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Thread: I am a woodworker who wants to make a large field camera...

  1. #1

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    I am a woodworker who wants to make a large field camera...

    Hello everybody,

    I have been into argentic 35 mm photography a long time ago, processing my own photos, etc, but then, left everything aside. Now, I am a woodworker, building strange things, that is, large telescopes for amateur astronomers. One of my client is a great photographer using large field cameras and this switched again a small light in the back of my brain... I want to try large format photography, and as a first step, I want to BUILD my camera!

    This might be silly, as I'd better buy a second hand one, but as you might have understood, for me, one of the interest of the game is to build it.

    I will show you soon what I have done. It will be a 4x5 one, but if I get the virus, it is possible that I make a larger one...

    Pierre
    France

  2. #2

    Re: I am a woodworker who wants to make a large field camera...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kentaro View Post
    Hello everybody,

    I have been into argentic 35 mm photography a long time ago, processing my own photos, etc, but then, left everything aside. Now, I am a woodworker, building strange things, that is, large telescopes for amateur astronomers. One of my client is a great photographer using large field cameras and this switched again a small light in the back of my brain... I want to try large format photography, and as a first step, I want to BUILD my camera!

    This might be silly, as I'd better buy a second hand one, but as you might have understood, for me, one of the interest of the game is to build it.

    I will show you soon what I have done. It will be a 4x5 one, but if I get the virus, it is possible that I make a larger one...

    Pierre
    France
    Go for it Pierre I will look forward to seeing your camera.

  3. #3
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: I am a woodworker who wants to make a large field camera...

    You may wish to borrow or buy+resell one for ideas for your construction.

  4. #4
    loujon
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    Re: I am a woodworker who wants to make a large field camera...

    Welcome Pierre!

    Yea man go for it and you certainly should build your own camera. You may want to go to our home page and study over the information there. It will help give you a feel for possible wants & needs (bellows length, movements, type of back and so on) in a camera which should help when building your 1st.
    Here's a direct link to the home page http://www.largeformatphotography.info/ You can also get a load of ideas and pointers on camera building in the LF DIY section of the forum found here http://www.largeformatphotography.in...o-It-Yourself).

    Hey Pierre please keep us updated on your camera build as its comes together and look forward to your contributions to our LF forum.

  5. #5

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    Re: I am a woodworker who wants to make a large field camera...


  6. #6

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    Re: I am a woodworker who wants to make a large field camera...

    Am also a woodworker who years ago wanted to build an 8x10 view camera. I went the route of purchasing a really, really used 8x10 B&J wooden view camera for the metal hardware and then just easily replicated the wooden parts, broken and worn wood parts off the camera I purchased made great templates to use. Wood I used was found in a dumpster outside a Kitchen & Bath design business. They change the floor room model cabinets on a regular basis and just throw out the previous floor models... ended up with an abundant supply of No. 1 Cherry and another great hardwood that I never did identify.

  7. #7

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    Re: I am a woodworker who wants to make a large field camera...

    LF cameras have been evolving for over 150 years, and they may look simple but there are important minor details that can be the difference between the camera being nearly impossible to work well, or a joy to use... (This is not about your skill level, it is about design details...)

    Having an old camera that is well designed is a good model for the features that make a camera a joy to use, so I would strongly suggest to use and get to know a well designed even almost not working camera first to allow you to see what is right and wrong with it, THEN design a camera with what you have learned...

    Don't re-invent the wheel, drive the car... ;-)

    Steve K

  8. #8

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    Re: I am a woodworker who wants to make a large field camera...

    Thank you very much for all your messages. It is fair to say that I do not want to reinvent the wheel... I looked at the various creations made in the DIY section. Some of them are wonderful!

    Ok for getting inspired by a well designed model. But which one is good ?

