View Full Version : Agfa 8x10 bellows questions

Joe Smigiel
13-Aug-2011, 23:28
I have 2 Agfa (Universal?) 8x10 cameras that lack bellows. I'm going to attempt to make some replacement bellows for the cameras, but I don't have a complete set of frames or old bellows to pattern from. I'm hoping someone on the forum could take a look at their camera and answer a couple questions for me or perhaps post some quick digisnaps to clarify some things.

First, I'd like to know where the bellows are attached to the frames. I assume the front of the bellows is attached to the outside surfaces of a front frame rather than the inside or back surfaces. I assume the rear of the bellows attaches to the inside of the frame rather than the surface facing the lens.

Second, could someone please relate if their bellows has stiffeners/folds that are different sizes, are the folds offset between the top/bottom & sides, and what are the widths of the stiffeners? If different widths, I'd also like to know which size begins and ends the bellows on the top vs. sides. IOW does the front top begin with the smaller stiffener or wider one? Does the rear at the top end with a wider or narrower stiffener?

Does anyone see a reason or know why the front frame appears square while the rear is rectangular? The backs are reversible on these cameras and so, square. Assuming a symmetrically tapering bellows would be easier to construct than one with two different tapers (i.e., the sides differ from top/bottom), why wouldn't the rear bellows frame also be a square (especially if the bellows attaches to the inside of the frame)? Anyone know?

I could probably figure some of this out by trial and error, but making a bellows by hand is rather tedious and time intensive so any pics or descriptions would help. Thanks in advance.

FWIW, I just made a new tapering bellows for a Rochester Universal whole-plate camera. I used some Porter's blackout cloth I had stashed for the liner and a iridescent burgundy fabric for the outer layer. I drew the stiffener pattern in Photoshop and printed it out on cover stock. (My plan is to do the same for the AGfas.) I've uploaded pics of the results as well as the stiffener pattern files at 100% (http://smieglitz.tumblr.com/) to my Tumblr account if anyone wants to grab them for a similar restoration project.


The DIY bellows extends to the full 20" extension of the camera and collapses to fit within the 2.5" folded camera.


John Koehrer
14-Aug-2011, 12:55
Hi Joe,
When you attach the bellows to the frame, it will actually wrap around the frame. IE:go over the outer edge and be glued to the front, or lens side.
The frame is just marginally smaller than the opening it fits so when the cloth is installed, it's tight.
The bellow I have here uses two different with stiffeners. 12mm and 17mm with 12mm being on the first fold at the frame.
The width remains constant front to back and the bellows is square at both ends and tapered.

14-Aug-2011, 13:10
The Agfa Ansco bellows are quite thick, three layers on my Universal, and unlike many modern bellows don't droop.

With the AA 10x8's he Universal is a double extension camera, around 27" bellows draw, the Commercial View is Triple extension so 36.5" bellows draw. The bellows on my Commercial View are better than on my Universal, slightly more robust.


Joe Smigiel
14-Aug-2011, 14:24
Thanks for the reply John. But, I'm still confused about the rear frame.

First, let me make sure what I'm calling the rear bellows frame is actually what it is. What I have fits snugly into the square opening of the rear box. There isn't another smaller frame holding the bellows attached to this piece is there?

I'm also assuming the varnished/stained surface is the rear surface and the opposite surface painted flat black is facing the lens. Please confirm that orientation.

I've scanned a corner of the rear frame to illustrate that the inside dimensions differ (248mm vs. 262mm) although the outside of that frame is square (278mm x 278mm). Are you saying the bellows wraps around the rear frame and is attached to the interior as shown with the red arrow? The frame I have fits so snugly into the rear box that I don't see how the fabric could wrap around it.

I imagined it would come straight back and just attach where the green arrow points. Or is there some other attachment surface? I can see how the front of the bellows would be square but unless the bellows wraps around the rear frame, it would seem to be rectangular or perhaps lack one of the stiffener pairs at the attachment point. The reason I'm still questioning is that it appears the bellows was attached to the inside of the rear frame I have and the wood on the outside shows evidence of being glued in spots to the rear box. The inside of the rear frame is not stained or blackened so I'm assuming the bellows were already attached (or they didn't bother painting/staining it) when those operations were performed. If that is correct, I don't see how or why they could have stained or painted the frame if the bellows was already wrapped around it.


Also, do the narrow strips alternate with wide strips on different sides as the bellows goes from front to rear? By this I mean the top would be NWNWNW..., while the side would be WNWNWN... Based on the widths you gave for the stiffeners and measurements I made of the rear frame, it seems the rear top & bottom would end with 17mm stiffeners while the rear sides would end with 12mm stiffeners. Is that correct?

Again, thanks for the information. Sorry for being so confused.


Joe Smigiel
19-Aug-2011, 15:51
The bellow I have here uses two different with stiffeners. 12mm and 17mm with 12mm being on the first fold at the frame.
The width remains constant front to back and the bellows is square at both ends and tapered.

Agfa must have made different bellows for the various cameras. I found part of the original bellows from one of my cameras. I am trying to determine the pattern from looking at all four sides to get an idea of the missing areas. I have found stiffeners that are these different widths:

4/16", 5/16", 6/16", 7/16", 8/16", 9/16" & 11/16"

I've determined the pattern of 16 folds (in sixteenths of an inch) is:
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 9, 11, 9, 11, 11, 11,11, 11, 11, 11,11, 11, 11, 11,11, 11, 11, 11,11, 11, 11, 11
where the initial stiffener (1/4" = 4/16") in the above pattern is attached to the rear frame. (The alternating colors depict 18 pairs of stiffeners.)

Although all ends are falling apart on my sample, it appears the stiffeners' widths taper from 10.0" - 8.125" for the top/bottom and 9.5" - 8.125" for the sides.

I think I have it figured out now, but I would still like to confirm how the bellows attaches to the rear. Can someone post a quick digital snapshot of a rear corner of the area where the bellows & frame attaches to the rear box? TIA.