Ever since going to the Michael Smith workshop and seeing his 8x20's I have been fantasizing about a back of that size. I have a Wisner, which makes a 8x20 back for the 8x10, for $2k. What would the cost be to do it myself or have it done? Cost in terms of time and money? And would it be a matter of making it from scratch, after a trip to the lumberyard, or of finding an old back on a junk camera somewhere and converting it?
If I were going to do something like that, I would consider several things.
The first thing is how would your rear swing,tilt mechanism, and focusing track work with a larger (wider back). Most cameras attach to the sides of the rear wood standard and this then requires the metal becoming involved in the process. It can be as simple as building extensions to what is already there or it may mean a whole refabrication of that part of the camera.
The next thing is that it would require at the very minimum a table saw, jointer, and jig or saber saw to do the wood portion of the conversion. It would require the ability to do the box joints at each of the corners. There is a good site on the net that covers a jig that can be built to do the box corners. If the tools are available the wood isn't that difficult.
The conversion would require a new bellows.
Does Wisner's back include all of the metal, bellows, and wood for the conversion or is it just the wood back? If it is just the wood back I would look to what all of the additional items would cost. If it is the complete conversion at 2K then it may not be a bad price considering all of the work involved in building the componants yourself.
I hope that I have answered your questions or at the minimum given you directions in which to look. I agree that an ULF is appealing.
David, The other thing that comes to mind is that with an 8X20 is that once converted your camera will be limited to that size unless you purchase or build a reducing back. Additionally the ability to rotate the back will probably be compromised. For those reasons, it may make more sense to have a second camera. Possibly buying some old beater 8X10 off ebay after checking that the metal is all in workable condition and then converting that to the larger format. I visited with a fellow, in France as I recall, that was converting a NFS 8X10 Deardorff to the 8X20 format. He said that he really wasn't having that much difficulty since the Deardorff can be converted without building an entirely new rear swing bracket. At any rate, Good luck. Now you have my juices flowing...Those big negs would sure be nice on Azo and Amidol.
Well, the bellows are dry now. I played with them. They seem perfect. No pinholes, no sticking. Overall A+ to Bostick and Sullivan. Plus I have enough left over to fix a few thousand other cameras....