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Thread: 12"x12" Camera Build

  1. #1

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    12"x12" Camera Build

    Hello all. This is my first post here. I'm just wrapping up on building my second wet plate camera. I started with building a 4"x5" sliding box, have screwed around with it for a year or so, decided I really liked wet plate, and am now stepping up to a larger size. And building the first camera really taught me a lot about what I don't like, or what I needed to change on the second one.

    This one will take up to 12"x12", with adapters for 8"x10" and 4"x5", and I can easily make additional adapters for other sizes.

    This is about as close to "from scratch" as I can reasonably get. I didn't make the lenses (15" Ilex process and Industar 37), but that's about it. I didn't follow any plans, although I did copy/imitate a few things that I saw online for certain parts of the camera. Namely I kind of used this guy's backend/plateholder setup as I liked the way it looks and operates (http://cdtp-photography.blogspot.com...t-film_25.html), I made this 2x4 tripod (http://www.eyesonthesky.com/DIYImpro...Tripod2x4.aspx) except I made mine with adjustable height legs, and I followed someone's tripod tilting head design I saw online. The rest of the camera is just a matter of building a nice looking wood box, and making sure the plate holder puts the ambrotype/tintype in the exact same position and plane as the ground glass.

    I built this one with what is essentially an internal "Guerry Flap Shutter". You push a button on the front of the camera, and a flap flips down inside and exposing the plate. It also locks open for focusing. A flap shutter should work fine with wet plate.

    I made custom bellows, plateholder, ground glass, everything. In the past week I've disassembled it, given it a few coats of gel stain, and a few more of amber shellac. It looks fantastic, and old. And being wet plate, I've built a portable darkroom and all kinds of other odds and ends to make it all work. I intend to take this baby on the road as much as I can.

    I'll post more pictures as I finish it up, but here's what I have so far. There's a link to more pictures at the bottom.









    More photos here:
    http://postimg.org/gallery/2t4ozm4k2/

  2. #2
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: 12"x12" Camera Build

    Looks great. Nice work!
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

  3. #3

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    Re: 12"x12" Camera Build

    Some more photos taken last night. I've completed the finishing and have begun re-assembly.





  4. #4

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    Re: 12"x12" Camera Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter J. De Smidt View Post
    Looks great. Nice work!
    Thanks Peter!

  5. #5

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    Re: 12"x12" Camera Build

    I think it is also a little easier to build and align with a matching front and rear standard, which may be why so many of the older ones took that general form and we see more refinements such as smaller front standards come along later after more experience and thought was put into what was and wasn't needed in a camera. We have a lot of advantages when it comes to building these things now as we get to look back and see neat tricks that did and didn't work.

    But beyond that some original designs I've seen look like they were still done with a tapered bellows anyway, and the full sized front standard then served as a more complete lid to the 'box' the camera made when all strapped down for travel. I've even seen a photo where the front standard was built such that the lens board was actually centred in the wooden frame, and then a full sized cover lid went on top of that with ample room for the lens. To me the design just looked rather practical for packing up in a steamer trunk or something, and wouldn't leave any weird or awkward gaps.


    But either way, I like the look of your design you're going with in this thread. I look forward to hearing how it works for you and whether there were any changes you would make if building it again.

  6. #6

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    Re: 12"x12" Camera Build

    I admire your work but do have one question as to why you cut such an angle in the multiple plies of plywood used to clamp the plastic tube in two places ? Should anyone contemplate a similar undertaking, the question is reasonable to ask as I get the impression that the square angle cut was not really needed to provide a supporting surface for a washer and nut that could have been buried in the very same number of plies.

    Also interested in the rigidness of that clamped plastic tube : Off hand, I would not have guessed it rigid enough. Do you currently feel confident in its capacity ?

    Thanks for posting this really interesting and beautiful project. Those pictures are actually tickling my brain to accept a new project...

    Pierre
    Pierre Leduc
    Following link is just a recent sample, pending presentable Large Format production...
    HTML Code:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/132200218@N02/

  7. #7

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    Re: 12"x12" Camera Build

    REALLY, REALLY, REALLY nice job!!!!!! Nicely made, well thought out, and work well, too!!!

