View Full Version : Kodak Master View Lens Boards

Michael A.Smith
24-Sep-2003, 18:43
Since many know that Paula Chamlee and I use a Kodak Master View cameras, recently we received a couple of inquiries about where to get Kodak Master View lens boards. Since this is where discussion about cameras takes place, it seemed appropriate to post this here. I hope it will not be seen as a commercial solicitation. Our purpose here is to help others, not to make money on this.

I have been using a Kodak 8x10 Master View since 1967. Over the years, as it has become increasingly difficult to find original Master View lens boards, we have had many lens boards made for our use. Although most of them worked okay, not all of them fit well, and there were occasionally other problems--like light leaks! Because we needed new lens boards for ourselves and because many other photographers have asked us where to get lens boards for the KMV, we set about having some made that were finally exactly right.

We succeeded. These new lens boards are absolutely perfect--they are even better than the originals.

Here's the story: After considerable searching, we finally located a precision machinist who makes special parts and machines for the avionics industry. To do this work the shop has special certification—and the materials, the tools, and the machinists all have special certification. We were not aware that machinists and tools ever needed to be certified, but the work from this shop is so precise that the federal government requires it.

To make these lens boards they had to cut away an original Master View lens board in order to get the most precise computer analysis down to one thousandth of an inch of its subtle measurements in the light trap design. They then had a special tool made just for these boards. Though the Kodak Master View lens board looks pretty simple, we learned there are a number of subtleties to it. Even after all the fine measuring and precision work done on the prototype there were three more tries to get it exactly right. But with further looking, measuring, and analyzing, the problems were found and the lens boards are now perfect.

In fact, they are better than the originals because they are made with a better grade of aluminum--aircraft aluminum. They are now stronger and less susceptible to bending. Occasionally we have found that even one of our original KMV lens boards bent ever so slightly and leaked light. This should never happen again.

After fabricating, the lens boards were anodized in black.

Because we had quite a few of these lens boards made, we're selling them quite reasonably. If anyone is interested, send us an email to michaelandpaula@michaelandpaula.com.

John Kasaian
24-Sep-2003, 19:49
I don't have my KMV anymore, but one of the reasons I traded it in was the poverty of lens boards available. At one time I had toyed with the idea of making some up---to the extent of talking with a machinist about making dies---but I didn't go through with it. I happily settled down with a Deardorff instead, but if I still had the KMV I'd certainly take advantage of the opportunity to get my mitts on some well made spares.

13-Mar-2008, 14:22
Michael, I have a KMV 4x5 that I picked up relatively inexpensively last year. It seems mechanically excellent, has a little bit of unimportant wear rubbing on the front and rear standard green finish. It has NO lensboard. And the bellows has grown brittle and has several cracks and splits. Other than that it's in excellent shape for a user.

Do you have any notion of what a replacement bellows for this specific camera would probably cost, and the best place to get it? Western Bellows, as usual, or is there a specialist?

I rather like the camera and would enjoy using it, if I could get lensboards from you and get a replacement bellows on it. It's compact without being fiddly, nice straightforward design, and I have several older lenses that would do nicely for it.

Could you PM me price on the lensboards? With the least bit of encouragement I might want 4 or 5. Hope you can help out on the bellows question! :)

13-Mar-2008, 14:29
Considering the original post is everal years old, i'd contact Michael through his website instead of waiting for a pm through the forum.

John Schneider
13-Mar-2008, 14:53
Michael is using the term KMV loosely; he's actually referring to the Kodak 8x10 Master Metal (field) Camera. The 4x5 (monorail) Masterview is a completely different beast. See eBay auction 220211011577; if that's what you have, then Michael's lensboards won't fit at all. I believe Kodak later sold the KMV design to other manufacturers, and you may have better luck searching for a lensboard from one of them (sorry, I don't recall which mfrs).

John Bowen
13-Mar-2008, 18:00
Contact Richard Ritter for an estimate on a new bellows. He may also be able to supply lens boards.


13-Mar-2008, 22:08
Yup, that's the kind I have, John -- except mine isn't all twisted like that one! ;) :D

And yes, that keeps happening to me, I click on one of the "related threads" at the bottom of the page and it takes me to some 3-years-gone-by exchange, and I then fail to check the date. :o

A bit of further research indicates that the 4 x 5 Master View shares a common lensboard configuration with a Calumet model and probably a few others as well. That's not so bad, though I'd hate to pay Calumet's new price for a simple lensboard. I'll probably find a few on eBay once I get time to keep searching for them periodically.

I'll try contacting Ritter about bellows. Thanks for the info, guys! :)

Mark Sampson
14-Mar-2008, 05:44
Kodak sold off their 1940's design 4x5 Master View camera to Calumet Photographic around 1956. Calumet sold it as the CC-400, -401, and -402 models until tihe 1990's. (In the '70s it was regularly advertised for $149.95.) It was also sold as a Burke & James model- the "Orbit",I believe. It's certainly the most common view camera out there, and Calumet should still have parts available.

Gregg Cook
15-Mar-2008, 06:15
I made a lensboard for my 4x5 Master view from a hole saw and a piece of luan plywood.

Works great, no light leaks.