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  1. #1

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    M1tch's DIY LF camera build

    Hi all,

    I thought that I would start a thread about my LF camera build, I have the other thread about the DIY optics so this thread will only be about the camera build.

    Here are the criteria that I am wanting to fulfil:


    • 4x5 LF camera
    • Can use DDS
    • Useful for a range of lenses
    • Cheap
    • Easy to make
    • No specalist parts
    • Portable




    I was initially thinking about making a sliding box camera which I do like the idea of as the lens is fixed and you move the film back and forth.



    I was thinking about making one of those using some foam core stuff that you use on mounting photos etc with some edige reinforcement.

    I did like this idea as its much like the pinwide/travelwide camera which is basically just like a Titan pinhole camera. I am trying to keep it simple in the fact that I need to have varible focal distances but also able to focus the lens as well.

    My DIY lens will probably just be a barrel lens, which is fine as the paper negative is slow lol. I have decided that it might be easier to have a camera like the monorail cameras with front and rear standards and bellows which would allow for adjustments for focal length and lens focus.

    The issue with the monorail camera is that its not amazingly portable and could perhaps be slightly unsteady if put outside.

    I have therefore come up with this compact design which will basically flat pack:



    The camera has a rail at the bottom and the sides (but not the top) - this will allow the front standard to move forward and back to focus the lens and adapt for different focal lengths.

    The struts will be attached to each of the standards with the use of simple brackets with locking nuts on, the rear standard backets will also swivel.

    If I pushed both standards together the struts would stick out each side meaning that its not as compact, to get round this I have figured out that what you can do is unlock the strut from the front standard, pull the strut in towards the rear standad (and out of the bracket at the front) and then swivel it so that its flat with the rear standard.

    There will be 1 side without a strut so that the DDS has clearance to be put in and out, for portrait the gap will be at the top, for landscape the gap will be at the side.

    The DDS is held on the rear via some rubber bands looped around some small pins in the rear standard.

    The DDS will be interchangable with a ground glass screen for viewing and setting up - once everything is setup and the struts are locked then the DDS is put in its place.

  2. #2
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Have you got any camera pieces to start with?

    If you want it to work with normal 5x4 film holders, I suggest that you get hold of a spring ground glass back and build onto it.

    I can't offer you a ground glass back but I do have a few bits and pieces which might be of some use to you - depending on where you are and how much the postage would be.

    I'm getting close to finishing a 5x4 folding camera. Anyone who has seen some of my previous posts will know that this is my fourth camera - although the first three were never finished.

    I get so far then realise I should have done something differently and start again! (this one is going to get finished though).

    Subsequently, I have a few parts which might be of use including some bellows which are not quite large enough for a folding view camera but might be enough to cover the focusing range you are planning on using. I also have some wooden parts which I am unlikely to use.

    Mainly from this camera: http://www.facebook.com/steve.smith....8602010&type=3

    (or here if you don't do Facebook http://www.apug.org/forums/forum147/...struction.html )

    If anything there (except the brass parts) are of use to you, let me know and I will see what the options are for posting.

    Just for interest, here is a thread with some pictures of my current camera and my stop and start again dilemma! http://www.apug.org/forums/forum147/...-building.html


    Steve.
    Last edited by Steve Smith; 08-03-2013 at 09:31 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #3

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    Thanks for your input Steve, you camera looks really good mine probably won't be the same sort of standard as yours is, it will be a bit more basic lol I have just got some 10mm foam board I am going to use as lens board, the front and rear standards have just been made (just setting and one has been stained etc). I will post some photos up tomorrow with the completed standards I will be using, I am just working out what I will be doing with the bellows as I will be looking to shoot between 70mm and 150mm, with both standards together the film to lens distance is around 70mm so I might make a recessed lens board for the wider lens.

    Mine will be made using as many off the shelf bits as I can, infact all I need to figure out is the bellows and how to ensure that the standards are held apart securely (hence the struts etc).

  4. #4
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    If the film to lens distance is only 70mm then the bellows I was thinking about will be too big. I have a couple of sets from a smaller plate camera which might be useful though. You could make a simple box then put a small bellows at the lens end.

    However, if your focal length is around 70mm, you will have a lot of depth of field on 5x4 film and accurate focusing will not be needed. In fact, I think it would work o.k. as a fixed focus camera for most normal subject distances.

    EDIT: Actually, the bellows are about 30mm closed so if they are any good for you, you can have them.


    Steve.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Smith View Post
    If the film to lens distance is only 70mm then the bellows I was thinking about will be too big. I have a couple of sets from a smaller plate camera which might be useful though. You could make a simple box then put a small bellows at the lens end.

    However, if your focal length is around 70mm, you will have a lot of depth of field on 5x4 film and accurate focusing will not be needed. In fact, I think it would work o.k. as a fixed focus camera for most normal subject distances.

    EDIT: Actually, the bellows are about 30mm closed so if they are any good for you, you can have them.


    Steve.
    Do you have details of the bellows, I might be interested then, I only ask as my DIY camera is being built to house the DDS rather than building a camera which takes a DDS (if that makes sense lol)

  6. #6

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    Mitch, take a look at this: https://www.flickr.com/photos/moribundworld/8962444804/
    Something I made in June. Uses a macro slider as a rail and I can assure you it is rather steady. The cost is low and if you get a spring back, you'll need minimal woodwork. You only need bellows and spring back, rest is simple hardware store stuff and the rail comes for approximately 15€ shipped and has a tripod thread.

  7. #7

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    I do have a set of spare macro bellows etc so I could perhaps use that to mount the standards on I don't think I can actually mod the actual standards on that those as they are all 1 piece will perhaps look at how thats setup though and have a go at making something like that.

  8. #8

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    If the bellows are from a 35mm system then I am afraid that they will obstruct the image path quite badly. Take careful measurements, tinker around with them etc. Works for me, I gather the stuff I will be needing and just play with them, try to visualise how to fit them together.
    Basically what I did is described further here: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum147/...il-camera.html
    I am making a 4x5 extension back for it someday. Monorails are fun for portraiture, studio and still life but my heart belongs to folding bed cameras.

    I think it cost me some 80€ to make, half of it went on tools.

  9. #9

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    Yeah I just checked on ebay for the 'macro rail' I didn't actually know you could buy just the rail to attach things to, could be an interesting addition to help with focus etc and the fact it has a tripod socket might be good.

  10. #10

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    I too would go with a used back. Because.............
    The front of the focusing frame and the ground glass is known as the "T" dimension. It's the setback from the face of the frame to the ground glass. To focus and then have your film in the same plane this has to be accurate.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

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