Making a box camera...

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by isaacc7, Jul 30, 2005.

  1. isaacc7

    isaacc7 Member

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    OK, I've been in love with the B&S Hobo ever since I saw it. I love the idea of the portable, focus free large format camera. I do have a problem with $650 for it though. I can't get the idea out of my head that it is a really, really simple device and could be made for a lot less.

    So here's the question, could I, a person that is reasonably bright but not skilled with tools, make my own 5x7 box camera? It seems to me that if I picked up a 5x7 back from some place, all I would need is a lens and a box of the appropriate depth. The trickiest part would be getting the flange to film distance just right. Even that doesn't strike me as being overly difficult. I was thinking of using a 90mm lens (maybe even one of the early Angulons). If I wanted to get fancy I could even use some sort of gasket behind the lens or in front of the film back to change the focus distance.

    Am I missing something? It seems that all I'd need is some plywood or MDF, some accurate measurments, and some screws and glue. I sure would have fun with one of those...

    Isaac
     
  2. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    See this link: http://elearning.winona.edu/jjs/SW4X5/

    It's something like a mini-Hobo. You can make the same with an 8x10 back. (Heck, I must have a dozen 8x10 backs in crummy shape that can be rebuilt.)

    My concern would be the 'focus free' part. The link above shows a camera with a focusing mount that has foot/metre scales. Very handy. There are ways around a spend focusing helix, especially if you go wide angle. We can pursue that idea if you like.
     
  3. isaacc7

    isaacc7 Member

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    Yeah, I figured that 90mm was wide enough on a 5x7 in order to make it focus free, just like the hobo. If I want more DOF, I'd just stop down. The idea is to make it as simple as possible. Maybe having a simple "close" (like around 10 ft.) and "far" (infinity) settings would be nice, but I think that with a wide enough lens, just the infinity would be OK...

    The "mini hobo" looks quite nice, but I'd like to do it in 5x7, and with a little less exotic lens! :smile:

    Isaac
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi there isaac:

    you could probably do it pretty easily, and even have a way to use different lenses if you wanted to. you'd probably want to figure out the hyperfocal distance ( http://www.mountainstorm.com/HyperFocal/HyperFocal.html ) so you can have a pretty good handle on dof, you wouln't need a ground glass, just make a "V" ( back corners to middle of top ) that would be your sight, until you make a sports finder or aux viewfinder type thing. if you don't have any cardboard or matboard, you could make it out of basswood, or cheep plywood ( hobbystore type ) and glue them in a moulding. instead of bellows you could make it a box inside of a box, and have it marked where the different focal lenght's would be, and have it lock into place. my brother built me a 8x10 pinhole kind of like that ...

    good luck!
    john
     
  5. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    Isacc - a 90mm on 5x7 would be cool. But forgive my suggestion that focusing will still be important except possibly for contact prints. You can get a focusing helix for the 90mm for about $100. That and a couple strings cut to your favorite focus distances and you have quality through and through. It's an exciting project. Hope it works for you.
     
  6. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Box camera

    Unfortunately, my computer at work died this week. I was writing an article on the 4x5 box camera I had made in my "spare time" and it is gone now, no back-up. I'll start again. Here's what I did for my 4x5. Please pm me for any specific questions you might have about the construction of a "box within a box" concept for focusing. tim
     
  7. isaacc7

    isaacc7 Member

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    Thanks!

    I'm getting the idea that I'm not insane for thinking that this would be a fairly simple project. I have a Gandolfi traditional 5x7 camera that I can use for my normal and longer focal length shooting. After reading "The Ins and Outs of Focus" (http://www.trenholm.org/hmmerk/download.html) I was figuring that I could build a WA camera focused at infinity and do very well. What I'm hoping to accomplish is a camera that is small, portable, and very fast to shoot. I'd be doing primarly scenics with it and I'd like to make it my designated travel camera. It would be a bit of a special purpose camera, and one made only for "fun" instead of a serious tool. What do you think?

    Isaac
     
  8. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Isaac, I say go for it. This camera I posted was originally a Polaroid 110 Pathfinder. The 127mm lens (Rodenstock, coated) has a good field of view and is a decent trade-off between DOF and shutter speed. Would be like a 38mm on a 35mm format. It can be hand held or set up on a tripod with ground glass. The ground glass back slips in like a film holder, but for most things the view finder works well enough and a guess at the distance is close enough for a good shot. tim
     
  9. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    Hi there,

    isaacc7, a thought;

    a 4x5 Speed/ Crown graphic body is almost the same size as a 5x7 holder. If you duplicate the body with 3/8" side panels and 3/4" top & bottom it works out. Make the interior the exact same size as the original and take exact patterns for the screw holes. At the rear a piece of 1" aluminium angle stock at the bottom and 2 turn screws at the top hold the holder/GG. You can synch the rangefinder to the film/lens and use the sports finder at the front. All told about a weekend to finish.

    Good luck with it.
     
  10. livemoa

    livemoa Member

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    There is a guy selling focus mounts on ebay, user name jinfinance foe US$129 which could be useful for this
     
  11. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    5x7 box

    I'm working on a 5x7 box that's taking me forever. I want it to be completely from oddball parts, front of a Polaroid 95B or 150, a wooden box, an Ilex electric oscilloscope shutter, various interchangeable plates for the Ilex to hole photocopier lenses or pinholes.

    I only have one legitimate back, that on a 4x5 Crown Graphic. My budget is near zero unless I sell another project to pay for a different one.

    So I am experimenting with spring backs made from picture frame moulding. I found an unlikely source of spacers for ground glass to get film plane spacing for ground glass...square plastic chop sticks from a local Asian grocery store...one end was 5 mm (within spec for 0.197"), and other end was 0.250", close enough to 0.260" to shim for 8x10 holder...20 for $1 too, multiple colors available!

    I'll take photos when it's done. I may have already let the cat out of the bag regarding what I stained the wooden box with, but I won't repeat it here until I post a picture (it has NOTHING to do with cats).

    Murray