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  1. #1

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    16x20 DIY Glass Plate Single Shot Camera?

    I'm building my darkroom and already looking to the future for projects. I would like to build a single shot 16x20 glass plate camera that I can use for landscapes, without a ground glass. Think of this as a 16x20 holder with a lens. I assume if not too large I could construct 2 or 3 and load them and find a way to remove the lens and attach to the other holders, in the field. How big a box would I need, assuming a normal lens, with/without shutter?

    The assumption is I could get a quality glass plate for contact printing. Even better would be use for portraits, this would mean less than infinity focus and enough light to allow relative short exposures and DOF to cover the tolerance of no GG. The distance from plate to subject would be fixed.

    The alternate is to have a GG and holders, but without bellows. Any thoughts, and if so who before me has tried this and how can I learn from their mistakes. Any website/archive would be a huge benefit and with much appreciation. Bellows make me Dependant on others and drive up the costs.

    Sounds really stupid after typing this, but nothing ventured nothing gained.
    Robland - Seattle area

    Insert "catch phrase" here...

  2. #2
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    Wirelessly posted (BBBold: BlackBerry9000/4.6.0.167 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102 UP.Link/6.3.0.0.0)

    I've toyed with the idea, on a much smaller basis. It would be very interesting to see where this one goes.
    Thank you.
    CWalrath
    APUG BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE
    DE Darkroom

    "Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti

  3. #3
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Well, if you are dead set on avoiding bellows, you could make a sliding box construction to enable you to focus (even if only to fixed points). You'd still need to make a ground glass and use it at least once, to set up the focusing positions. You'd need at least two positions - infinity, and portrait. With a 16x20, your portrait subject would essentially be life-size, so you're dealing with 1:1 reproduction ratio. Therefore, you'd have to build two equal-length segments to the box, one to position the focal plane at the focal length of the lens, and one to position it at the 1:1 position, which translates into double the focal length. This is very simple to do, but you're paying a HUGE price in weight and bulk of this camera. Once you set up the camera, you put a test subject in front, pop in your ground glass, determine the focusing distance, then attach a piece of string to the front of the camera, stretch it out to the subject's face, and put a knot in the string to mark the distance. Then you can dispense with the ground glass. To use such a monster, you'd need an old-fashioned studio stand, as a two-box (or even single box) camera of this size would not be portable, at least not by one person.

    If you are set on wanting to make something like this, I'd still suggest putting on a bellows, but you can make it yourself, and to keep it simple, make it square. You'll easily cut the weight by about 2/3rds of what a two-box arrangement would weigh.

  4. #4

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    Robland, you'll have to keep us informed on this project. I also have been preparing for a similar camera build. I've got everything in place, just need the time and willpower. Mine "the plan" will be a pinhole camera at 20x24 format size. I will be using paper negatives developed in the Jobo 3063 tank, followed by contact printing. The only thing now is to design the makeshift camera. I would be looking for portability and a light-weight unit. A simple camera can be nothing more than a cardboard box, pinhole at one end, and paper on the other. The next level up from there would be two standards, one for the pinhole, one for the paper, separated by the appropriate focal length distance. I would stretch a flexible light-proof material between the standards. It needn't be permanent, and Velcro might suffice.
    Last edited by DannL; 08-26-2009 at 03:21 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    "Lo único de lo que el mundo no se cansará nunca es de exageración." Salvador Dalí

  5. #5

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    Try to find a copy of the book "Primitive Photography." It contains many ideas with general plans to build box cameras. I think you could easily adapt the plans to your specific purposes.

    I built a 16x20 camera a few years ago. I bought a bellows off flea-bay which came from an old process camera.

    You don't really need a bellows, however, if you go with a box type camera or a sliding box camera. You might also look up the HOBO camera, a box style 8x10 camera, for ideas. If you are not going to have a ground glass, you will be relying on zone focusing--knowing that the camera will focus at a set distance and using the lens' f-stop to bring areas in front of and behind that distance into acceptable focus. Just be aware that with portraits you will be working with extremely narrow depth of field, even stopped down.

    As for the box size, the inside back of the box would of course have to be slightly larger than the plate, perhaps 17x21. That would give you enough room for the plate and some mechanism to hold the plate in place while you move the camera around. The depth of the box will depend on your lens. For landscape, I would choose a lens (I use both a 450 and 600mm with my camera), and then do the calculations of the lens' hyper-focal setting at a given f-stop to maximize sharpness for as much depth as you can. For the 450 mm lens, this would be slightly longer than 450 mm (the lens focuses at infinity at 450 mm, by pushing the lens out a little and stopping down some, you could increase the area of acceptable focus to bring more of the foreground into focus without causing the scene at infinity to go out of focus.) For landscapes, then, you would be looking at a camera 17x21x19 or 20. You could of course taper the length of the camera to make it lighter weight.

    The same camera could probably be use for portraits just by swapping out the lens for a 300 or 370 mm lens. You would have to figure out how far from the camera the 300 mm lens focuses when pushed out to 450+ mm, but it may work out fine for close ups.

    I assume you are talking about dry plates, as wet plates would have to be loaded and exposed while still wet.

    One thing I would recommend is to do a quick and dirty mock-up of the camera using cardboard or matt board to test your design. Cardbpard is light tight, easy to work with and cheap.

  6. #6

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    Here is a link to an example of a simple camera design that I believe work well. The bellows could be a simple light-proof material only and the camera structure could be reduced in a number of areas to minimize weight. A door on the back could make it a single shot, or it could be configured for a specific film holder.

    http://www.fiberq.com/cam/roc/catch.htm




    .
    "Lo único de lo que el mundo no se cansará nunca es de exageración." Salvador Dalí

  7. #7
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    By single shot camera do you mean a "one shot" camera?
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    By single shot camera do you mean a "one shot" camera?
    I gather Robland was meaning a one shot configuration. In my version, I will most likely approach it as a one shot at first. Building 20x24 holders might be fun, though. And costly. I picked up today what will be the rear standard, and another item that will be a contact printing frame.

    Oh Robland, where art thou?
    "Lo único de lo que el mundo no se cansará nunca es de exageración." Salvador Dalí

  9. #9
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Thanks. By "one shot", I mean a camera that shoots three color-sep negatives with one exposure using three holders, filters, and internal mirrors. It was one way (perhaps the best way) of obtaining color seps for carbro prints and the like. I first found out about them when purchasing some old items from Richard C. Miller. He still had the camera and 5x7 holders with built-in Wratten filters.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  10. #10

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    a guy participated in or large format print exchange that basically diod this. he shot an 11x14 camera. he worked out the focus point and made a mat board camera. his handle was argos33 or something klike that. i will try and find him and send him over. he probably has the info you seek.

    eddie
    photoshop is somewhere you go to buy photo equipment.


    lens photos here

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