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dimento
28-Nov-2013, 03:05
A couple of years back I assisted a London Photographer who has been building his own cameras for about 25 years, culminating in a tlr 9x9 rollfilm camera (using NASA-style film) which he uses film production dollies to focus on.

I would like to build a bigger than 8x10, lightweight ulf camera, not sure exact format yet, with a view to buying bellows from one of the Chinese ebayers.

My ambitions are slightly more modest, I have no woodworking skills but have friends and acquaintances who do. I've fancied learning some of those skills for a while, so if I was to take a night class or apprentice myself and assuming that I won't find someone who is actually a camera maker,

should I be looking for an instrument maker, cabinet maker?

I'm sure similar topics have been covered in the forum before so any links to appropriate conversations or external sites would be much appreciated.
Also would be curious to hear about practicalities like ordering film, choices in Ireland are 0, I can't even get Foma 8x10 unless I order 10 boxes at a time.
Silverprint in London stock some 8x10, does anyone buy directly from Ilford or other manufacturers?

Thanks, any helpful pointers would be appreciated.

Len Middleton
28-Nov-2013, 03:53
Interesting project to take on...

For the ultimate lightweight ULF camera, take a look at the ULF cameras made by Richard T Ritter. Certainly considerable difference in design philosophy from that of the traditional Deardorff, Korona, or Folmer & Schwing ones.

If you have not decided format, then that will need to be one of the early decisions. There are a number of standard ULF formats (if there is such a thing as standard ULF), including 11x14, 7x17, 8x20, 12x20, 16x20, and 20x24. Do understand that weight begets weight (bigger camera => bigger holders, bigger lenses, bigger camera case / bag) very quickly in ULF, and bigger changes how you will transport and work with it (i.e. how much do you want to backpack, or do you go with a baby stroller?).

If you are having trouble getting regular 8x10 film, then do understand that ULF will be a bigger challenge. There is the option of x-ray film, but I do not know the standard sizes for x-ray film. Ilford does have its annual ULF run where one orders around June then it arrives around September, but that is it for the year so it is necessary to forecast your usage for the next year.

I use 8x20 myself and have found some available where other photographers have purchased it from another photographer with the thought of cutting it down to 8x10. Paying twice the price of a sheet of 8x10 for a sheet 8x20 is a good deal for both parties, as the one does not need to go through the trouble or cost of the cutting and the 8x20 user gets film they would not be able to get until the next ULF run.

You might want to consider how much you, your friends, and acquaintances want to take on...

Having researched some of the information on bellows making, it seemed easy enough to do, but tedious work. Rather than do that, I purchased the replacement bellows for my Korona 8x20 from Custom Bellows UK.

Film holders are expensive and hard to get as there are a limited number of film holder makers (S&S, AWB, Lotus). That has limited me to the two that I got with my camera at the time I purchased it. There has been a number of threads on this site regarding the difficulty in making film holders, and one very recent on purchasing them (11x14). Look at the price and availability of film holders before deciding upon format.

The other critical part will be the camera back. Registration of the ground glass position is critical to ensure correct focus, otherwise you might throw away some very expensive film. You might want to either start your project with an existing ULF camera back (and maybe some film holders with it) or get a camera back made.

There are instructions on this web site or APUG on how to make ground glass, so that should be doable.

Interesting undertaking, keep us posted on your efforts and progress.

andreios
28-Nov-2013, 04:34
Just a side note, if you need foma stuff, send me a PM, I'd be able and willing to help. You would not be the first one. :)

dimento
28-Nov-2013, 05:01
@Len wow, thanks, loads of info to digest. I see it as a medium to long term project, but one that I want to take on. It's all the individual bits and pieces that make the project total add up. I wouldn't take on the bellows manufacture, I know my limitations. Thanks again

@andreios thanks for the offer, I might take you up on that, is Foma much cheaper to buy in the Czech Republic? thanks, D

dimento
28-Nov-2013, 05:03
Incidentally here's a pic of Alastair Thain with one of his cameras: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stojanka/326082138/ and some of his work: http://metro.co.uk/2008/07/21/photography-alistair-thain-is-trading-fame-for-life-stories-292489/ I think the film stock he uses is now very difficult to get hold of.

andreios
28-Nov-2013, 05:15
@andreios thanks for the offer, I might take you up on that, is Foma much cheaper to buy in the Czech Republic? thanks, D

It depends.. sometimes you find a deal here and there, sometimes it easier to pick it up in Germany.. But if you need less than 10 boxes I can fix it :)

andreios
28-Nov-2013, 06:26
But I'd add that current exchange rates (after they were screwed up by our national bank) would work in your favour -I am not sure that foma stock woiuld become cheaper now on the international market..

Len Middleton
28-Nov-2013, 06:39
Some web site research for you...

Richard T. Ritter: http://www.lg4mat.net/

Film holders:

S&S http://ssfilmholders.com/

AWB http://www.filmholders.com/

Lotus http://www.lotusviewcamera.at/accessories/sheetfilmholder_e.html

Ilford Annual ULF film order info: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/pressroom/article.asp?n=164

dimento
28-Nov-2013, 06:52
again, thanks @Len and @andreios much appreciated

brucep
28-Nov-2013, 08:10
You can get just about any film you want from these, which are uk based:

http://www.ag-photographic.co.uk/black--white-film-1-c.asp

Bruce

Dan Fromm
28-Nov-2013, 08:24
Incidentally here's a pic of Alastair Thain with one of his cameras: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stojanka/326082138/ and some of his work: http://metro.co.uk/2008/07/21/photography-alistair-thain-is-trading-fame-for-life-stories-292489/ I think the film stock he uses is now very difficult to get hold of.
Interesting. How does he deal with parallax?

gleaf
28-Nov-2013, 10:04
Structure of Aircraft and F-1 racing are Carbon Fiber these days.. Here is a source of structural bits.
http://www.dragonplate.com/ecart/categories.asp?cID=20

Randy Moe
28-Nov-2013, 19:36
Maybe that's a slider.


Interesting. How does he deal with parallax?

dimento
29-Nov-2013, 01:16
@Dan, not got to see him in action, he's built at least three or 4 of these things, one of which is a wide-angle which he took to Bosnia post-Balkans War, along with Tom Stoddart (well known photojournalist) the landscapes he has made with the camera are pretty amazing too. He's also used one to photograph children affected by the Bhopal disaster in India, here's some work, I think the most recent images (Matt Damon) are shot digitally: http://bonakdarcleary.com/alastair-thain/

thanks for all the other replies, plenty food for thought

Michael Roberts
8-Dec-2013, 09:12
dimento,
here's how I did it:

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?47057-Ultra-light-DIY-ULF-Camera

I eventually constructed a second base rail of 25-28 inches as I typically used lenses of 300mm, 480mm, and 610mm.

Michael