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View Full Version : Replacing Kodak Master View Bellows and extension instability



G Benaim
29-Mar-2018, 21:48
Hello,
After years of making do with the original bellows on my kmv I'm looking to get a new one made by custom bellows, but am debating how long a bellows to get. I was thinking of ordering them to Michael Smith's specs, but am unsure how the length of the bellows will affect camera stability w longer lenses. At the moment the longest I use is a 24", and at that length the current bellows is fully stretched and thus adds stability. Have those of you who've ordered the MAS bellows from cb found stability was compromised at 24" or beyond? Thanks,

Gabriel

Mark Sampson
30-Mar-2018, 09:54
I've owned and used a Kodak Master. As with any camera, stretching the bellows to full extension will not increase stability, although it may seem that way.
Nor do I know what Michael Smith's bellows specs are- more extension? But he is a very accomplished photographer, and is unlikely to recommend something that doesn't work.
If stability is your concern, I'd add a stabilizer bar that runs from your front tripod leg to the front standard of the camera. There are several ways to do that, perhaps using a Bogen/Manfrotto Magic Arm or similar.
A design problem with the KMV is that the tripod socket is under the rear standard. It would have been better if the tripod could be centered under the camera. I never used a lens longer than 19" on the KMV; that was in the studio and I put a second tripod under the front standard. Not really practical in the field.

G Benaim
5-Apr-2018, 22:03
Any other kmv users w new bellows?

William Whitaker
6-Apr-2018, 07:46
I replaced a Kodak Master bellows in 2013 with a replacement from Custom Bellows made to my specifications. The new bellows turned out to be a bit longer than expected, but no ill effects were noted as far as the camera operation. The rear bellows frame is held in with a lot of small machine screws and the job gets tedious quickly. The extra length did make the camera a bit tight to close, although it could be done without damage. But if I were to do it again, I'd be more cautious about the overall bellows length.

G Benaim
6-Apr-2018, 08:14
How long are your new bellows? Have they remained light tight? Other than the length, are you happy with them? Have you used lenses in the 19/24" length and had stability problems? Thanks

Mark Sampson
6-Apr-2018, 17:57
Haha! Will bought my KMV and wisely replaced the bellows (which I'd patched with a lot of Liquid Electrical Tape).

William Whitaker
6-Apr-2018, 19:03
How long are your new bellows? Have they remained light tight? Other than the length, are you happy with them? Have you used lenses in the 19/24" length and had stability problems? Thanks

I specified 30 inches length when I placed the order with Custom Bellows. They didn't shortcut me at all. Again, in retrospect, that bellows would have been better if only made to about 27 inches because all that material makes it a bit more difficult to close the camera - one of the tradeoffs of folding field camera design. For the record I specified their lightweight nylon material which is the same that Keith Canham uses in his cameras. (So I'm told and having seen both, believe it.) I never used a lens in the 20" range and if I'd wanted to, would almost certainly have employed an auxiliary support (magic arm, monopod, or the sort).

That, of course, is not a function of the bellows. I have seen plenty of old wooden cameras of the flatbed type which have benefitted (perhaps..) from a taut bellows. But structural rigidity should not be predicated on tension supplied by a stretched-out bellows. It should be built into the camera. If your camera lacks the needed rigidity, then you can add support to the bed to help it. The old Korona cameras usually came with auxiliary rails which attached to the underside of the bed to give added strength across the hinged section and/or the rear extension rail. I have built and employ on my Folmer & Schwing 12x20 banquet camera a solid support table which fastens to the top of my tripod and upon which the camera is secured. It fully supports the folding bed and gives peace of mind when using lenses at full extension (on that camera, 22 1/2"). It has been written up elsewhere in these forums, but here are a couple of photos:

176760 176761

The board attaches to the top of my tripod, aligned by two runners (specifically made to fit the top of my Ries head). The camera is then placed on top of the board and secured with a captive 1/4-20 bolt. This has been a very reliable system and could be adapted to most any size large format camera. In the case of the Kodak Master the front extension I believe has a 1/4-20 socket built in, so a support arm can be attached and then clamped to a convenient tripod leg. Else another small tripod will work nicely to provide the support you need.

So, that was a lot of bandwidth just to say that the bellows should be used for keeping light outside of the camera and not for structural support. But however you get the job done is fine. If rigidity is a major concern, consider using a monorail camera. :)

William Whitaker
6-Apr-2018, 19:08
Haha! Will bought my KMV and wisely replaced the bellows (which I'd patched with a lot of Liquid Electrical Tape).

HA! I ran across that old bellows the other day, Mark, in a box, all neatly wrapped in clear plastic by Custom Bellows when they returned it with the new one...

William Whitaker
6-Apr-2018, 19:19
I'll add one more bit about my experience with replacing the Kodak Master bellows. The rear of the bellows is wrapped around the rear bellows frame. Most (not all) wooden view cameras have the rear of the bellows cemented to the face of the bellows frame. Some do use a wrap or a semi-wrap. But on the Master the bellows material goes around the frame and then is held in place when the frame is screwed down to the rear standard. There are a number (a lot, really) of machine screws that hold that frame to the rear standard. Because of the wrap the screws have to penetrate the bellows material.

The most nerve-wracking part of replacing that bellows was using a carbide-tipped awl to literally punch holes in my brand-new $400 bellows. You better believe that I made absolutely certain I was in the right spot before I committed to making each hole. And I recall there were 16 of them! That bellows material Custom uses is pretty tough stuff, btw.

G Benaim
7-Apr-2018, 07:43
Thanks. Will, for that thorough explanation.

Daniel Stone
7-Apr-2018, 17:39
I replaced a set on one of the 4 KMV cameras I have owned over the years. Custom Bellows made a set for me that could accommodate a 90mm lens on a 4x5 reducing back, so that meant a "box and taper" set. I've included a diagram(of sorts) below showing the rough idea of what I had them make for me. This design also allowed for the bellows to collapse into itself, therefore taking up less room when fully closed.



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Randy Moe
8-Apr-2018, 04:23
Good point Daniel.

I have OE 8X10 Horseman bellows that do you what you describe. The center folds down and drops inside the outer becoming a very thin stack.

So thin that the front frame is almost in the same plane as the rear when packed.

Thom Bennett
8-Apr-2018, 09:59
Don't forget there's "a 1/4" X 20-threaded hole in the front extension track to allow for the use of a monopod or similar support device. Bogen/Manfrotto makes a support for long lenses..."

from - http://www.largeformatphotography.info/kodak/masterview.html

I don't use long extensions but am very happy with the MAS Custom Bellows.

Daniel Stone
10-Apr-2018, 15:41
Good point Daniel.

I have OE 8X10 Horseman bellows that do you what you describe. The center folds down and drops inside the outer becoming a very thin stack.

So thin that the front frame is almost in the same plane as the rear when packed.

Yup, so thin it actually allowed me to get about 1" of front rise/fall with that setup.