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unixrevolution
24-Aug-2016, 09:12
A friend and I have been discussing the possibility of designing and building a large format 8x10, designed to sell brand new for $500 or less.

4x5s are available very cheaply on the used market, but 8x10s are a lot more expensive. We were thinking this is a product and price-point that would be very welcome in the marketplace, allowing a lot of people to experience 8x10 without the prohibitive cost of an 8x10 camera that isn't a ramshackle basketcase.

The idea is to use off-the-shelf components and modern manufacturing methods with volume production to hit the price-point listed. It won't be a work of art like an Ebony, it won't be wood or carbon fiber, but it will be solid and usable, not too heavy and most importantly, affordable. The design will most likely be as simple as possible; e.g. akin to the Jay Bender wooden kits, but injection-molded ABS or something similar.

Assuming it can be done, do you think there's a market for it? How deep would that market be?

maxotics
24-Aug-2016, 09:46
How deep is a rain puddle in the Mojave dessert after a small rain-shower? If there IS a large-format market, please show me where. All I see is a few hundred people poking around ebay auctions with little intention on buying. Don't mean to be rude! :)

Engineering wise, the tripod mount has to be strong and stiff to prevent shake. Then the parts must be stiff enough to prevent any frame warp and its effects that trickle down to the film plane. Then what about lenses? Either user must buy from a used market they don't understand, or you must provide. If someone experienced with lenses, think they'd rather spend $500 in used market and wait for a deal.

Sorry I can't think of a less profitable endeavor than building an 8x10 camera.

Pere Casals
24-Aug-2016, 09:55
A friend and I have been discussing the possibility of designing and building a large format 8x10, designed to sell brand new for $500 or less.

4x5s are available very cheaply on the used market, but 8x10s are a lot more expensive. We were thinking this is a product and price-point that would be very welcome in the marketplace, allowing a lot of people to experience 8x10 without the prohibitive cost of an 8x10 camera that isn't a ramshackle basketcase.

The idea is to use off-the-shelf components and modern manufacturing methods with volume production to hit the price-point listed. It won't be a work of art like an Ebony, it won't be wood or carbon fiber, but it will be solid and usable, not too heavy and most importantly, affordable. The design will most likely be as simple as possible; e.g. akin to the Jay Bender wooden kits, but injection-molded ABS or something similar.

Assuming it can be done, do you think there's a market for it? How deep would that market be?


MRC cameras is selling 8x10 for 800, (Italy I think) but you can make an offer to him for less at Ebay, perhaps he may accept 600, I don't know.

https://www.facebook.com/McrCameras/

I'd suggest you forget about injection-molded ABS and volume production, now this is not a volume market.

One possibility is to make a ABS 3D print of parts, then using molding silicone of the Smooth-On brand like to make molds to cast the parts with polymer chemestry, you can also place a metal frames inside the molds to make reinforced parts. Also you can 3D print the mold itsef with PE, and then casting with it. If you sell a lot of units then make injection molds...

Then you need bellows or bag and GG...

Also it is not the same if you manufacture in the 1st world than in Bangladesh, salary there is $40 a month.

Can you make a really sound design? This is the question...

If you can then you'll have a very limited market...

Luis-F-S
24-Aug-2016, 10:40
A friend and I have been discussing the possibility of designing and building a large format 8x10, designed to sell brand new for $500 or less.

Assuming it can be done, do you think there's a market for it? How deep would that market be?
It's a very small market, albeit there is one. 8x10 cameras are either expensive or junkers. I have 3 V8's and they weren't exactly cheap. Lenses must be purchased used, but at least for the time being there is usually good selection on the auctions or this site. AFAIK, Canham is the only current domestic manufacturer of 8x10 cameras. Keith produces an excellent camera at a commensurate price. Good luck on your endeavors, it would be great to have a domestic, affordable 8x10 again!

Bernard Kelly
24-Aug-2016, 10:45
I think there'd be a niche market, for sure. Especially if the camera you were promoting had features comparable to the more expensive ones, e.g., the same or similar movements, or a particular advantage in lightness or dimensions. I bought a Kodak 2D thinking I'd found a cheap entry into 8 x 10. It's going to cost me more than $500 to make it workable but I won't have paid an excessive amount when I'm finished. (Others, of course, would say I wasted my money.) Still, if there'd been a better option (apart from Ilford's pinhole) I would've taken it. So I'd say yes.

Michael Jones
24-Aug-2016, 11:00
The market is ever shrinking. Just look at the number of camera, lens & film makers today.

While your goal is laudable (as is your price point), it may be extremely difficult to hit. Mike Walker makes ABS cameras; his 8x10 is about $3000 US... The Bulldog pinhole was about $400 and Ilford has the money to pay whatever it took to create a "plastic" camera.

Bender's Achilles' heel is (among others) a lack of rigidity. IMHO, as you scale up, the importance of maintaining camera positions & settings is more important (and difficult due to mass) due to the cost of film. Good luck.

Mike

ic-racer
24-Aug-2016, 11:05
Inexpensive cameras and lenses are plentiful, I have drawers full of LF equipment and others on this forum have closets and whole rooms full of stuff.

What 8x10 photographers need is inexpensive film.

choiliefan
24-Aug-2016, 13:17
Perhaps making new 8X10 film holders would be a more profitable endeavor? Nice ones are rare and quite expensive.

Pere Casals
24-Aug-2016, 14:41
What 8x10 photographers need is inexpensive film.

