View Full Version : ULF Camera for a Bell & Howell 914mm f8 Aerial Lens

Jacob A. Hauser
31-Aug-2014, 10:20
Hi fellas! - Longtime lurker on this wonderful forum making his first thread!

I have had this project on the back burner for a long time and I have a desire to get it finished by the end of the year. Here is the link to the GoFundMe page: http://www.gofundme.com/ultra-large-format

Quick background info, I purchased a Bell & Howell 914mm f8 lens from the bay back in 2012 with the intent of creating a 16"x20" camera built around utilizing the lens to its potential. I started by thinking I would make a camera just to work with this lens only but I decided to move to a more versatile design in case I decided to use other optics in the future.

My biggest stumbling block has been finances. I have used materials from friends and family and hand tools (and one power drill) to create what I have thus far. You can see some of the progress on my tumblr page here: http://humblecinematographer.tumblr.com/

I have decided to take to crowd funding to see if I can raise funds for completion. In my budget I have determined the cost of film (which I will have to order from Ilford next year), materials to build the front standard and film holders, purchase a tripod for the giant, development and printing (I will develop and print at a local B&W darkroom that just opened up), and the possibility that I will need to rebuild part of the already build camera (due to cracking wood from my hurried construction process, my bad)

I'd like to know if anyone has ideas for reward levels? I thought about personal portraits but the cost of such a reward would be pretty high due to the cost of film and developing and printing. If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear!

Take a look, spread the word, and I hope to be shooting with this guy in the near future!

All the best,


Dan Fromm
31-Aug-2014, 11:28
Not to be negative, but y'r first shot suggests that the lens won't cover 16 x 20. I can't confirm this from my USAF data sheets -- don't have one for a 36"/8 B&H lens -- but USAF's 36/8 lenses all seem to have been made to cover 9 x 18. As I calculate 'em, 9 x 18's diagonal is 20" and 16 x 20's is 25" so y'r monster lens won't cover y'r desired format. I suggest you make and use a proof of concept prototype -- sliding box camera, paper negative -- to test the lens' coverage before you do more.

I have no idea whether using crowd funding to finance completion will generate the funds you need will work.

Whatever you do, however you proceed, good luck, have fun,


Jacob A. Hauser
31-Aug-2014, 11:41
Hey Dan,

I was thinking about a smaller format before I did an image circle test. When I measured it, it fell between 25-26" in diameter, that's how I determined the 16x20 format, though no room for movements hardly.

That photo was taken from a GoPro and is not necessarily the best representation of the image due to the crazy hot-spot effect this lens has on the GG. If I had a fresnel screen you would be able to see illumination at the edges. I took a loupe to it when I did this rudimentary setup.

The crowd funding approach is just something I am trying out at this point.

Thanks for the comment!

Dan Fromm
31-Aug-2014, 12:31
Jacob, see post #14 in this discussion: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?80807-Kodak-Anastigmat-130mm-6-3/page2

I suspect that your image circle test found out the circle the lens illuminates, not the circle it covers.

Jacob A. Hauser
31-Aug-2014, 20:39
That is a good point. I'll need to test whether or not the image circle is bright enough and sharp enough at the far ends of the circle. That said, I could simply build a reducing back for a more appropriate format size.

Jacob A. Hauser
31-Aug-2014, 22:27
After some reconsideration I have decided to stop donations to my project. I thought starting a crowd funding campaign would be a way to motivate myself to get this project on track if others saw something of value in what I am trying to accomplish. I understand that there is no gain for anyone donating to my project, that does not mean I cannot ask. What has become clear to me, through channels on this forum as well as others, is that individuals, perhaps much more well off than myself (perhaps not) see this as mere panhandling. I was conflicted about even setting up the page, I despise welfare of any kind. I come from a family of small business owners who prove their worth through their work. I believed what I did to be along that same vein of entrepreneurship, I was mistaken. The page will remain up to serve as a summary of the project. I wish no one any ill over this. Moderators, feel free to remove this thread or keep it active. I'm still open to comments or suggestions from folks regarding any aspects of the project.

With thanks,