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Thread: 7x11 Camera Build

  1. #1

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    7x11 Camera Build

    My primary camera for the past ten years has been a Rochester Optical Company King 8x10 view camera. These cameras were made between 1893 and 1903, before Rochester Optical was bought and merged into Eastman Kodak.

    What I like about the King model (made in 5x7, 5x8, 6½x8½, 8x10, and 11x14 sizes) is its light weight (5lb 4oz for the 8x10, 10lb for the 11x14), folding clam-shell design, slim profile, and ease of use—once on the tripod, the back opens to 90 degrees (with a notch on one side), the front standard comes up with two knobs to tighten plus two knobs to control front rise/fall and tilt (same knobs for both of the latter controls).

    The rear of the camera can be moved all the way forward as well as extend back about three inches. The 8x10 has 24 inches of bellows extension. Outside dimensions are 11 5/8 x 11 5/8 x 3 1/4 inches. The camera has sufficient movements (for me) for landscapes, but it does not have front swing or shift or rear rise/fall or shift. A very limited amount of rear swing is possible, and it has both front and rear forward/back tilt and front rise/fall.

    During the past few years, I have been transitioning to the 7x11 format. I like the 63% aspect ratio better than 80% for printing landscapes, and I have a stash of 11x14 film that I can cut to 7x11. With my 8x10 King, I have been using a DIY 7x11 expansion back. The expansion back works fine, but it is a bit awkward to carry in the same backpack. In any event, for several reasons I decided to try to make my own 7x11 dedicated camera mostly inspired by the King design, but with a few modifications. I want the new 7x11 to be light weight, easy to use, as simple as possible in design and fabrication.

    Here are some photos of two of the King models—a 5x7 I am restoring/modifying (no bellows) and my 8x10—to show the jumping off point for my 7x11 design.


    My initial intentions for design modifications for my DIY 7x11 include:

    1. A horizontal-only design instead of a reversible back (for lighter weight and minimal height for landscape orientation; I don't shoot that many verticals)

    2. Friction focusing instead of rack-and-pinion (sourcing hardware is easier if the rack and pinion is not included; as long as the focusing rails slide easily and the camera locks down tight after focusing, that's all I require)

    3. Rear rails that allow enough extension for a 30” bellows instead of the 24” max of the King 8x10

    4. By necessity, I need to design around the lack of easy-to-source hardware that was proprietary to the King model—in particular, the rear standard and front standard brass brackets and locks

    A few years ago, there was some discussion of a DIY Open Source Field Camera Design (https://www.largeformatphotography.i...-Camera-Design), so I thought other forum members might have some interest in this project—not necessarily to build a 7x11, but for relevance to 8x10 or other sizes.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_8556.jpg   IMG_8538.jpg   IMG_8549.jpg   IMG_8550.jpg  
    Last edited by Michael Roberts; 29-Aug-2019 at 06:35.

  2. #2

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    Re: 7x11 Modified Rochester Optical Design and Build

    In terms of materials, I’m starting with five pieces of pre-cut craft mahogany wood, ¼” x 3” x 24”. I also have a few scrap pieces from earlier projects, like the 7x11 expansion back, so material I have on hand is probably equal to six 3x24” sticks. I've had this craft wood on hand for a couple of years. Unfortunately, Midwest Products was acquired in the interim and the new owners downsized the inventory; they no longer carry this mahogany, though they do carry both cherry and walnut in 1/4 x 3 x 24 sizes.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_8583.JPG   IMG_8579.JPG  
    Last edited by Michael Roberts; 22-Apr-2019 at 09:25.

  3. #3

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    Re: 7x11 Modified Rochester Optical Design and Build

    Starting with the dimensions of vintage Kodak 7x11 holders, the outside dimensions for the horizontal 7x11 camera need to be 9 ¾ x 12 3/8”. The width of the film holder slot in the spring back will need to be 8 ¾ and I am allowing an additional ½” each for the external springs for the ground glass frame.

    First cuts:

    1. 3 pieces of ¼ x 11 7/8 x 3” for the camera base, plus an additional ¾” to make up the 9 ¾ height; and two ¼ x 9 ¾ x ¾ strips for sides on the camera base (note: I cut the four pieces that will be glued together to make a panel slightly long since I plan to trim down the panel after gluing)

    2. 2 pieces of ¼ x 9 ¾ x 1 ¾ for the vertical sides of the rear frame and 2 pieces of ¼ x 11 7/8 x 1 ¾ for the top and bottom of the rear frame

    3. 8 pieces of ¼ x 9 ¾ x 1 for rear rails, front rail, and “keeper” rails

    4. 2 pieces of ¼ x 9 ¾ x 1 ¼ for the top and bottom of the spring back; one ¼ x 7 ¼ x 1 piece for the flap end and one ¼ x 7 ¼ ½ piece for the baffle end
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_8584.JPG   IMG_8585.JPG   IMG_8559.jpg   IMG_8561.jpg  

  4. #4

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    Re: 7x11 Modified Rochester Optical Design and Build

    5. 2 pieces of ¼ x 5 3/8 x1 for the front standard base and two pieces of ¼ x 9 x ¾ for the front standard vertical sides

    6. 2 pieces of ¼ x 4 ¼ x 5/8 and two pieces of ¼ x 5 ½ x 5/8 for the lens board frame
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_8587.JPG   IMG_8588.JPG  
    Last edited by Michael Roberts; 22-Apr-2019 at 09:28.

  5. #5
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    Re: 7x11 Modified Rochester Optical Design and Build

    Very interesting.

    A few of us have 8X10/7X11 cameras with 2 factory backs.

    7X11 film holders are rare.

    Looking forward to your adventure.

    Ilford Special Order is open and 7X11 film is available at what I think is a good price.
    sin eater

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    Re: 7x11 Modified Rochester Optical Design and Build

    Thanks for your comment Randy! I've accumulated 13 or 14 Eastman holders over the years and have 10 DIY 7x11 adhesive holders as works-in-progress, so for the time being holders are not an issue for me.

    Adventure is a good description for this project. I'm not one of those who CAD the entire plans before I start. For me, it's a more a matter of one step at a time and solve problems as I go.

    I have restored, modified and accessorized quite a few cameras, and built one from scratch (https://www.largeformatphotography.i...DIY-ULF-Camera), but this project seems like it will be quite a bit more challenging.
    Last edited by Michael Roberts; 23-Apr-2019 at 04:37.

  7. #7

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    Re: 7x11 Modified Rochester Optical Design and Build

    Set up for routing.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_8610.JPG  

  8. #8

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    Re: 7x11 Modified Rochester Optical Design and Build

    Routed pieces for left and right rear frame, front standard vertical and base pieces.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_8611.JPG  

  9. #9

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    Re: 7x11 Modified Rochester Optical Design and Build

    I’m using basswood for the undersides of the rails, the spring back, and the gg frame. Basswood is lighter and cheaper than mahogany. The basswood is lighter in color as well, so I will stain it a red mahogany. It won’t be an exact color match, but I don’t mind that.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_8613.JPG  

  10. #10

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    Re: 7x11 Modified Rochester Optical Design and Build

    Some of the hardware pieces from McMaster-Carr. These are 10-32 threaded studs and bolts, a ¾” diameter black steel knob and a brass knob. I plan to use these for the rear brackets and front standard. In addition, the brass knobs will serve as locks for the front and rear rails. They will clamp down on brass strips as on the King cameras. Not shown is a smaller L-shaped 10-32 ½” threaded stud that will also be used for the rail locks.

    I will add a complete list of hardware and parts numbers after I'm done for anyone interested.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_8617.JPG  

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