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Thread: DIY Open Source Field Camera Design

  1. #1
    Tim Meisburger's Avatar
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    DIY Open Source Field Camera Design

    I am in the (slow) process of building an 8x10 field camera modeled on my 4x5 Ikeda Anba. I've built the back and the frame, and there is still some woodworking, but at this point I'm thinking about sourcing metal parts. I'm using the 4x5 model because there are actually no good plans on the web for field cameras. There is also no good source for parts. I got to thinking that it might be possible for the many people on LFPF interested in camera building to pool their resources and design one (or several) generic cameras using standard parts, and then collectively source those parts.

    For example, gear racks are available from China relatively cheaply compared to sourcing such stuff from a specialty suppliers, but might have a minimum order of ten meters. That is a big buy for one person, but ten meters of rack will build less than 10 8x10 cameras, so if we all agreed on a standard rack size and design, bulk purchase would be feasible and keep costs down. The same could be done for knurled knobs and other metal parts. Using this approach we might be able to get entire parts kits for 30 or 40 dollars. If we had a standard design we could also get mass produced bellows, or at least find a common source for bellows materiel. Although everyone has wood available, a standard cutting list would make the use of a variety of different woods possible (for example, I could have mahogany blanks sufficient for an 8x10 cut and shipped from Thailand for probably $20 plus shipping).

    I think a lot more people would build cameras if they had a good design and could source materials relatively easily, but what do you think? Is this something anyone else would be interested in getting involved in?

  2. #2

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    Re: DIY Open Source Field Camera Design

    Tim,
    I have an IA 4x5 and think it would be a great design for 8x10. I would certainly be interested in buying the necessary metal parts in kit form.

    Michael

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    Re: DIY Open Source Field Camera Design

    Here is a website with many resources for building various types of large format cameras:

    http://home.online.no/~gjon/camerabuilders.htm

    Some of this is not in English and, like lots of pages which have been up for a few years, there are a few dead links. However, if you read the listings on 8x10 flatbed cameras, you will get a lot of ideas on how to do this without resorting to a lot of factory manufacture red parts. There are a few sets of plans with drawings and stuff. One of them has a cut list for the wood used. Designing a camera around commonly available bellows rather than having custom bellows made might be easier. There is a guy on eBay who is a pretty reliable source of a wide variety of bellows for factory built cameras.

  4. #4
    Tim Meisburger's Avatar
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    Re: DIY Open Source Field Camera Design

    Quote Originally Posted by jbenedict View Post
    Here is a website with many resources for building various types of large format cameras:

    http://home.online.no/~gjon/camerabuilders.htm

    Some of this is not in English and, like lots of pages which have been up for a few years, there are a few dead links. However, if you read the listings on 8x10 flatbed cameras, you will get a lot of ideas on how to do this without resorting to a lot of factory manufacture red parts. There are a few sets of plans with drawings and stuff. One of them has a cut list for the wood used. Designing a camera around commonly available bellows rather than having custom bellows made might be easier. There is a guy on eBay who is a pretty reliable source of a wide variety of bellows for factory built cameras.
    Thank you, but I am well aware of that website, and have searched it several times for good plans without finding any. What I'm most interested in is a professional quality design. The Raymond Kirby link, now dead, showed the quality of camera I'm interested in building, but he never included any detailed plans or sources for parts.

  5. #5
    Tim Meisburger's Avatar
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    Re: DIY Open Source Field Camera Design

    Michael, an 8x10 based on IA would be one of the lightest available. Although extension would only be about 600mm, I think that would be fine for backpacking and landscape photography.

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    Re: DIY Open Source Field Camera Design

    Tim, I'd be interested in being part of a bulk order...

  7. #7

    Re: DIY Open Source Field Camera Design

    Tim,
    Thanks for your post. I have had the same thought about coming up with a "standard" design for DIY LF camera/s. I'd be glad to participate! I love the idea of coming up with a parts kit that could save potential builders significant cost. I would suggest starting with a standard design for a spring back - which could be included in a camera build that uses any design the builder wishes - folder, monorail, lots of movements, few movements etc. After that, the focusing mechanism - meaning the rack and pinion parts which are indeed VERY expensive when sourced individually.

    I suppose what I'm saying is that I think that a useful goal would be to "standardize" the tricky parts of a camera build project and leave the simpler bits to the builder's ingenuity. And perhaps several designs could be developed using the standardized sub-assemblies.

  8. #8
    Tim Meisburger's Avatar
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    Re: DIY Open Source Field Camera Design

    Quote Originally Posted by brandon allen View Post
    Tim,
    Thanks for your post. I have had the same thought about coming up with a "standard" design for DIY LF camera/s. I'd be glad to participate! I love the idea of coming up with a parts kit that could save potential builders significant cost. I would suggest starting with a standard design for a spring back - which could be included in a camera build that uses any design the builder wishes - folder, monorail, lots of movements, few movements etc. After that, the focusing mechanism - meaning the rack and pinion parts which are indeed VERY expensive when sourced individually.

    I suppose what I'm saying is that I think that a useful goal would be to "standardize" the tricky parts of a camera build project and leave the simpler bits to the builder's ingenuity. And perhaps several designs could be developed using the standardized sub-assemblies.
    Yes, I think that makes sense. If you have a standard design some can make that, while others will use the parts and hack their own design.

  9. #9

    Re: DIY Open Source Field Camera Design

    Exactly

  10. #10

    Re: DIY Open Source Field Camera Design

    As I said in my earlier post, I think that the spring back is the place to start with an overall camera design, but maybe making rack and pinion components available at a reasonable cost would attract more people initially. Any guesstimate of cost for the components, minimum order, etc? I would be interested in a group-buy for this stuff right now!

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