:) yes !!!


But as a hobbyst anyway I'm not able to shot more than one sheet in a weekend. A careful shot... Then you have do develop with a lot of care, and a good print deserves a few hours, then scan the digital version... at the end there is a lot of fun for the cost of a single sheet

angusparker
24-Aug-2016, 15:27
Inexpensive cameras and lenses are plentiful, I have drawers full of LF equipment and others on this forum have closets and whole rooms full of stuff.

What 8x10 photographers need is inexpensive film.

Absolutely - the camera isn't the problem its the cost of consumables. You can buy and offload an 8x10 camera fairly easily - just call it the Ebay rental fee! The film however is pricey, even in black & white. 4x5 is the sweet spot for afforability. 8x10 only really makes sense if you are going to contact print. You are competing against the used market and the new marker - and then new owners have to be savvy enough to acquire the film holders, lenses etc as well. I don't see much of a market.

36cm2
24-Aug-2016, 18:10
These responses are too jaded for my taste. If your goal is solely to make money, then perhaps these answers are right. But if you have a love for this art and a passion for its survival then I believe there is a market and, more importantly, a mission. A modern, cost effective, light but rigid production design would be very interesting. It's all about your value prop and the time and resources that's worth to you. As for paper, scale that design across even larger formats and couple it with various Alts backs and I think it's even more valuable to the field if not to your retirement fund.

Mark Sampson
24-Aug-2016, 18:40
How much money do you have to lose? Look at those who have tried within recent memory... and how many are left. I've lost track... Wisner, Zone VI, Bender, Wehman, Carbon Infinity, Lotus, Ebony, all gone. Are Tachihara/Nagaoka/Ikeda still in business? Deardorff? The thing is, you'd be competing against the used market, since many photographers happily use 80+ year old cameras.

jp
24-Aug-2016, 18:41
8x10 users (in the US at least) can get inexpensive film with the Ektascan b/ra film. Used lenses are pretty affordable, at least compared to the pro 35mm gear.

I've bought 8x10 Burke & James cameras pretty affordable and they have met my needs though others are smaller, lighter, or better in some way and compromised in other ways.

One camera that's not common at any price is the 8x10 B&J rembrandt style cameras; fixed front lensboard with some adjustment to the rear standard. This is basically a portable version of the classic century studio camera which is cheap because it's ancient, common, and not portable. The fixed front standard would make it simpler to build, and is good for people that like to play with big old lenses. Should appeal to film and and wet plate users. You'd either have to find a niche (perhaps this) which there is not much used supply, or create a new market by doing something new.

Fr. Mark
24-Aug-2016, 18:56
Another approach might be plans and hard to find bits and sell a kit. I'm to tired to go looking but it seems to me that there has been at least one thread looking at what might be an acceptable set of parameters and where to find the parts.

I've built a succession of 8x10's I'm not happy with: modified opaque projector, telescoping box with light leaks, and an all movements not exactly monorail camera which has adjustment and rigidity issues even if I only mount a 300mm f5.6 on a Sinar shutter on the front of it and not the 457mm/18" f3.6 which must weigh 2-3x as much. As you scale up rigidity does become a pain. Particularly if you have lots of movements.

You could lower film cost with X-ray film or by making your own dry plates. Both have their issues...

I also agree with the fellow who said 1 or a handful of films provides very inexpensive entertainment for most of a weekend. Compare it to going out for a meal and a movie.

StoneNYC
24-Aug-2016, 22:31
Talk to Intrepid first.

Pete Roody
25-Aug-2016, 10:22
At $500 per camera how much profit can be made? A 20% profit ($100) would net you $5000 for 50 cameras sold. So it is essentially a not-for-profit business. That has to be taken into account. If a not-for-profit business model is acceptable, then go for it.

ic-racer
25-Aug-2016, 10:56
Orthochromatic film? X-ray film?
I don't know about you guys, I'm not shooting pinhole or X-rays with my 8x10 camera.

Bob Salomon
25-Aug-2016, 12:26
At $500 per camera how much profit can be made? A 20% profit ($100) would net you $5000 for 50 cameras sold. So it is essentially a not-for-profit business. That has to be taken into account. If a not-for-profit business model is acceptable, then go for it.

Considering their time, R&D, parts, manufacturing costs, etc. they couldn't make a $100.00 profit on a $500.00 camera. Not counting other things like tools, insurance, liability insurance, advertising, postage, packaging, warehousing, etc. they would be lucky to make a 5% profit. And then their is that tax issue. Maybe city, maybe state, maybe county, definitely IRS. And if you don't make a profit for a long enough number of years IRS will tell you that you are operating a hobby, not a business, and then those manufacturing costs will not be a business expense.

And don't forget the cost of that back and a ground glass and Frenel. Are you going to inscribe or silkscreen format markings? That also adds quickly to your costs.

You should sit back and take a good hard look at the 810 market. Who still makes new cameras at any cost, anywhere, not many. It's not a growth market.
You look at lenses. You do know that Fuji, Nikon, Rodenstock and Schneider no longer make any lenses for 810, much less for 45. Who makes new film holders for 810? Who makes film for 810?

Why do you suppose all those camera companies, lens companies, film companies, holder companies have stopped manufacturing for this market or have gone out of business?
Who buys 810 cameras today?

