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Thread: DIY bag bellows

  1. #1

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    DIY bag bellows

    I made a set bag bellows yesterday and it actually turned out pretty well. WA bellows can be difficult to find, especially for custom projects, so the here's the link to the blog post if anyone is interested in building some. Only took a couple hours.

    Downside is the BK-5 cloth material is pretty expensive. It also needs to be doubled up to be completely opaque, but that actually helps give the bag some rigidity so it doesn't settle into the frame mid-exposure. It's still plenty flexible for movements and will fold down flat for storage. (Doubled up the material is probably a little too thick for pleated bellows.) The minimum order from ThorLabs will make quite a few smaller-format bag bellows. The fabric is surprisingly durable- I made a similar set 4 years ago for a different camera, and it's still light tight after some pretty rough usage and storage in my pack.

    The other materials are pretty basic- some rip cloth between the BK-5 really helps with the adhesion, some spray adhesive to laminate the materials, and some double-stick tape for the seams and attaching to the frames. McMaster-Carr sells a good quality tape. They call it light duty but I think that's relative to the structural tapes they sell, it's very high tack.


  2. #2

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    Re: DIY bag bellows

    Cute. I've added a link to y'r blog page to my ever-growing list of useful links and have archived y'r link.

  3. #3

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    May 2016
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    497

    Re: DIY bag bellows

    Making the bellows from thin black leather such as found in fabrics shops would avoid the need to double the shell and the expensive price paid for it.
    But more importantly - why on earth you cut the pieces so that you need to have 4 seams to glue together??
    The whole shape can be easily cut in one piece only so that you need to glue one seam only to get the bellows in the desired shape (as you can see on normal bellows too)!

  4. #4

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    Re: DIY bag bellows

    Makes me think that a film changing bag would be a good option. They come in lots of sizes and prices, and depending on the camera and bag, making a seam might not be needed. I'm sure this has already been thought of -- and tried.

  5. #5

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    Re: DIY bag bellows

    Joe, changing bags are too flimsy to work unsupported. If you meant to suggest that a changing bag would be a good source of light-tight fabric for a properly supported bag bellows, good suggestion.

    FWIW, I've made a self-supported (no ribs, no framework) short bag bellows. There's a link to an account of it in my list of links.

    From my narrow parochial perspective, THE problem in making a bellows is securing bellows frames. There are times when scavenging seems the only/best option.

  6. #6

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    Re: DIY bag bellows

    Quote Originally Posted by Pfsor View Post
    Making the bellows from thin black leather such as found in fabrics shops would avoid the need to double the shell and the expensive price paid for it.
    But more importantly - why on earth you cut the pieces so that you need to have 4 seams to glue together??
    The whole shape can be easily cut in one piece only so that you need to glue one seam only to get the bellows in the desired shape (as you can see on normal bellows too)!
    Most commercial bag bellows have seams on all sides. If carefully made the seams really aren't a problem at all. As I described in the link, each seam is reinforced with a strip from scraps of the same fabric laminate. Also, cutting four symmetrical panels greatly simplified the assembly, and greatly reduced the waste for this type of pattern. The only reason this project took more than an hour was because I made the frames as well.

    I've made pillow-case style bellows that have less seams, but they need to be fairly large to offer the same amount of movements. But if you have a good design for a bag bellows I'd certainly be interested.

    The material I linked to is a 5' x 9' piece of cloth, so I would also be interested in a source for genuine black leather that was similarly priced.

  7. #7

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    Mar 2017
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    255

    Re: DIY bag bellows

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Joe, changing bags are too flimsy to work unsupported. If you meant to suggest that a changing bag would be a good source of light-tight fabric for a properly supported bag bellows, good suggestion.

    FWIW, I've made a self-supported (no ribs, no framework) short bag bellows. There's a link to an account of it in my list of links.

    From my narrow parochial perspective, THE problem in making a bellows is securing bellows frames. There are times when scavenging seems the only/best option.
    A changing bag worked okay for me. This is a small bag (14 inches across the top), and all I did was cut off the sleeves, sew those holes shut, and then put holes in the center of the two sides for the frames. Being able to reach through the bag with the zipper open made it easier to put the old frames on. The seams in the bag provide enough support to hold the edges out of the way of the light cone, and even though this was a small changing bag, it made pretty large bellows, so that helps with the light cone, too. I've viewed through it with movements in pretty exaggerated angles, and it's still good.

    I was only able to do this because I had the bellows frames from the old, standard bellows to use. I got the camera almost free because it had torn up bellows. So, yeah, without them, this would not have been possible.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #8

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    Re: DIY bag bellows

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Joe, changing bags are too flimsy to work unsupported. If you meant to suggest that a changing bag would be a good source of light-tight fabric for a properly supported bag bellows, good suggestion.

    FWIW, I've made a self-supported (no ribs, no framework) short bag bellows. There's a link to an account of it in my list of links.

    From my narrow parochial perspective, THE problem in making a bellows is securing bellows frames. There are times when scavenging seems the only/best option.
    True, the weak point on any bellows can be where they attach to the frames, since that's where most of the stress is.

    Really thin materials can be a problem. I've made some bag bellows in the past from the Porter's Camera blackout cloth, and while super flexible they tended to settle and block the lens during a long exposure.

  9. #9

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    Re: DIY bag bellows

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Joe, changing bags are too flimsy to work unsupported. If you meant to suggest that a changing bag would be a good source of light-tight fabric for a properly supported bag bellows, good suggestion
    Unfortunately, my 4x5's don't accept/allow bag bellows -- so I know nothing about them. But fortunately, with my 4x5's I don't need a bag bellows. I can use a 47mm XL (with a recessed board) and a 37mm fish-eye (without).

    Just dumb luck, I guess!
    Last edited by xkaes; 26-Nov-2017 at 10:36.

  10. #10

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    May 2016
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    497

    Re: DIY bag bellows

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Graham View Post
    Most commercial bag bellows have seams on all sides. If carefully made the seams really aren't a problem at all. As I described in the link, each seam is reinforced with a strip from scraps of the same fabric laminate. Also, cutting four symmetrical patterns greatly simplified the assembly, and greatly reduced the waste for this type of pattern. The only reason this project took more than an hour was because I made the frames as well.

    I've made pillow-case style bellows that have less seams, but they need to be fairly large to offer the same amount of movements. But if you have a good design for a bag bellows I'd certainly be interested.

    The material I linked to is a 5' x 9' piece of cloth, so I would also be interested in a source for genuine black leather that was similarly priced.
    If done with 1 seam only the seams are even less of a problem and work... Also, cutting the bellows from one piece simplifies the assembly even more than putting 4 pieces together (8 in your case!). And no, you don't need a 5'x9' piece of leather for making small bag bellows. The piece of black leather I used was hardly 2'x2' if not much less. For -if I remember well- about 15$. If you insist on 5'x9' piece you're out of luck.

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