View Full Version : Ultra Ultra Large Format Camera

7-Dec-2010, 20:31
To be exact; 14" x 36" Straight, 25/box film size.

What would a one by three foot contact print look like? What lens could cover a format that size?

I think a one by three foot carbon print would look out of this world, imagine the subjects; a redwood tree, a skyscraper, a river or ocean scene, a full length portrait.

How much would you charge for a print of this size?


Brian C. Miller
7-Dec-2010, 20:57
The Schneider Fine Art XXL lenses with a 900mm image circle could just about cover it, with some vignetting in the corners. Or you could use a pinhole camera, but the exposure time would be too long for a portrait.

So Xray film comes in gargantuan sizes at a reasonable rate, eh? Hmmm... Could make a holder that takes two or three at a time.

Jim Graves
7-Dec-2010, 21:19
I think the way to do it would be to stitch together three scanned negatives ... make a digital negative and then contact print it. I think you might have to do some solar printing though ... to get that size contact print.

It would make a great project for a workshop.

7-Dec-2010, 22:07
I suggest a home built vacuum frame -- it would be an interesting project. The other way is a thick piece of glass (sanded edges). I'm thinking 1/2" of so. Weighs a ton and but gives good contact. Loading and unloading it will build up those hand and lower arm muscles!

Exposed with one or two 450W to 1000W HI or merc vapor lamp suspended over it. Well, the lights might be over-kill but they would get the job done! You might get raided when your neighbors report that you are growing weed inside.

A bank of BL bulbs -- perhaps made out of two separate banks so that the halves can be used independently for smaller prints -- would be a neater solution. And less UV light bouncing all over the place.

Dagor77 occasionally puts monster lenses on ebay -- in the 1000+mm range. And he is a carbon printer. Might be a good person to talk to.

The camera -- fixed focus, built in to the back of a pickup -- sort of a park-and-shoot camera. Reversable back for verticals, of course! :D

Daniel Stone
7-Dec-2010, 22:42
well, there were cameras made for shooting maps at 1:1 and 1:2 ratios, sometimes 2:1 and bigger.

so its definitely feasible, but practical? Somehow I think that making 8x10 or 11x14 negatives, scanning, PS'ing(dodging/burning, contrast adjustment,etc..), and then outputting a digital negative would provide the easiest route.

but then again, the largest I've shot with is an 8x10, so I'll leave the rest of this discussion up to the "ULF" guys, their 8x20's and bigger make my 8x10 look like a P&S :)


8-Dec-2010, 00:21
How much would you charge for a print of this size?


Not enough to make it pay? Lots of work at X$/hr for every print. And it better be a petty darn good image to begin with. I doubt you would get enough to justify the work unless you were a big name and already selling your work for that kind of money. And if you were, why would you do the extra work. You would be better off teaching workshops to idiots like me. Or banging out prints on Azo, and teaching workshops to idiots like me. Of course if you dont care about the money, go fer it.


8-Dec-2010, 00:31
Sounds like a good candidate for a roll film back...

8-Dec-2010, 00:57
Someone with a bit of common sense, and from Ireland too!


8-Dec-2010, 01:30
Enlargments could be made, first borrow the Eiffel tower and have NASA make a lens. It's fun to think of the challenges to make something out of it.

8-Dec-2010, 06:36
I've seen that at the xray sites and thought that would be fun for pinhole use. Didn't buy any because I'd need to build the camera, film holder, and would need different trays in my darkroom for it. Not to mention I have too many unfinished projects that deter me from starting another one. Until I get some projects done and produce some nice images from them, my interest will be vicarious.

I've already got a 400w metal halide light from a warehouse. It's nice for automotive work in my garage.

Richard Raymond
8-Dec-2010, 07:50
On the Light side ... a large L E D bank of lights would require less energy and give off less heat for the development. May not be lighter. Maybe the engineers as OSRAM could "skunk works" us up something.

Brian Bullen
8-Dec-2010, 09:34
Don't forget, you would need to make a developing tank and film hanger. If you think 8x10 x-ray film scratches easily try fumbling with a three foot long, wet piece of double sided emulsion.

Michael Roberts
8-Dec-2010, 13:28
I've actually been thinking about the 14x36 size, but cutting it to 14x24 and then having a second 11x14 piece of film. 14x24 seems more practical to me, first, b/c more lenses will cover, and, second, have you tried to find paper larger than 20x24??

8-Dec-2010, 13:38
...have you tried to find paper larger than 20x24??

