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  1. #1

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    Making a box camera...

    OK, I've been in love with the B&S Hobo ever since I saw it. I love the idea of the portable, focus free large format camera. I do have a problem with $650 for it though. I can't get the idea out of my head that it is a really, really simple device and could be made for a lot less.

    So here's the question, could I, a person that is reasonably bright but not skilled with tools, make my own 5x7 box camera? It seems to me that if I picked up a 5x7 back from some place, all I would need is a lens and a box of the appropriate depth. The trickiest part would be getting the flange to film distance just right. Even that doesn't strike me as being overly difficult. I was thinking of using a 90mm lens (maybe even one of the early Angulons). If I wanted to get fancy I could even use some sort of gasket behind the lens or in front of the film back to change the focus distance.

    Am I missing something? It seems that all I'd need is some plywood or MDF, some accurate measurments, and some screws and glue. I sure would have fun with one of those...

    Isaac
    See my adventures in Yemen here:
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  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by isaacc7
    OK, I've been in love with the B&S Hobo ever since I saw it. I love the idea of the portable, focus free large format camera. [...]
    Am I missing something? It seems that all I'd need is some plywood or MDF, some accurate measurments, and some screws and glue. I sure would have fun with one of those...
    Isaac
    See this link: http://elearning.winona.edu/jjs/SW4X5/

    It's something like a mini-Hobo. You can make the same with an 8x10 back. (Heck, I must have a dozen 8x10 backs in crummy shape that can be rebuilt.)

    My concern would be the 'focus free' part. The link above shows a camera with a focusing mount that has foot/metre scales. Very handy. There are ways around a spend focusing helix, especially if you go wide angle. We can pursue that idea if you like.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjstafford
    See this link: http://elearning.winona.edu/jjs/SW4X5/

    It's something like a mini-Hobo. You can make the same with an 8x10 back. (Heck, I must have a dozen 8x10 backs in crummy shape that can be rebuilt.)

    My concern would be the 'focus free' part. The link above shows a camera with a focusing mount that has foot/metre scales. Very handy. There are ways around a spend focusing helix, especially if you go wide angle. We can pursue that idea if you like.

    Yeah, I figured that 90mm was wide enough on a 5x7 in order to make it focus free, just like the hobo. If I want more DOF, I'd just stop down. The idea is to make it as simple as possible. Maybe having a simple "close" (like around 10 ft.) and "far" (infinity) settings would be nice, but I think that with a wide enough lens, just the infinity would be OK...

    The "mini hobo" looks quite nice, but I'd like to do it in 5x7, and with a little less exotic lens! :-)

    Isaac
    See my adventures in Yemen here:
    www.isaharr.com

  4. #4

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    hi there isaac:

    you could probably do it pretty easily, and even have a way to use different lenses if you wanted to. you'd probably want to figure out the hyperfocal distance ( http://www.mountainstorm.com/HyperFocal/HyperFocal.html ) so you can have a pretty good handle on dof, you wouln't need a ground glass, just make a "V" ( back corners to middle of top ) that would be your sight, until you make a sports finder or aux viewfinder type thing. if you don't have any cardboard or matboard, you could make it out of basswood, or cheep plywood ( hobbystore type ) and glue them in a moulding. instead of bellows you could make it a box inside of a box, and have it marked where the different focal lenght's would be, and have it lock into place. my brother built me a 8x10 pinhole kind of like that ...

    good luck!
    john

  5. #5

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    Isacc - a 90mm on 5x7 would be cool. But forgive my suggestion that focusing will still be important except possibly for contact prints. You can get a focusing helix for the 90mm for about $100. That and a couple strings cut to your favorite focus distances and you have quality through and through. It's an exciting project. Hope it works for you.

  6. #6
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    Box camera

    Unfortunately, my computer at work died this week. I was writing an article on the 4x5 box camera I had made in my "spare time" and it is gone now, no back-up. I'll start again. Here's what I did for my 4x5. Please pm me for any specific questions you might have about the construction of a "box within a box" concept for focusing. tim

  7. #7

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    Thanks!

    I'm getting the idea that I'm not insane for thinking that this would be a fairly simple project. I have a Gandolfi traditional 5x7 camera that I can use for my normal and longer focal length shooting. After reading "The Ins and Outs of Focus" (http://www.trenholm.org/hmmerk/download.html) I was figuring that I could build a WA camera focused at infinity and do very well. What I'm hoping to accomplish is a camera that is small, portable, and very fast to shoot. I'd be doing primarly scenics with it and I'd like to make it my designated travel camera. It would be a bit of a special purpose camera, and one made only for "fun" instead of a serious tool. What do you think?

    Isaac
    See my adventures in Yemen here:
    www.isaharr.com

  8. #8
    noseoil's Avatar
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    Isaac, I say go for it. This camera I posted was originally a Polaroid 110 Pathfinder. The 127mm lens (Rodenstock, coated) has a good field of view and is a decent trade-off between DOF and shutter speed. Would be like a 38mm on a 35mm format. It can be hand held or set up on a tripod with ground glass. The ground glass back slips in like a film holder, but for most things the view finder works well enough and a guess at the distance is close enough for a good shot. tim

  9. #9

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    Hi there,

    isaacc7, a thought;

    a 4x5 Speed/ Crown graphic body is almost the same size as a 5x7 holder. If you duplicate the body with 3/8" side panels and 3/4" top & bottom it works out. Make the interior the exact same size as the original and take exact patterns for the screw holes. At the rear a piece of 1" aluminium angle stock at the bottom and 2 turn screws at the top hold the holder/GG. You can synch the rangefinder to the film/lens and use the sports finder at the front. All told about a weekend to finish.

    Good luck with it.

  10. #10

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    There is a guy selling focus mounts on ebay, user name jinfinance foe US$129 which could be useful for this
    David Boyce

    When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss art. When artists get together for dinner, they discuss money. Oscar Wilde Blog fp4.blogspot.com

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