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  1. #1
    Doug Thomson's Avatar
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    Camera Back Design

    Every year my daughter (25) requests I build her something unusual for Christmas. We've run the gamut of kinetic sculptures and the like over the years. However, Stephanie is also a traditional photography wonk like her old father, and this year I thought I'd test the joinery skills and build her a pinhole camera. I want to use 4x5 film holders (which I have aplenty), but as this thing has to be "elegant" as well as functional, I want to go beyond the old elastic band method of holding the holders to the camera. I'm looking for alternative design ideas ... any offers.
    Cheers
    Doug

  2. #2

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    There are a few kit 4x5 and 8x10 cameras available, you might want to track down those web sites and take a look at how they made them. Also since this has a pinhole theme, you might want to post the same message in the forums at http://www.f295.org/Pinholeforum/forum/Blah.pl , I know there are a couple people that should be able to help with measurements. And as a last option, buy an old beat 4x5 camera to see how it was done, then modify the design to work with your materials.

    On the f295 alt forums there is at least one post about grinding the focus glass, (not that you really need it with a pinhole), but it might be nice to still have a ground glass and large pinhole for composition. http://www.f295.org/DIYforum/cgi-bin...ah.pl/Blah.pl?

  3. #3
    noseoil's Avatar
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    Alternative leaf-spring back

    This is what I worked out for a 4x5 box camera. Basically, I ground the teeth off of a band saw blade and made a small mortise at each end. In retrospect, I should have just drilled the correct size hole and inlaid a small flat washer instead of what I did (with a metal angle bedded in epoxy). The springs tend to "leap" for freedom when the back or film holder is inserted too hard, so the holes would have been better. You can focus with the glass back in place, then remove and shoot with the film holder. This was the first version, the second was half the weight and worked better. Live and learn. tim
    Last edited by noseoil; 09-16-2007 at 08:38 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #4
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    The tines from a steel "broom rake" (for grass clippings) make really excellent spring leaves for a spring back, I'm told...
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  5. #5
    Doug Thomson's Avatar
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    Tim, thanks bunches for the images! Donald, excellent thought ... rake tines ... who'd of thunk it. A great source of spring steel and a way to avoid raking leaves! The little grey cells are running over ideas as we speak. Greg, thanks for the tips ... as it happens I own two 4 x 5 cameras and a ton of holders ... the measurements aren't the problem ... it's more the design of the hold down system. Hadn't thought of using a ground glass, but why not. I guess one could have two apertures, a large one to view the image, a second correct aperture for exposure. Am I dancing to the right tune?
    Thanx bunches.
    Doug

  6. #6

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    The rake tines sound like a good idea, and you could make plenty of cameras with one rake.

    For the holder, you could use a metal "C" channel that was around the width you need for the back plus a spring. Else you could use "L" or right angle metal (I know you can get this in brass), then the springs again. Now if you really want to have that custom flavor, you could buy sheet metal, and bend the channel that you need with a sheet metal brake, though you will probably need a pretty decent brake to make the size channel that you would need. I don't think my little 8 inch shear and brake will do the job properly.

  7. #7

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    another source of spring steel is an inexpensive drain cleaning snake - the flat steel type, not the coiled spring kind. Preferably unused.

  8. #8
    smieglitz's Avatar
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    Eyehooks not only would turn to hold the holder in place but can also be used to hang the camera to achieve unusual perspectives. It is almost as miraculous as duct tape.

    Joe

  9. #9

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    Another possibilty for spring steel to use with film holders is (are?) the spring tension clips that are sold for use with aluminum frame pieces. I haven't used them myself; but I saw them used successfully in a few cameras made by the late Bill Erickson.

  10. #10
    smieglitz's Avatar
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    window sash springs are another option

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