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Thread: Camera Designs

  1. #1
    Joe VanCleave's Avatar
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    Hi folks;

    I've been building cameras and shooting pictures in them for about ten years. In the process, I've come up with some interesting camera ideas, and I have many more in sketch journals that I've yet to build.

    Perhaps you could describe for us your camera designs. What kind of box, what kind of film holder, shutter mechanism, etc. What is it about certain cameras that seem to work better than others.

    As for me, I have a camera that takes 4"x4" paper negatives that are just lovely. The pinhole isn't "ideal"; its a rather thick piece of pie tin aluminum, dimpled thinner, with a pinhole in the dimple. The camera is a small, cubic box, with two wooden dowels poking out the top, which operate two film spools. I cut 8x10 paper into 4x10 strips, which are taped end to end, using painters masking tape, to form a homemade rollfilm. This roll is, in turn, taped to the inside of a long strip of black construction paper. Masking tape squares on the backside are marked with frame numbers, which are viewed through a red window. Think of a 4" wide version of 120 rollfilm; that's the idea.

    Another camera I like is a large 12" cube, made of oak plywood. It holds matte board sheets in the box's rear. Slots are cut in the sides of the sheets, alternating, such that a sliding mechanism allows only the front sheet to fall down into the bottom of the box. Paper negatives or sheet film are taped to the front sides of the matte boards. This camera is thus a large format point and shoot. I can load it up with a dozen large negatives, and not be disturbed with carrying heavy, expensive sheet film holders.

    I'm currently finishing a more modern looking version of the same idea, in sheet aluminum, that uses a film format of 5x8 (cut from 8x10 sheets of film or paper). The 5x8 format is the easiest way to get the Golden Mean proportion to one's images. This camera I've already tested, and the images are great.

    Well, that's three cameras I've described. Hope to hear about yours.

    Cheers

  2. #2

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    Joe: I am very interested in your big 12" cube since from long ago I am looking for a 11x14 large format camera to convert to pinhole. Those cameras are difficult to get and very expensive and as you say, carrying those heavy (and also expensive) sheet film holders its not nice. Any ideas, drawings, tips will be appreciated.
    Regards
    Daniel;

  3. #3

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    yeah that sounds interesting... After carting around change bags, paper envelopes for unexposed and exposed 'negs' and having to sit down on the ground to make a neg change (and thats only with a 5x7 camera) I can see your multi-shot design would make life easier and more productive!

    your 'roll film' camera is a little like my 1st pinhole... I jammed a 35mm canister into a 100 sheet box of Ilford Ilfospeed (4x5" size... probably tells you how long ago this was.. mid 80's) so that the reel the film winds onto poked out of the box and I could wind it on. Wasn't as smart as yours to be able to tell how far to wind the film on for the next exposure! Several exposures ran into each other! Also, I didn't know anything about sharp pinholes and using tinfoil, etc.. I just poked a hole in the opposing side of the cardboard box! The pictures were primative!

    My 5x7 pinhole (which I call A Nigon B57) is made out of some kind of particle board and consists of 3 boxes that fit inside each other. The middle box points the other way to make things light tight and holds the pinhole (soft drink can aluminium) and slides off to allow a new sheet of paper to be inserted. This actually allows the camera to be a zoom-pinhole... about 150mm to 240mm if my memory is correct. I switch the pinholes to suit whatever focal length I'm using. I screw a quick release plate into the bottom of it so it sits on my tripod quite well.

    My Nigon B810 (although technically it's a B7.9-10... I didn't allow for the thickness of the material while constructing it) is made of matt board, taped together. It's a single shot unit with a curved focal plane. I think I did that to even out the exposure, but will probably remove that feature due to the distortion it introduces. This camera usualy gets sat on something, with a brick or such object wacked on top to keep it still!

    I've been collecting ice cream sticks which I have plans to make a camera out of with a 4x5 DD as a film/paper holder. Just got to eat a few more ice creams

  4. #4
    ldh
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    Ahoj...

