View Full Version : lens board adapter prices

Ben Calwell
23-Feb-2005, 07:32
This is a complaint and a question. Why are lens board adaptors so damn expensive!
I've got three different cameras with three different lens board sizes. I would love to standardize on my small Linhof boards, but I'm reluctant to pay nearly $200 to do so. For that money, I could get a decent used lens, or a backpack or a Poloroid back or any number of other sexier goodies. I guess it comes down to whether it's worth $150- $200 to avoid having to get out the spanner wrench to switch lenses back and forth from my Wista, to my Sinar to my 5x7 Linhof. I'm tempted to try and hire a local retired machinist I know to make me one for me on the cheap, maybe out of wood or something. Are lens board adapters really that complex and hard to make?

David Van Gosen
23-Feb-2005, 08:22
I'd guess that they're expensive because they aren't a high demand item. They certainly look simple enough.

You should ask your friend to price the job. A machine shop might charge $40 or $50 an hour plus material. At that rate the manufactured part starts to look pretty good.

Brian Ellis
23-Feb-2005, 08:38
Wisner used to make a 5x7 to 4x5 adapter for $100. The one I bought about three years ago was from an Agfa Ansco 5x7 size to a 4x5 Linhof size but I assume they make others sizes.

Frank Petronio
23-Feb-2005, 08:53
The Arca-Swiss to Linhof adapter retails for $374 if you find one...

Sam Crater
23-Feb-2005, 08:55
Try SK Grimes. They might build one for less than $200.

Ole Tjugen
23-Feb-2005, 09:00
I think I paid something like 50 Euro on ebay.de for my Linhof-Linhof adapter board - to use Technika boards on a 5x7" Technika III. Well worth the money.

But now I'm selling the big Technika, and will end up in the same situation: Three different lensboards...

23-Feb-2005, 09:10
Shen Hao is nice enough to include an adapter with the 5x7. Makes the price seem even better after looking at some of those prices. My "new" 8x10 came with a metal lensboard. Guess what magnets hold my home made lensboards to the metal lensboard. I just leave the packard shutter in the metal lensboard open. Cost me around $10 for the magnets.

Joe Smigiel
23-Feb-2005, 10:39
I've just started to make these things for my personal use. It isn't as simple as it looks. You need to have at least 3 or 4 pieces of wood precisely dimensioned to a small size and with the grain on the 2 side pieces running opposite the grain of the middle piece(s) to help prevent warping of the wood. The pieces then need to be tongue and grooved to form a strong joint. The lip to hold the regular lensboard must be either engineered into this arrangement or routed out later after the boards are glued, joined and clamped. This is made more complex by the minute thickness of the wood used in such a lensboard or adapter. ( These joints are not that hard to cut on thick stock like a 2x4, but imagine trying to cut a precise 1/8" groove in 3/8" thick stock that is maybe 3/4" wide and 6" long. You're getting awfully close to whatever cutter you've powered up to do this job and trying to be safe and precise at the same time.)

After the wood is joined, then the holes need to be drilled precisely for the metal bars which will be attached and hold the lensboard in place. The lower metal strip needs to be drilled and the upper sliding strip needs to have its left and right edges bent and a series of 45 degree slots milled into it. Then you have to varnish the wood, paint the reverse black and screw the strips in place.

If you don't care about the appearance, you could probably just get some thin marine plywood and route the center hole out of a dimensioned piece. That eliminates the difficulty of the joined wood pieces but leaves the rest of the operation still needed.

To get my wood dimensioned, slotted correctly, and joined, I've used a jointer, belt sander, radial arm saw, and table saw with and without a dado blade as well as a tenoning jig and a bunch of clamps but for the jig and the gluing stages. The metal strips need either a drill press or milling machine and a brake, and probably some sort of burr removal tool and sander/polisher. The material costs of the actual adapter are very inconsequential. Its the investment in tooling and the time spent in setup and finishing that are generating the cost of these things. $150 may sound expensive but unless you've got the time, inclination and tools to do this seemingly simple job, that cost may be a bargain.

Joe Smigiel
23-Feb-2005, 10:42
Oops. Forgot to mention the back lip of the assembled adapter board must also be dadoed around the perimeter prior to painting.

Ben Calwell
23-Feb-2005, 10:57

I surrender. You're right -- what looks like a simple doodad must in fact be hell to manufacture.

David Wilkenson
23-Feb-2005, 11:24
A friend of mine is a master machinist & still does much of his hobby work at home with a machine that he has to set up, not a CNC machine with computers. He built me an adapter board for Technika to be used on a Deardorff. 19 separate setups to make the board. It takes time & effort to do it so it will work properly.

Dan Jolicoeur
23-Feb-2005, 12:03
I have been a machinist for 27 years. I work at a Universty for the last 5 years. I could find the scrap aluminum to make mine with, but it is cheaper for me to buy a $30 board from Badger than it is to make it myself on my own time. However.......... if some one was to have sizes or samples of a bunch of boards and make them 100 at a time and stock them it would be worth the time and money.



23-Feb-2005, 12:44
I've been satisfied with www.bromwellmarketing.com. (http://www.bromwellmarketing.com.) Both for their standard, in stock converter boards, like Sinar-to-Technika, and a custom board, Wehman-to-Technika.

Eric Woodbury
23-Feb-2005, 14:02
You're right, they are expensive. So are some lensboards. Years ago, I standardized on my own lensboard. It is the same dimensions as the Linhof (3 3/4 x 3 7/8"), except mine is just a rectangle without the fancy bevels, notches, etc. Just a flat metal lensboard. I had a stack of these made by a machinest. Cost me about $40 for a dozen of them. Then I have adaptered these to a Toko wood field camera (it fits directly on this as it was meant to take the Linhof style), a Canham (I built an insert that just squeaked in and wasn't as complicated as Canham's), a 57 Deardorff (again, another insert that I had machined for $40) and a Kodak Master (I made an adapter out of wood that was very easy to make that goes between the 6x6 and the roughly 4x4). These are not fancy adapters, there are not expensive to make, and most importantly to me since I like wide angle lenses, they don't add to the minimum focus distance.

Dave Schneider
23-Feb-2005, 15:34

Make on yourself. It is easy enough. You have to sacrifice a lens board for each camera you want to adapt. Some people will just drill the large diameter hole in that board to accomodate the Linhof boards. I wanted the lens to be in the same plane with the adapter as without on my Sinar (don't know if this would really affect the assymetric movements or not). I cut a rectangular hole in the Sinar board to clear the Linhof board. Then I mounted a backing plate made from aluminum with the large diameter round hole to accomodate the Linhof boards. The toughest part was coming up with a secure and easy to use clasp to hold the board in place. After a few evenings work with the files, Dremell tool, drills and taps I started to rethink the $200. What I've got works fine. If you wanted me to make one I'd be hard pressed to do it for less than $200.

Ted Harris
23-Feb-2005, 21:26
You saw Bromwell mentioned above and they have several flavors. Also check Midwest and KEH who usually have them used for 75 -125.

John D Gerndt
25-Feb-2005, 09:39
Yes a nice one is expensive but worth it. I made one out of a single block of maple with a tablesaw, a drill, a jewler's saw, coping saw and one sharp chisel. It is ugly, it took hours, but it works perfectly and cost me nearly nothing. How broke are you and how much time do you have?