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  1. #1
    TheToadMen's Avatar
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    HOW TO build a simple Point & Shoot 4x5" Camera (P&S) ?

    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/?...3607006&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. #2
    ic-racer's Avatar
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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. #3
    TheToadMen's Avatar
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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. #4

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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/search...-_-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.

    Especially if I can replace the lens with a pinhole, in which case everything will be in focus
    Wrong, wrong, wrong. With a pinhole, nothing is in sharp focus. Some like the effect.

  5. #5
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    . . . Wrong, wrong, wrong. With a pinhole, nothing is in sharp focus. Some like the effect.
    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. #6

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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. #7
    NedL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheToadMen View Post
    ... set for eternity ...
    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. #8

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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.
    * Just because your eyes are closed, doesn't mean the lights in the darkroom are off. *
    * When the film you put in the camera is worth more than the camera you put the film in... *
    * When I started using 8x10, it amazed me how many shots were close to the car. *

  9. #9
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheToadMen View Post
    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
    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/produc...for_Super.html

  10. #10

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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

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