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Thread: DIY 4x5 camera build

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Posts
    73

    DIY 4x5 camera build

    Well, it is finally time for me to go with the times and get me a 4x5 rig.
    Unfortunately, buying one overseas would most likely bankrupt me and the local aftermarket consists only of Feds, Zorkis and Zenits sold at the price of their own weight in Californium (google it) as they are considered relics from the Soviet occupation that so many people fancy.
    But not to worry, I have 2 hands (contrary to popular belief that only radioactive mutants live in this corner of the world) and some basic skills how to bludgeon things together, so let's get started!

    For the principle design I have chosen some creepy crossover from those grotesque 1910's quarter-plate folders and the venerable Speed/Crown Graphic. Mainly because I have parts from these two.
    The current progress is that I have a lens - nothing special, a Tominon 135mm but it is nicely shuttered and the cell is easily removable so I am tempted to look up that nice machinist I helped many years ago when I had a summer job at a machine shop and get some suitable adapters made for two nice barrel lenses I own for a bottle of vodka and voila! A lens system!
    I also have really stunning bellows - 4x5 Crown Graphic ones, donated by a kind gentleman over here. If you are reading this then again, thank you!
    On the table beside me is a stack of film holders, ready for their first task and a box of misc. parts I salvaged from a disintegrating plate camera; my main interest in this box is the "railway" that I will probably use in the build but as it is quite worn out and would be needing replacing in the coming years, I am keeping my beady little eyes open for something more suitable, as well as for a spring back. But if I can't get my hands on neither of those, I will improvise. For the back one could just make a simple frame and line it with felt or other suitable light trap material. One could also cut a small groove in the base of the frame to devise further light trap and a place for the ridge on the film holder to lock into. One could use perhaps a bar held in place with strong magnets to keep the holder locked in.
    For the front standard and lensboard I am going to use almost identical design that I used with my previous build, depicted here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/moribundworld/8962444804/
    For the body I have found something labelled as DIY-Board at the hardware store; basically a spruce edge-glued board. Not the prettiest but it is easy to cut and machine and it is extremely cheap. People do a lot of shelving out of these around here. The body will be quite bulky since the lens is relatively long, the total thickness of the camera would be around 10-12cm but I can cope with that, I don't mind. Simpler to lug around than a monorail, quicker too, although my medium format monorail is pretty quick if I want it to be, even got a candid shot with it.

    I will continue to ponder on about the design and source essential parts. I am also open to suggestions and so on.
    It will not be the prettiest camera ever built, nor will it have the most generous movements but think it as a means for a young person to start shooting LF.
    So stay tuned for more updates!

  2. #2
    Steve Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Isle of Wight, near England
    Posts
    701

    Re: DIY 4x5 camera build

    Quote Originally Posted by VPooler View Post
    sold at the price of their own weight in Californium
    Cheaper than Unobtanium.


    Steve.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    3

    Re: DIY 4x5 camera build

    Hi there,

    These parts might interest you for locking down the back.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/290767429191...84.m1423.l2649

    Just started into LF and although I have a Chamonix, I am always fascinated by others DIY works. I have just assembled my own handheld wide angle box camera with ideas from other DIYer's box cameras with mine build onto a graflok back. Cutting the groove for the ridge on film holders is challenging for me without the skills and tools so the graflok back simplified things. Made the body out of plywood and attached a focusing helicoid to a 90mm lens instead of using bellows. Added a Smena rangefinder, 4x5 VF and a Vivitar grip as finishing touches. Quite easy to build as a first project though.


    Completed!!! by keechoon, on Flickr

    Hope this helps
    KC

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Posts
    73

    Re: DIY 4x5 camera build

    Thank you for the idea, I'll probably combine the part you referred to with the idea of cutting a small groove to make the light take several right angles on the darkslide side of the holder before reaching the film for additional safety. Also, these metal clips are ridiculously overpriced, I could machine them out of a small piece of aluminum with a couple of needle files, a drill and pliers for almost no cost than my own time.
    Nice camera, by the way! I am taking the difficult route of bellows since i want some movements, not a lot but some basic tilt and swing on the front. Aluminum (called the metal of socialism in the olden days) is a wonderful thing in the aluminum profile form found at hardware stores. One could craft most of the mechanic works of a folding camera out of it instead of the much more expensive brass with simple hand tools. It is like butter under a file or a tap/die but sturdy enough when you need it to be.

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