PDA

View Full Version : 16x20 DIY Glass Plate Single Shot Camera?



Robland
08-24-2009, 09:46 PM
I'm building my darkroom and already looking to the future for projects. I would like to build a single shot 16x20 glass plate camera that I can use for landscapes, without a ground glass. Think of this as a 16x20 holder with a lens. I assume if not too large I could construct 2 or 3 and load them and find a way to remove the lens and attach to the other holders, in the field. How big a box would I need, assuming a normal lens, with/without shutter?

The assumption is I could get a quality glass plate for contact printing. Even better would be use for portraits, this would mean less than infinity focus and enough light to allow relative short exposures and DOF to cover the tolerance of no GG. The distance from plate to subject would be fixed.

The alternate is to have a GG and holders, but without bellows. Any thoughts, and if so who before me has tried this and how can I learn from their mistakes. Any website/archive would be a huge benefit and with much appreciation. Bellows make me Dependant on others and drive up the costs.

Sounds really stupid after typing this, but nothing ventured nothing gained.

Christopher Walrath
08-24-2009, 11:36 PM
Wirelessly posted (BBBold: BlackBerry9000/4.6.0.167 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102 UP.Link/6.3.0.0.0)

I've toyed with the idea, on a much smaller basis. It would be very interesting to see where this one goes.

TheFlyingCamera
08-25-2009, 05:33 AM
Well, if you are dead set on avoiding bellows, you could make a sliding box construction to enable you to focus (even if only to fixed points). You'd still need to make a ground glass and use it at least once, to set up the focusing positions. You'd need at least two positions - infinity, and portrait. With a 16x20, your portrait subject would essentially be life-size, so you're dealing with 1:1 reproduction ratio. Therefore, you'd have to build two equal-length segments to the box, one to position the focal plane at the focal length of the lens, and one to position it at the 1:1 position, which translates into double the focal length. This is very simple to do, but you're paying a HUGE price in weight and bulk of this camera. Once you set up the camera, you put a test subject in front, pop in your ground glass, determine the focusing distance, then attach a piece of string to the front of the camera, stretch it out to the subject's face, and put a knot in the string to mark the distance. Then you can dispense with the ground glass. To use such a monster, you'd need an old-fashioned studio stand, as a two-box (or even single box) camera of this size would not be portable, at least not by one person.

If you are set on wanting to make something like this, I'd still suggest putting on a bellows, but you can make it yourself, and to keep it simple, make it square. You'll easily cut the weight by about 2/3rds of what a two-box arrangement would weigh.

DannL
08-26-2009, 11:13 AM
Robland, you'll have to keep us informed on this project. I also have been preparing for a similar camera build. I've got everything in place, just need the time and willpower. Mine "the plan" will be a pinhole camera at 20x24 format size. I will be using paper negatives developed in the Jobo 3063 tank, followed by contact printing. The only thing now is to design the makeshift camera. I would be looking for portability and a light-weight unit. A simple camera can be nothing more than a cardboard box, pinhole at one end, and paper on the other. The next level up from there would be two standards, one for the pinhole, one for the paper, separated by the appropriate focal length distance. I would stretch a flexible light-proof material between the standards. It needn't be permanent, and Velcro might suffice.

Allen Friday
08-26-2009, 03:11 PM
Try to find a copy of the book "Primitive Photography." It contains many ideas with general plans to build box cameras. I think you could easily adapt the plans to your specific purposes.

I built a 16x20 camera a few years ago. I bought a bellows off flea-bay which came from an old process camera.

You don't really need a bellows, however, if you go with a box type camera or a sliding box camera. You might also look up the HOBO camera, a box style 8x10 camera, for ideas. If you are not going to have a ground glass, you will be relying on zone focusing--knowing that the camera will focus at a set distance and using the lens' f-stop to bring areas in front of and behind that distance into acceptable focus. Just be aware that with portraits you will be working with extremely narrow depth of field, even stopped down.

As for the box size, the inside back of the box would of course have to be slightly larger than the plate, perhaps 17x21. That would give you enough room for the plate and some mechanism to hold the plate in place while you move the camera around. The depth of the box will depend on your lens. For landscape, I would choose a lens (I use both a 450 and 600mm with my camera), and then do the calculations of the lens' hyper-focal setting at a given f-stop to maximize sharpness for as much depth as you can. For the 450 mm lens, this would be slightly longer than 450 mm (the lens focuses at infinity at 450 mm, by pushing the lens out a little and stopping down some, you could increase the area of acceptable focus to bring more of the foreground into focus without causing the scene at infinity to go out of focus.) For landscapes, then, you would be looking at a camera 17x21x19 or 20. You could of course taper the length of the camera to make it lighter weight.

