View Full Version : Interested in Making my own point and shoot 4x5

31-Aug-2011, 19:14
Hi, I have been reading a lot of threads on homemade 4x5 point and shoot cameras. I am having a hard time trying to figure out what to use to make the camera. I need to know what tool to use to get within the .001 inch requirement and what film back would be the best to use. Some people have mentioned building a camera yourself will be difficult to get to spec and have proper focus.
I read about the DAYI and was told it is junk with poor support. I am interested in a Fotoman but don't want to spend alot of cash. I
I have a Nikkor 75mm and would like to have a handheld 4x5 to compliment my Canon 5D. I have tried the field cameras but there are too cumbersome and take too long for me to set up. I really like the 17-40mm lens on the canon and most of my pictures are taken in the 17-21mm range so I feel the Nikkor 75 will do. The only other route would be the Mamiya 7 with a 43mm but it can be a pain to use filters. I am open to other suggestions.

31-Aug-2011, 19:22
I tried building one with a 90 but 90 is too long for a fixed-focus camera unless you have low standards for DOF or only make small prints. I fixed it with a focusing helical I took out of an old JC penny 35mm zoom lens. A 75mm might be ok as fixed-focus but I wouldn't know; I can't afford nice things like 75mm lenses and if I could, I wouldn't be building homemade cameras.

31-Aug-2011, 19:40
Probably the easiest way is to start with a Crown Graphic with a Graflok back. That back is held onto the box with six screws and it can be screwed to just about anything.

Or, you can remove the front folding bed, front standard, and bellows from the Crown and build your lens holder onto the front of the box.

You can get (from ebay) the same focusing helical used on the DaYi, which is not really that bad for this application. They will send you one with a focus scale for a 75mm lens. All you'll have to do is figure out how to adjust the longitudinal position so that the lens is focused at infinity when the scale reads infinity.

You could make a board that would sit on pads attached to the inside of the box. Adjust the board so that the lens is parallel to the film. Any tilt in the lens will cause a tilt in the focus plane, and you can find tune the position with shims until you can focus an infinity scene evenly across the frame. Then, lightproof it with black photographic tape.

If that's not enough of a hint, then my second suggestion would be to mount your 75 onto the Crown Graphic and just use the darn thing until it all becomes clear. Set the infinity stops on the Crown properly, and it will be quick enough to use. Press photographers of the past managed okay.

Rick "who plans to make a 4x5 point-n-shoot from the rear standard of a Calumet/Cambo view camera" Denney

Lachlan 717
31-Aug-2011, 19:41
I read about the DAYI and was told it is junk with poor support.

I cannot attest to the 4x5 DaYi; however, I have a 6x17 DaYi and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. As such, I cannot comment on their service as I have never needed it.

To say that they are (as a camera-making company) "junk" is a gross inaccuracy.

Jim Jones
31-Aug-2011, 19:45
The spring back or better yet, a Graflok back can be salvaged from a cheap Speed Graphic. You can also cut a press camera down to make a fairly compact P&S box camera. The lens can be mounted on a front panel that can be shimmed for the desired focus.

edit: Darn! In the time I could type two lines, two others made better posts!

31-Aug-2011, 21:08
start off simple---box..box in box to fine tune focus---when you get the focus where you want, you just tape the boxes together and go out and shoot...make a viewfinder out of an old disposable camera or a piece of paper with a square in it....

a guy built a 4x5 out of legos fer chrissake--it ain't brain surgery---just build it and then work out the bugs....it is not likely that any design will be executed perfectly at first...you must iterate.

best to get a junky crown or speed --- you can point and shoot that just as good as a home made one BUT you'll have time to shoot instead of building a camera...hell...all them press photographers pointed and shot their crown/speeds....those were the "original" point and shoot cameras...

31-Aug-2011, 21:46
...I read about the DAYI and was told it is junk with poor support....

You made me go find it. For the cost of one of these, it's almost not worth trying to make something. Even if it has flaws, I bet they'd be easier to fix than the cost of fabbing something up. Making your own camera is something you do for the fun of it. The means justify the means.

The DaYi would use my current Sinar back--the one with a Maxwell screen in it. That formula is mighty appealing.

Rick "who needs to sell some junque to buy new junque, I guess" Denney

Jim Michael
1-Sep-2011, 04:19
You could attach the lens board to the camera using bolts that go through stiff springs, then use a light tight material like leather to provide sort of a semi bellows. This would permit fine adjustment of the focus as well as even at least a small amount of tilt.

Noah A
1-Sep-2011, 04:54
I have a DaYi 4x5, the one that uses a horseman back.

It's kind of a piece of crap and I expected more for the money. However, if you don't have a well-equipped machine shop in your garage you'll probably spend more making one yourself, and you may end up with a different piece of crap that cost you just as much in time, materials and resources.

The Dayi is a nice design with some flaws and questionable manufacturing.

For example the screw heads were already slightly rounded when I got the camera, and while the machining isn't actually too bad there were some marks on the metal, even some handwritten notes or numbers.

The bubble levels on top are totally and completely inaccurate. They don't seem to be adjustable but you could probably rig or modify something up.

There is one screw/knob that locks the rise/fall into position. While it locks up nice, if it were to strip the camera would become useless. It threads into a relatively thin section of the lens cone, and since I don't have a ton of confidence in the metal, it seems like there is a chance it could be a problem over the long term.