    I have recently turned my 4x5 Linhof Technika III into a pinhole field camera. Using an "Apogeo" pinhole shutter (from Eric and Nancy) with interchangable pinhole plates for optimal use at focal lengths of 75,90,120,150,270mm plus a viewing aperature (which I often shoot with)...in fact I rarely set up and shoot for an an optimal image. The shutter is mounted on a spare lens board. I had a focusing screen made by Bill Maxwell that makes for an incredibly bright and contrasty GG image...at least 10 times brighter than my Linhof with a standard fresnel. In addition I use the linhof variable optical viewfinder (hand-held) to scope out potential shots and compositions before unpacking my gear. For very low-light or when I'm not concerned about weight, I have a cambio rotating reflex back that is great, as it reverts the image to normal and I dont have to flounder around under a dark cloth...its a bit bulky so I dont take it on long hauls on foot. I shoot with primarily Polaroid Type 55PN...and usually process when I get back home...although sometimes I like to process on the spot.
    s ledem prosim

  5. #5

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    I'm nearly finished with two 120 roll film cameras ( one ~ 57mm "focal" length and one ~ 80 mm) based on Jon Grepstadt's sketch. The shutters need a little more work & I should be able to try them out next week. I've been using a couple of plastic 35mm cameras from the local Goodwill Store (99¢ each) that I converted to pinhole & can hardly wait to see the results from a 120 negative. I think my next project will be a 4 x 5 along the lines of the Santa Barbara or Leonardo cameras.

  6. #6

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    The Cameras

    I've completed the shutters on the 120 roll film cameras & I'm in the process of trying them out. Here are some pictures of them and others.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails cameras10.jpg   cameras20.jpg   cameras30.jpg  

  7. #7

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    There are so many different designs for these things and I love to hear of others ways of building their pinhole cameras. I havn't made one for roll film yet but would like to in the future. I have 3.75 pinhole cameras a 4x5, 5X7, 8x10 and I have an unfinished 11X14. They're pretty straight forward wood boxes and I use standard film holders and a hinged back (on the camera) with foam and another piece of wood that keeps pressure on the holder without pressing on the dark slide. Having a hinged back allows me to open it up for cleaning and adjusting the shutter if needed. I modify Hoga shutters to accept a shutter release cable and seems to work well. This part may sound crazy but I have sprayed adhesive inside my cameras to help keep the dust away from the film. I would never do this to my View camera though at least I don't think I would.

    Has anyone used IR film with a pinhole? It's something I've wanted to try, I leave the holga shutter together with the lens barrel (?) with out the lens on it and a step up ring would be easy to attach with a red filter. Any ideas on exposure using Maco IR and this set up?

    Happy Days
    You can't be lost if you don't care where you are.

  8. #8
    Murray@uptowngallery's Avatar
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    I would like to hear how people implement mounting and light traps for film holders on homebrew cameras.

    I am currently making a 5x7 box camera and am using picture frame moulding I happened to have with the right rabbet depth to fit the 5x7 film holder snuggly. Basicly I made a three-sides picture frame that the film-holder slides into (I made ground glass same size with spacers glued on the glass). I haven't figured out yet what to do about the 4th side regarding light traps. What is the aluminum wedge for on film holders (wooden ones)? I'm guessing with a spring-pressure method it pops into a groove on a standard camera back, perhaps for registration (uniformity of isertion distance actually).

    Thanks

    Murray
    Murray

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murray@uptowngallery
    I would like to hear how people implement mounting and light traps for film holders on homebrew cameras.

    I am currently making a 5x7 box camera and am using picture frame moulding I happened to have with the right rabbet depth to fit the 5x7 film holder snuggly. Basicly I made a three-sides picture frame that the film-holder slides into (I made ground glass same size with spacers glued on the glass). I haven't figured out yet what to do about the 4th side regarding light traps. What is the aluminum wedge for on film holders (wooden ones)? I'm guessing with a spring-pressure method it pops into a groove on a standard camera back, perhaps for registration (uniformity of isertion distance actually).

    Thanks

    Murray
    Murray,

    You are correct that the rib lock on a film holder seats into a corresponding groove on the camera back. This provides the light trap for that side. The other three sides are light tight by the 90 degree bend that the light would need to navigate in order to enter.



 

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