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  1. #1

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    DIY 4x5 camera (and some questions)

    I am back again with another project.

    Since the aftermarket for LF equipment in my area is nonexistant (or any cameras, in fact), postage and fleabay prices being close to extortion and me having too much free time at my disposal, I decided to bludgeon myself a 4x5 camera. Nothing fancy, I assure you, just trying to replicate a Crown/Speed Graphic. Without the Graflok back (can't afford). And rangefinder. And rear shutter. Basically, a simple and robust folding camera.
    I have already gathered bellows (Crown Graphic ones, I kid you not), 135mm lens and 10 cut film holders. I also have figured out most of the bodywork and how to attach and lock the film holders in place without using rubber bands or gaffer tape. Furthermore, I have a thrashed quarter plate camera that I originally wanted to adapt to eat 4x5 holders but the optics were in horrible condition, the bellows had more holes in them than there are stars in the visible universe and just recently, the body disintegrated when I picked it up. Allright, I can deal with it, atleast the folding bed is not in that awful condition. Scrape away the old paint, buff it up and it could work. Or not.
    While measuring various distances, I noticed that the "tail" part (shorter part of the rail that keeps horizontal while the other part gloriously folds up) is a tad bit too short, the lens won't fit. I could devise a recessed lensboard or something like that but I was wondering - what other choices do I have? Making my own rails and that sliding part? But how? Keep in mind, I have no proper workshop, I am just your average Joe who lives in an apartment.
    Anyway, if you have any ideas how to solve this then feel free to post your thoughts.
    I am not letting this little thing stop me and I am soldiering on and I will finish that camera
    Large format is just too tempting.

    Now, I could repeat my monorail experiment, described in another thread but I'd like a folding camera since I could just toss it in my backpack easily with a holder or two and go for a hike, make it like a casual thing.

  2. #2
    Two23's Avatar
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    Can you get some Lego blocks where you live?

    http://gizmodo.com/5788568/lego-4x5-...frame-by-frame


    Kent in SD

  3. #3

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    I have thought of that, digging up my old Legos :P But I want something portable and more robust.

  4. #4
    frank's Avatar
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    I'm in the process of building one too. I went with the sliding boxes construction for simplicity and ruggedness. I do have a 4x5 graflok back, and a 90mm lens in a recessed lens board.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails image.jpg   image.jpg  
    My blog / photo website: http://frankfoto.jimdo.com/

  5. #5

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    Robust.....Yes, Compact...not really but you could take a page out of history and make a sliding box camera much like the original daguerrotype cameras.
    If a folder is what you want though there are a number of sites with instructions and plans for DIY cameras. One is :Rayment Kirby, He has a simple enough setup even for me.

    Beaten again!
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  6. #6

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    That's a good-looking desingn, Frank!
    I opted for bellows since I will be using some movements. I'll probably end up using those too small rails somehow, though.
    Damn, I just saw the ad for a fellow selling his Crown Graphic with shoddy bellows but I can't chug out the cash right now, I am not sure about for long I will be employed :P I like buying bits and pieces every now and then instead, evens out the cost over a long period.

  7. #7
    frank's Avatar
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    Thanks. Good luck with your project!
    My blog / photo website: http://frankfoto.jimdo.com/

  8. #8

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    Well, I have taken many measurements and many, many shots of vodka (tradition here) and I think if I want, I could possibly use the existing rails. There will be some sacrifices made on the cosmetic side but hey, I just need something functional. And I should keep on the theme of recycling parts, I think I'll pay a visit to my tobaccianist later today and see if they have some cigar boxes I could carry away. I doubt that they have anything close to my desired dimensions but I could scrap them for wood, what is, surprisingly at extortion prices though Estonia has quite a forest industry. I'll let you know how that turns out later on so stay tuned!

    Over and out.

    Edit: Frank, I envy you for having a proper back. Mine will be just some pieces of plywood and magnets, holding either the focusing screen or film holder in place.
    Last edited by VPooler; 07-18-2013 at 07:48 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #9

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    Well, im back from the tobacconist, got the deepest box they were willing to donate but it is 1-2 inches too shallow. Back to the drawing board. The Tominon 135mm is quite a long lens when shuttered. This build is definitely trickier than the last one.

  10. #10

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    I come bearing updates! First, I have gotten me a lensboard! Found the fellow in a box of odd pieces of metal left over from projectors. Almost a perfect match, I need to improvise a simple gasket to keep the lens snug and drill 4 extra holes for the bellows frame. Simple task.
    I will go for a similar approach for front standard as I used on my previous camera, described here: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum147/...il-camera.html
    I have also realized the seriousness of the task at hand, folding camera has far less tolerances for the whole assembly, as where with my monorail I pretty much tossed the whole thing together only with some mental notes and minimal measurements. This is far more complicated but I am certain I can make it. Still easier than getting a fair priced Crown or Speed Graphic at this point of the world. No rear shutter or RF focus, though.
    For body I found something labelled as DIY Board at the local hardware store. It essentially is a spruce edge glued panel. Not the prettiest thing around but it combined with some birch plywood will do the trick.
    I am still on the lookout for better "railway" and a spring back. So far, no luck. I could use the railway I have at my disposal but it is quite worn out and would need replacement in the coming years. I can also use similar solution they use on 4x5 pinholes to secure the film holder but I am not giving up on finding a spring back yet.

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