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  1. #1
    smieglitz's Avatar
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    Source for camera hardware

    Several recent posts have touched on the fact that a source for new view camera hardware is difficult to locate. Someone must be making it though. Does anyone know an actual source for view camera hardware like knurled brass knobs, sliding locking plates, and so on?

    Well-intentioned folks usually respond with sources like Small Parts Inc., McMaster-Carr, Berg Tool, MSC, and Boston Gear, etc. However, these sources don't really have the items in brass, only plastic or stainless steel, or the selection is very limited and not sufficient.

    I wrote Ron Wisner once about selling parts such as these but he failed to reply. Does anyone know where such camera manufacturers source their parts or if some other manufacturer or camera repair person might sell such hardware to us DIY folks in a limited quantity?

    Thanks for any info.

    Joe

  2. #2

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    I seriously doubt that camera manufacturers buy off-the-shelf for the same reasons you and I find it unsuitable. Assuming you don't want to cannibalize old Burke & James cameras, you're left with two choices. The first is to go to a CNC machine shop and order 100 of each piece you need (or whatever their minimum/price break-point is). The second is to set yourself up with a mini-lathe and make your own parts. There's no easy solution unfortunately.
    My Verito page

    Anyone can appreciate a fine print. But it takes a real photographer to appreciate a fine negative.

  3. #3
    BarrieB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smieglitz
    Several recent posts have touched on the fact that a source for new view camera hardware is difficult to locate. Someone must be making it though. Does anyone know an actual source for view camera hardware like knurled brass knobs, sliding locking plates, and so on?

    I wrote Ron Wisner once about selling parts such as these but he failed to reply. Does anyone know where such camera manufacturers source their parts or if some other manufacturer or camera repair person might sell such hardware to us DIY folks in a limited quantity? Thanks for any info. Joe
    ** Be reasonable, Ron Wisner has had a hard run to get his business up to where it is today, he makes all his own parts 'in house' to keep his costs down, ( or to help make some money ). The Camera business is NOT very profitable .
    If you want the satisfaction of D I Y then you have to make your own !!
    Sorry to be a wet blanket, Cheers Barrie B.

  4. #4
    Charles Webb's Avatar
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    Making your own parts can be a double edged sword. A really good mini lathe is going to cost several hundred dollars, but once you have it you now need to spend more money to buy the necessary tooling. Chucks alone can run nearly as much as the lathe sells for. You can make a simple knob similar to those used on view cameras by turning the brass in a drill with a file for a cutting tool. To make several exactly a like is next to impossible!

    I believe the best way to buy any lathe is to find a hobbiest wanting to sell or trade up, then make an offer based on your own research to buy the lathe and all his existing tooling. You will need a 3 jaw chuck, and a 4 jaw chuck.
    I like to use collets when working with small parts, so a collets and a good closer could be on your list. A grinder to sharpen and shape your cutting tools, and the list goes on and on. But you could get by with just these tools if your innovating.

    I personally do not like to knurl a knob on a mini lathe because I feel the pressure necessary for the tool to cut the knurls deep enough is extremely hard on the bearings of the lathe. None of my mini lathes (3) have a back gear, so this contributes to my not liking to do knurling.

    I certainly don't wish to discourage your project, but if you need several of anything CNC is the only way to go, but it is very expensive, perhaps you could sell the over run to others on ebay etc. I wish you well in what you are trying to do, but want to warn of a few pitfalls.

  5. #5

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    Knurling is done by a knurler. This mechanical device has rollers with the posative side of your knurl, the knob is pushed tightly against these to make the knurling impression as it is rotated between the rollers.

    Flat brass parts can be easy to make from stock materials but is a pain to reproduce perfectly in pairs or in number unless you have some mechanical experiance and access to a shop for the tools you'll need. I cheated making slides on a computerized sign machine, same only smaller as a CNC router, a few years ago when I worked in a shop that had one.
    Anyone can make a Digital print, but only a photographer can make a photograph.

  6. #6
    fotch's Avatar
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    I am also involved with Antique clocks and clock repair. It’s quite common for an advance clock repairer to have to make a part. I also sell tools such as Sherline Lathes and Mills and used small lathes. http://www.sherline.info

    You can knurl a knob by taking an old file and pressing down on the part (round brass knob) while rolling forward in a sliding action. Of course, if you were to do a lot of knobs, Sherline make a rolling attachment for about $50.

    I have made some parts to modify camera gear that either was more than I wanted to spend or not available, or I needed immediately. Flash bracket to hold Vivitar slave to sit in front of my crappy digital Kodak so it would block its built in strobe and use my studio White Lightning strobes.

    I also recently made an attachment to mount on the Whites Lightning to make the light beam straight, like the one they sell (which I already own) but better. I am next going to make a snoot, also maybe a frensel lens to focus it for a poor mans strobe spot light.

    Many hobby machinists are out there and you may be able to fine one that is near you to help you out in making something. Forget CAD, a shop would need to make 1000's. Think analog machining, using the human computer to guide. Making one item at a time is not that hard.

    I will post some photos of my homemade photo attachments if anyone is interested. You can also visit my clock website http://www.ClockBug.com and see some of the tools I use and sell. Just remember me you come across an old clock looking for a home. ò¿ó
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  7. #7
    mikewhi's Avatar
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    I had to have a part made last year by Richard Ritter. He had to make it from scratch. It was a knurled knob with an offset center post that went into the camera body. He said it was a real pain to make and charged me $50 for a brass knob! So, don't break anything<g>.

    His e-mail is:

    rrlg4mat@sover.net

    That piece of info will cost you $23.42.

    -Mike

  8. #8
    smieglitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhi
    I had to have a part made last year by Richard Ritter. He had to make it from scratch...
    Thanks Mike and all those who have responded so far. I contacted Richard last year and while he was willing to make the parts I got the distinct feeling I could have bought an entire view camera and stripped the parts from it for what it would cost to have them custom fabricated. So, I'm referring to stock parts, not custom made-to-order ones. There has to be a source. I can't believe each one of these manufacturers do them in-house.

    I also wrote to Mabef last year. They make French easels and some of the hardware used on those could be adaptable to a view camera, but again, no response from the company.

    I have access to a machine shop and have turned and knurled a few knobs myself but I'm not much of a machinist (or woodworker for that matter). The set-up for each part is pretty time consuming so I can understand why Richard and others would charge what they do for special parts. Again, another reason why I'm seeking a source of regular production items.

    Joe

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by smieglitz
    Again, another reason why I'm seeking a source of regular production items.

    Joe
    I am afraid that the call for brass specialty items is very small in this day and age. Companies that use this type of item have them made one offs or small production runs. Either use Stainless and fab yourself whatever you can't get, or buy from someone who does this type of manufacturing himself (Ron for example). If you want to build your own camera, build your own camera. Expecting anyone in the industry to supply you with hard to manufacture products that undercut their own market, isn't a reasonable request.

    You might find one of the kit camera people who might help you, but then again, jut buy one of their kits.

    Or wait till that perfect Kodak D2 comes around at the local yard sale for 15 bucks.

    tim in san jose
    Where ever you are, there you be.

  10. #10

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    Just a quick internet search turned up rowecraft.com. It looks like they have some solid brass hardware. I don't know if any of it can be used for view camera hardware though.

    Paul

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