M1tch's DIY LF camera build

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by m1tch, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    Hi all,

    I thought that I would start a thread about my LF camera build, I have the other thread about the DIY optics so this thread will only be about the camera build.

    Here are the criteria that I am wanting to fulfil:


    • 4x5 LF camera
    • Can use DDS
    • Useful for a range of lenses
    • Cheap
    • Easy to make
    • No specalist parts
    • Portable



    I was initially thinking about making a sliding box camera which I do like the idea of as the lens is fixed and you move the film back and forth.

    [​IMG]

    I was thinking about making one of those using some foam core stuff that you use on mounting photos etc with some edige reinforcement.

    I did like this idea as its much like the pinwide/travelwide camera which is basically just like a Titan pinhole camera. I am trying to keep it simple in the fact that I need to have varible focal distances but also able to focus the lens as well.

    My DIY lens will probably just be a barrel lens, which is fine as the paper negative is slow lol. I have decided that it might be easier to have a camera like the monorail cameras with front and rear standards and bellows which would allow for adjustments for focal length and lens focus.

    The issue with the monorail camera is that its not amazingly portable and could perhaps be slightly unsteady if put outside.

    I have therefore come up with this compact design which will basically flat pack:

    [​IMG]

    The camera has a rail at the bottom and the sides (but not the top) - this will allow the front standard to move forward and back to focus the lens and adapt for different focal lengths.

    The struts will be attached to each of the standards with the use of simple brackets with locking nuts on, the rear standard backets will also swivel.

    If I pushed both standards together the struts would stick out each side meaning that its not as compact, to get round this I have figured out that what you can do is unlock the strut from the front standard, pull the strut in towards the rear standad (and out of the bracket at the front) and then swivel it so that its flat with the rear standard.

    There will be 1 side without a strut so that the DDS has clearance to be put in and out, for portrait the gap will be at the top, for landscape the gap will be at the side.

    The DDS is held on the rear via some rubber bands looped around some small pins in the rear standard.

    The DDS will be interchangable with a ground glass screen for viewing and setting up - once everything is setup and the struts are locked then the DDS is put in its place.
     
  2. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Have you got any camera pieces to start with?

    If you want it to work with normal 5x4 film holders, I suggest that you get hold of a spring ground glass back and build onto it.

    I can't offer you a ground glass back but I do have a few bits and pieces which might be of some use to you - depending on where you are and how much the postage would be.

    I'm getting close to finishing a 5x4 folding camera. Anyone who has seen some of my previous posts will know that this is my fourth camera - although the first three were never finished.

    I get so far then realise I should have done something differently and start again! (this one is going to get finished though).

    Subsequently, I have a few parts which might be of use including some bellows which are not quite large enough for a folding view camera but might be enough to cover the focusing range you are planning on using. I also have some wooden parts which I am unlikely to use.

    Mainly from this camera: http://www.facebook.com/steve.smith.stuff/media_set?set=a.10150675732477011.392222.538602010&type=3

    (or here if you don't do Facebook http://www.apug.org/forums/forum147/104490-new-5-x-4-folding-camera-under-construction.html )

    If anything there (except the brass parts) are of use to you, let me know and I will see what the options are for posting.

    Just for interest, here is a thread with some pictures of my current camera and my stop and start again dilemma! http://www.apug.org/forums/forum147/117986-changing-your-mind-half-way-through-building.html


    Steve.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2013
  3. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    Thanks for your input Steve, you camera looks really good :smile: mine probably won't be the same sort of standard as yours is, it will be a bit more basic lol I have just got some 10mm foam board I am going to use as lens board, the front and rear standards have just been made (just setting and one has been stained etc). I will post some photos up tomorrow with the completed standards I will be using, I am just working out what I will be doing with the bellows as I will be looking to shoot between 70mm and 150mm, with both standards together the film to lens distance is around 70mm so I might make a recessed lens board for the wider lens.

    Mine will be made using as many off the shelf bits as I can, infact all I need to figure out is the bellows and how to ensure that the standards are held apart securely (hence the struts etc).
     