I don't think that your idea is at all realistic as a business venture. Hobby, maybe. And a view camera isn't quite as simple to make as you may think. It is critical for serious users that when you put the camera into a neutral position that the lens and film are in alignment with each other, if you do a direct displacement they remain parallel to each other. If you move a standard forward or back that they remain parallel to each other. If you do a tilt or a swing the standard doesn't also move in another direction. That the bellows extension is long enough to, at a minimum, accept a standard focal length lens of 300/360mm. That you can focus closer than infinity with those lenses requires a double or triple extension bellows. But the camera must maintain its parallelism and rigidity at this maximum extension. You probably want the bellows to compress enough to handle a 120, or so, wide angle. This would probably mean a tapered bellows construction, not cheap, or a WA bellows.
And that is just a start. There is lots more to designing and manufacturing an 810 that is workable.

MartinP
25-Aug-2016, 17:09
8x10" camera . . . injection-moulding . . . $500 . . . does not compute. The tooling-costs will kill the project before you get past the financial planning stage.

If you want to make something that would be saleable, look at new film-holders (maybe a double 4x10 design within an 8x10 measurement DDS) or bellows or a spring-back that can be incorporated in home-built cameras. Possibly a 3D-print lens-mount and simple single-speed shutter for meniscus lenses? This sort of thing might sell.

blue4130
25-Aug-2016, 17:44
I think the key is to not just look at the West for marketing. In China there are (I believe) three companies who make 8x10. Talking to other photographers here (in beijing) there is still a demand for big cameras. If there wasn't, I doubt chamonix or frica or dayi would be making them.

(edit to add additional info)
But even in china with cheap and questionable work practices, the costs are $2700, $1500 and $1300 respectively. So I think $500 is a bit unrealistic.

blue4130
25-Aug-2016, 17:58
Oh and of course I forgot about shen hao who also makes 8x10.

AuditorOne
25-Aug-2016, 19:33
Wow!

Don't even bother.

This bunch has it all figured out for you.

Group think at work. :)

unixrevolution
25-Aug-2016, 20:43
Thank you all for your replies, I'll try to get to everybody. I appreciate the clarity, kindness, civility and thought that went into all these responses.


How deep is a rain puddle in the Mojave dessert after a small rain-shower? If there IS a large-format market, please show me where. All I see is a few hundred people poking around ebay auctions with little intention on buying. Don't mean to be rude!

Engineering wise, the tripod mount has to be strong and stiff to prevent shake. Then the parts must be stiff enough to prevent any frame warp and its effects that trickle down to the film plane. Then what about lenses? Either user must buy from a used market they don't understand, or you must provide. If someone experienced with lenses, think they'd rather spend $500 in used market and wait for a deal.

Sorry I can't think of a less profitable endeavor than building an 8x10 camera.

You are not being rude :) Part of my thinking was that if an 8x10 is under the cost of say, a Canon Rebel, then a lot of photographers who may not have decided to do so, would go for one. I also think that 4x5s are a no-go because the used market is so saturated, but I've had trouble finding 8x10s at decent prices in good condition. As far as the lens, I was thinking get in good with a lensmaker, and get some good, sharp, if slow, glass made, perhaps with a gravity shutter to keep costs down. $500 may be ambitious for the body, but my ultimate dream of $1000 for an out-of-the-box 8x10 experience, from picture to print, is even more so.

I simply don't see 8x10s, new or used, at this price point, and I think it's doable.

Profitable? Maybe not. But I kind of don't mind if I just break even. If I had millions, I'd be happy to spend some of it to give 8x10 to a wider audience. But I don't :(


MRC cameras is selling 8x10 for 800, (Italy I think) but you can make an offer to him for less at Ebay, perhaps he may accept 600, I don't know.

https://www.facebook.com/McrCameras/

I'd suggest you forget about injection-molded ABS and volume production, now this is not a volume market.

One possibility is to make a ABS 3D print of parts, then using molding silicone of the Smooth-On brand like to make molds to cast the parts with polymer chemestry, you can also place a metal frames inside the molds to make reinforced parts. Also you can 3D print the mold itsef with PE, and then casting with it. If you sell a lot of units then make injection molds...

Then you need bellows or bag and GG...

Also it is not the same if you manufacture in the 1st world than in Bangladesh, salary there is $40 a month.

Can you make a really sound design? This is the question...

If you can then you'll have a very limited market...

Good suggestions on manufacturing; and I am thinking that wood and a few good carpentry jigs may be good enough without going the ABS route. The ABS thing, especially with metal reinforcement, would make for a very robust camera that could shrug off just about anything. But wood has been fine forever too. Yes, the GG and bellows would be a pain, but I'm sure there are solutions. And as far as manufacturing overseas, I'd like to do as little of that as I can.


It's a very small market, albeit there is one. 8x10 cameras are either expensive or junkers. I have 3 V8's and they weren't exactly cheap. Lenses must be purchased used, but at least for the time being there is usually good selection on the auctions or this site. AFAIK, Canham is the only current domestic manufacturer of 8x10 cameras. Keith produces an excellent camera at a commensurate price. Good luck on your endeavors, it would be great to have a domestic, affordable 8x10 again!

Small indeed, though I hope the affordability would draw in those who wouldn't consider it otherwise. I agree, lenses are a sticking point. I am sure Canhams are wonderful, but my goal is to push the price point down into the realm of relative affordability. Thanks for the well-wishes!


I think there'd be a niche market, for sure. Especially if the camera you were promoting had features comparable to the more expensive ones, e.g., the same or similar movements, or a particular advantage in lightness or dimensions. I bought a Kodak 2D thinking I'd found a cheap entry into 8 x 10. It's going to cost me more than $500 to make it workable but I won't have paid an excessive amount when I'm finished. (Others, of course, would say I wasted my money.) Still, if there'd been a better option (apart from Ilford's pinhole) I would've taken it. So I'd say yes.

Using the Bender as inspiration but not a blueprint, I was thinking of an 8x10 that's very light and very inexpensive, but provides a wealth of movements on both standards. I fixed up my own 8x10 as well, and I'm lucky that I'm only about a grand into it all-told. If not for finding it through a friend, who only sat it on a shelf to admire, I'd have likely never had one at all. That theoretical cheaper option is what I'm hoping to be able to do.


The market is ever shrinking. Just look at the number of camera, lens & film makers today.

While your goal is laudable (as is your price point), it may be extremely difficult to hit. Mike Walker makes ABS cameras; his 8x10 is about $3000 US... The Bulldog pinhole was about $400 and Ilford has the money to pay whatever it took to create a "plastic" camera.

Bender's Achilles' heel is (among others) a lack of rigidity. IMHO, as you scale up, the importance of maintaining camera positions & settings is more important (and difficult due to mass) due to the cost of film. Good luck.

Mike

Very true that the market is shrinking, but I am wondering if this 8x10 can do for LF what the Holga did for film, so to speak. Only not as agressively terrible. I agree a design with good rigidity that doesn't have movement creep of any kind is essential. Thanks!


Inexpensive cameras and lenses are plentiful, I have drawers full of LF equipment and others on this forum have closets and whole rooms full of stuff.

What 8x10 photographers need is inexpensive film.

If there are masses upon masses of cheap 8x10s somewhere I haven't seen them. But I agree. The film can be quite prohibitive. I don't know what to do about that. Dry plate holder maybe?


Perhaps making new 8X10 film holders would be a more profitable endeavor? Nice ones are rare and quite expensive.

Perhaps it would, and if I made the camera I'd like to offer holders, too. A $500 camera is small comfort when all the ancillaries are $1000+.


:) yes !!!

But as a hobbyst anyway I'm not able to shot more than one sheet in a weekend. A careful shot... Then you have do develop with a lot of care, and a good print deserves a few hours, then scan the digital version... at the end there is a lot of fun for the cost of a single sheet

There is much work to be done to obtain an 8x10 photo start to finish. But that is as you say part of the fun :)


Absolutely - the camera isn't the problem its the cost of consumables. You can buy and offload an 8x10 camera fairly easily - just call it the Ebay rental fee! The film however is pricey, even in black & white. 4x5 is the sweet spot for afforability. 8x10 only really makes sense if you are going to contact print. You are competing against the used market and the new marker - and then new owners have to be savvy enough to acquire the film holders, lenses etc as well. I don't see much of a market.

The film again. Agreed, though. 4x5 is really quite the sweet spot, but I don't want to enter that already saturated camera market. I think an 8x10 works, not just for contact prints or shooting on positive paper/plates, but to give people access to the world of truly big images. 8x10 really is markedly different. But I agree, it's not going to be easy to piece together a kit from the camera itself. Should a complete kit be the new goal? Would that draw in otherwise non-LF users?

unixrevolution
25-Aug-2016, 21:05
Round two....


These responses are too jaded for my taste. If your goal is solely to make money, then perhaps these answers are right. But if you have a love for this art and a passion for its survival then I believe there is a market and, more importantly, a mission. A modern, cost effective, light but rigid production design would be very interesting. It's all about your value prop and the time and resources that's worth to you. As for paper, scale that design across even larger formats and couple it with various Alts backs and I think it's even more valuable to the field if not to your retirement fund.

I like this reply. This isn't about making a billion dollars. Or even dollars. It's about spreading the popularity of Large Format. I just thought maybe building something that could be sold would be a good way to do it.


How much money do you have to lose? Look at those who have tried within recent memory... and how many are left. I've lost track... Wisner, Zone VI, Bender, Wehman, Carbon Infinity, Lotus, Ebony, all gone. Are Tachihara/Nagaoka/Ikeda still in business? Deardorff? The thing is, you'd be competing against the used market, since many photographers happily use 80+ year old cameras.

Not much, to be fair. I agree that's a long list, but again...I don't think anyone's taken the "build it inexpensively" approach. Those cameras all cost double or triple my target price, maybe more. And again, in the used market, I don't see good working 8x10s at the $500 mark. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places.


8x10 users (in the US at least) can get inexpensive film with the Ektascan b/ra film. Used lenses are pretty affordable, at least compared to the pro 35mm gear.

I've bought 8x10 Burke & James cameras pretty affordable and they have met my needs though others are smaller, lighter, or better in some way and compromised in other ways.

One camera that's not common at any price is the 8x10 B&J rembrandt style cameras; fixed front lensboard with some adjustment to the rear standard. This is basically a portable version of the classic century studio camera which is cheap because it's ancient, common, and not portable. The fixed front standard would make it simpler to build, and is good for people that like to play with big old lenses. Should appeal to film and and wet plate users. You'd either have to find a niche (perhaps this) which there is not much used supply, or create a new market by doing something new.

I agree 35mm has gone a bit nutty and good used 8x10 glass is right in line, price-wise. I have never bought a B&J but I have seen a few good ones.

As for the Rembrandt, that's an odd bird, but I can see the advantages. I am hoping the price was new enough, as far as mine was concerned.


Another approach might be plans and hard to find bits and sell a kit. I'm to tired to go looking but it seems to me that there has been at least one thread looking at what might be an acceptable set of parameters and where to find the parts.

I've built a succession of 8x10's I'm not happy with: modified opaque projector, telescoping box with light leaks, and an all movements not exactly monorail camera which has adjustment and rigidity issues even if I only mount a 300mm f5.6 on a Sinar shutter on the front of it and not the 457mm/18" f3.6 which must weigh 2-3x as much. As you scale up rigidity does become a pain. Particularly if you have lots of movements.

You could lower film cost with X-ray film or by making your own dry plates. Both have their issues...

I also agree with the fellow who said 1 or a handful of films provides very inexpensive entertainment for most of a weekend. Compare it to going out for a meal and a movie.

I like the idea of a kit, or even open-sourcing a good design that just about anyone can build with basic tools. A turnkey camera would be ideal, but as I said before, I'm not looking to be a millionaire from this, I just want to see more 8x10s in the wild. Again, the rigidity issues aren't trivial but I think they can be sorted.

What I really want is an 8x10 for everyone.


Talk to Intrepid first.


At $500 per camera how much profit can be made? A 20% profit ($100) would net you $5000 for 50 cameras sold. So it is essentially a not-for-profit business. That has to be taken into account. If a not-for-profit business model is acceptable, then go for it.

I would be fine with that.


Orthochromatic film? X-ray film?
I don't know about you guys, I'm not shooting pinhole or X-rays with my 8x10 camera.

XRay film is sensitive to visible light. And a Pinhole lensboard would be an affordable "make it take pictures now" thing to include with a basic camera.


Considering their time, R&D, parts, manufacturing costs, etc. they couldn't make a $100.00 profit on a $500.00 camera. Not counting other things like tools, insurance, liability insurance, advertising, postage, packaging, warehousing, etc. they would be lucky to make a 5% profit. And then their is that tax issue. Maybe city, maybe state, maybe county, definitely IRS. And if you don't make a profit for a long enough number of years IRS will tell you that you are operating a hobby, not a business, and then those manufacturing costs will not be a business expense.

And don't forget the cost of that back and a ground glass and Frenel. Are you going to inscribe or silkscreen format markings? That also adds quickly to your costs.

You should sit back and take a good hard look at the 810 market. Who still makes new cameras at any cost, anywhere, not many. It's not a growth market.
You look at lenses. You do know that Fuji, Nikon, Rodenstock and Schneider no longer make any lenses for 810, much less for 45. Who makes new film holders for 810? Who makes film for 810?

Why do you suppose all those camera companies, lens companies, film companies, holder companies have stopped manufacturing for this market or have gone out of business?
Who buys 810 cameras today?

I don't think that your idea is at all realistic as a business venture. Hobby, maybe. And a view camera isn't quite as simple to make as you may think. It is critical for serious users that when you put the camera into a neutral position that the lens and film are in alignment with each other, if you do a direct displacement they remain parallel to each other. If you move a standard forward or back that they remain parallel to each other. If you do a tilt or a swing the standard doesn't also move in another direction. That the bellows extension is long enough to, at a minimum, accept a standard focal length lens of 300/360mm. That you can focus closer than infinity with those lenses requires a double or triple extension bellows. But the camera must maintain its parallelism and rigidity at this maximum extension. You probably want the bellows to compress enough to handle a 120, or so, wide angle. This would probably mean a tapered bellows construction, not cheap, or a WA bellows.
And that is just a start. There is lots more to designing and manufacturing an 810 that is workable.

Harsh. Probably fair, but harsh. I trust you on manufacturing though. However, Schneider at least advertises they still make lenses that easily cover 8x10. Am I missing something? And 8x10 film is still made by Kodak, Fuji, Fomapan and Ilford.

I am aware that view cameras are not trivial to make. But not everything has to be built like a Sinar, either.

It will all start with a workable design. And I really want to try my hand at that. If I can't make it, fine. But you can't convince me not to try.


8x10" camera . . . injection-moulding . . . $500 . . . does not compute. The tooling-costs will kill the project before you get past the financial planning stage.

If you want to make something that would be saleable, look at new film-holders (maybe a double 4x10 design within an 8x10 measurement DDS) or bellows or a spring-back that can be incorporated in home-built cameras. Possibly a 3D-print lens-mount and simple single-speed shutter for meniscus lenses? This sort of thing might sell.

As the not-a-manufacturing-insider, I will take your word on the ABS and instead think more about things like carpentry jigs, and wood construction. I like the idea of making the more complicated parts for home builders. As far as the lens mount, that works too, and I was thinking of a gravity shutter as those are effective and cheap to make.


I think the key is to not just look at the West for marketing. In China there are (I believe) three companies who make 8x10. Talking to other photographers here (in beijing) there is still a demand for big cameras. If there wasn't, I doubt chamonix or frica or dayi would be making them.

(edit to add additional info)
But even in china with cheap and questionable work practices, the costs are $2700, $1500 and $1300 respectively. So I think $500 is a bit unrealistic.

I agree a global market might be needed to find enough buyers to make the idea viable. But I also believe, perhaps wrongly so, that those cameras cost that because they are not made with a specific eye to affordability. They are built, and simply cost what they cost. There is a difference between a thing that is made, then made cheaper, and a thing that is designed to be inexpensive from the start. For instance, the former is represented by a Ford Falcon, and the second by a Type 1 Beetle. The beetle eschews the things it doesn't need, and makes the rest as efficiently as it can.

unixrevolution
25-Aug-2016, 21:08
Oh and of course I forgot about shen hao who also makes 8x10.

They do, and their 8x10s are quite lovely.


Wow!

Don't even bother.

This bunch has it all figured out for you.

Group think at work. :)

I did kind of ask for it though!

I am actually quite pleased with the responses. Except for a couple that seemed to be trying to tell me to simply forget about it and go back to playing angry birds, I think I got measured, thoughtful replies that helped to inform my worldview and my ideas on such a project like this.

But I will say, wether I start building them, make kits, make components, or open source an 8x10 and offer plans, I'm not likely to give up on this idea altogether.

MMELVIS
25-Aug-2016, 22:06
It would be tough, but it could be done. Get your manufacturing process down and make a go of it. Spin casting may even be a viable option.

unityofsaints
26-Aug-2016, 01:25
I'd buy one.

bw-man
26-Aug-2016, 01:32
8 x10 is the pursuit of the art people, is willing to enjoy the lonely people, is the person who have a lot of dollars, is the body strong people, he belongs to the work of men.
You see how many such people around, this is your market.
Don't forget, also remove of them, don't like 8 x10 picture of people, and has 8 x10 of people.
This group is very little, if you want to do big business, give up the attempt and the best!

blue4130
26-Aug-2016, 01:59
I would not let others get you down. Manufacturing is now easier than ever with things like consumer avaliable laser cutters and rapid prototyping using 3d printers. Heck, I had some custom lens boards made from carbon fiber for less than $9 and done in less than two days from initial email.

I strongly suggest looking at intrepid, they seems to be making a solid go of it.

wwelti
26-Aug-2016, 04:09
I wholeheartedly applaud to your plans! If I hadn't ordered a new 8x10" field camera just a few days ago I'd surely say I want one. :)

Best Regards
Wilfried

Bob Salomon
26-Aug-2016, 04:37
For many years we were the distributor, in the USA, of Rimowa suitcases. Today Rimowa makes their cases out of either an aluminum alloy or, what they invented in the 90s, polycarbonate suitcases. But before they perfected making cases out of 100# polycarbonate they made cases from ABS. While these were quite light they had a major flaw. ABS, pure 100% ABS, high quality ABS, can crack with impact. Polycarbonate does not. However, neither material would be rigid enough to make an 810 camera, unless the material was very thick, and heavy. Then the molding tools would be exponentially higher.

maxotics
26-Aug-2016, 05:21
I would not let others get you down. Manufacturing is now easier than ever with things like consumer avaliable laser cutters and rapid prototyping using 3d printers. Heck, I had some custom lens boards made from carbon fiber for less than $9 and done in less than two days from initial email.

I strongly suggest looking at intrepid, they seems to be making a solid go of it.

Hi Vance. I wouldn't say anyone is trying to "get them down". I'm currently building a large format device. Though I essentially program computers for a living I'm still using a scroll saw, dremels and a micro table saw. CAD software is no walk in the park and it is VERY time-consuming. So is waiting for your part. Early development is trial and error, a lot of it. A lens board is nothing compared to anything with moving parts (complex 3D)--which is essential for an 8x10 camera. My experience with it that unless you're super rich, or super patient, CNC and 3D printers have limited use for the amateur inventor (already running commercial concerns are another matter). I'd be curious if there are others on this board that also invent complicated things, what their experience is. Maybe I'm just a dummy ;)

The Intrepid camera is sold out and they didn't respond to my email about new ones. Maybe they made so much money they're now retired. My guess is their result was bitter-sweet. They worked 24/7 to make them, but making more won't allow them to leave their day job. Anyone know?

The OP and his friend should make something, but they should be prepared for some hard realities that others and I have pointed out about materials and fabrication tools--let alone a business case.

MartinP
26-Aug-2016, 05:29
Just a thought about the shutter idea . . . a gravity-shutter has limits regarding timing reliability when it is tilted. Also a gravity-shutter is conceptually 'simple' to make so people will not see the added value from buying a commercial one. However, there are many barrel lenses - as well as any random meniscus lens for beginners - that would be much more usable with a reliable shutter so making a reliable spring-powered shutter that could mount, for example, behind the lens would be welcome. Packard shutters are still fairly sell-able and you would be looking for a lower price-point in that market perhaps.

You could actually make an 8x10" darkslide with a pre-cut aperture for 4x10", rather than a whole DDS. The materials are easily available in bulk and many people don't d.i.y. only because it would involve wrecking 'half' an expensive DDS.

Making the 'tricky' components (and a plan or two) for a simple, sliding-box, baseboard-camera would be another possibility.

I think you are right that there is curiosity out there, but that it is tempered by fear of cost. If you really can lower the cost then the idea would be very marketable, but making a whole camera in a traditional bellows style feels as though you would be approaching the price-range of second-hand cameras, or higher.

Regarding consumables, Foma film is quite cheap-and-cheerful in Europe at least. After all, you are not proposing a motor-drive for your camera! Don't forget that paper-negatives can easily be used, as well as xray film. It is likely that most negs from a low-cost camera would be contact-printed or scanned, as buying an 8x10" enlarger moves the whole thing well away from the budget end of things.

Hmmmm . . . an 8x10" enlarger???? If you go in the direction of a baseboard camera then you could also make parts for a simple, cheap diffused light-source (ie. not computer controlled led's, rather a normal light-bulb and some expanded polystyrene) to turn it in to a horizontal enlarger . . . ? In fact, there may be more of a market for an 8x10" light-source than there would for cheap cameras, just a thought.

blue4130
26-Aug-2016, 05:55
Hi Vance. I wouldn't say anyone is trying to "get them down". I'm currently building a large format device. Though I essentially program computers for a living I'm still using a scroll saw, dremels and a micro table saw. CAD software is no walk in the park and it is VERY time-consuming. So is waiting for your part. Early development is trial and error, a lot of it. A lens board is nothing compared to anything with moving parts (complex 3D)--which is essential for an 8x10 camera. My experience with it that unless you're super rich, or super patient, CNC and 3D printers have limited use for the amateur inventor (already running commercial concerns are another matter). I'd be curious if there are others on this board that also invent complicated things, what their experience is. Maybe I'm just a dummy ;)

The Intrepid camera is sold out and they didn't respond to my email about new ones. Maybe they made so much money they're now retired. My guess is their result was bitter-sweet. They worked 24/7 to make them, but making more won't allow them to leave their day job. Anyone know?

The OP and his friend should make something, but they should be prepared for some hard realities that others and I have pointed out about materials and fabrication tools--let alone a business case.

I just finished a 10x12, I designed it mostly on paper not the computer. (my experience only) was that it was pretty simple. Granted, I did a tailboard design which is pretty basic. But it is very easily replicated using easily available materials and tools. I was able to do it in my apartment. I guess doing it on a large scale would be a whole different thing though.

Tim Meisburger
26-Aug-2016, 06:32
I'd be up for a kit. The wooden parts of a camera are easy to make, but sourcing the metal parts is almost impossible. I haven't worked on my 8x10 in a while, being occupied with moving, but getting the racks cost $80, and I ended up with heavy machine quality racks that were way overbuilt for the job. The racks on the Ikeda that is my muse look stamped, and are perfectly fine for the application. I got so frustrated trying to source parts that I started on a 4x5 camera on which I will use plastic racks and gears. If you could put together a parts kit for a standard camera, I think you could sell a lot. For those without the woodworking skills, you could also sell assembled.

maxotics
26-Aug-2016, 07:05
I just finished a 10x12, I designed it mostly on paper not the computer. (my experience only) was that it was pretty simple. Granted, I did a tailboard design which is pretty basic. But it is very easily replicated using easily available materials and tools. I was able to do it in my apartment. I guess doing it on a large scale would be a whole different thing though.

Hi Vance, I recognize your camera! Nice job! You made a great camera out of now-consumer stock parts. However, once you get into making anything with movements you're in a world of pain. Of course, there are plenty of aluminum linear rails out there, and other x/y parts, but each one cost close to $500 itself because the manufacturers must price to make money in an industrial market. Even bearings. I can get a set of 4mm bearings for $15 for 10, something like that. Other sizes, $15 for one! Sourcing parts for DIY stuff means you MUST find something in consumer parts that you can use; otherwise, costs skyrocket.

So it isn't really the scale that's an issue, it's complexity. If they did a simple design like yours, I think it somewhat doable. Doing a $500 8x10 that can compete with a used one where someone went bankrupt building it with custom-machined parts ;), that's another thing entirely.

Drew Bedo
26-Aug-2016, 08:23
My in-expert opinion is that the market is small, shrinking and populated by amature/hobby users and Artisans in a number of niches, some quite arcane.

Among the indicators I use to inform this view:

The difficulty in finding LF film in any format and thr sharp rise in price (tripled?).

The recent demise of "View Camera" magazine.

The failure to launch for several new camera efforts, such as the new Deardorff, thr TravelWide, the Polaroid conversions (no ma,es please!) and others. Lack of good management may be argued f in some cases, but if the market for LF was larger and expanding someone would rise.


No one is successfully innovating in the field of accessories either. None csan say PhotoBackpacker was badly managesd or the products shoddy, yet when Burce (?) decided to retire he couldn't find anyone to pick up the company or buy the the existing inventory. Some folks would still buy that product line (I would), but no one has stepped up to fill that demand,—not even some Chinese knock-off company.

This forum has frequent threads on what to use for transporting LF gear. Many or most responses involve repurposing something from the digital world.

These data points are why it seems to me that the LF world is shrinking . . .and maybe ageing.

Maybe that is just me getting older. Our son, now 30-something, describes me as one of the grumpy old men from the Muppet show.

Drew Bedo
26-Aug-2016, 08:48
Having fe-read that post , I see just how negative it is.


So a few positive what-ifs:

Three-D printing and CAD/CAM advances could be used to do some of the innovating in the LF world. The Travel Wide should have been more successful; introduced at first $99 then $149, they have been selling at +$200 on-line. There is another crowd sourced project incubating a modular system just now. We will see how that turns out in a year or two.

LF users still use Grafmatics. These items are still working as designed, but they are getting OLD now. CAD and 3-D printing should be able to come up with a design (copy?) in plastic, carbon—or titanium. Maybe even versions in 5x7 too.

I can go on with wilder ideas, and I have done so on this forum. I'd love to see some new thing in LF really take-off one of these days.

Cheers

Scott Davis
26-Aug-2016, 09:44
Having fe-read that post , I see just how negative it is.