The same camera could probably be use for portraits just by swapping out the lens for a 300 or 370 mm lens. You would have to figure out how far from the camera the 300 mm lens focuses when pushed out to 450+ mm, but it may work out fine for close ups.

I assume you are talking about dry plates, as wet plates would have to be loaded and exposed while still wet.

One thing I would recommend is to do a quick and dirty mock-up of the camera using cardboard or matt board to test your design. Cardbpard is light tight, easy to work with and cheap.

DannL
08-26-2009, 11:14 PM
Here is a link to an example of a simple camera design that I believe work well. The bellows could be a simple light-proof material only and the camera structure could be reduced in a number of areas to minimize weight. A door on the back could make it a single shot, or it could be configured for a specific film holder.

http://www.fiberq.com/cam/roc/catch.htm




.

2F/2F
08-26-2009, 11:18 PM
By single shot camera do you mean a "one shot" camera?

DannL
08-26-2009, 11:33 PM
By single shot camera do you mean a "one shot" camera?

I gather Robland was meaning a one shot configuration. In my version, I will most likely approach it as a one shot at first. Building 20x24 holders might be fun, though. And costly. I picked up today what will be the rear standard, and another item that will be a contact printing frame.

Oh Robland, where art thou?

2F/2F
08-26-2009, 11:39 PM
Thanks. By "one shot", I mean a camera that shoots three color-sep negatives with one exposure using three holders, filters, and internal mirrors. It was one way (perhaps the best way) of obtaining color seps for carbro prints and the like. I first found out about them when purchasing some old items from Richard C. Miller. He still had the camera and 5x7 holders with built-in Wratten filters.

eddie gunks
08-27-2009, 01:43 PM
a guy participated in or large format print exchange that basically diod this. he shot an 11x14 camera. he worked out the focus point and made a mat board camera. his handle was argos33 or something klike that. i will try and find him and send him over. he probably has the info you seek.

eddie

argos33
08-27-2009, 04:48 PM
Hi there;
Eddie just pointed me to this thread. For the 11x14 I made, I used foam core to make a pyramid structure which I painted the inside black. The back was simply a paper box glued and gaffers taped into place, and the lens was simply gaffers taped onto the small part of the pyramid. I suppose that if you wanted to make multiples and use the same lens you could make a little plate hinged on the side, then put everything into a darkroom/giant changing back, take the lens off and close the hing, then tape it all up so it's light tight. Or just have multiple giant changing bags I guess. The foam core is surprisingly rigid and sturdy once all taped and painted. For the tripod mount I simply glued/taped the quick release to the bottom of the camera (which is very lightweight) and mounted it on the tripod.

And here's the part you are probably wondering about; to determine the focus I simply put the lens on my view camera and measured the bellows draw required for the focus distance I liked. I looked into doing the math, but I wanted to experiment with focus distances and find one I liked. For example, my camera was designed for portraits, so I made the focus so that it was a head and shoulders shot on 11x14, which was a certain distance from the lens. I had the lens on the 8x10 so I just "guestimated" how much bigger the 11x14 frame would be and adjusted as necessary. Thus, I knew that if I wanted that head and shoulders shot I would have to move the lens that distance from the subject to "be in focus." So I simply shifted the tripod/camera until it was that distance from my subject when taking the picture. I used the lens cap for a shutter. For framing I suppose it would have been easy to make a wire frame viewer of sorts, but I just guessed and actually got it in two tries (I was using paper negatives). Since I could take the tripod plate off, I could keep the framing from the previous shot and adjust as necessary after seeing the negative.

If you don't have another camera with bellows long enough to test the lens on you could even just get a sliding poster tube and tape the lens to the front and some vellum on the back, then measure the bellows draw and distance from the lens to the subject. This method would make it quite a bit harder to guess where the bigger frame ended though.

I would be happy to help you more with the project and/or send you some photos of mine, but I am leaving for a trip to China for the next three weeks. I will be back September 20th if you'd like to get in touch then. Good luck! These things are fun!

Evan

Joe VanCleave
08-29-2009, 12:15 PM
I've built a 5"x7" sliding box camera from black foamcore, which uses a foamcore sandwich film holder; since I only made 1 holder, it's essentially a 1-shot camera. But I can use a regular sized changing bag in the field, since the entire camera doesn't have to go inside the bag, only the holder.

