks were made)... but I'm not making a focusing screen for it. Having mocked up the back with cardboard, I've shot with it and it works well.
     
  10. heespharm

    heespharm Member

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    umm mr gowland passed away last year... rip
     
  11. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Why dont you make a removable GG in a frame instead of destroying a film holder. They are simple to make out of wood and the glass is as easy as spraying glass frosting that comes in an aerosol can. I have two of them that I made for a pair of homebuilt 4x5's. Measure the distance from the face of the film holder to the divider and make that the front surface of the glass, its close enough that the camera focus is on target, and dof will compensate for the miniscule error.
     
  12. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I did the same thing. See the 6x12 camera link below.


    Steve.
     
  13. picker77

    picker77 Subscriber

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    My sincere apologies. I am afraid I was led astray by Mr. Gowland's own website (petergowland.com), which was updated April 13, 2010. I quote from that website:

    "Because Peter keeps everything in his life as simple as possible, he made and continues to make all of his cameras with simplicity in mind."

    No mention of his demise that I could find. Again, my apologies and thanks for the correction.
     
  14. picker77

    picker77 Subscriber

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    Wow, Steve. A sweet piece of work. Makes what I had in mind (simple box with shim-adjsuted fixed focus) seem stone age. Access to CNC is really a nice fringe benefit, too! Re focusing with the helical, will you fabricate and mark a scale focus indicator ring around the lens, or what?

    Please post progress as you go along, this is very interesting stuff.
     
  15. heespharm

    heespharm Member

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    Oh I'm not offended... Just FYI I think he died in June... I just bought his pocket view and was thinking of converting it to a 4x5 point and shoot by building a frame around the rear standard and a box out to the front standard...
     
  16. picker77

    picker77 Subscriber

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    Gowlands are beautifully constructed cameras. It's sad to see craftsmen of Mr. Gowland's stature passing, don't know if we'll ever see their breed again. Seems like everywhere I look I see the end of another era. :sad: