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Daniel_Buck
4-Mar-2010, 17:49
I've been wanting to make my own camera for a while now, (machined out of aluminum) I've done a fair amount of work in Solidworks and Autodesk InventerPro, and I work in 3d visual effects every day at work (graphics though, not designing technical things). Not for marketing or selling, partly just to get around some of the limitations of my current cameras, but mostly just for the fun of it :-) Because I'm sure I could find a big studio camera that would suit my needs, I'd rather have fun making it myself.

My main question is what did yall use for the bellows and the film back? Did yall design a camera that fits an already made bellows and film back? Or did yall make your own? If you made your own (more talking about the film back here) did you run into any problems?

I'm thinking about just designing the camera to use an already made set of bellows and film back, and just grabbing a film back off of an existing metal camera, and bellows off of a studio camera or something (with no tapering), just because I can't invision making bellows as being much fun, hah! As well as making sure that the front standard holds the same size boards that I want to use. More than likely I'll make the front standard much larger than it needs to be (so that I can mount strange lenses that wouldn't otherwise fit on a standard camera) and then making an adapter to use the more common (smaller) sizes, Sinar or Technica size.

Any other hurtles that yall found unexpectedly? I'm probably going to make it a monorail design, since that is simpler. But eventually I'd like to make an all aluminum folding field camera. So I wouldn't mind hearing from folks who have built both types :-)

EdWorkman
4-Mar-2010, 18:03
Made my own tapered bellows- the ugliest part is on the bottom
Made an 8x10 back, but it awaits less stiff springs.
Made the front lensboard holder to fit a front standard- rises and tilts, standard provides swing.
The front standard is actually the back of a small B&J view, running on the [slimmed] B&J bed.
I didn't carve metal - used a very old table saw to machine wood- did lots of things twice.
Got to get back to the project- I've proved it works, and proved that specific modifications are needed- some are accomplished and some await.
Someday i may do the bellows over to make a prettier one, or not and go on to the bellows for the 7x17 project- Progress on that includes a box for a Packard to hold 6x6 boards, and adapters 6x6 to 4x4.
Just takes time and patience to do it over until it works. I await, among other things, light valves to complete the 7x17 holder project- if I can make that work [no precision machining], the rest is well not easy but possible.

jp
4-Mar-2010, 18:09
Chamonix sells 4x5 bellows pretty inexpensive; you could inquire what they'd charge for 8x10.

Daniel_Buck
4-Mar-2010, 18:12
Chamonix sells 4x5 bellows pretty inexpensive; you could inquire what they'd charge for 8x10.

They taper :( I want a very large front standard. I know some 8x10 studio cameras have non-tapering bellows, I would probably just find a good set of bellows that are used, instead of having some made or buying new ones. Bellows something like these:

http://www.blackartwoodcraft.com/images/img_1599-1.jpg

Jack Dahlgren
4-Mar-2010, 18:12
I've been thinking of making a camera too when I have some free time... but it would certainly pay to leverage things which are already done (like camera backs or rangefinders) if you wanted to get started with it and didn't want to make springs, groundglass and the like.

I was thinking to make an ultrawide - so the body could be small - almost one piece with not much need for movements.

ic-racer
4-Mar-2010, 19:12
Might want to check out a bellows price quote from these folks. I got a quote from them that was less than the 'usual' other bellows sources. (But wound up making my own, so I can't judge their work).

http://www.gortite.com/forms/cb100.php

Daniel_Buck
4-Mar-2010, 22:36
ooh, look at that, I'll have to contact them about some bellows, see what their pricing is :-) Thanks!

GPS
5-Mar-2010, 01:30
ooh, look at that, I'll have to contact them about some bellows, see what their pricing is :-) Thanks!

Their pricing is not bad but beware, they use the most expensive S&H charges they can get. Also the material they use is too heavy, not easily pliable and not so good for cameras - it's more of the technical belows rather than photographic stuff.
Custom Bellows in England have much better stuff for us, photographers.

cjbroadbent
5-Mar-2010, 02:39
The back is the hardest part make and the easiest to salvage. Mine is an Arca: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/KLjJaOTSFxcJW8WXFEdKbA?feat=directlink

Ernest Purdum
5-Mar-2010, 07:47
Unless you can get some existing bellows at a particularly good price, having them made to your exact size needs would be better. Besides Camera Bellows in England that I have used, there are several bellows suppliers in the USA.

Daniel_Buck
5-Mar-2010, 10:05
The back is the hardest part make and the easiest to salvage. Mine is an Arca: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/KLjJaOTSFxcJW8WXFEdKbA?feat=directlink

that's what I was thinking, especially if I can find an 8x10 metal back that is revolving. I know some of the 4x5 calumet cameras had revolving backs, I wonder if any of the 8x10 cameras did? That would be a nice little feature to have, and would make it so that I don't have to provide provisions for the back to be removed easily, since I could just rotate it without taking it off to go from landscape to portrait.


Thanks for the notes on Custom Bellows in England, much appreciated :-)

cjbroadbent
5-Mar-2010, 10:14
A rotating back has a complicated joint. It would be easier to unclip, turn and replace a flanged board holding the back. Like a Gandolfi.

r_a_feldman
5-Mar-2010, 10:16
Googling "making bellows" turns up a number of how-to sites. There have been several threads here on making your own bellows, too, but I cannot locate the one I am thinking of.

Daniel_Buck
5-Mar-2010, 10:16
yes, and I'm not finding any 8x10 cameras that actually have rotating backs like the 4x5 that I remember.

r_a_feldman
5-Mar-2010, 10:24
A rotating back has a complicated joint. It would be easier to unclip, turn and replace a flanged board holding the back. Like a Gandolfi.

Or like the back pictured in post #2 at http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=58660. This is a book-form holder half plate back, but you could do something similar with a newer back. It has two small brackets on the bottom -- the two small chromed pieces at the corners of the back -- and two rotating clips at the top. To change the back orientation, you just raise the clips, slide the back up and out, rotate it and slide it back in place.

IanG
5-Mar-2010, 10:30
Googling "making bellows" turns up a number of how-to sites. There have been several threads here on making your own bellows, too, but I cannot locate the one I am thinking of.

I've just drawn a pattern which I can scale/adapt to fit a variety of cameras, at the moment it's for one of my 9x12cm cameras which has tapered bellows, but square or rectangular bellows are much simpler.

Once I've tested it I'll post online, probably as an editable PDF.

Ian

BarryS
5-Mar-2010, 11:02
Deardorff made an 11x14 to 8x10 rotating back. if you could find one, it would be expensive. It seems a lot easier to make or salvage a rear frame and find one of the cheap and plentiful reversible 8x10 backs out there.

Robert Hughes
5-Mar-2010, 11:34
I built my own 8x10 box camera - total cost including Wollensak apo raptar lens - about $150. No bellows needed - of course it's not a folder. For front and back standards I modified canvas stretching frames from the local art supply store. No rotating back - that's what the pan/tilt head on my tripod is for. If I wanted to get fancy, I'd put a camera mount screw on the side.

Gordon Moat
5-Mar-2010, 12:02
I contacted Custom Bellows (http://www.custombellows.co.uk/) by e-mail, and told them I was designing a camera. I gave them somewhat close sizes that I was trying to achieve, and let them suggest what ready-made bellows would be a good match.

The biggest issue I have encountered is knobs and lock-down levers. Unless you want some really clunky and large items from McMaster Carr (http://www.mcmaster.com), you would need a custom order from a machinist. This has been the greatest hurdle, in that the only price break is through ordering a large quantity. That has also led me to make alterations in my design to (attempt) to only use one type of knob throughout the camera.

My first approach, and prototype, were made be me on a milling machine borrowed from a friend. Due to the large amount of time that ate up, I am now creating the final design in Goolge SketchUp, and then having a machine shop make the parts.

Ciao!

Gordon Moat Photography (http://www.gordonmoat.com)

Darcy Cote
5-Mar-2010, 13:06
Consider the time to take to build one instead of buying one used. Although there is a certain enjoyment to making your own, the hours to get there can be many. Take it from someone that makes unusual and unique cameras.

Darcy

jmcd
5-Mar-2010, 13:46
Western Bellows made replacement bellows for my 5x7 Ansco, essentially non-tapering. I think the bellows are flexible and great.

Daniel_Buck
5-Mar-2010, 15:06
My first approach, and prototype, were made be me on a milling machine borrowed from a friend. Due to the large amount of time that ate up, I am now creating the final design in Goolge SketchUp, and then having a machine shop make the parts.

Same here, I'm roughing out the design in Maya, and then will start building it in Solidworks to be machined. I'm no good building things with my hands, but I'm good with a computer :D