    A minor point is the tripod... I think it will be bulky to carry folded, touchy to tweak the level if the ground is uneven, and the head is overkill/overengineered when all that was needed was the old design with the two hinged boards with the slotted strut + locking screw handle... (the two locking handles will be tiresome when one hand is tilting the camera and the other now has to tighten 2 handles...)

    A more slender/strong tripod that is easier to change height and levels (and carry) will be a consideration in the future... (And can be made to look more "vintage"...)

    Great work!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Steve K

  8. #8

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    Re: 12"x12" Camera Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Pierre 2 View Post
    I admire your work but do have one question as to why you cut such an angle in the multiple plies of plywood used to clamp the plastic tube in two places ? Should anyone contemplate a similar undertaking, the question is reasonable to ask as I get the impression that the square angle cut was not really needed to provide a supporting surface for a washer and nut that could have been buried in the very same number of plies.

    Also interested in the rigidness of that clamped plastic tube : Off hand, I would not have guessed it rigid enough. Do you currently feel confident in its capacity ?

    Thanks for posting this really interesting and beautiful project. Those pictures are actually tickling my brain to accept a new project...

    Pierre
    The tilt mechanism was just a copy of someone else's design. I'm not quite sure what you're asking about the angle. The design seemed/seems logical to me, but I'm just now realizing that it's probably not ideal for this camera. It's really the first time I've had everything put together and played around with it, besides just making sure everything fits.

    The plastic tube feels really rigid, until you put the camera up there. I feel like the tube is flexing slightly when there is torsional pressure applied to it. It holds fine. The tilt of the camera doesn't move, but it kind of makes the rail like a diving board, if that makes any sense. If I push down on the front of the camera and let go, the whole thing will bounce up and down a little bit. I was actually thinking about filling the tube up with concrete, believe it or not, to see if that solves the problem. That seems like a cheap option to make it a completely solid object instead of a hollow cylinder.

  9. #9

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    Re: 12"x12" Camera Build

    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    REALLY, REALLY, REALLY nice job!!!!!! Nicely made, well thought out, and work well, too!!!

    A minor point is the tripod... I think it will be bulky to carry folded, touchy to tweak the level if the ground is uneven, and the head is overkill/overengineered when all that was needed was the old design with the two hinged boards with the slotted strut + locking screw handle... (the two locking handles will be tiresome when one hand is tilting the camera and the other now has to tighten 2 handles...)

    A more slender/strong tripod that is easier to change height and levels (and carry) will be a consideration in the future... (And can be made to look more "vintage"...)

    Great work!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Steve K
    Thanks!

    The tripod itself is great. It folds up pretty narrow, and it doesn't weigh that much. I doubt it will ever be used much on uneven ground, it's really just for height adjustment (all legs would be extended equally). I think it would look fine if I just painted it black or something. I've just been waiting to make sure everything is the way I want it with the tripod and head first.

    I don't like the head that I built, and I'm very interested in the "old design" you're talking about. If you have any more info or a link or a picture please let me know!

    The head design is fine for a smaller camera. It was pretty easy to build, and the original design only had one handle, and that didn't seem like enough to me for this camera so I added a second one. It will start tilting if you loosen only one of them, so it's still really only a one handle system anyways. The biggest problem with the design, given the design and weight of the camera, is that it's kind of like a diving board. The PVC seems to kind of act like a torsion spring. I was thinking about filling it with concrete as I'm sure that would help. Am I the first person to consider using concrete in a camera build?

    The head will work for now, but I'm looking for another option. Notice that I didn't put edge banding or a finish on the head for this very reason (didn't want to waste my time).

  10. #10

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    Re: 12"x12" Camera Build

    Hello!!!

    Here is that tripod head you asked about... (From right here in the classifieds)

    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...t=graflex+head

    Easy enough!!!

    On the tripod;

    Having some independent leg movement will help a lot while trying to level the rig (as your head does not have side tilt) if the ground is uneven...

    Also, on the lensboard holder;

    It looks a little small, (4"X4"???) if you find some big glass later...

    But by all means, Carry On!!!!!

    Steve K

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