So a few positive what-ifs:

Three-D printing and CAD/CAM advances could be used to do some of the innovating in the LF world. The Travel Wide should have been more successful; introduced at first $99 then $149, they have been selling at +$200 on-line. There is another crowd sourced project incubating a modular system just now. We will see how that turns out in a year or two.

LF users still use Grafmatics. These items are still working as designed, but they are getting OLD now. CAD and 3-D printing should be able to come up with a design (copy?) in plastic, carbon—or titanium. Maybe even versions in 5x7 too.

I can go on with wilder ideas, and I have done so on this forum. I'd love to see some new thing in LF really take-off one of these days.

Cheers

The #1 source of failure for the Travelwide was the creators, who failed to properly plan, and then compounded their problems by failing to properly communicate. I have one of the Travelwides, and I've been using it for pinhole work, which it is eminently suited for. The whole process of backing it and then waiting for delivery soured me on the camera for a while, and I'm sure a lot of other people too. Whatever you do come up with, have your prototyping and planning nailed down before you announce a thing or collect a cent, and plan on communicating VERY openly, clearly, and frequently with your customers.

Just as a counterpoint to some of the people talking about only the used market for 8x10 and how the market for new cameras is collapsing, I'd think that Keith Canham might have a few words to say in contrast. He's building and selling plenty of 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 view cameras, in all aluminum and in wood/aluminum variants. And they're selling at the $2000-4000 range. One of the reasons why his cameras are selling at that price point is his absolute customer service - I won't go into it at length here as I've told this story before elsewhere on this forum, but he supported under warranty a problem I had with one of his cameras that I had bought used (I was at least the third owner, if not fourth) when the camera was perhaps ten years old. And he did it with such speed that I was able to take the camera with me on vacation to Argentina without hesitation or disruption to my plans. He's also been there on the phone when I had questions, and made a modification to my 5x7 for me in super-fast time.

The same is true of the other surviving LF/ULF camera makers. I heard someone else on Facebook tell a story about I want to say it was Mike Walker, where he got something done for someone fast and under warranty. Whatever the case, that upper end with white-glove service seems to be where the new 8x10 view camera market is these days. There might be room at your price point for something that is NOT like a traditional view camera with all the movements. Perhaps a sliding-box type device that could take a single fixed lens.

MAubrey
26-Aug-2016, 10:54
I was sad when the Bender 8x10 was discontinued. Was on the verge of ordering one when it was announced and I'd definitely be interested if something even remotely like that was still available.

Bruce Barlow
26-Aug-2016, 10:54
I think Richard Ritter is having a pretty good year.

Corran
26-Aug-2016, 17:23
First of all, good luck in any manufacturing endeavors.

In my view, I think the price-point you are looking at may not be optimal. I see older used 8x10 cameras sold under $500 here and on eBay fairly frequently. Just the other day a camera was listed for only $200 here in the classifieds. On the flip side are boutique manufacturers selling new 8x10 cameras for many thousands of dollars, and some of those still fetch many thousands on the used market. Personally what I seem to not see is an in-between option. I would bet that a high-quality, somewhat light but robust 8x10 at between $999 and $1499 (perhaps with some assembly required?) would sell fairly well. That price may give you more leeway for actual profit and quality components. Personally, sitting next to me is the last 8x10 I'd ever need (which I need to take out and use more), the Wehman "ultralight." It wasn't cheap but it wasn't at the boutique price range either (used).

The other option would be a TravelWide-esque camera that does come in at near $500 but is nothing but a helical and fixed cone/body (consider talking to Zach with Mercury Camera, recent KickStarter project leader making a modular camera - an 8x10 back that fits his camera may be an interesting idea).

As far as lenses go, with typical 300mm f/5.6 plasmats selling used for basically $200-300, I don't see the economy in trying to market a new lens. Of course if you make a hit and a ton of new 8x10 shooters need lenses, perhaps the price of those plasmats will spike. Definitely consider a pinhole as well, as I think was mentioned.

Mark Sawyer
26-Aug-2016, 17:43
Give it a plaid flannel bellows, tattoo artwork on the back standard, an all-natural organic ground glass, and call it the Pabst Blue Ribbon 8x10, and Hipsters will line up for it...

Fr. Mark
26-Aug-2016, 20:23
I have a Sinar that I will eventually build an 8x10 format kit for, but a field camera of some sort is tempting. Gears a la Sinar are WONDERFUL but for simplicity, it's hard to beat a screw/knob that tightens things that move freely when loose. Lots of cameras have been built this way. With sensible weight lenses it ought to work with the right design.

Shutters, a roller blind type shutter ?Thornton Pickard? Might be a possibility. Depending on how big the aperture needs to be and what spring tension etc, I think you can get to 1/60th. More than one speed reliably...not so sure. I tried to repair one and for something that at first looked so simple, I had a time of it. Maybe a non-roller card shutter could be made easily. There is also the so-called Galli shutter (flick a pair of dark slides in a V configuration in front of the lens).

Also I think the link is on the home page of this forum and Grepstad site, but a guy named Hoover came up with a nifty, no major metal working basic 4x5 that could be scaled up to 8x10. That's sort of where I ended up on my most recent 8x10 project except I made the bellows differently etc etc.

Andrew O'Neill
27-Aug-2016, 08:45
I'm an eight by tenner, so go for it! And keep us posted with your progress.... pictures, etc!