Mural rolls are available -- 40" wide, 33 feet to 100 feet long. RC VC or fiber.

http://www.freestylephoto.biz/sc_search.php This will take you to Freestyle search -- type in "mural" as the key word and it will show what they got -- not as many as there use to be!


Michael Roberts
8-Dec-2010, 14:56
Now you're talkin'!!

Thanks Vaughn.

Jim Graves
8-Dec-2010, 19:05
What is the size of a Cirkut Camera negative ... like the one Jim Galli used at the Tonopah work shop?

Jim Fitzgerald
8-Dec-2010, 21:38
Okay guys , you know I was thinking about building a camera this size but I didn't say anything about it. I've got a box of the green sensitive 14x36 film that I cut up to use as tissue support for my 11x14 and 8x20 prints. I use 9x21 for the 8x20's and 12x15 for the 11x14's. I get two sheets of tissue support from one sheet and it is reusable.

Now, Vaughn, I just developed two 8x20 carbon prints from my trip in October when I came to see you. They look great and I can't wait to show them to you. The negatives are Bergger 200 and it would be nice if x-ray film came in 8x20 so you don't have to try to cut it down. With emulsion on both side I'm always afraid of scratching the emulsion. This is why I decided to build a 14x17 camera... because they have x-ray film in this size.


8-Dec-2010, 22:57
Jim, you might have to buy a walnut tree to make a camera this size.

8-Dec-2010, 23:26
And a new apartment. Or at least a bigger one.

Jim Fitzgerald
9-Dec-2010, 08:58
Yes, the Walnut stock is finally about gone and a 3 bedroom apartment would be nice. Then again a 14x36 Walnut Camera would be a one of a kind!! Believe it or not the last Walnut tripod with the Gitzo 1570M head would probably handle the beast!


9-Dec-2010, 09:50
I suppose I should chime in here, but I am reluctant to do so. I don't particularly want to be accused of bragging that "mine is bigger than yours." Nevertheless, many of the issues I am facing in building my camera are the same as those discussed in this thread.

Last month, I pulled into my father-in-laws driveway and he had a midsize box truck sitting in front of his garage. I turned to my wife and said, "What a great looking camera." She didn't even flinch. After 29 yeas if marriage, she has learned to humor my eccentricities. Long story short, I bought the truck and am now constructing a truck size view camera. The box is approximately 80 inches wide, 82 inches high and 14 feet deep.

I just finished building the rear standard/film holder. The design is pretty simply. I started with an artist's easel. It is on wheels and can be tilted forward and backwards. I mounted a universal TV mount to the easel which also rotates 360 degrees--so I can rotate from landscape to portrait orientation and level the film if parked on a slope. I built a wooden frame and glued a 50" by 66" sheet of metal to the frame. I use magnets to attach the film/paper to the metal.

I can move the easel forward and backward for rear focus. It tilts forward and backward. The easel gives me rise and fall. I can also move it side to side (shift) and swing it side to side (swing). So, I have all the rear movements of a view camera covered.

I have been testing the back in my studio. I put a 2300 lens from Surplus Shed in a window surrounded by cardboard and the lens gives enough coverage at infinity to cover the final image size of 50x62 1/2 (same aspect ratio as 8x10).

I am now working on the lens stage. I am using the back of an old Burke and James 8x10 camera as my lens holder. It has limited rise/fall, swings, tilts and shifts. I plan to be able to raise the entire front standard for additional rise and fall. I can also crank the lens assembly forward and backward for fine focusing. This part is still under construction. I have detailed plans, but the plans are only good until I start building.

I am experimenting with different films and papers for the truck camera. I ordered sample sizes of ortho film (comes in 24" rolls), ultrafine graphic arts films (comes in rolls 48 inches wide), Ilfochorme and Harman Direct Positive Paper (comes in 50" rolls).

I am also experimenting with different lenses. I have a 1000 mm Rodenstock Apo-Ronar-CL. I'd like to find a supplementary lens to add to this to make it a 2000 and 3000 mm lens. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

I also have many lenses from Surplus Shed to play with, including a 4000mm lens, which works well. I have to study up on lens physics to learn more about combining lens elements to make lenses of various focal lengths.

My biggest hurdle right now is the weather. It is supposed to get down to 0 degrees f this weekend. I can continue to experiment in my studio and darkroom through the winter. I would like to have the truck camera up and running by next March 26--my 53rd birthday.

Any advice is appreciated.

Robert Fisher
9-Dec-2010, 10:05
AF-ULF, you should seek immediate medical/mental attention. There are a number of medical doctors/professionals on this forum that might render assistance.

Your lovely wife is a saint - please be kind to her.

You are a complete but loveable "man" nut - BUT please keep us updated. I would LOVE, LOVE to see images of your creation.

