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  1. #1
    BrendanCarlson's Avatar
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    Building A LF Camera

    I am looking into the world of building a large format camera, the one part I am scared of is building my own bellows, is there something special about the bellows or could I build a sliding box to act as the bellows? Thanks ahead of time!
    Everybody has a photographic memory, some just don't have film.
    My Website and Gallery is at www.bcarlsonmedia.com
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  2. #2

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    You should read "Primitive Photography." It has plans for building large format cameras, including a folding, sliding box camera.

  3. #3
    chuck94022's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bcarlsonmedia View Post
    I am looking into the world of building a large format camera, the one part I am scared of is building my own bellows, is there something special about the bellows or could I build a sliding box to act as the bellows? Thanks ahead of time!
    It just has to be light tight and able to accommodate the various positions of the front and rear standards without blocking the light beam emanating from the rear lens element.

    Why not build your camera to accept a pre-built bellows, and allow for swapping bellows as needed? You might find you want a bag bellows design for wide angle lenses, and an accordion bellows long enough to accommodate your longest lens requirement.

    Unless want to construct every single part of the camera, seems being able to use a manufactured bellows might be a good thing.

    Sliding boxes will work, assuming you make sure they are light tight. But they will limit your ability to have movements.

  4. #4
    vdoak's Avatar
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    The "special" part about the bellows is it makes it easier to 'tilt' and 'shift'. Being albe to adjust the focal plane vis a vis teh film plane is part of what makes LF photography diffrent. You can achive this to a limited degree with sliding boxes.
    With that said, making (4x5) bellows is not all that diffecult. Take a look at http://www.cyberbeach.net/~dbardell/bellows.html . I made mine this way and took Doug's advice to make the first test set of belows out of brown paper.
    It was well worth the effort!

  5. #5
    Jesper's Avatar
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    Bellows can be found in a number of places and forms. I have one project underway building a 9x12cm camera from a spare back and a professional Hasselbald shade. The down side of this is that I will not have any movements but considering I will be using an old Super Angulon 65/8 the image cirlce will not allow any. On the up side I have the focusing in place already.

    Be creative and good luck

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    a square bellows is dead easy to make, it takes a little time to cut out everything you need, but after that there's really nothing too difficult about it.

    I used this design, an old dark bag and managed to get a bellows that extends about 28cm. There is also an excel table that helps you calculate all the necessary bit-and-bobs you might need floating around some where - I can email it to you if you like.

    A square bellows won't close up completely tho', mine closes to about 4cm.

    It only took a few hours all in, which was nice.

  7. #7
    BrendanCarlson's Avatar
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    Thanks to all of you. I think I will start by getting a lens and building the rest of it, I'm mainly doing this as a learning project not for everyday use. I think I will start with square bellows as himself pointed out (btw, I would love to get the excel sheet) and eventually buy some premade bellows. Thanks to everyone. I'll post pics of the result.
    Everybody has a photographic memory, some just don't have film.
    My Website and Gallery is at www.bcarlsonmedia.com
    My Twitter is @brendancarlson

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bcarlsonmedia View Post
    btw, I would love to get the excel sheet) and eventually buy some premade bellows. Thanks to everyone. I'll post pics of the result.
    no problem just PM me your email address and I'll send it straight over.

  9. #9

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    I've made my own tapered bellows design out of black thin cardboard. What I did was meisure the lens plate and groundglass plate. I used twice the focal length for the unfolded length of the paper. Then I drew 4 connected trapezoids with the lenghts I previously meisured. (actually, I cut the first and last trapezoid in half for better connection.
    Now comes the tricky part. Make a zigzag line of 90 degrees in the middle of the intersecting lines. I used a zigzag with a 2cm offset. The zigzag lines are supposed to be the mirror image of the next intersecting line.
    Next, I used an empty ballpoint pen to make indentation lines in the cardboard. This would be the folding lines. Than I taped both ends of the half trapezoids together and started folding. The first couple of folds are a bit hard to do, but along the way it gets easier.
    A square bellows is easier to make, but won't fold as tight as a tapered one. The first bellows I made was a tryout for a better, more durable one.
    Have fun building and exploring how bellows work.

  10. #10
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesper View Post
    The down side of this is that I will not have any movements but considering I will be using an old Super Angulon 65/8 the image cirlce will not allow any. On the up side I have the focusing in place already.
    With a 65mm lens on 6x12, you don't really need any movements.... or focussing!


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

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