View Full Version : DYI 5x4

4-May-2008, 09:42
This may interest anyone fool enough to make a 5x4 at home.
As a retiree with too much time on hand I decided I needed a change from blasting away with a digital and hoping to get one good one in a hundred.
This project has slowed me down to a speed more becoming of my age.
Anyone wishing to do the same should start with the bellows. If you can achieve this first time off go on to learn concert violin.
The mistake I made was to use to heavy material which will only compress enough to use a 90mm without movements. Also I didn't know that when a square bellows is folded the openings become rectangular.
Anther mistake was not to have a model to copy. I judged, or rather misjudged everything from a picture of a Shen Hao off the internet. By adding a few millimeters here and there 'to be sure to be sure' the camera has turned out twice the size it should be.
By making the steel adjuster knobs out of some old gates it is twice as heavy as it should be.
By rubbing together two sheets of glass with lapping paste for three weeks I would have a ground glass screen, except I got fed up and had my local glazier give it a quick dash of sandblasting - works fine.
Everthing except lens and a rollfilm holde made from scrap.
The bottom line is that if there is a good lens at one end and a film holder that sits in the same position as the ground glass at the other and the bit in between is lightproof it has to work.

And it does!


4-May-2008, 09:49
That is beautiful. Very nice work.

Do you have any resources for making the bellows? I'm considering building an 8x10 but I just don't want to spend the money on the bellows.

Juergen Sattler
4-May-2008, 10:03
Very well done - I am very impressed. How long did it take you to complete the project?

4-May-2008, 10:06
I want to see more of this-

I'm tempted to start something like this myself,
though I wouldn't have your patience to do everything from scratch-
more like a cobble it yourself-


4-May-2008, 11:40
very impressive Pete, congratulations!
last year I was considering building an 8x10, but never made time for it and I am just not too handy with tools. Maybe someday. Cheers!

David Karp
4-May-2008, 11:47
Looks beautiful. Is it big enough to make a 5x7 back for it? (Just what you needed - another project!)

Where did you get the hardware?

Jorge Gasteazoro
4-May-2008, 11:58
Looks like you even built a bail on the back as well. Very nice, I am thinking of building a 20x24 back for my 12x20, where did you get the hardware and how did you build the springs for the back?

4-May-2008, 12:10
Bellows made from material selected at local haberdashers. Inner lining of lightproof blanking sprayed black and outer any fine black material that looks nice. Built around plywood tapered former. Thin card used for stiffeners. Glued together with spray adhesive.
Metalwork is 3 and 4mm aluminium which is a bit soft and needed bushing with steel at wear points.
Wood is assorted offcuts of afrormosia but any descent dry hardwood wood do, even good quality ply.
Making the rack and pinion for the focussing rail caused a few curses.
As did suitable springing for the back to facilitate slide-in blackslide or Cambo rollfilm back. Used elastic in the end as it gave a fairly constant pressure over a wide range.
Big tip.
Make a simple bellows out of a sheet of paper first to understand the folding geometry.
Took about three months on and off.
Any info glad to be of assistance.


4-May-2008, 12:12
Yes it is big enough for 5x7 but would require a second back.


Jiri Vasina
4-May-2008, 12:18
So why hesitate? You will like 5x7, and a second back is normal (I'm looking to the moment I receive a 4x5 back for my 5x8 camera).

4-May-2008, 12:31
Nice looking camera.

Zach In Israel
4-May-2008, 23:51
Really nice! thank you for sharing

Bernard Kaye
6-May-2008, 14:42
It is a beauty. When I think that I have two good hands for repairing & fabricating, one or more people in this Forum does something that makes me realize I have two left hands. This sure is one of those times. Bernie

robert fallis
8-May-2008, 07:06
here's a link to the best bellows makling page on the net



robert fallis
8-May-2008, 07:12
here's a link to the best bellows making site on the net



9-May-2008, 22:38
here's a link to the best bellows making site on the net



Thank you very much. I was just thinking of posting a topic on how to make bellows. Ive been researching it because I want to get some practice making them. I'm about to buy an 8x10 (making payment tomorrow) and the bellows have a good few years on them. So me being cheap I want to make some. It would also be nice to build my own camera.

robert fallis
9-May-2008, 23:59
making and taking pictures with a camera you made yourself, is a truly unique exeriance,
and if you use ortho film , watching that first image develop in the tray, knowing that you made the camera that produced it..is to say the least satisfying.


30-Jul-2010, 16:53
can you show me the way how you made the focus system? I donīt know where to buy the rack. I imagine it have to be a milimetric rack..

I only worked with monorail cameras. I saw field cameras but is not very familiar for me although I want now to buy a 8x10 or superior.

lot of thanks.