Life can be fun and you are at the top.

Best Regards,


9-Dec-2010, 10:11
What is a "Surplus Shed 2300 lens?"

9-Dec-2010, 10:41
Actually, the lens is listed as having a 2600 mm focal length. But, I have found it closer to 2300 mm from tests in my studio.

Go to Surplus Shed on the web. In the upper left corner, click on the tab "Lens Finder."

A window will open. I put in for a search of lenses from 1000 mm to 10000 mm and a list of all the long lenses Surplus Shed has will show up for you to search.

The cost is $25 USD.

Jim Fitzgerald
9-Dec-2010, 18:08
Oh boy!!! Bigger is going to be better! Please let us know how you do. Are you going to back pack with that beauty? Sorry, I couldn't resist. It is great that you can shoot from the road. Literally.


9-Dec-2010, 19:00
Yes, the Walnut stock is finally about gone and a 3 bedroom apartment would be nice. Then again a 14x36 Walnut Camera would be a one of a kind!! Believe it or not the last Walnut tripod with the Gitzo 1570M head would probably handle the beast!



Go for it. How many 14X36" holders will you be needing?


Jim Fitzgerald
9-Dec-2010, 21:47

Go for it. How many 14X36" holders will you be needing?


Sandy I'm thinking 2 walnut holders should do it! What the hell... you only live once!

I know one thing for sure and that is if I was going to get holders I'd by yours. The holders are great! Thanks.


7-Jan-2011, 02:00
Hello. I have just finished building a field camera that takes 14x36 x-ray film. Very surprised I just came across this forum. You can see my blog here: http://darrensgreatbigcamera.com/. It's very exiting to see that other folks are doing the same thing.

Dan Fromm
7-Jan-2011, 02:37
On the one hand, more equipment-driven photography.

On the other, why not?

7-Jan-2011, 02:49
Love it! I was looking at the images of the camera, thinking I thought he said 14x36 -- it does not look that big...until you showed up to give a sense of the scale of the beast!!

It seems a little much to call something that weights 75+ lbs a "field" camera...LOL! That 1210mm lens looks to weigh more than my 8x10!

Fantastic project!

Brian C. Miller
7-Jan-2011, 03:40
Darren, your camera is fabulous! I love the way it folds up. Some day I hope to build a gargantuan camera, but I think I'll use aluminum and balsa.

Jim Fitzgerald
7-Jan-2011, 06:53
Darren, I love it!


Andrea Gazzoni
7-Jan-2011, 08:48
Hello. I have just finished building a field camera that takes 14x36 x-ray film. Very surprised I just came across this forum. You can see my blog here: http://darrensgreatbigcamera.com/. It's very exiting to see that other folks are doing the same thing.

Great project Darren! and great beginning here on LFPF
Would you mind sharing more details on materials, time involved, etc..?

8-Jan-2011, 01:24
Thanks everyone for the warm reception! I haven't organized my blog as well as I need to, so I'll quickly go over the materials I've used, etc. The camera is made from red oak,pine,pvc foam sheet,aluminum, and steel. The film holder was made from acrylic and polyethylene, and bonded with epoxy.I started design and construction in early July 2010. The bellows are made from railroad board, ThorLabs BK5 blackout cloth, contact cement, and some tight-weave black cotton cloth for the inside. I built the camera in my apartment and had to move the couch out of the living room in order to construct the bellows, which were 2 weeks of hell. At the end of the 2 weeks, I tried to fold the bellows, and found(to my horror) that I had made a mis-calculation in the design. 2 weeks later, I had them right. The camera design came in stages. To design the whole thing at once would have overwhelmed me. I modeled the camera(in parts) after my Deardorff, and Shen Hao cameras. To date, I've spent about $2,000, $800 of this for the lens(overpriced, I think). The developing trays were made from 1/8" poplar board and sealed with epoxy inside,varathane outside. Because of scratch-prone x-ray film, I've installed water pumps into the trays to keep those chemicals moving, and will keep the film raised from the tray bottom with cookie-cooling racks. My first shoot will be February 20 at Land's End in San Francisco. I've been shooting for about 6 years and still have much to learn, and would appreciate all questions, criticisms, comments, and advice. Thanks, Darren

Jim Fitzgerald
8-Jan-2011, 07:15
Darren, some advice on developing the x-ray film would be to ditch the cookie cooling racks as they will leave pattern marks on the film. Just make sure the trays have a smooth flat bottom. That is all you need. As one who has built two and now a third under construction in my apartment I'm very impressed. Keep up the good work and good luck on the shoot.