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Thread: long time listener, first time caller

  1. #1

    long time listener, first time caller

    I would like to introduce myself and say hello. I am a Master craftsman in the area of cabinetry and furniture . I have been looking at this site for awhile and really enjoy it. I have been involved with photography for 35 years more or less, and now that the children are all moved out I can do it more because there is more time and money. I started out with a 35mm and then went to a Bronica, then sold the Bronica. Then about 2 years ago, I found some sights on building 4x5 cameras; so I built one. Then while I was looking for a lens I purchased a Calumet 4x5 and soon after that I bought a Speed Grafic 4x5. I only do black and white prints. I am having a great time doing it. All this leads to my question; where can I buy bellows material? I am wanting to build some more cameras and the last fabric I used didn't work very well. Does anyone have any suggestions as to where I can locate bellows fabric? James

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Besançon, France
    Posts
    1,287

    long time listener, first time caller

    James.
    I envy you as a master carftsman since you'll soon manufacture your own line of view or field cameras to the best standards ;-)
    Living in Europe I would of course recommend Camera Bellows from Birmingham, the UK, but I'm sure there is an address in the Americas.

    www.camerabellows.com

    Some other ideas
    - The bellows supplied for some chinese-made 4x5 wooden field cameras is available as a spare part and is very affordable.
    - "system" large format cameras can attach/detach the bellows without any tool. You can look for a Sinar bellows or another brand of monorail view cameras.

    There exist a rich litterature on the Internet about home building large format cameras.
    A good starting point in the Northern part of the Old World but readily accessible here :
    home.online.no/~gjon

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Besançon, France
    Posts
    1,287

    long time listener, first time caller

    Ooops ! sorry ! I missed the 'fabric' ketword. So you want to build you own bellows instead of buying one made to your specifications . I have no idea whether Camera Bellows sells fabric separately.

    Another suggestion to challenge your skills would be molded-leather bellows in the style of Arca Swiss wide-angle bellows. You'd have to build wooden molds to shape wet leather ; tough job !!. But those kinds of bellows are extremely durable and flexible.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    184

    long time listener, first time caller

    Try rubber backed black nylon material from Porter Camera

  5. #5

    long time listener, first time caller

    Porter Camera lists "darkroom cloth" in two types: rubber-backed nylon and rubber-backed polyester. I've been meaning to try them for making a bellows, but haven't had the time. I'd be interested to hear what you think if you try this route.

  6. #6

    long time listener, first time caller

    Thanks for the information. I have looked into Porters, but I really would like to get some material that is for bellows. I am not apposed to buying them already made but I really enjoy the new challange. I am needing a new dark cloth any way , so I will probably try it any. Thanks, James

  7. #7

    long time listener, first time caller

    James, Will You post some pic's of Your camera? I am in the process of building a 4 x 5 camera.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Besançon, France
    Posts
    1,287

    long time listener, first time caller

    James. If you take the route of interchangeable bellows to cover the whole range of focal lengths from wide angle to very long focal lengths with different separate bellows, you might be interested in this German article by Franz-Manfred Schüngel (found as a link on Jon Grepstad's excellent DIY-LF web site) on a how to make a simple bag bellows. Text is in german but diagrams are clear.
    In fact, designing a bellows that would be absolutely universal is close to an impossible task ;-) since you always have to compromise between wide-angle use, where too many pleats restrict focusing and movements ; and long focal lengths, where too few pleats do not allow enough bellows drag.
    The perfect fabric would match all those requirements at the same time : perfectly light-tight but extremely thin and resistant to wear and pinhole formation in the corners, extremely flexible but absolutely rigid to avoid sagging with long bellows drag ;-);-)

    www.foto-net.de/net/dyo/gross_ww.html

  9. #9

    long time listener, first time caller

    I will try to get some fotos of my camera and post them. It has been quite a learning experence. I got it out the other day and the glue on the bellows is already coming loose . I basicly built it as a prototype so I could work out some of the problems and make the improvements of which there are plenty. I will try to do this very soon. Thanks James

  10. #10

    long time listener, first time caller

    As a bit of a craftsman myself, who has also worked with leather, I would go for a leather bellows. The most classy alternative too I would think.

    As a wood worker it would be easy for you to make a wood block mold for whatever size bellows you want. Then you would want to obtain a vegetable tanned supple leather of the right thickness. Vegetable tanned leather is what is used for tooling and it will hold an impresson. You can add dye and conditioners later. Some experimentation would be in order. One would make a 'tube' of some determinite size larger than the mold. This would take some trial and error involving some other material, say canvas. In creating the tube I would not stitch the seam but rather carefull shave the margin of the two ends to half thickness and then glue the seam together using 3M industrial contact cement. This can be obtained from an auto parts store and is used to affix rubber mouldings to cars. They use it to laminate new sheet metal in elevator cars and once the two pieces are stuck together .... NOTHING will ever pull them apart. Then one would soak the leather and then block it to the mold. I would think you would need four outer block mold pieces to perfectly hold the wet leather to the inner mold.

    As to holding your bellows to your frames: Try the 3M stuff.

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