The big problem for me was lens-specific, and it would't affect you for shorter lenses. I ordered mine with a 150mm cone for a 150 Apo-Symmar. Because of the design of the camera (more specifically, the size of the opening where the lens cone mounts), the lens vignetted slightly when the lens was centered, and it vignetted quite a bit if I used even a slight amount of rise or fall. I chose this camera over the other options because of the rise/fall. But the vignetting when the lens was centered was not acceptable.

In the end I cut the lens tube down and reattached the helical in order to focus a 135mm lens. This shorter flange distance allowed the optical path to clear the body opening without rise. It also allowed some rise, but not the full 19mm the body offers. I think it allows around 10mm.

If I had to do it again, I would have waited for a used Fotoman to come along.

Really I'd recommend the Mamiya 7. You'll probably get results that are just as sharp (due to the accurate rangefinder), it'll be smaller and the film is cheaper.

I may start using a Technika instead for the handheld work, so I may dump the DaYi.

Steve Smith
1-Sep-2011, 05:58
I need to know what tool to use to get within the .001 inch requirement.

Which .001 inch requirement is that?


1-Sep-2011, 06:35
Echoing others here, I'd suggest a speed/crown graphic as an original point and shoot, but perhaps with a 90mm if convenience is a factor. Speed graphics are definitely convenient.

At some point of wideness, you need to drop the bed out of the way to keep it out of the picture. I had a 75mm Nikkor for a while but didn't test it on the speed graphic, so I don't know if that's too wide so I can't guarantee that combination. Perhaps someone else knows. I use a 90/4.5 Nikkor on my speed graphics with great success. No need to drop the bed. This is with pre and postwar speed graphics. If I used a physically smaller lens like a 90/6.8 optar, I could fold it right up into the box too when you are not shooting. The bed makes a nice sun shade if you are shooting handheld. Use the camera upside down if the sun/rain is coming down from above. If you are shooting vertical, orient the bed to block a low sun angle.

The speed graphics with the metal pop-up hoods are especially handy for point and shoot use as the hood makes it easy to pre-focus on the groundglass without a dark-cloth. The cloth-sided hoods on WWII and earlier ones are better than nothing, but not as nice as the fully metal viewing hoods.

1-Sep-2011, 06:39
I have a DaYi 4x5, the one that uses a horseman back.

Thanks for the report. For such a camera, it would have to be cheap to attract me.

I can think of ways to fix the issues you mentioned that would require a lot less machine work than making a similar camera from scratch, and your notations of the weak elements are helpful in that thinking.

The occlusion problem is harder, making me thing this really is a fake Cambo Wide--designed for short lenses only. That would be my application (I have a 65/8 Super Angulon that would be fun on this camera, and I have a 6x12 back I might use most of the time, so the lens coverage would be a bit less marginal.

I have mulled over what might be done to turn the rear standard of a Cambo SC into a fake Cambo Wide, simply because I already have the SC (superseded by a Sinar). I'm wondering if I could turn a recessed board around, mount one of those cheap helicals on it, and then an appropriate lens, adjusting the mounting of the helical on the board. On an SC, the board mounts the same way as the bellows, so putting a lens board on the bellows side of a rear standard is easy. The recess, being reversed, would act as a cone. It would not have shift, and adding that would require some precision work. But with the addition of a handle, it would be all-metal and pretty durable, in addition to being flexible and modular. I have a feeling my thinking is a repeat of more sophisticated thinking that led to the Cambo Wide in the first place.

I need to move that thinking into the three-dimensional world, but it's not that high on the priority list, and I haven't even had much time actually at home to make photographs.

Rick "who would probably miss the shift capability" Denney

Ivan J. Eberle
1-Sep-2011, 07:52
Say, what is the optimal point-and-shoot hyperfocal distance for a 75mm at f/16, anyway? A 90mm?

1-Sep-2011, 08:10
ANyways--if you MUST build yourself-start simple and THEN complicate things when you need to...the last camera i built (2 mos ago) is a p&S made from a cardboard box and a back--the most important part is the back--find yourself a graflock back with the gg to calibrate it...start off with fixed focus--not helical and play around with that first....the cardboard one I made I'm using right now--no helical--fixed focus works very well when it works and fails miserably when you get the distance wrong--which is VERY easy with long lenses...that's the way of P&S shooting...when you get the focus it's magnifique...when you dont' it sucks...it's a numbers/gambling game that you get better at as you work with your machine---I started at about 1or2 out of 10 being good.....now I'm like 50/50....good as in "what's in focus on the pic is what I wanted in focus".....content....hey....that's another story entirely..."technically good" is what I meant.

1-Sep-2011, 10:19
Thanks for the help guys,looking at speed graphics right now. Someone just bought a sinar back off of ebay I was eyeing for $100 US. I was also contemplating buying a wista or toyo back. someone did mention to me that I could drop the bed on the graphics for my 75mm.

1-Sep-2011, 10:34
I use a 90/4.5 Nikkor on my speed graphics with great success. No need to drop the bed. This is with pre and postwar speed graphics.

Interesting. I have a Pacemaker speed graphic and with a 90/6.8 angulon I definitely have to drop the bed, or else the rails show up in the picture and I have to crop off 6-10mm.

1-Sep-2011, 12:34
Interesting. I have a Pacemaker speed graphic and with a 90/6.8 angulon I definitely have to drop the bed, or else the rails show up in the picture and I have to crop off 6-10mm.

The big 90's like the Nikkor have the monster front element that sticks out a couple inches. The little ones like yours are probably recessed. That couple inches makes the difference I'm sure.