  4. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    If the film to lens distance is only 70mm then the bellows I was thinking about will be too big. I have a couple of sets from a smaller plate camera which might be useful though. You could make a simple box then put a small bellows at the lens end.

    However, if your focal length is around 70mm, you will have a lot of depth of field on 5x4 film and accurate focusing will not be needed. In fact, I think it would work o.k. as a fixed focus camera for most normal subject distances.

    EDIT: Actually, the bellows are about 30mm closed so if they are any good for you, you can have them.


    Steve.
     
  5. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    Do you have details of the bellows, I might be interested then, I only ask as my DIY camera is being built to house the DDS rather than building a camera which takes a DDS (if that makes sense lol)
     
  6. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    Mitch, take a look at this: https://www.flickr.com/photos/moribundworld/8962444804/
    Something I made in June. Uses a macro slider as a rail and I can assure you it is rather steady. The cost is low and if you get a spring back, you'll need minimal woodwork. You only need bellows and spring back, rest is simple hardware store stuff and the rail comes for approximately 15€ shipped and has a tripod thread.
     
  7. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    I do have a set of spare macro bellows etc so I could perhaps use that to mount the standards on :smile: I don't think I can actually mod the actual standards on that those as they are all 1 piece :sad: will perhaps look at how thats setup though and have a go at making something like that.
     
  8. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    If the bellows are from a 35mm system then I am afraid that they will obstruct the image path quite badly. Take careful measurements, tinker around with them etc. Works for me, I gather the stuff I will be needing and just play with them, try to visualise how to fit them together.
    Basically what I did is described further here: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum147/120828-quick-but-not-neccesarily-dirty-monorail-camera.html
    I am making a 4x5 extension back for it someday. Monorails are fun for portraiture, studio and still life but my heart belongs to folding bed cameras.

    I think it cost me some 80€ to make, half of it went on tools.
     
  9. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    Yeah I just checked on ebay for the 'macro rail' I didn't actually know you could buy just the rail to attach things to, could be an interesting addition to help with focus etc and the fact it has a tripod socket might be good.
     
  10. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I too would go with a used back. Because.............
    The front of the focusing frame and the ground glass is known as the "T" dimension. It's the setback from the face of the frame to the ground glass. To focus and then have your film in the same plane this has to be accurate.
     
  11. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    I will be creating an insert with some ground glass (probably tracing paper lol) recessed slightly to match the recess of the DDS, that way when I focus onto the ground glass it will be the same thing that the film 'sees' when I do the exposure.
     
  12. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    And believe me, it is a major b*tch to machine without expensive tools. Took me a whole day of tedious sanding...
     
  13. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    The most accurate insert is an DDS itself, you can cut a hole through the septum and use a diffusing gel as a ground glass. A bit destructive, yes, but rather accurate and simple.
     
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  15. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    I will see if I want to destroy one, I only have 3 DDS and they are all in good condition, I will perhaps look around to see if there are any bulk job lots of them on ebay before destroying one of the current ones lol
     
  16. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    If you want el cheapo DDS-es, contact Peter Walnes (https://secure.peterwalnes.com/), I got mine from him for peanuts. He has none listed on his webstore but you can e-mail him anyway, maybe he has some left. He is a great guy, I can recommend him. Fleabay has extortion prices on 'em, seen regular Fidelitys go for 50 quid a piece. But you might find an as-is one for next to nothing if you are willing to spend some time looking.
     
  17. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    Thanks for the site, unfortunatly its not good for my bank balance as I have just seen an industar 22 lens I have been looking around for lol
     
  18. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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  19. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    I just meansued the flange distance, it is indeed 5mm, its 2mm to the top of the dark slide, I have built my 'ground glass' with the use of some 10mm foamcore board (its actually quite solid as im using it for the lens board as well). Basically I will attach some baking paper (the white sort) onto the viewer, then add in a 5mm boarder of foamcore board (still need to purchase) onto it so that it spaces it off the 5mm needed.