    - What are the factors which make a good camera ? Stability ? Stiffness ? smouthness of focussing ? Ergonomy of the back ?
    - What are the "well designed" cameras ? Ebony ? Wista ? Chamonix ?
    - I suppose that, as everywhere, the Devil is in the details... So are are the good details ?


    But on the other hand, it is fair to say that I do not expect to make the best camera on a first shot (may be on the second ). It will be a work in progress. And rebuilding it would not be a problem.

  9. #9

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    Re: I am a woodworker who wants to make a large field camera...

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    Am also a woodworker who years ago wanted to build an 8x10 view camera. I went the route of purchasing a really, really used 8x10 B&J wooden view camera for the metal hardware and then just easily replicated the wooden parts, broken and worn wood parts off the camera I purchased made great templates to use. Wood I used was found in a dumpster outside a Kitchen & Bath design business. They change the floor room model cabinets on a regular basis and just throw out the previous floor models... ended up with an abundant supply of No. 1 Cherry and another great hardwood that I never did identify.


    This is the way I would go - if I didn't have enough very sericeable large format cameras already! My only efforts involve making sliding box cameras so I can put some C de V lenses to good use.

    France has a good tradition of unique "voyages" cameras made of European Walnut in the period 1880 - 1920. I have heard stories of small workshops around the Juras who made these for the Parisian retailers. I don't know whether good walnut is still available. The cherry that Greg talked about is american cherry, which, unfortunately like Japanese cherry, is a much more distinguished wood compared with European Cherry!

  10. #10

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    Re: I am a woodworker who wants to make a large field camera...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kentaro View Post
    - What are the factors which make a good camera ? Stability ? Stiffness ? smouthness of focussing ? Ergonomy of the back ?
    All that. Let me add lightweight for non studio work, and alignment. Good "zero" points are good to get alignment, the ground glass plane and film plane has to match perfectly, so you may prepare some adjustable system in the ground glass support to fine adjust that matching, see an example, the CAMBO clamp has 3 mechanized points that ensures it:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here you also have film holder specs, an important dimension is the "Depth to film surface", it has to be the same than the flange to the inner side of the ground glass, if not you will loss focus...

    http://home.earthlink.net/~eahoo/page8/filmhold.html



    Quote Originally Posted by Kentaro View Post
    - What are the "well designed" cameras ? Ebony ? Wista ? Chamonix ?
    All those are excellent, you have to measure well the resources you have (5D mill machine? 2.5D? 100% handcraft ?) to pick a more or less complex design. As you are woodworker you have a great advantage, a good woodwork requires a master, IMHO.

    Before you start buiding a camera I'd suggest you buy a cheap monorail, something like $200 cambo sc 4x5, to get practice in LF and to understand what are the challenges. You can sell it later.

    A monorail has all movements, for a field wood camera you probably are to remove or limit some movements for the fieldability sake, but you have to know what limitations you want to allow, what format, what bellows draw, what glasses...

    If you copy an ebony, a wista or a chamonix you won't go wrong, but I suggest you first get LF practice because the great thing of the DIY effort is that it allows for a personalization, making a very custom and refined thing, if not it's cheaper to buy an Intrepid or a used one.




    Quote Originally Posted by Kentaro View Post
    - I suppose that, as everywhere, the Devil is in the details... So are are the good details ?
    But on the other hand, it is fair to say that I do not expect to make the best camera on a first shot (may be on the second ). It will be a work in progress. And rebuilding it would not be a problem.
    Yes, the details are crazy important, anyway 1920 (to say a year) cameras were very simple and this did not prevent good photographers to take awesome images.

    From 35mm argentic to LF you have some changes, first is that for LF tilt-swing-shift-rise can be a principal aesthetic resource, you have to master that.

    Then in LF you have the opportunity to make an special custom development for each image, this is not easy with rolls... so you also should read "Beyond the Zone System" and http://www.ssnpstudents.com/wp/wp-co...m-Cookbook.pdf

    I say that because if you first start shooting some LF you will know better what you want to build.


    Regards.

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