Dave, I am also shocked at some of the prices for new cameras. I always thought that maybe they only sell one or two a year? ;-)
But to be practical, the bellows is the killer. A new replacement can easily run $350 or more (okay, that's 8x10).
I would have to say that if I built a wood field camera, I doubt I would be willing to sell it for less than $1000. Start with a $350 bellows. Add cost of brass, good wood, screws, washers, custom inserts (tripod, etc.). Do all that machining. Do all that fine finishing. Add the costs of labor. $1000 may not be enough?
But if someone has the resouces of wholesale materials and a CNC machine, then I could see, well, a $1000 camera... There does have to be some profit involved in there or why bother?
Just looking at it from the 4x5 standpoint right now, and you would be amazed at how low the material costs are, once I was set up, I could bring a 4x5 to market for a very reasonable cost, and I have 90% of the tools right now to do it...bellows are not that hard to make, I have done quite a few of them, in fact I have now taught my wife the process and she is better at it, then I am, she can do a complete bellows in a very short time, they can become expensive, depending on the material you use, but even with using cordovan leather, I can do them quite inexpensivly..
Just some thoughts, send me a note and I can eleaborate a bit more.
Well, I admit that I look at this from a one-off project with a huge amount of fine handy work, and buying a bellows.
I suppose you could outsource all the metal work and save a bundle if bought in bulk. I was amazed at what my company could buy things for (machined metal parts). If you then made your own bellows, you could save a lot, but I have no idea how much time would be involved? And then there's all that wood finishing, something I've always hated. It's just so easy to leave a scratch in the wrong place, or make a new one... I love woodworking but always hated the fine finishing...
So, we have some pople who want to make new cameras. Dave has plans and know-how. I have, ummm, well... interest? ;-) When do we start production?