HOW TO build a simple Point & Shoot 4x5" Camera (P&S) ?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by TheToadMen, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Hello everyone,
    I saw several mentions of a homemade Point & Shoot 4x5" cameras. For example:
    the Clyde-O-Wide made by Clyde Butcher.
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.296653072006.155930.183693607006&type=1

    I would like to try to build one myself and I have two questions.

    1) Does anyone have a plan for one of these camera I can use? Since there is no bellows I suppose it is a fixed focus (set for eternity?).
    But what distance do I need between the rear element of the lens and the film plane to get anything in focus (like landscapes)?

    2) What types of lenses are suitable? Clyde uses "a fixed 38mm Super AngulonXL lens that has helical focus".
    Does "helical focus" means that the lens has an internal system for focusing (instead of extending a bellow)?

    If anyone would be so kind to help me, I thank you very much!!

    "Have fun and catch that light beam!"
    Bert from Holland
    http://thetoadmen.blogspot.nl
    http://tinyurl.com/pinholegroup
     
  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I don't think I would call building a camera like that 'simple.' It won't be inexpensive either. Just the helical focus mount is over $300.
     
  3. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Hello ic-racer,
    Well, the building probably won't, but the camera will be ;-)
    But I've built several wooden large format pinhole cameras before so I'm up to the challenge.
    I'm not familiar with the "helical focus mount". Can someone explain this to me?

    And I was just wondering: if I really want to keep it simple, can't I just make a body with the lens in a fixed position,
    focussing at infinity? This would make it a real P&S camera for landscape photography. Especially if I can replace
    the lens with a pinhole, in which case everything will be in focus.Thanks,
    Bert
     
  4. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Lenses for 35 mm still cameras are mounted in helical focusing mounts. Look at one. Or look here http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/searc...elical&cm_sp=Filters-_-Category-_-Photography to see some made for LF lenses. The difference between small format and large format helical focusing mounts mounts is that the lens is buried in the small format mount and is hung in front of the LF mount. It is possible, barely, to hack a small format lens (remove the glass, ... ) so it will serve as a focusing mount for a large format lens. Be aware that short lenses that cover 4x5 are very expensive.

    There are a number of 4x5 pinhole cameras around.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. With a pinhole, nothing is in sharp focus. Some like the effect.
     
  5. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    True, but short focal length pinholes make sharp enough images with great (but not infinite) depth of field for decent contact prints. Fixed focus cameras, especially with wide angle lenses, can be practical for some uses. Remember, the lowly box camera was popular for most of a century!
     
  6. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Jim, if Mr. Butcher could get results he likes with a pinhole he'd use one.

    But you're absolutely right that much of the time a simple camera with a simple lens is good enough.
     
  7. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    I know this might have been a little unintentional translation quirk, but the phrase is wonderful and evocative. I've been thinking of building a 5x7 box camera for paper negatives and if I end with a fixed hyperfocal I'm definitely calling it "set for eternity". Thank you!
     
  8. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    A) helical mounts are available for LF lenses on eBay for about $140 or so --- many will have the right numbers on them if you tell the seller what lens it's for. search for "helical focus"

    B)it is not difficult to find the focus for a lens and then mount it correctly in a helical mount.

    C) a lens set for infinity will be in focus from the front focus point out to infinity-- a lens I have built several panoramic cameras with a Rodenstock 90mm wide angle lens--- it will be in focus a f22 from about 11 ft from the camera all the way to infinity in the distance. The entire camera is about 6 inches deep, and the lens just under 4 inches from the film.

    D) I have yet to find a 35mm focus mechanism that I can mount a LF lens in -- I have seen it done with MF lens mechanisms, but why screw up a lens.

    E)Any lens that will cover 4x5 with no movements is suitable for the project.
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    The helical focus mount lets you focus a short focal length large format lens by twisting a ring. No need for a bellows. Perfect for what you have planned. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/325304-REG/Schneider_08_045757_Focus_Mount_for_Super.html
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi toadman


    if you can make 2 tight nested boxes you don't need a helical mount.
    you would remove the back off of 1 box ( which has your ground glass )
    and strap on a film holder. the only thing you would need to do
    is be accurate in your measurements, and make sure the ground glass is the same
    distance from your lens or front of the box, as your film would be ..
    have some sort of a strap or 2 that holds your film holder in place and take the photograph.

    it can be as complicated or as easy as you want, personally, i would rather have something simple
    it isn't worth the headaches and cash to make some sort of grand camera that may or may not be used very often.

    have fun !
    john
     
  11. LJH

    LJH Member

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    38mm SAXL isn't a 4x5 lens. Only has 137mm IC. You need around 154mm.
     
  12. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Unless you make it yourself. See my 6x12 camera link.

    See above... or below!


    Steve.
     
  13. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    For inspiration, take a look at the Gowland aerial cameras, about half way down at http://www.petergowland.com/camera/index.html

    I believe SK Grimes makes/made a helical mount for LF lenses. But won't be cheap.

    I've wondered what could be accomplished with threaded pvc fittings.
     
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  15. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Hello everyone,
    I'm overwhelmed with all these responses within one day. Thank you all!