The film holder is a sandwich of 4 layers of 1/4" foamcore, with a foamcore darkslide that is designed to stay in the side slot of the holder; you pull it out to a preset stop point, and the darkslide maintains a light-tight seal against the body of the camera. It also has a removable view screen, built to the same size and thickness as the film holder, but which uses a thin sheet of clear plastic, which has been sanded down on one side; it works remarkably well for previewing the scene.

There is a remarkably good resource for camera-building ideas, the George Eastman online collection, at this link (http://www.geh.org/technology.html).

Here's an example of a sliding box plate camera from their collection, who's general concept I used as inspiration for my foamcore camera. I used an old sheet of plywood for the bottom plate, to which the front half of the camera body is permanently affixed. The front half needs to be the larger of the two halves of the nesting boxes. The back half nests inside the front half, such that any light leaking through the seal won't shine directly onto the film. You'll notice that the back half of the box rests on the bottom platform as it slides, such that it will stay sufficiently aligned with the front box to prevent light leaks. This is an especially important feature to incorporate in your camera if you expect to be extending the boxes out near the limit of their nesting, where there is minimal contact between the side walls; you want the bottom platform to support the rear half, preventing it from further movement.

If you line the inside of the box with black adhesive craft felt (from stores like Hobby Lobby or Michael's) it'll totally dampen any light reflections. The black felt is also a good material to use on the side walls of the box halves, where they slide together, providing for a light-tight but dynamic seal.

http://www.geh.org/fm/mees/m197400370093.jpg

~Joe

PS: My avatar was a self-portrait onto Efke's direct positive paper using this camera. I was using a 150mm binocular lens as the taking lens, nearly wide open around F/4.5, with a simple lens cap shutter.

Dave Wooten
08-29-2009, 01:39 PM
Nice link Joe, ...thanks for posting.

wa1vgb
08-29-2009, 02:24 PM
If you have a box that big, why not put a white image plane hinged at the bottom in the back. You can view and focus through a hole in the top of the camera, then reach in and fold the image plane down onto the bottom of the camera. The plate would then slide in where the image was. Saves the weight of a ground glass and allows focusing.

Rick A
08-29-2009, 04:27 PM
I'm building my darkroom and already looking to the future for projects. I would like to build a single shot 16x20 glass plate camera that I can use for landscapes, without a ground glass. Think of this as a 16x20 holder with a lens. I assume if not too large I could construct 2 or 3 and load them and find a way to remove the lens and attach to the other holders, in the field. How big a box would I need, assuming a normal lens, with/without shutter?

The assumption is I could get a quality glass plate for contact printing. Even better would be use for portraits, this would mean less than infinity focus and enough light to allow relative short exposures and DOF to cover the tolerance of no GG. The distance from plate to subject would be fixed.

The alternate is to have a GG and holders, but without bellows. Any thoughts, and if so who before me has tried this and how can I learn from their mistakes. Any website/archive would be a huge benefit and with much appreciation. Bellows make me Dependant on others and drive up the costs.

Sounds really stupid after typing this, but nothing ventured nothing gained.
To bad you live so far away, I have an 18"x24" process camera you could have for parts. Good ground glass, bellows are intact, and vacuum back to hold film flat.
Rick

totalamateur
11-23-2009, 03:01 PM
A quick and dirty way to make foam core more rigid is to coat it with fiberglass - Home depot or any autoshop should sell glass mat and resin - or you can find it online. Make sure to get epoxy resin, as the polyurethane stuff eats away foam core - it would be good to reinforce corners and load bearing places.

I though of doing this as well, but I was considering making big box with a smaller sliding box in front that held the lens, that way I had some limited focusing distance. So with a 24" lens, I was going to make a big 24" cube that had a smaller 18" or so cube in the center the opposite face of the film plane that slid out to 36". I wouldn't rely on my calculations, but when I tried to figure it out, with a 24" lens this gave me focus from 5 feet to infinity.

I have abandoned the idea for now, since I decided I really wanted movements and 1:1 magnification, so I'm trying to figure out bellows.

phfitz
11-27-2009, 11:47 PM
"I have abandoned the idea for now, since I decided I really wanted movements and 1:1 magnification, so I'm trying to figure out bellows."

19" Artars, APO Raptars, Process Ektars, ect. are rated for 16"x20" at 1:1 so you really don't need a 24" lens, very likely get by with a 16" lens. Portrait lenses in the 20" - 24" range are all far too heavy for a foam-core camera. For bellows and movements just canibalize a 5x7 field camera and adapt to the front of yours.