View Full Version : Almost ready for trials: Homebuilt 8x10

Rafael Garcia
27-Mar-2009, 16:51
I ran some tests with non-covering lenses and paper negatives last week...have to build up my back's seals a bit, as I had a light leak, but otherwise it worked flawlessly!

The lens is now (not last week) a 240mm Schneider Symmar-S f5.6 on a Copal 3. I expect my film to arrive tomorrow, but if it doesn't it will be paper negs again.


P810 homebuilt monorail 8x10, non-collapsing. 155mm (recessed) to 305mm lens range in the homebuilt track and bellows. Revolving (by removal) back, front rise/fall, swing, tilt. Back standard focusing for wide angle shooting. Mahogany and red oak construction, 3 partial weekend build time.

27-Mar-2009, 17:17
Looks great.

27-Mar-2009, 17:31
Looks great !

I would add some protectice copper for the shift-knobs myself, it would protect the wood and the looks, if you allow me this positive sugestion.


Rafael Garcia
27-Mar-2009, 18:09
Not a bad thought, Peter!

Blair Ware
27-Mar-2009, 18:18
Thanks for showing your camera, looks great :)

I am considering making a similar camera and was going to use some bent metal for the front standard. You used wood; did you consider using metal? Any sense of the tradeoffs? Anyone else have an opinion?

Rafael Garcia
27-Mar-2009, 19:22
I almost did. I have a length of aluminum bar stock I could have used. In the end I decided that whatever shock absorbing value the wood would have outweighed the small reduction in size the metal would give me. I'd be interested in your results if you go ahead with the metal.

I forgot to mention, and it's not visible: focusing is from the back via a threaded rod. A yet-to-be-implemented feature is adding a small crank handel to the focusing knob to speed travel when changing focal length, as I did not want to build a clutch for the mechanism.

Michael Roberts
28-Mar-2009, 06:34
Nice work, Rafael!

I'm curious...why the 305mm limit? Also, what material did you choose for the bellows?

28-Mar-2009, 07:10
@ Blair:
I think a metal front would loose the "looks" of this camera, but that is estatic's.

Something else I would do is hiding the screws that hold the frame together by counter-sinking them and use a wooden plug on top of the screws. But again, that is for the looks only.

Plugs: use the same wood as where they are placed, watch the direction of the grain of the wood. You can buy special drils for it at various sizes in a good hardware store.

I realy like this camera !


Rafael Garcia
28-Mar-2009, 08:07

A bit of history: I started this project knowing that if I didn't design for a fast build I would never find the time to finish it. That's why the exposed screws, the diferent hardwoods, etc. I also decided that I would not worry with the complications of folding, since my habit is to set up and after that I carry the camera attached to the tripod, never again closing it until I'm done. Not folding cut a lot of time and effort.

The original frame was built in one weekend, but then I replaced the front standard and lensboard frame so I could hold larger lensboards (I am experimenting with an aerial 155mm Metrogon lens that has a filter with a 5" diameter). I was inspired by the ease of focus of my 4x5 Chamonix so I built the focusing worm gear to have the "under the darkcloth" focusing ability and also because it was a lot simpler to keep the camera square by using simpler mechanisms. I also decided the front standard would be stationary at the end of the rail, and focus movement would be with the back. The one time I used a monorail I photographed the end of the rail in all my shots; this was a guard against that stupidity on my part!

The limitations in length came from my love of wider angle lenses. The longest lens I have that covers 8x10 is an Apo-Nikkor 305mm barrel process lens. The shortest (but I have to figure out how to shutter it - the rear mounted Packard caused vibrations and vignetting) is the 155 Metrogon. The limit is real: I cut my wooden (oak) monorail short, for compactness, knowing I was limiting my long lenses.

The bellows are my first attempt. I made several mistakes. The outer material is a vehicle or furniture covering, a "Naugahide". The stiffeners are charcoal grey art board - this art board is too thin to stiffen the outer covering, and that's why the bellows are irregular. The inside liner is a very tight cotton fabric. I used a spray-on fabric glue that really made it easy to glue the fabrics together. I did not allow the bellows sufficient time under weight, so I am compressing/correcting the folds now by applying office-type paper clamps to each fold and leaving the pressure on overnight. The bellows are very flexible and most important, light-tight. The seam I exposed, partly out of necessity (my lensboard frame is not exactly square because I anticipated the need to run airline for the Packard shutter and allowed it to be a bit taller than wide), so the better fit of the bellows called for the seam to be exposed. I rationalize now that the seam can be easily inspected for tightness when exposed this way, so it counts as an advantage: I would have preferred to have it on the bottom, whatever I say!

I was tempted to add swing/shift to the back standard before attaching it to the wormgear's trolley, but decided not to for simplicity again. It could easily be done. Adding tilt would require a rear Yoke, which would make the camera heavier and bulkier, so I didn't do that either. As you can see in one of the photos, the back springs are bi-metal hacksay blades, filed down to get rid or the cutting edge. The back retainer is a modifies aluminum window latch like the lensboard retainer, filed to grip a small metal stud. All hardware is easily found. The handle and handle strapr are from VanDyke Restorers - they can be googled. The bubble levels are cheap hardware store line levels.


This Caltar did not provide sufficient coverage - probably good for 5x7


The exposed bellows seam


The recessed Metrogon with Packard shutter - I have to figure out a better way to shutter it, the Packard vignetted and produced vibration.

The bellows look much better than on the photos above by now...a lot tamer!. I have yet to do the final polyurethane coat. The interior, lensboards, and back are painted with spray chalkboard paint - never seen a flatter finish on paint!

28-Mar-2009, 08:48
Just for the next time: put the seems of the bellows on the bottom....... sorry !

The problem with the vibrations of the shutter comes form the lack of rigidity from your front standard, it is not as solid as it should be with this shutter.
Maybe a diferent shutter will give you less problems.

Using diferent woods can get you a beautifull camera, esp. if you use just a transparent, non collored, finish to it. (something for the disign studio )

In all, this seems to be a great working camera and that's what it is all about !


28-Mar-2009, 08:58
Nice build!

Rafael Garcia
28-Mar-2009, 12:05
Peter, you could be correct, although the front standard is pretty rigid. I even added the bar on the left to "lock it down". I suspect that my mounting the Packard directly to the same lensboard as the lens, rigidly, has something to do. Moot point, since the Packard is not big enough, and vignettes the lens...

I appreciate very much the comments received. I hope it stops raining here so tomorrow I can run some more test shots with the Symmar. Here are some of the Caltar paper negative shots from the first test:

I am adding some depth to my lightrap to avoid light leaks like this one!



Rafael Garcia
28-Mar-2009, 16:48
OK, finished reworking the back seals, and the box of Adox 25 sheet film arrived! Tomorrow is a photo day!

Michael Cienfuegos
30-Mar-2009, 16:15
Nice, even with the vignetting. You did well with the paper negatives. Have fun with the film. :)

Rafael Garcia
30-Mar-2009, 17:38
Here's the first film shot using a 240mm f5.6 Schneider Symmar: Adox 25 8x10 developed in 1:25 Rodinal


31-Mar-2009, 05:48
Looks great: you have build yourself a great camera !

Congrads !

What will be the next project if I may ask ?


Rafael Garcia
31-Mar-2009, 16:44
Still working on how to shutter a 159mm Metrogon lens to use as a wide angle...