    My conclusions for now:
    1) It's gonna be a simple concept with a fixed focus lens. For this I have to calculate the film-to-flange distance (depending on the lens of choice) and the hyperfocal distance (thank you Ian for the PM about these issues).
    2) I'm not gonna use a helical focus mount for now (to reduce costs). Maybe in time if my concept works and I can get one 2nd hand & cheaper. I like Steve's solution by using an broken Olympus 50 mm lens to build his own helical focus device. If there is such a solution for my lens, I might try this as well after I have finished the camera. (See Steve's Building a 6x12 Wide Angle Panoramic camera)
    3) I also thought of making 2 tight nested boxes, as suggested by John. But I'm gonna do this in an other project for a 8x10" wooden camera suited for 8x10" lenses and pinhole.
    4) I'm gonna use Ilford Direct Positive Paper instead of film in this camera. I’ll also use B&W negative photo paper to make paper negatives for contact printing (gum printing or salt printing).
    5) I have to choose a lens for this camera. I think I'm gonna use my “Schneider-Kreuznach Super-Angulon 1:8/121 #7481057" since it has a working shutter and it will be a 4x5" camera.
    6) Maybe I even go for a second 5x7" size P&S camera since I have about 8 of these film holders lying around (without a camera). For this camera I can use my Voigtlander Braunschweig Heliar 1:4,5/21 cm lens. However, this Compound shutter fires at one speed only (needs SLA?). But first let me make the 4x5" P&S camera.
    7) As a thank you to Ned: I'm gonna call this my "set for eternity" camera project. ;-)

    Any thoughts about these conclusions?
    Thanks,
    Bert from Holland
     
  16. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Bert, since you have a 121/8 SA, by all means use it even though 121 mm isn't very wide on 4x5. You really should come up with a way to measure its flange-to-film distance when it is focused at a distance that makes sense (hyperfocal distance @ f/22, perhaps?). This because the lens' actual focal length and flange focal distances are probably not exactly what the Schneider brochure says.

    Yes, a single shutter speed can be limiting, especially if you don't know what it is. Buy your 210/4.5 Heliar's Compound a CLA.
     
  17. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    You can find the flange distance for infinity focus here: http://www.schneideroptics.com/info/vintage_lens_data/ then work out how much to add for hyperfocal (I can't help you with that but someone will know the formula).


    Steve.
     
  18. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Bert, Compound shutters are fairly simple. If you can tackle the job of making a camera, cleaning the shutter should be no problem. Start by unscrewing the caps on the ends of the pneumatic cylindar and flushing it out with a solvent such as alcohol.

    As for focusing the lens on infinity, that is easier done on a ground glass than by specifications and calculations. Use a frame that will space a ground glass (with ground surface facing the lens) at the correct distance from the surface against which the film holder mates. This distance will be about .188 inches for 4x5 film holders, and about .219 inches for 5x7. I suggest setting the lens to focus precisely on infinity. It can then be shimmed out to focus at whatever hyperfocal distance proves best through experimenting.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2012
  19. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Steve, that's a nice theory. There's no guarantee that a lens will match its published specifications.

    Graflex Inc. and predecessors offered several sets focusing scales for each standard issue lens e.g., the 127/4.7 Ektar. The focusing scales go on the outer bed. Lenses sold with cameras by the factory had their focal lengths' measured; the best (not always exactly correct) scale for the lens was fitted to the camera's bed. Graflex urged users who wanted to add lenses to their kit to send the additional lenses to the factory for matching to the closest focusing scales.

    Parallel, to this, why do you think that Nikon and Boyer shipped their process lenses with quality control slips that gave the lens' measured focal length and measured flange-to-film distance at 1:1? Nominal isn't good enough.
     
  20. horacekenneth

    horacekenneth Member

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  21. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    True, but it's a good place to start. Build something with a bit of adjustment - say 1/4" towards the film and 1/2" away and you should be able to get it at hyperfocal for f16.


    Steve.
     
  22. Joe VanCleave

    Joe VanCleave Member

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    Regarding using Harman's DPP, I have a bit of experience at this and can offer you some advice. I rate Harman DPP at ISO 2, and so a lens set to F11 would require, in lightly overcast daylight (such as what I experienced when doing this 2 days ago) an exposure time of 2 seconds. Bulb setting on your shutter, or a lens cap shutter, can accomplish this nicely.

    In super bright summer sun, with a larger aperture, you'll need exposure times around 1/15 to 1/2 second, which not many LF shutters can accurately time. So what I do in those cases is either stop down to a very small aperture and use a 1-2 second exposure or use an ND filter to slow down the exposure until I can time it accurately by hand (2-4 second range is ideal, as it's long enough to time accurately and short enough to permit seated, posed portraits with a head brace).

    ~Joe
     
  23. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Joe, are you sure that leaf shutters time exposures between 1/1 and 1/60 badly? I ask because I haven't found this to be the case, have found it very hard to time exposures in this range with a lens cap. Might your shutter(s) need overhaul(s)?
     
  24. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Does anyone know a good address to SLA my Compound shutter? Preferably in Europe. Or should I try itself? I'm tempted, since I have two of these with the same problem...

    I think I'm gonna make a simple lens board for this lens and experiment with the FKD to measure the focal distances. I'll also try the mathematical way and see what the differences will be ;-)
    This the original data page of my lens: http://www.schneideroptics.com/info...format_lenses/super-angulon/data/8-121mm.html

    BTW: I'm used to use my hat as a shutter on my russian FKD camera (18x24 cm) using glass negatives. See:
    http://thetoadmen.blogspot.nl/2012/09/making-dry-plate-glass-negatives-with.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2012
  25. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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  26. Joe VanCleave

    Joe VanCleave Member

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    I wouldn't be surprised if all my mechanical leaf shutters are off at this speed range. The only one I really trust is my electronically timed Bronica ETRS, that goes up to 2 seconds. My point is that, unless you want to spend a sizable portion of your photo budget on CLAs, collecting LF lenses can be an expensive proposition, the alternative of which is to avoid the slower speeds entirely. I have yet to find a used LF leaf shutter with accurate slow speeds.

    Harman DPP is a harsh mistress, she demands accurate exposures. If you're used to working with compensating film developers in LF, and think you can SWAG the exposure with Harman on an inaccurate shutter, think again.

    ~Joe