    I have just basically finished both standards now, I will look at getting one of those macro sliders - probably the 200mm one - and get some captive nuts into the bottom of the standards to screw into.

    I am going to be adding some 'bag bellows' which are the alternative to the folding bellows for camera (such as mine) which will have quite a wide lens but also allows any other movements should I want to add any at a later date.

    I might also look into adding some sort of handle onto the tripod socket on the base if I do hand hold the camera as an option.
     
  20. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    I used the 200mm one too (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Fotomate-20...ail-Slider-1-4-Screw-LP-02-E072-/300794593182). Make sure that the one you are getting has a tripod socket in the center - that way you can flip the rail and put the front standard on the "slider" and still be able to mount it on a tripod. The rail has the second tripod socket on the slider/bottom thingy and with one of the two screws provided you can lock the standard in place. Probably the easiest rack-and-pinion focus system ever.
    The rail has a groove, so if you make the mounting plate for the back round, you can also have back swing. Tilt and shift for the back is a tad bit more complicated to make but still very doable. If you want more pictures of my beast and how I made it, let me know.
     
  21. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    I am getting a 200mm one with a tripod socket in the centre, I think the smaller 100mm movement ones only have the tripod socket at the end. I won't be using movements on this camera, this is more like a proof of concept and more like a 'point and shoot' LF camera rather than a technical one.

    Just had a thought, I am currently thinking about mounting the lens as they are normally mounted to the lens board with the lens (being thin) mounted on the front of the board. This means that the focal distance is from the rear element to the film plane which is probably around 70mm (need to go and measure again).

    As my lenses will barrel lenses it might be an idea to have the lens half and half in the standard lens board position - this might mean that the rear element of the lens starts say 30mm back from the lens board meaning that the lens board would need to be 100mm away and not 70mm.

    It will mean that I could just use standard bellows but have the wider lenses (if 2 element barrel lenses) to be mounted slightly deeper into the lens board. I was thinking about using velcro or something to have a change of bellows depending on the lens being used.

    It would mean that I could mount the normal 150mm F/L lenses to the front of the board and simply move the wider lenses slightly inside.
     
  22. VPooler

    VPooler Member

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    Yup, that's a good idea when you are using wide angle lenses. But 70mm is plenty of space, mine is 75mm and I am using regular tapered bellows and can even do some movements at infinity.
    Velcro might deteriorate over time and not seal up properly, use frames and wingnuts to secure them.
     
  23. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    I won't be able to have tapered bellows due to the size of the lenses I am about to make, I will look into some different options for it, I am trying to keep everything as simple as possible.

    So far the tools and equipment I have used:

    Saw
    Hammer
    Wood glue
    Craft knife
    10mm foam board - around £1 worth
    Few small nails (panel pins) - basically free
    Offcuts of pine - basically free

    The expensive parts will be the macro slider (probably about twice the cost of the camera body) and the lens, but thats ok as it can be used elsewhere as well.
     
  24. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    It might still be possible. The bellows I offered to you are only slightly tapered. The front is still quite large. I will try to post some pictures of them later.


    Steve.
     
  25. m1tch

    m1tch Member

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    Awesome, thanks Steve, I will look forward to seeing what they are like, if you could also give some rough dimentions I will see if it will work with the standards I have made. Perhaps if they are slightly tapered one side can be attached to the outside of the rear standard and then attached to the inside of front standard.
     
  26. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    The actual bellows dimensions:

    Front (external) 130mm square
    Rear (external) 145mm square

    Bellows pleats measure about 12mm so subtract 24mm to give internal dimensions

    Collapsed, the bellows take up about 25mm. Extended, they are about 200mm long but will stretch to about 270mm.

    (they have been cut down from a longer set from a monorail camera).

    DSC_0498.jpg

    The hole in the plastic plate to the front is 86mm diameter. The plate is 139mm square

    There is a similar rear plate the same size with a 124mm square aperure which is fixed to an extra plate which I made which is 168mm square.

    It's probably easier for you to remove the bellows from the plates and make your own adaptor.

    Anyway, if they are of use to you, send me your address by PM and I will post them.


    Steve.